Generational divide – wedding cost

From my own experience and from talking with friends, it seems that sometimes there is a generational divide when it comes to the perception of how much a wedding is worth.

When I was planning my wedding (which, unfortunately did not go ahead when five months before my wedding date, I realised I did not love my fiance any more and broke off the engagement and the relationship), my parents were forever saying how a wedding needn’t be expensive. They couldn’t understand why anyone would want to spend thousands of pounds on a wedding.

I was planning my big day for 6k all in, which, I often felt wasn’t enough. All the wedding magazines I bought, the wedding forums I frequented and the big day blogs I read told me that you needed at least 10k, but that most couples sent 20k on their celebration. Thinking about trying to pay for everything on a small budget whilst avoiding my guests thinking that the decorations were tacky or sparse and underwhelming was daunting.

No doubt we’ve all heard one of our relatives telling us how they got hitched on a shoe string, and how they loved their day and all the guests had an excellent time. My own parents got married at the tender ages of 19 and 21 in 1984, spending about 1k on everything. 30 years later they are still happily married and have wonderful memories of their day.

£1,000 In 1984 is equivalent to £2,725.30 today. However, can we really imagine spending just £2,725.30 on your wedding day?

How they did it in brief:
My Dad and his Best Man wore their RAF best uniforms – FREE
My Great Grandmother and my Grandmother bought my Mum’s wedding dress and veil for her – FREE (downside was they went shopping and bought it without her. She didn’t choose it at all!)
They used a local taxi driver as the wedding car (the taxi was unmarked and put a wedding ribbon on)
A colleague of my dads did the photography (he was more used to taking pictures of planes! But he did a wonderful job) – FREE
They bought a high street Flower Girl dress in blue and the adult Bridesmaid wore her own dress
The ceremony was done at the village church
The reception was in the village hall
My mum won their honeymoon in Paris through work – FREE

I understand completely where people such as my dear parents are coming from when they moan about how much money couples spend on their weddings. It does seem to have become a competition; who can have the best entertainment, who can have the nicest wedding favours etc, and a certain snobbery seems to have developed, notably among many a snobbery against DJs and a move towards live bands or musicians.

However, I also understand why many couples wish to save a large budget for their wedding day. In the 1980’s and earlier it was frowned upon to live together without being married, more so frowned upon to have children outside of wedlock. For most people the norm was to get married, move in together and then have children.

In today’s society, it is no longer frowned up on live together or have children outside of wedlock. Many people are single parents, many are living together without being married, and even more who live together and have children minus the vows. Marriage is now a CHOICE, not a convention to be abided by.

Therefore when women grow up, surrounded by divorces, by friends who decided not to marry, when they meet their future husband and mutually decide to show their commitment to each other by joining into matrimony they want to do it ‘properly’, even if it means saving a lot of money, and perhaps, making sacrifices to ensure they can have the day they have spent years planning.

The average age of people getting married has also gone up since the 80’s. In the 80’s the average age for men and women to first get married was 24 for men and 22 for women. In 2010 the average age of people getting married for the first time was 28 for men and 26 for women.

The average ages for couples first getting married rising and the increase in women earning higher wages is a very good reason as to why, when couples do get married they decide to spend extra on making sure they are able to have everything they have planned to have.

I’d love to hear from other brides-to-be or wives in relation to if you feel there is generational differences when it comes to opinions on how much a wedding should cost.

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