I have no difficulty brainstorming ways to spend $26,984.
There’s credit card debt to pay. And a shoe rack filled with heels in desperate need of some new friends. Not to mention the fact that I’m long overdue for some international travel.
The one thing that doesn’t cross my mind, however, is a wedding.
I can’t help wondering if I’m in the minority, especially after perusing the results of a recent survey released by The Knot Inc. It’s based on responses from nearly 19,000 U.S. brides married last year.
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The survey results list $26,984 as the average amount spent on a wedding, honeymoon excluded.
Among the other findings? The average price of a wedding gown was $1,099 and the average price of an engagement ring was $5,392.
As someone whose bank account rarely exceeds a reception band’s price tag, I’ve always been critical of a tendency to throw all your life savings toward a wedding. I’ve never been able to tolerate TV shows that focus on cost-driven exchanges of “I do.”
While recently chatting with my mom, I described my ideal wedding as a no-frills affair -- a simple park ceremony or a spur of the moment deal in Las Vegas.
Her response: “You’ll think differently when you’re engaged.”
It’s important to note my family still tells stories about my mom sewing her wedding dress on the way to her own wedding.
Nonetheless, I’ve never been engaged.
I won’t advocate that all weddings take place in a courthouse or city hall. Weddings often function as much more than a rite of passage for two people. They double as family reunions, dance parties and opportunities to watch grandma drink one too many glasses of red wine.
Then again, it’s your family. Do they really care if your invitations cost $50 or $350?
A reader recently echoed that point while commenting on my blog: “I think sometimes we wrongly assume that spending less money is tacky or cheap, so we go over the top on weddings.”
Even without a ring on my finger, I’ve forked over many arguably unnecessary expenses in the name of love. I’ve bought fancy dinners to lessen the impact of a relationship fight. I’ve purchased gifts to smooth away the stress of saying “I’m sorry.”
Those expenses temporarily brighten the realities of our daily existence. Then, we must tackle the emotional bank accounts that transcend any tangible sums we invest in a relationship’s future.
I assume weddings work the same way.
So yes, Mom, maybe I will think differently when I’m engaged.
For now, I’ll continue to regard $26,984 as a number much more distant than the likelihood of living happily ever after.
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