The average couple spends almost $27,000 on their wedding, according to USA Today.
While averages are swayed by the few couples who drop hundreds of thousands getting hitched, there are still quite a few who go for the simple courthouse ceremony or a small gathering in a park or scenic backyard.
One way or the other, people drop serious money on weddings. Spending significantly on something designed to last a lifetime, such as rings, is one thing.
But what about the jaw-dropping amounts people spend on things that don’t last, like, say, fireworks?
Here are 5 of the most ridiculously overpriced wedding items, and they may make you feel much better about your own wedding budget.
Wedding venues range from free (your aunt’s well-manicured flower gardens) to, well, very expensive.
For example, did you know you can get married at the New York Public Library? It will set you back at least $50,000.
If that’s too steep for your budget, you could be wed at the Molenvliet Wine Estate in South Africa for “only” $9,715 for three nights, up to 14 guests. (Wine, ironically, is not included.)
Or, if your wedding budget has several more zeroes before the decimal point, you could rent an entire island. Keys, Little Palm Island can be had for three days for a cool half a million.
Possibly the most ever spent on wedding invitations was dropped by the family of Vanisha Mittal, daughter of a steel tycoon billionaire who married a London banker in 2004.
Some of the wedding events were held at Versailles. Yes, that Versailles, and another part of the festivities took place at a quaint collection of flower beds you may have heard of: the Jardin-desTuileries.
The entire wedding was reported to cost $60 million.
Southern Event Planners did some sleuthing and crunched some numbers, and estimated that the 1,200 hand painted invitations (which were 20 pages long) cost on the order of $1,500 each.
A bride-to-be on a 2011 discussion forum put it bluntly regarding the white table linens with a silver runner that she wanted: “Girl, they cost some change.” No kidding.
Another quoted a rental price for table linens for the cake table alone at $200 to rent, $325 to buy. Yikes!
Expect at least $20 per table for very basic linen table covers, if you’re lucky.
Plenty of brides have discovered they can buy table linens on eBay (for a cost, but not as much as they would pay retail), and then re-sell them and make back some of their investment afterwards.
To some brides, spending $1,000 on a dress is a real budget stretcher. Others, however, may choose a hand-beaded veil for $1,250 and think little of it.
Money-savvy brides recommend finding the perfect veil and then having a replica made by a local designer.
If you want fireworks at your wedding (the kind in the sky; not the romantic kind between the bride and groom), you need to hire professionals.
Firework displays for a gathering of friends and family should not be a “Hold my beer and watch this” endeavor.
Lighting up the sky at your wedding includes the following steps:
• Getting permission, since laws vary from one town to the next, let alone state to state. If you’re not sure what the rules are, start with your local fire department.
• Find an open space that is not densely populated. If that’s impossible and there’s a river nearby, fireworks can be set off from a barge.
• Hire professionals to take care of it. Wedding fireworks are not a DIY task, so don’t even go there.
• Be ready to write a big check. It’s going to cost on the order of $5,000, and even that won’t buy good weather.
• Plan for cleanup. Someone, whether it’s the fireworks provider, people hired expressly for clean-up, or friends you drag into taking care of it, will have to clean up all the debris afterward.
Invitations, table linens, and (arguably) veils are items that most couples need (or really want) for their big day.
But just think: if you forego fireworks and choose to have your wedding somewhere other than Versailles or your own rented island, you could potentially save hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Think how thrifty you’ll feel.
Mary Hiers is a personal finance writer who helps people earn more and spend less.