Every year, The Knot compiles statistics from thousands of weddings in their annual Real Weddings Study, and we get to learn all sorts of things about the ins and outs of what makes up a wedding in America. While there's plenty of interesting statistics, such as how 83% of couples used a smartphone in planning their wedding, the marquee stat is cost, and for the past five years that number has crept onwards and upwards to a brand new record that's just insane when you compare it to the average wedding in Europe.
That's just crazy talk. No, I don't think it's crazy to spend $32k on a wedding, but I think it's madness that a number that high is the national average. Americans are spending nearly 2/3rds of their median household income on a party (with an average of 139 guests, mind you).
Why have a wedding when you could buy a boat?
Europeans seem to have it figured out. They spend an average of $5495 on their weddings. That's right, the average American wedding costs six times that of their European counterpart. Sure, everything's bigger in America, but there's more going on here. I blame the Disney Princess culture where girls are encouraged to envision their dream wedding from the moment they can walk. CNBC blames Pinterest. It's probably both of those things, along with a culture that typically sees personal debt as an acceptable away of life and does a poor job of educating our children about preparing for their futures. Sixty percent of those same frugal Europeans polled said they would rather splurge on their new house instead of an elaborate wedding.
As a photographer, I am actually a part of the $60 billion a year American wedding industry, and even I agree, as a culture, we need to rethink weddings. And this goes beyond the common complaints against couples that don't blink at $5,000 in flowers, but want a discount on their $2,000 wedding photography. It starts with this bit of advice we give to every client: "Don't do anything for the sake of doing it."
It's your wedding. Not anyone else's. You could go to the courthouse for $50 and achieve the same end-result. Ultimately, a wedding is just a party to celebrate your relationship. Don't over-think it. Keep things simple and both you and your guests will have a better experience.
Just don't forget to tip your wedding photographer.