Smart Money reports that the average cost of a wedding in the U.S. is between $21,000 and $24,000.
As someone who had a super small wedding (17 people including the minister), I cannot even fathom spending even half that dollar amount on a one-day event.
What really bothers me is how much people focus on the wedding day and not the marriage. They’re so worried about tying ribbons on little bottles of bubbles, getting THE perfect dress, and making sure the DJ is on time, that they don’t even think about the financial merger that is pending. They don’t talk about whether it’s wise to pay for one day’s activities for the next year or longer. They don’t realize that whether you spend $1,000 or $10,000 on a wedding, everyone has the same piece of paper that says they’re hitched when it’s over.
I’ve been through quite a lot of friend’s, family member’s, and colleague’s weddings. And I’m starting to realize that what a couple registers for says something about their future together.
What I have seen is that the more practical the wedding registry is, the happier the couple. This is because they have put some thought into things they need instead of just zipping through Target with the little price gun clicking on everything they want. These couples recognize that a wedding is an opportunity to start their lives together on the right foot. Ask for practical items, and you will always be able to survive any hardship. Ask for practical things now and later you will be able to afford the other stuff.
On the flip side, I have seen couples whose registry includes Seasons 5-10 of The Simpsons, Purple bath towels, and enough candles to light New York City during a blackout. These same people eat out all the time, go on elaborate expensive vacations, have lots of credits cards, and no savings. Two weeks without being able to work is a financial crisis for these couples. They have no security, and are not as happy as they could be.
I’m especially leery of the couples who ask for cash or gift cards. For what? I’m not interested in helping finance a $5,000 honeymoon for people who have $50,000 in student loans. I’m not interested in getting the couple a Best Buy gift card so they can get a Nintendo Wii.
I also worry about the wild registries that show two completely different personalities: pink bedspreads and fishing gear; cooking utensils and Grand Theft Auto for PSP3. If these folks can only see what they want as individuals, how will they come together on their finances? If you can’t agree on a simple gift registry, there are bigger issues here.
So here’s a list of some things I like to see on a couple’s wedding registry:
Cooking utensils, pots & pans, bakeware, and food storage. When you’re broke, you’ll be glad you have the proper gear to cook a great meal at home.
Practical small appliances like a crockpot, griddle, food processor, vaccum sealer.
Dishes, glasses, and silverware that are practical in color and design. Stay traditional with the main pieces, and then you can do whatever you want with tablecloths, napkins, and centerpieces. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get decent quality.
Bath towels in neutral colors. If you buy white towels, you’ll never have to worry about finding a matching towel later on. And if you move around a lot, your bath towels will work with any decor.
Picture Frames. You will always have lots of photos in your house, and it’s a frugal way to decorate your home.
Basic tools. It’s good to be able to do basic fix-it jobs around your house without having to borrow from a friend or run out to a store (and pay full price).
Camping Equipment. You’ll always be able to have a vacation (even if money is tight) if you have a good tent, sleeping bag, and lantern.
Board games. Cheap entertainment with friends. ‘Nuf said.
Anything with lasting functional value. Stay away from the trendy. Stay away from DVDs, CDs, electronics. Pick things that you will use on a regular basis. Pick things that when you look at them ten years from now you’ll think of them with fondness.
Keep your list practical, and you will live happily ever after.