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When It Comes to Weddings, Small…In Size AND Price…is the Way to Go

By Robert G. Yetman, Jr. Editor At Large

Maybe it’s my perspective as a man, but I’ve never thought much, either way, about weddings. The wedding seems to be largely the concern of the bride…”her day,” and all of that. Sure, it’s the groom’s day, as well, but the way the wedding culture has evolved, weddings have made the bride the centerpiece of the event…and make no mistake, it has become an event. Even relatively small affairs can run into the tens of thousands of dollars, depending on what sore of features a couple would like to offer to both themselves and their guests, on behalf of the happy day.

When I married a second time, my wife…who may even be more pragmatic than I…insisted we keep things very low key. I was reluctant, at first, to be quite as down to earth as she wanted, but I confess it was only because I didn’t want there to be zero “glitz and glamor,” and then for her, several years later, to regret that we didn’t opt for something a little more ostentatious. In all honestly, if she meant it, as far as not going over the top, I was thrilled, and she did. She wanted something nice, but thought it positively silly for us to spend a bunch of money on a ceremony and reception.

We ended up getting married at the local public park, and had the reception at her home (which thereafter became mine). She bought a new dress, but nothing fancy, and we rented chairs for those in attendance at the ceremony. As for the reception, there was a local grocer that had a wonderful deli and bakery, and we availed ourselves of those services to assemble a very nice offering to reception guests. It was a great day, and I think we spent in the neighborhood of $1,500, somewhere in that range, to host about 40 people, and there was plenty of food and beverage.

What has caused me to think back on all of this is an article I read recently about a couple that was looking to save money on their wedding reception. They were already married in a private ceremony, but wanted to have a celebration of their union with guests. Calling around to various prospective venues, they found that when they priced out the gathering as a private party, as opposed to a wedding with reception, they saved a ton of money. It’s a great read.


I’m just not a big believer in expensive weddings, expensive wedding receptions, any of it. The national average cost of a wedding now is around $30,000. That’s the average cost, so we’re talking average people. Can average people really afford to spend $30,000 on a wedding event?

Even if they somehow can, I say limit the budget to maybe $5,000, do what you can with that, and invest the other $25,000 in a portfolio of broad-based equity funds, which, after 30 years, will likely be worth about $200,000 (assuming an annual rate of return of around seven percent). OK, it’s not the most romantic idea in the world, but I’ll tell you this: the romance “dividend” you won’t be earning by going this route will be more than compensated for by the peace of mind…and help to your net worth…yielded as a result.