Can we afford a $30k Wedding?

I was reading another blog, when one of the commenters insisted that it was absolutely impossible to get married for less than $30,000. She stated that every article suggesting otherwise was either impractical or irrelevant to most people’s situation. It got me thinking. If she is in fact right and there is really no way to have a celebration for less than $30k, would I choose to have a wedding celebration?


Let’s ignore for a minute that Mr. Montana and I did have a wedding. And let’s ignore the fact that we pulled it off with the help of lots of great friends for less than $1000.

Back in the day, we were $50,000 in debt. So would we have taken on an additional $30,000 to celebrate our marriage? That would be a firm NO. Where would we have even gotten 30k? We made a whopping 8K that first year we were married! So that is an easy answer.

But what about now? Now we have ½ a million in assets. Now we have really low expenses. Now we have a bit of passive income. If we were to celebrate a wedding now, would we spend $30,000?

Before we think about this, we will go off this random comment and hold to the firm conviction that $30,000 is the absolute minimum. No way around it. It’s a certificate at the court house or 30k.

It is reasonable to think that now would be the perfect time in our lives to drop that kind of cash on a wedding. Really if anyone was going to, ours would seem to be the ideal situation.

What would that actually entail? In our real life situation, here are our options.

  1. We could drain all our emergency fund and put a bit on credit cards. So this is an option. But we have 5 kids, 3 vehicles and own multiple houses. Things go wrong ALL the time. We have a large emergency fund, because we carry a lot of responsibility. So when an “emergency” comes up (more commonly referred to as “life”), we would have to put that on credit. We don’t charge things we can’t pay for. It’s a stressful way to live. There is no way I would take on all that stress for a celebration. Answer #1: NO!
  2. We could sell a rental property. Our properties have a really nice cash flow (which is part of the reason we are Work Optional). If we sold one, we would become more work optional-ish. Am I be willing to part with thousands of dollars in passive income every year, for perhaps the rest of my life? And then possibly be forced into paid employment again. For what again? A fun celebration? Answer #2: NO!
  3. We could refinance one of our houses. Beings we already own the properties, it is considered a refinance, which makes the % higher. And beings they are rentals, that makes the % higher again. So we would be looking at about 5.5% for 30 years of payments. I don’t like payments. I don’t like paying interest. And I don’t like losing our passive income. So Answer #3: NO!
  4. We could take it out of our IRA. This might make the most sense. We haven’t needed to tap our IRA’s to support our Work Optional lifestyle yet. They are held in Roth accounts, so we wouldn’t have penalties or taxes owed. Good option, right? Well, here is the deal. We put that money in there to make us money. That is its job. Really it’s only job. Whenever we let it come out and play, it’s to make us more money. That money needs to be working really hard for the next 60 years making us money. Mostly so we don’t have to work really hard to make money. While a wedding celebration is fun, it in no way makes us money. Answer #4: NO!

While I think we are incredibly fortunate to have this life. And I think we are better off than your average bear. We are in no position to spend $30,000 on a wedding celebration for ourselves or our kids.

If you have that kind of cash lying around, with absolutely nothing else for it to do, go ahead. Celebrate big. Throw one hell of a party.

But if you don’t. You are not alone. We don’t either. Most people don’t. Why bankrupt your future for a celebration?

How about this instead? Make a deal with your future spouse. In the next 25 years you work to build your net worth to 5 million. On your 25th anniversary, when you are still blissfully married, you go big! Throw a crazy party! Heck spend $50k on that shindig.

But don’t feel pressured into something you can’t afford. Set yourself up for success. With 30K just hanging out in your saving account, think of much better your sleep and sex will be!


What do you all think? 30k or bust? If there was no way to pull off a wedding celebration for less than $30,000, would you do it now?

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14 thoughts on “Can we afford a $30k Wedding?

    • We thought about doing something big for our 10 year anniversary. But ended up being in the middle of buying and remodeling our first house. That seemed like a better use of time and money. Next year will be our 15 year anniversary and I am thinking about trying a big kid free vacation. We had a lavish vacation when we hit 1/2 million, which a fun change of pace. Maybe we will head back to your guys neck of the woods. =)

  1. The idea of spending that amount of money is just ridiculous. I mean, really!? And that’s the MINIMUM it’s supposed to cost? No thanks!

    We had a fabulous day for much much less than that. For us it was all about the marriage and not the wedding. Why put pressure on your marriage what’s doesn’t need to be there for the sake of the wedding?

    Might pinch the idea of having a massive 25th anniversary do though – only 19 years to go!

    • During our wedding, I just kept telling the Hubs,”as long as we are married at the end of the day, it was a success!” As little things went wrong, as they often do, it was a great perceptive that helped keep us in a good mood. Imagine how upset you’d be if you spent that kind of money and the day still wasn’t perfect? Congrats on your first 6 years!

  2. Bah. Poor soul.

    My wife and I stayed under 10k for our entire wedding, and 4.4k of that was just photography and food (the two things we actually cared about). It was an amazing time for everyone I think, and yes, I’m proud of the budget 🙂

    We’re definitely on the “25 years from now” party train as well…but we also cherished everything we got for that 10k. Quite possibly the best 10k we’ve ever spent.

    Great post.

    p.s. “don’t feel pressured into something you can’t afford” is priceless. The best takeaway.

    • I think if we were to get married today ours would be in the $5-10k range. My biggest regret was not having a photographer. The one I tried to hire, delayed in committing for a long while, then we he backed out we didn’t have the time to find another one. Some family members said they would take some pictures, but it wasn’t the same at all. The picture I used for this post was the best one we got. Congrats on the wedding! Have fun dreaming about the big 25 year party. The coolest part will be all the amazing people that come into your life between now and then that you will be able to celebrate with!

  3. We spent about $5K, and combined the wedding with a honeymoon at that price. We got married on the beach in Hawaii, just the two of us. Wouldn’t change it for the world. My parents had a small dinner party for friends & family a month or so later. (Husband’s family is out of the country). It was perfect.

    • We went camping for 2 weeks for our honeymoon. It was actually really nice to unplug from the world for a while. =) We have since made up for it with some awesome vacations. When we could actually afford it.

  4. Hey, Mrs. M. Totally agree. There’s no need to sabotage your financial well-being for a four-hour party. I’ve been to $50K weddings and $100 weddings. And the best weddings I’ve ever been to skewed a lot closer to the low side of that spread. In fact, the best wedding I ever went to featured a high school kid spinning vinyl (it was in 1980), a buffet of comfort food, and a keg of beer. I doubt the wedding cost $1500. Thanks for injecting some sanity into our country’s insane wedding fetish.

    • I don’t mind big weddings if people can truly afford them. But it drives me crazy how much pressure is put on people to have this big event that they can’t afford. I have a friend who’s parents are millionaires. They gave her a budget of 30k. That is totally reasonable. If a millionaire is giving you 30k, have a great party. But if you have student loan debt, credit card debt, no retirement savings, no emergency savings… well. It’s ok to say, I can’t afford that. We have a 1/2 million net worth and can’t afford it. (or won’t trade our freedom for it) =)

    • I think it can be hard to keep perspective while brides are going through the process. Because we all want something nice, and when all the cakes are side by side, it’s easy to see which one is nicer. (the more expensive one!) Times that by the 50 different choices that need to be made, and the cost gets out of control.

  5. Great Article. I project I will most likely get married in the next 3-5 years so this article hits home. I started a Capital One 360 savings account and set up an “Wedding Fund”. My goal is $10k and that is the max I will go. I keep thinking about what if I invested that $10k (in myself or at least in an Index fund) where would I be. I want to have a nice wedding but its not that important to me. Retiring early and traveling is.

    My older sisters both had expensive weddings $50k and $30k (6 years ago) where my parents used money from their IRA’s to help pay for. If I only knew what I know now I would talk some sense into both my sisters and parents.

    Bottom line, I refuse to go into any debt from a Wedding. Id rather have less people and a simpler wedding to get into debt.