Destination Wedding or Fully Funded Retirement?

wedding or retirement

Weddings are a wonderful celebration and they are great for catching up with old friends. But I’ve noticed a few trends lately and I thought I would put together some things for today’s couples to think about as they are about to tie the knot. Here is what I found:

Top 2016 Wedding Statistics

A survey of nearly 13,000 US couples married in 2016 uncovered the costs and trends of weddings today and discovered that:

  • In 2016, the average cost of a wedding reached an all-time high at $35,329, while the number of guests dropped.
  • Custom guest entertainment has more than tripled, from 11% to 41% since 2009, with photo booths (78%), games (18%), musical performances (12%) and fireworks (8%) at the top of the list.
  • Most Expensive Place to Get Married: New York City (Manhattan specifically), with an average cost of $78,464.
  • Least Expensive Place to Get Married is Arkansas, with an average cost of $19,522.
  • Average Spent on a Wedding Dress: $1,564
  • Average Number of Guests: 141
  • Average Number of Bridesmaids: 5
  • Average Number of Groomsmen: 5
  • Most Popular Month to Get Engaged: December (15%)
  • Average Length of Engagement:  15 months
  • Percentage of Destination Weddings: 20

Parents are Absorbing Much of the Cost

Surprisingly – at least to me – is that parents still pay for a majority of today’s weddings. On average, the bride’s parents contribute 44% of the overall wedding budget, the bride and groom contribute 42%, and the groom’s parents contribute about 13%.

Fully Funded Retirement?

Instead of spending the average of $35,329 for a wedding, what if couples were married at their local court house instead? (I know, it’s not the same thing, but go with me on this one). Let’s say they spend an average of $100 on a marriage license and then another $229 on a nice lunch. For the remaining $35,000, they could:

  • Pay off most of their student loans (the average Class of 2016 graduate has $37,172 in student loan debt);
  • Have a healthy down payment on a brand-new house – the average cost to build a new 4BR house comes in at $291,354 – so $35,000 is a 12% down payment;
  • Buy a 2017 Audi Q3, a 2017 Lexus NX, a 2017 Infiniti QX30, or a 2017 Cadillac ATS;
  • Invest in an S&P 500 index fund, wait 35 years, and assuming an average annual return of 11%, watch their “wedding investment” grow to $1,350,119 in retirement savings!

Wishing you a lifetime of love, happiness, funded retirement and millionaire status.