What advice can you give about wedding costs?

Weddings are astronomical these days! I think a lot of people fall into the trap of thinking “anything goes” in pursuit of that “perfect” day and end up spending way more than they can actually afford. The average wedding costs nearly $27,000. Compare that to the median household income–$52,000, and you find a lot of couples borrowing money to pay for their weddings and paying it off years later. A marriage that begins in debt is starting off on the wrong foot: You don’t want to be celebrating your 20th wedding anniversary by celebrating that you’ve finally paid off your debt.

So what cost cutting measures do you suggest?

We’re becoming what I call a “rental nation,” moving from being more of a ownership-based society to a rental one. We’re all familiar with the more traditional rental aspects of a wedding, from the groom’s tuxedo to a classic getaway car for a stylish exit, but one new trend we’re seeing a lot is renting the bride’s dress. The dress is one of the highest ticket items of a wedding, and if you think about it, we’ve had it backwards. Men should be buying their tuxedos and women should be renting their dresses. Renting is a fantastic option for women who want to wear their dream dress but don’t want to spend tens of thousands of dollars. There are many online options: onenightaffair.com and renttherunway.com are just a couple.

In addition, the bride can rent her jewelry, handbag, shoes…even her veil. HappilyeverborroWED.com has all sorts of bridal accessories for rent. And let’s say a bride doesn’t want to wear costume jewelry—she wants to wear REAL diamonds on her wedding day. Well, she can truly feel like a princess by renting the “Kate Middleton” earrings (modeled on the ones she wore at the royal wedding) from adorn.com. They retail for $10,875 and rent for $160. The savings are staggering.

What about the wedding party?

The average bridesmaid spends $1,695.  Doubtlessly, the bride will tell you that you can “totally wear that dress again,” but the truth is that no one ever wears that dress again.  While most bridesmaid dresses are moderately priced, if you add it up, we spend a total of $2.1 billion a year on bridesmaid dresses alone!

The good news is that bridesmaids can rent everything as well. The rent the runway weddings section solves the 27 Dresses problem, and another option is littleborroweddress.com. Let your bridesmaids rent their dresses and they can spend more money on your gift!

Is that it?

This is the kicker: You can even rent a wedding cake. A lot of couples consider their cake to be a work of art and it holds a place of honor by the dance floor, so they rationalize spending way too much on it. You can rent a fantastic looking three-tier cake for $125 from cakerental.com or pay $100 extra for a custom design. The cake is foam and inedible, but there’s a hidden compartment in the back of the bottom layer where you can put a real piece of cake, so you’ll still get your photo op.

Any other tips?

One final idea: When renting the space for your wedding, you might consider a nearby historical site. If you choose a historical garden, museum or homestead, or even a state or national park, the fee you pay may be deductible as a donation. Check with the site for more details. You can also donate leftover food and flowers to a non-profit for a tax write-off.


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One thought on “Money Mondays: Managing the Cost of a Wedding

  1. How long do we continue to be rocked to sleep?

    : Why did Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke launch a third round of bond buying known as quantitative easing, or QE3, last week?

    A:Because the stock market told him to. How else can he keep the Dow Jones Industrial Average above 13000? Companies are warning of slower earnings growth.

    Q: How big is QE3? A: $40 billion a month—indefinitely. This is on top of the $45 billion a month the Fed is already spending on another program called “Operation Twist” through the rest of this year.

    Q: Phew, is that all? A:Hardly. Since 2008, the Fed has dumped more than $2.3 trillion into the economy, artificially levitating the values of stocks and real estate against the ravages of an economic reckoning.

    Q: What will the Fed buy with this QE3 money? A: Mortgage-backed securities. It is betting that the way to fix a deflated housing bubble is to blow another one.

    Q: Does the Fed really just print all this money? A: No. That would take eons. The Fed simply adds zeros to its magic spreadsheet, and violà, money!

    Q: Isn’t this a Ponzi scheme? A: Of course not. A Ponzi scheme is illegal. This is a Bernanke scheme.

    Q: Is it working? A: Every new QE is an admission that the last one didn’t work. Since the first QE in late 2008, America’s economic growth has mostly been described as “anemic.”

    Q: So why will QE3 last indefinitely? A: It spares Mr. Bernanke the humility of announcing QE4, QE5, QE6 ….

    Q: Will this finally lower unemployment? A: You tell me. The Fed has launched QEs and held interest rates close to zero for nearly four years. The unemployment rate has remained above 8%.

    Q: So why call it a “recovery”? A: It’s not as depressing as the term depression. A depression can be defined as a prolonged period of high unemployment.

    Q: Why not just call it that? A: Another theory holds that a depression is impossible as long as Mr. Bernanke can keep creating money.

    Q: Won’t this cause inflation? A: Only if you eat food, burn gasoline, require medical attention, purchase commodities or pay college tuition. Bottled water is $1.29, and air is still free.

    Q: Why haven’t QEs worked? A: It’s a global economy and QEs simply leak out of the bucket. Companies, for instance, may use the cheap money to expand abroad. And consumers may use it to buy more Chinese goods.

    Q: So why do it? A: The money flows into banks to strengthen their balance sheets. Corporations use it to lower borrowing costs and launch stock-repurchase programs. The ensuing boost in corporate performance helps executives collect “performance pay.”

    Q: Won’t the Fed eventually have to sell the trillions in bonds it is buying? How will it be able to find enough buyers?
    A: Don’t ask. Nobody knows.

    Q: How do QEs contribute to our national debt? A:The Fed’s purchases of U.S. Treasurys lower the interest rate our government pays to issue them. This can only encourage more borrowing. Since 2008, our national debt has risen more than 60% to more than $16 trillion.

    Q: Isn’t that astronomical?
    A: Yes. But we can now measure the national debt in lightyears. A lightyear equals nearly six trillion miles. At $1 a mile, our national debt is only 2.6 lightyears.

    Q: Why lightyears? A:Because our economic woes are indefinite, and that’s why QE3 is indefinite. Mr. Bernanke should change his name to Buzz Lightyear: “To infinity and beyond!”

    —Al Lewis is a columnist for Dow Jones Newswires in Denver. He blogs at tellittoal.com; his email address is al.lewis@dowjones.com.

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