Costs of a wedding--a Christian view


The article provided by the link below looks at the financial reality of weddings today, asking, in view of their cost and the debt created, what are weddings supposed to celebrate? For this article, go to


I think the couple would be far better off taking that money and putting it in their nest egg. Or a down payment on a house or something.


I predict a decline in the number of wedding extravaganzas over the next ten years. Not only does the economy make it difficult, but a return to simplicity is the logical trend after an escalation of over-the-top ego fests. Smaller, more meaningful services and receptions, fewer guests, fewer “programs & favors & gew-gaws”.
At least this is what I’m counting on for my daughters, lol.


I agree. I’d rather have a small and private wedding. It’s just my personal view. Save the money and do something else. Heck, if you don’t want to put a down payment on a house, take an awesome honeymoon!


My SIL’s wedding was over $30,000 and my parents in law had to get a second mortgage on their house to pay for their portion of it and my husband said my SIL had to wipe out her life savings to pay for the rest. Now, her parents are so broke her dad is in his 70s and will never be able to retire. :frowning: It is hard to see them burdened by the debt of a single day. If It were me I would have had a hard time enjoying my wedding knowing the high toll it would take on my parents, even if they willingly footed the bill.
That’s unfortunately really common today. People have bought into the wedding industry’s fairy-tale glamour and feel that their “special day” deserves to have no expense spared. It is so not worth it. I’ve always said that I didn’t care about the details of my wedding as long as at the end of the day, I was married to my best friend. I have always been more interested in the marriage itself than the hour it takes to begin it. I ended up having a wedding 1/3 the cost of hers and neither me nor my parents are burdened with debt from it. All we have is beautiful pictures and happy memories. And everyone still had a great time!

The article also brings up a lot of good points about the other ways people go into debt starting out in their marriage. I know too many people my age who get married just after they graduate and immediately buy a big house and new cars to go on top of their student loans. They want to live the lifestyle they had when they lived with mom and dad, without realizing mom and dad started off with a much, much leaner lifestyle. It took their parents many years to reach the level where their children now want to start off.


I had a friend when I lived in Louisiana who was always being asked to be a bridesmaid. She did this time and again. What finished it for her was a very expensive wedding for a friend of hers. (The bridesmaids traditionally bought their own dresses, etc.) The bridesmaids had to have these antebellum dresses with the big hoops and hats and matching lanterns, etc. All this hoopla, and the marriage didn’t even last a year!


DH and I always wanted to have our wedding at a lighthouse park in June here in Michigan and get married in a tiny little chapel on the grounds, then a simple hors de voures and cake reception to follow, complete with a friend playing acoustic guitar. BUT…both our priest and my mom held firm (i’m sure the were in cahootz together about it) and said we had to be married in our home parish or it wouldn’t be “recognized by the church”…so we did what we didn’t want to, got married in November, my parents spent about 15k, and even though it was beautiful, it wasn’t what we wanted at all. to top it all off, i fell and broke my leg just 48 hours prior to the whole extravaganza and had to use crutches. if we would have done the summer thing, it would have been avoided ( i broke my leg while going to help rake the yard in preparation for the wedding photographer to take pictures!)…oh well, it makes for a good story. and ten years later still going strong. twk


I haven’t seen it the last few years. There has been some decrease in cost as people are delaying their weddings or inviting fewer people, but the extravagance is still there.

The there are two fundamental problems with weddings:

  1. Most brides don’t pay for their wedding. When parents are paying and not the couple, people are more included to scale-up their event. Do I really want to spend $3,000 for flowers on the table with the guest book? If I’m paying, no. If someone else is paying, maybe.

  2. The Wedding Industrial Complex (WIC). The WIC is a collection of manufacturers and suppliers that over the last 10-20 years have worked together to increase expectations of brides and thus drive up costs. They do this through magazines and shows like Who’s Wedding is it Anyway?, Platinum Brides, Say Yes to the Dress, Bridezilla, etc. that make it seem normal to have a $3,000 dress, $10,000 flowers, and $5,000 lighting. In addition, they’ve repeated fostered the idea of “It’s your day!!!” and “It’s the brides’ wedding!!!” which increases pressure on the bride to make a good impression on guests and simultaneously empowers brides to demand more expensive and extravagant things.

To get pricing down, society needs to fight back. A wedding reception is not the defining moment in the brides’ life, it’s her place to host guests that were invited to the real event: the wedding. Change the mindset to that and costs will be greatly reduced. But even then, weddings aren’t going to be “cheap”. A catered meal for 200 guests is still going to run $20,000 after taxes and service for just food, even at a reasonably priced place. That’s just what it costs to feed people, whether at a wedding or an office party.

This is all very similar to what the toy industry did with Christmas, what the flower industry did with Mother’s Day, what Debeers did with the diamond engagement ring, etc.


We had ours on a $10,000 max budget and frankly we're very lucky that at the time our parish was providing so many services dirt cheap, otherwise we couldnt' have had our wedding as it was. The church and Priest were technically free (both received donations however, which were the average of what we found on the internet), our church had a reception hall (now closed due to economy) which cost us $650 excluding chairs, I can't remember how much that was. Food ended up being about $20/plate I think, for excellent flank steak and veggies with mashed potatos (seriously, we're talking four star, I'm really sad the kitchen is closed). So basically, our reception rather than being the most expensive part of the wedding, was hardly expensive at all when compared to market price here.

With that we could afford a great photographer (Jim Coleman for any couples getting married in Raleigh NC), beautiful dress, flowers etc and accomodate 80 peole that showed up.

While I sympathise with the person who wrote this article... I guess another way of looking at it is, you only get married once (or you're supposed to only get married once), so why not spend a little? I'm glad I had so many friends and family there to share in the celebration of our wedding sacrament. It meant a lot.


Definitely!! I’ve seen that “Say Yes to the Dress” show, and they often spend more on the dress than I did on my entire wedding. I bought my dress for $152 at a consignment store and I was just as pretty in it as I would have been in a $6,000 dress!


there is absolutly nothing in Catholic canon or sacramental law that requires a big expensive wedding or any of the cultural accretions that surround the sacrament. That is culture 100%, not religion. Any couple can exchange vows during a regular daily Mass for little or no charge, although a voluntary stipend to the celebrant and donation to the Church is customary. They can gather for cookies and punch at the brides home with a few friends and family afterward for about $10, or even splurge and pick up a cake from the grocery store on the way home. The only expense as far as the church is concerned deals with the expenses inherent in the preparation process. The scoring for the Focus test is about $50, cheap for a professionally scored instrument, and there may be a retreat or other classes, all told I never heard of anything more than $500 tops in an affluent parish. Here $150 is the norm. Yes like any other venue where they might schedule a wedding they would expect to pay for use of the Church, or hall, outside regularly scheduled services.

Like most things in life, including child-rearing, it is as expensive as you make it. there is also no obligation to buy your kids everything they ask for, or have a big house so everyone has their own room and their own tv, either.


Well never been married but am on the practical side. I don’t have any money never did and likely never will so there’s no way I would spend thousands on a wedding I could not afford. My father having the same issues married my mom in a very simple ceremony with the reception at her family home. I would probably get the dress from a consignment or charity shop ( would want something antique looking anyway). Reception either a picnic in the park BBQ style or a private party at my dads house. The one thing I would be willing to spurge on is a live band but I know of some who would be reasonable in the way of pricing. :shrug:


Well, my wedding/reception was about $1500 in 2001.
How did we do it?
Free military chapel.
Free reception site because we used the senior center in our community.
My mom made my dress, as well as all bridesmaid dresses.
I made all the floral arrangements.
I made my veil.
I made the CD of recorded wedding music.
I made all placecards, programs, and favors.
and the list goes on…

Why did we do it?
Because our marriage was worth more than our wedding. Because my parents’ financial wellbeing was worth more than one day. Because weddings aren’t a bride’s ‘special day’, they are family and religious celebrations.

Contrast that with my SILs wedding last year - over $15,000…that’s right, ten times as much. She had $130,000 worth of college debt, and no job. But she demanded that her parents throw her an extravagant wedding with the best of everything, so they did. And now, she is married and living with her parents AGAIN. Glad her day was so special, because all she’ll have to comfort herself is memories of that day.

Oh, and that is not including the couple thousand dollars that my husband and I put toward the shindig, in wedding showers, dresses for the ceremony, tuxedo, travel expenses, etc.

Rant over. Stepping down off my soapbox. My apologies.



Now this is just my opinion ladies…don’t bite my head off. I think the whole wedding/diamond ring thing is just silly/rediculous. The whole tradition of the diamond ring that costs over thousands, honeymoon that is also several thousand, and wedding which is thousands is SILLY. If it were up to me, my wedding would be small with close family, a conservative ring, and a honeymoon that is low key with plenty of time with my new beloved. The ring, honeymoon, and wedding are all material things to boast about with other married people. I want to celebrate my wedding for what it is, a sacrament.

Now maybe the above is why I am still single :shrug:. But when I find someone who thinks like me, I’m dragging her to the chapel!


Although you all make good points, I think that the worst is the wedding industry itself. Try finding a reception hall, a florist, a caterer, etc and if you say the word wedding ,they will double the price. It is what they always do. I was lucky to have a wedding that cost slightly under $10,000. We didn’t have anything big. The centerpieces were hand done. The photographer was a free lance journalist, etc.

What surprised me the most was how much the church was. They do charge a lot for use of the church, even if it is your own parish. I talked my pastor into lowering the cost from 1,000 dollars to 500 dollars. I know of another parish here that costs about 1,200 dollars. There was a lady who was going to have her daughter’s wedding there since she was a long time parishioner but the priest wouldn’t let her so her daughter ended up being married outside of the Church.

I agree that the reception has been the focus for too long. In my case, my husband and I wanted to emphasize the actual wedding. We lucked out on getting an organist, a cellist, a violinist, and a choir for free since we knew the people. For the reception, we ended up having it at Dave and Buster’s who didn’t price gouge us.

I also agree that the wedding shows and ESPECIALLY the magazines DO not help either :(. Its sad. No wonder some people decide that it isn’t worth getting married. Instead, they live together :(.

However, in spite of this, one’s wedding day is a very special and important day so I don’t mind spending extra money for it. I do mind if it is over the top and too extravagant (ie. my brother’s wedding…).


:clapping: That’s the way to do it!!


While that's nice, not everyone has access to a free wedding chapel and reception site.

That's fairly rare. And while my mom has the ability to make a wedding dress, she works 50+ hours a week, not including the housework.

And some of those shows will help people think about wedding costs. Bridezillas you're supposed to think they are being ridiculous. And Rich Bride, Poor Bride shows how much people plan to spend and how much they spend trying to create the perfect day (often 2-3x the budget).


As you can see in my signature we’re getting married this month. And I agree with one previous poster that much of the cost is not a fault of the couple, it’s the society and what people charge.

If it were up to me I would have a cheap wedding! I’m trying my best by making much of what we’re using like centerpieces, cake topper, shrugs for the bridesmaids, invites etc.

I totally agree that it’s only one day, and you should instead plan for the rest of your life. So we are not spending frivolously.

One instance of showing that people will try to get what they can out of a bride and groom is the cantor at our Parish that we were hoping to have sing during the Mass. She wants to charge $300 for her and her husband! I’m sorry. That is expensive. I’m a singer, so I know the work involved. But what gets me is that a cantor at a Mass is helping in the Mass. It is not the center of attention nor should it be. Like a choir at any other Mass, they’re there to help praise God not to get financial gain from it. It’s this way with many wedding things. They charge because they feel they can.


For us the worse expense was…The Church. Between the retreat weekend, the donations, and all the fees for the wedding coordinator and the music coordinator (Which we had to pay for even if we didn’t have them do a thing) the Church broke our budget and made us feel awful in the process.

My father wanted me to get married in the parish I attended as a child and that my parents were married in. Since my mother passed away a year before this was very important to him. And boy if the Church didn’t use that to their advantage…

We jumped through every hoop they asked and did everything they asked and still got talked down to the entire time. I loved my wedding day as did my husband but we both felt the Church really took advantage of two young adults that wanted to do the right thing.


Whaaaaat?! Why on earth would the church take advantage of young engaged couples like that? I needed a convalidation because during my conversion process, it was discovered that I was baptized in the Catholic church as an infant, so my marriage wasn’t seen as valid. The convalidation was absolutely free! We just went to the church at the time the priest and my husband arranged, had our new friends and witnesses join us, along with our children, and got hitched…again. :smiley: Can’t engaged couples do this, too?

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit