Thursday, May 28, 2009

How Much Wedding Budget Should Go Towards "The Dress"?

This is a tough question, but I'm feeling up to attacking this topic today! I've read in supposedly reputable sources (bridal magazines) that about 20% of your wedding budget should go towards your dress. I must disagree!

This may have made sense when there was limited choice in wedding dresses, much less what I'll call "nice" wedding dresses. To be able to understand the numbers, we'll first have to look at what weddings really cost! According to The Wedding Report the average US wedding in 2008 cost $21,814. This was a 24% decline from 2007 indicating the recession affected couple's budgets in a big way. This means that even at discounted "recession prices" that the average bride should be spending well over $4,000 on her dress. Pretty insane, right? Why would they suggest such a thing? I liken it to DeBeers giving the advice that men should be spending two month's salary on the engagement ring. It's in their interest to aim high here! What is plastered all over bridal magazines? Ads for dresses! So of course they want to promote the idea of paying a lot for a wedding dress: it's also in their best interest.

Before we get all into conspiracy-theory territory, let's look at some more "real world" numbers to see what brides are ACTUALLY spending! In 2008 brides spent an average of $916 on their dress. Yes, a far cry from $4k indeed! There's more to it, however.
  • The veil: $106
  • Tiara, combs, hair pins, garter: $72
  • Shoes: $94
  • Dress Preservation: $124
  • All figures from The Wedding Report
This makes the total "outfit" plus preservation afterwards come to $1,312. If we use the average cost of a wedding in 2008 fro above ($22K) and do the math, this works out to 6% of the budget. Breathing easier now, aren't you! To give a couple of examples outside the "average cost" this would mean that if your wedding budget is:
  • $10,000 that at 6% your bridal attire should come to $600
  • $30,000 translates to $1,800
Feeling better, aren't you? Now that you have a guideline, get shopping!

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