It’s no secret weddings are an expensive business. After buying your own home, your big day can easily be one of the most expensive things you ever pay for.
According to Bridebook‘s Wedding Survey, the average cost of a wedding in 2019 rose to a whopping £30,355. That’s all in, honeymoon, rings and all. The same study also revealed that 68% of couples actually worried about the costs of their wedding. Therefore, I can’t help but think: are weddings worth the money? Is this too much to lay out for one day? Or is it a justifiable expense for the biggest day in your life?
To put things into perspective, thirty thousand pounds is a generous down payment on an average-priced UK home. Alternatively, invested in an index fund returning 8% per year, a £30,000 investment would earn a young couple nearly £444,000 by retirement.
With this said, let’s find out if weddings are worth spending money on!
Are weddings worth the money: Money bloggers answer
Let’s be realistic; a wedding is not only a money affair. After all, a wedding can also be an important celebration of a joyous union that can’t be measured with money. Although you can of course get married without an expensive wedding party, many couples choose to spend money to celebrate with family and friends.
In fact, research shows that spending money on meaningful life experiences with your loved ones can increase happiness. Weddings can be one way to do this, but is it still worth spending thousands or even tens of thousands on it?
To answer the question of whether weddings are worth the money, I asked personal finance bloggers for their views. From couples with years of marriage under their belts to couples in the wedding planning stages, I got some great tips on what is and isn’t worth spending on for a wedding.
A wedding doesn't need to cost a fortune
Emma from Emma’s Savvy Savings reminded me that weddings don’t have to cost the average and that you can be so creative if you set your mind to it.
Most other responders agreed that a wedding doesn’t need to cost a fortune. They also brought up the fact that there are plenty of ways to reduce the cost while still having a great day. Let’s have a look at some tips and tricks on how to save on wedding costs.
Practical tips on cutting wedding costs
- Look for package deals: The founder of the Reverend blog reveals how they managed to cut down on costs by founding a great package deal: “A massive saving for us was hiring the venue through the caterers. We got the venue and catering for the same price as if we’d just booked the caterers.”
- Opt for a weekday wedding: “We decided to have a weekday wedding as it allowed us to have the venue for much cheaper. It also meant that the usual wedding services were cheaper too. This then meant we could spend that little bit more on our honeymoon”, says David from Money for Monday. Another blogger also backed this up and said they had their wedding on a Monday, which allowed them to have any car and photographer they wanted for less cost.
- Get creative: Hayley aka Miss Many Pennies revealed how she managed to save money with some DIY and creativity: “We made our own wedding favours and invitations. Also, my favourite thing we did was to buy plain iced cakes for our wedding cake and left out loads of icing pens and decorations for our guests to decorate it for us.”
- Friends/family gifting some wedding expenses: “A friend made our wedding cake as their present while another friend made one of the flower displays”, says Emma from Emma’s Savvy Savings. Friends and family can be also a great help when it comes to wedding entertainment. Hayley from Miss Many Pennies had friends with a band, allowing them to get cheaper rates.
- Look good on a budget: Wedding outfits don’t need to cost a fortune either, the responders reminded me. You can either hire a dress and suit or buy with a smaller budget without having to compromise good looks.
It's worth spending on things that matter to you
I also asked the money bloggers what is worth spending money on for a wedding. The general advice I got from most of the responders was to spend money on things that are important to YOU and cut back on things that aren’t as important.
“What’s worth the money really depends on the couple and what they value. For us, a lot was spent on food and drink. To this day, people still talk about the food at our wedding as the best they ever had. Also, a good DJ and fireworks were important so we spent more on that”, says the blogger.
Personal finance blogger Martha Lawson agrees: “I’m super happy with our wedding which cost us about £9k. We prioritised venues, photography and above all food and drink. No regrets.”
Martha wasn’t the only one prioritising photography. Many other bloggers also mentioned that this is a wedding cost worth spending money on. “Even if you’re doing everything on a budget, splurge on a photographer and videographer if you can. You’ll be looking at the photos for years to come and I really think it’s worth investing in them”, advises Fiona from Savvy in Somerset. Another responder also added that she wishes she would have spent more to get a videographer instead of just a photographer.
Honeymoon isn't a moneymoon
Urban Dictionary defines moneymoon as the time after your purchase before buyer’s remorse happens. Well, there doesn’t seem to be moneymoon when it comes to honeymoon!
In fact, the wedding night and honeymoon were generally the areas of a wedding that couples were happy to splurge on. Furthermore, various responders said they even spent less on a wedding to be able to spend more on a honeymoon or other travel.
“The other area we went ‘all out’ was the honeymoon and that was just for us. I don’t regret the wedding spending at all. Yes, we could have had a cheaper wedding and yes, we could have had a cheaper honeymoon. But the memories of those things will stay with us forever”, tells the blogger behind the Reverend.
“We splurged out on a lovely hotel for our wedding night and I think that was totally worth it”, adds Miss Many Pennies.
Can spending more money avoid wedding stress?
When asked if the wedding was worth the money, Fiona from Savvy in Somerset has an unusual answer: “I actually wish we’d spent more money on our wedding! We took on lots of DIY and did almost everything ourselves to save money. It was so stressful and so many things went wrong. I honestly wish we’d got professionals in to do more of it so we could have relaxed and enjoyed ourselves a bit more.” Fiona has written more about her wedding experience on her blog here.
Claire from Stapo’s Thrifty Life Hacks is getting married this year and has written some tips on wedding spending in her blog. However, she feels spending more money can actually increase expectations and stress: “Weddings are stressful, expensive events and they can cause all sorts of family drama. For me, the more you spend, the more anxiety there is to have the perfect day. I don’t think that a big wedding is necessarily a waste of money, but you’ve got to weigh up what’s important to you. For us, it’s about having a simple, stress-free day and actually being married. The stress of a massive wedding would not be worth it and we’d prefer to have the extra money in the bank.”
Wedding plans and costs reconsidered due to the pandemic
The pandemic forced most 2020 weddings to be cancelled or rescheduled. However, it also allowed couples to reflect on whether a big wedding is actually worth the money.
Neesha from Reinventing Neesha was one of these people: “Funnily enough, the pandemic made me come to my senses and we cancelled our £26k wedding to opt for something much cheaper. I think the pandemic put life into perspective more. I really felt the big wedding wasn’t us anymore and that a closer, more intimate ceremony with direct family was more important. The money we saved could then be spent on our house renovation and our first family holiday. Those memories would last much longer than one day.”
Claire who blogs at Money Saving Central also backs this up: “Our wedding was cancelled back last year and we have decided that we are actually not even going to bother with a huge affair. Instead, we are getting married in a registry office at Christmas time. We’re also taking the kids to Disney Florida instead. I’m surprised I let myself get carried away with all the spending to be honest – all for one day! Now I get 2 weeks to make magical memories with my family and I’ll still be married to the love of my life.”
Expensive wedding worth it after the pandemic year
As opposed to Neesha and Claire, Ellie from This Girl Talks Money provided a contrasting angle: “I’m getting married this year (delayed from last year) and we’re spending a lot of money on the wedding. But we’re very happy to spend the money! It’s a one-off event and even happier to do so after not seeing friends and family for the last year. There’s always a more sensible way to spend money but if it’s not putting you in financial difficulty, I’m all for splashing out on the day!”
Conclusion: Are weddings worth the money?
Whether having a wedding is worth the money or not depends largely on your own priorities and financial goals. From a purely financial perspective, the average cost of a UK wedding might be better spent to buy a home or invested elsewhere. However, like everything in life, weddings are far from being a financial decision alone. Also, the good news is that a wedding doesn’t need to cost the average amount by all means.
If you have decided to get married but are not sure if you should spend tons of money on a wedding, here are a couple of things you and your partner should consider:
- What are your financial/life goals and priorities? Have you always dreamed of a big wedding or is buying your own home or travelling the world, for example, more important to you?
- What is your current financial situation like? If you don’t have any high-interest debt and are already saving and investing, you’re probably in a good position to spend any extra on a wedding – if you wish to do so. However, if a big wedding is putting you in debt or financial difficulty, it’s time to seriously reconsider the costs.
- How much can you afford to pay for a wedding? Set a realistic and workable wedding budget based on how much you have or can save. See my post on setting successful savings goals for more guidance.
- What are your priorities and must-haves for a wedding? Make a list of expenses that includes everything you want to spend money on and things that are not as important to you.
- Finally, in addition to just the wedding, ensure you understand marriage from a legal and financial perspective. This might not be the most romantic part but it’s still essential to understand this.