“Weddings may be bigger and more elaborate in 1990, but some things never change,” the Chicago Tribune reported just shy of 33 years ago to the day of this writing. “You still have to plan early to get everything you want, and the total pricetag for the wedding will likely be more than you expected.”
They were right. Some things don’t change. That is, save for the fact that, at that time, weddings cost somewhere in the ballpark of $13,000…and that’s with “all of the trimmings.”
Fast forward to 2023: The average cost of a wedding today is closer to $29,000, according to the wedding planning platform Zola, which — thanks in part to 77% of vendors raising their prices due to inflation — is up from $28,000 in 2022. But even that is on the lower side. According to The Knot, a wedding in New York costs an average of $46,000, and closer to $51,000 in New Jersey, which is, for context, roughly the cost of a year of tuition at NYU.
Planning a wedding in this day and age is no small financial undertaking — for the couple, of course, but also for the guests who attend them.
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In fact, according to a recent Bankrate survey, roughly 62% of this year’s wedding attendees have at least one financial concern and 21% believe that wedding attendance costs will strain their budgets. Perhaps that’s because — between travel and accommodations, gifts, and attire and grooming — it will cost the average wedding guest an average of $611 per wedding this year, while Northeasterners will spend closer to $774 on wedding guest expenses.
Further, younger generations are getting hit hardest of all, with 38% of Millennials and 37% of Gen Zers planning to attend at least one wedding this year, and 23% of Gen Zers and 22% of Millennials slated to attend more than one.
“People talk a lot about how expensive it is to organize a wedding — and it is — but sometimes the cost of attending is understated,” says Ted Rossman, senior industry analyst at Bankrate. “It can really add up, especially if you’re invited to multiple weddings in a given year.”
As a Millennial who falls into the latter category (I’m pulling up on wedding number five in as many months) and who lives in New Jersey, I am here to tell you…it most definitely can really add up. The best I advice I can give is to start saving. Like, yesterday.
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