The Real Cost Of Getting Married

We’re not getting married as much any more. Of people 30 to 44 years old, only 60% were married in 2008. In 1970, 84% were married. Also, the age of people getting married for the first time is rising. In the 1970’s it was roughly 23 for women and 25 for men. In 2008 it was 29.6 for women and 31 for men.

Pressure and outside expectations can push us toward marriage. Religion and tradition play a huge part. Why else would some parents practically bankrupt themselves to throw a party?

Related: Should you pay off your partner’s debt?

Sponsoring a large wedding for your kids is one way of fulfilling family and cultural expectations as well as signifying to others that you are successful and able to support such a party. It can seem like an old-fashioned and expensive tradition.

Diamonds are a girl’s best friend

Prior to World War II, in Western countries, only 10% of engagement rings contained a diamond. That changed when De Beers, a prominent diamond cartel, popularized the diamond engagement ring when it launched its “A Diamond is Forever” ad campaign in 1947 and gave a recommended price of three months salary. That guideline is outdated now. Diamond rings come in all price ranges, with the average price being around $4,000.

“But I’m worth it,” you say. However, your worth may be better spent on something that actually builds your net worth. I know there’s no talking you out of getting a ring – it’s symbolic of the marriage and, after all, you’ll be wearing it forever. Don’t get caught up in the hype, though, it doesn’t need to cost that much.

The Big Day

How we get married and how much we spend falls in line with what it means to us personally, as well as available resources. Some parents are willing to foot the full bill, although less than a quarter actually do. About one third of couples pay for the wedding themselves and the rest pull together a hybrid of money from their own wallets, parents, other family and even friends.

Related: How to kill the joy of giving

The ideas and dreams some brides have of their wedding day can well outstrip the actual budget. However, the pressure to present a certain image, invite relatives you’ve never seen, or fulfill a childhood dream of being princess for a day cannot be underestimated or swept aside.

According to a survey done by weddingbells the average cost of a wedding in 2015 is $30,717 (including engagement ring and honeymoon). Destination weddings have doubled since 2009.

Of course, you want and need to have a celebration that brings family together, and the fabulous party you’re planning is probably the single most exciting event you’ve ever looked forward to. I get it. Eloping to city hall is not for everybody. Some costs in life you may find worthwhile.

Benefits of getting married

Being married means the possibility of becoming more financially stable over time by pooling resources – the majority of couples these days both work. One-third of married women earn more than their husbands. Many earn the same.

Related: Is a prenup really necessary?

Beyond financial benefits, personal behaviour may change for the better. Men especially practice less reckless behaviour, are healthier, more likely to get treatment when ill, and tend to outlive their single brothers. Studies show that married people are happier and experience less stress.

Insurance costs – auto, home and life – are less costly.

It may be a piece of paper but it’s powerful paper. It gives you rights to property and assets should your spouse pass away, and you and your children the legal ability to make medical decisions.


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  1. CanadianInvestor on September 23, 2015 at 3:27 am

    The most important effect of getting married is that it accentuates the financial and personal benefits or disadvantages compared to simply living as a couple. When you marry well, life is much better and when you marry poorly it’s a lot worse. Perhaps that’s why so many people today are reluctant to take the step. Since there’s no stigma nowadays to living together unmarried maybe people are just hedging their bets. However, if children come along raising them properly requires a lifelong commitment from the mom and dad so marriage imposes itself as the best solution.

  2. Trevor on September 23, 2015 at 6:46 am

    Great post especially the whole diamond debacle issue. I would like to point out another fact related to total wedding costs averaging 30k. Being in the wedding industry myself I continue to see this number touted as the end all be all, but in reality it does not represent a “typical” couples cost. You would have to do this by taking the mean of all weddings each year versus the average. According to, in 2012, when the average wedding cost was $27,427, the median was $18,086. While this number still may seem exorbitant, I think the more writers touting the average leads people to want to spend the average, further perpetuating the steady increases year after year. After all “If I only spend 24k on my wedding in 2015, I did a great job on my budget, i’m below average right?”

  3. Jon King on September 23, 2015 at 7:56 am

    It goes without saying that the significance of the event should not be judged by how much you spend on it. My wife and I had a wonderful wedding and reception this year for under $10000. Everyone we’ve talked to has said it was the best they’ve ever been to. Our rings (we opted for just one set for wedding and engagement) cost a combined $400 and contain a joint message that is meaningful to us.

  4. Robert on September 23, 2015 at 11:18 am

    Another issues that complicates (ok, totally messes up…) things are shows like “Say Yes To The Dress”, “Four Weddings”, etc. that try to convince people that if they are not spending the average amount or beyond (sometimes way beyond…) that their wedding is just not going to be “very special”. Quite similar to the HGTV motto (ok, I’m making this up…) – “You don’t have granite countertops in your kitchen? Your life must suck!”

  5. MAX on September 23, 2015 at 1:32 pm

    Very well said @ Robert!!

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