If You Could Choose – A $25,000 Wedding Or A Brand New Car?

The average cost of a wedding in the United States is about $25,000…and a figure I find to be quite high. To each their own, I suppose…if you can afford it without blinking then by all means throw a huge bash. Ours was about $14,000 and we thought that was silly. $14,000 for a party that lasts 5 or 6 hours? That’s crazy talk! It was not that we didn’t have the money to pay for it…we started saving the minute we got engaged and paid off the final bill about 2 weeks after we got married. We had about 65-75 guests, fully catered, DJ, photographer, the venue was great, etc..we could not have asked for any more. But still…$14,000 out the door for a party. And this isn’t just me talking; my wife felt the same way. But anyway, I digress. I was having a conversation with a friend of mine who is getting married next year and we were discussing the costs associated with weddings and he was thinking his was going to run about $25,000 or so. He thinks it is quite high and kind of a waste of money and thought a better use of that money would be a nice down payment on a house or a brand new car, and I have to agree. $25,000 down on a house is nothing to sneeze at and neither is a paid off car that will last you 10 years or more.

So… if you had your choice, would you rather have a cheap but very nice wedding but a brand new car that is fully paid off, or continue making those $400 per month car payments for the next 5 years and have a $25,000 wedding? For us, if we actually had the ability to make a choice like this, we would have chosen the car for sure. We didn’t need a fancy wedding at all…in fact it got fancier than we even wanted it to be because of pressure from our families. For the next one, I will not listen to them! (kidding, honey :-))

Which would you choose if you had the choice?

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Comments (17)

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  1. Mike S. says:

    Tough call. Our wedding was “reasonable” at about 10K. Those memories will last a lifetime and are invaluable. However, as I view a car as solely a means of transportation, having one worth 25K wouldn’t mean that much to me either other than the fact that it would probably last 7+ years.

    How about a compromise? A 10K wedding and 10-15K left over to buy a decent used car.

  2. david says:

    No compromise…one or the other ;-). Compromises are too easy to make…I am genuinely curious what people would choose!

  3. Brainy Smurf says:

    My wife and I went the Vegas route and you know what? It was really nice. Not anything like what you’d expect (really, it wasn’t tacky or chintzy) and it only cost us around $5k total — airfare, suite at the Bellagio, rental car, food, limo, photographer, prints, etc…

    I’m *so* glad we did it that way. No regrets at all.

  4. Brip Blap says:

    What if the choice was a $25,000 wedding or $102,903 dollars? That’s what that $25K would represent if you put it in a 5% interest account for 30 years (not considering taxes, inflation, etc., just a quickie calculation). Or half of a downpayment on a $500,000 house?

  5. david says:

    That’s pretty much the point but put a little differently. It’s the $25K spent on a 5 hour event versus spent on something that could either give you a free ride for 10+ years, a downpayment on a house, or as you put it, a bunch of cash somewhere down the line. Which would you choose?

  6. Brip Blap says:

    I already chose, actually. My wife and I had a big wedding in New York City (over 100 guests) but through a lot of deal-making and wrangling we kept it down around $13,000, which is exceptionally small by NYC professional-couple standards. But we just couldn’t see spending more, and in effect used the “rest” of the $25000 on a house downpayment. So I guess my answer is that we split the difference!

    I think for some people it’s just not feasible to skip the wedding altogether – society has hammered it into our heads (particularly women) that it is something that MUST be done. Fair enough, but the inflation in wedding prices in recent years seems extreme. A colleague of mine just finished throwing an $80,000 wedding. And when I say my colleague, I mean “her parents”.

  7. david says:

    I agree…a wedding is just as good if it costs $100 at City Hall as it does at a ritzy place where you drop $50,000. $80,000 for a wedding…that has a 50% chance of failing within 2 years. I cannot even imagine!

  8. I’d definitely choose the car. Our wedding cost about $4000, and I don’t regret anything. It should be more about the marriage than the wedding anyway.

  9. Dr. V says:

    We spent $500 total. That included my dress (a $40 closeout special), the tuxes, my bridesmaid’s dress (she was broke so I paid for it), invitations, flowers, the organist and the soloist. Family members who are amateur photographers took pictures.

    Invest in a marriage. Not in a wedding.

  10. […] we should spend the $25,000 on a wedding or a house down payment (or maybe we can’t even decide whether we want the wedding or the car). Most of us can certainly afford to pay for the wedding, but would we fulfill our dream and […]

  11. Stephanie says:

    My husband and I spent about 10K for a wedding with about 100 guests. I can’t imagine spending more, and even that was a lot. We did really good on finding bargains (relatively speaking for the wedding industry), including making our own centerpieces, and scattering rose petals on the tables for decorations. The guests loved how we had everything set up.

    No, we couldn’t have everything we thought was a neat idea, fun or whatever, but it kept the spending level sane.

  12. Personally, I want a small wedding if and when I get married. Plus, the car will retain some resale value, which would benefit a couple more than an expensive wedding.

  13. eric says:

    we chose the wedding and a cheap car. but an AWESOME/EXPENSIVE australian honeymoon. if i had to do it again, i’d scrimp on the wedding, forget the car, and fly to ‘stralia again.

    go for option c. honeymoon

  14. OnePinky says:

    We chose the smaller wedding thanks. I told my parents that if they had that kind of money to spend on my wedding, I would elope instead and take the money for the new house. 😉

  15. I’d use the money towards a nice honeymoon (preferably to go scuba diving), car, or house. An expensive wedding isn’t necessary!

    When I was younger I learned that the bride’s parents is supposed to pay for the wedding. I asked Mother about that since she’s living on a low income. She just replied, “Don’t worry, you’ll apply for a credit card to pay for the wedding.” Nicely stated by Mother. I can’t justify spending $25000 on a wedding.

  16. Dr. D. says:

    Mom and Dad got married at the courthouse with their two best friends as witnesses. It was good enough for them, and it will be good enough for me. They’ve been together 42 years.

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