Why The Hell Have Weddings Become So Expensive For Guests?

by Donald McCarthy

While eating lunch in a coffee shop, I overheard three young women discussing upcoming weddings. One of the women was lamenting how past bridesmaids dresses cost her upwards of $500; a tough swing on her small salary.

Another woman laughed, saying that her upcoming weddings would cost more than $2,000 in dresses, presents and travels. The third wedding goer was navigating how to afford her cousin’s destination wedding.

As I listened, I found their predicaments to be equal parts hilarious and absurd. It was funny to hear just how seriously some people take their weddings. That they expect everyone to adhere to their desires no matter the expense. It seems like some people are jaded to the notion that their personal special day isn’t so significant to all of their guests. If you’ve been to one wedding, you’ve been to all of them, right?

Still, a part of me grew angry by certain entitled bridezilla demands. With the economy as it is, it’s pretty presumptuous to throw a wedding that forces guests to spend outrageous amounts of money to please newlyweds. Hell, even if the economy was fine, it’s a ridiculous request. Why should the people who aren’t getting married be forced to pay for clothes (and travel and gifts and who knows what else)? Weddings shouldn’t pose the risk of eviction.

A May 2010 “Telegraph” article shed light on the cost to be a wedding guest, finding the range averaging above $500. That’s a lot of money! The average US salary is around $46,000, meaning a single wedding could absorb about 1 percent. Imagine having to attend five weddings in a year. If I learned that 5% of my salary would be dedicated to friends’ weddings, I’d run off and find some new friends.

To top it off, there is a belief among many brides and grooms that the wedding gifts they receive should cover the cost of the wedding. Imagine throwing an extravagant birthday party, full of alcohol, rides, food, clowns and strippers with the expectation that gifts from friends would cover the costs.

I would be in no way entitled to throw this party — the same goes for brides and grooms. No one’s marriage should necessitate guests to sacrifice so much.

I admit, I’m no huge party person. Most times, I’d rather go out to lunch or go to the gym or be dead in a ditch, but I can psych myself up to having an amazing time for a special occasion.

A large wedding requires an enormous number of guests, and a large, successful wedding requires an enormous number of guests who are happy. If I forced my guests to spend half a grand on my wedding, they’re likely to be less than pleased. Some of them will pretend to be happy and will tell me that they’re so excited about my marriage, but it’ll mostly be a bunch of farce.

If I throw an inexpensive wedding, it may not be lavish, but at least my friends and family will be honest when they say they’re excited for me and that they’re having a grand time. So, I suppose all brides and grooms must ask themselves a serious question: is materialism or being surrounded important by people more important for the special day?

I imagine that there are a few people who still believe that since guests are people who love (or at least like) them, the guests should be more than willing to spend for the special day. Well, if these guests are your friends and family, then doesn’t it behoove you to treat them nicely? Forcing them to empty their bank accounts isn’t the kindest of moves.

But, if it’s the true desire to have a huge wedding on which guests have to give the big bucks, then go for it. But don’t be surprised if a lot of the surrounding chatter will be about the cost rather than the beautiful union.

Photo credit: Wedding Crashers