Then, I look into things like wedding venues, catering, etc., and it seems like maybe the problem isn't so much that people want to overspend on a fairy tale wedding, but that the wedding industry is set up to extract as much money as possible from people and even if you go into the planning with a budget, you might find that that amount means you get married at city hall and have the reception in mom's living room (which is fine too).
I am not a wedding gal. I have never gone to a wedding and analyzed what I want and what I would do differently. I never wore a pillow case on my head and pretended to be a bride. Honestly, I don't really ever want a wedding, but I understand that some people do. I always knew weddings were expensive, but I never understood exactly why they were so expensive. A good friend of mine got married a few years ago, and she vented to me how much money they had to spend on all these little things. That was the first time I had ever really heard a dollar amount attached to wedding stuff, but after attending the wedding (and I'm not trying to sound like a bitch), I was shocked at how much she had spent on what looked pretty low-key and a little bit tacky.
The a couple years later another friend got married, and I did some online sleuthing to see about how much she probably paid for things. This was where I learned that the venue frequently has all of these built-in conditions that cost you extra money. You may try to be frugal, but it's almost like they won't let you.
For instance: A friend of mine got married at a very nice location--a working farm with a lovely bungalow. The ceremony was outside and everything seemed simple, low-key and easy. Then I took a look at what she actually paid for.
$2500 to rent the facility for eight hours
$250/hour additional time, if needed
Cost of $1,000,000 insurance policy
Cost of a professional bartender for a minimum of 4.5 hours + cost of booze
Table and chair rental--$3 per chair, $6 per table
Cost of catering
Obviously, a lot of those expenses are negotiable like photographer and caterer, but we're still looking at a one-day event that costs at least what I make in six months. I'd rather have a down payment on a house.
So this is why I'm scared of/not interested in weddings. Even if you go into it thinking you don't want to go overboard and spend too much, if you actually want a nice, non cheap-looking wedding, the price tag is exorbitant.
If any readers managed to have a nice wedding that was not insanely expensive, I would love to hear about it. Leave a comment or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Average wedding costs: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/03/23/us-wedding-costs-idUSBRE82M11O20120323