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The Ready.Set.Retire! Blog

Destination Wedding or Fully Funded Retirement? Something to think about!

Abigail Walker, CFP®

Every year I am invited to three or four weddings and I love attending every one. But I’ve noticed a few trends lately and I thought I would put together some things for today’s couples to think about as they are about to tie the knot. Here is what I found:

Destination Wedding or Fully Funded Retirement_ Something to think about

Top 2016 Wedding Statistics

A survey of nearly 13,000 US couples married in 2016 uncovered the costs and trends of weddings today and discovered that:

· In 2016, the average cost of a wedding reached an all-time high at $35,329, while the number of guests dropped.

· Custom guest entertainment has more than tripled, from 11% to 41% since 2009, with photo booths (78%), games (18%), musical performances (12%) and fireworks (8%) at the top of the list.

Here's some additional  interesting wedding facts:

· Most Expensive Place to Get Married: New York City (Manhattan specifically), with an average cost of $78,464

· Least Expensive Place to Get Married is Arkansas, with an average cost of $19,522 average spend

· Average Spend on a Wedding Dress: $1,564

· Average Number of Guests: 141

· Average Number of Bridesmaids: 5

 · Average Number of Groomsmen: 5

· Most Popular Month to Get Engaged: December (15%)

· Average Length of Engagement: 15 months

· Percentage of Destination Weddings: 20


Parents are Absorbing Much of the Cost

Surprisingly – at least to me – is that parents still pay for a majority of today’s weddings. On average, the bride's parents contribute 44% of the overall wedding budget, the bride and groom contribute 42%, and
the groom's parents contribute about 13%.


Fully Funded Retirement?

Instead of spending the average of $35,329 for a wedding, what if couples were married at their local court house instead? Let’s say they spend an average of $100 on a marriage license and then another $229 on a nice lunch. For the remaining $35,000, they could:

· Pay off most of their student loans – the average class of 2016 graduate has $37,172 in student loan debt

· Have a healthy down payment on a brand-new house – the average cost to build a new four bedroom house comes in at $291,354 – so $35,000 is a 12% down payment

· Buy a 2017 Audi Q3 or 2017 Lexus NX or 2017 Infiniti QX30 or 2017 Cadillac ATS

· Invest in an S&P 500 index fund, wait 35 years, and assuming an average annual return of 11%, watch their “wedding investment” grow to $1,350,119 in retirement savings

A wedding can be a fun one-day or weekend party with your loved ones, however, it may not be the best use of your  money.    Even if you cut back on your wedding a bit, it can make a big impact on your retirement savings in the future.   Wishing you life, love and a fully funded retirement!