The average American wedding costs $30,000.

A friend shared wedding pictures in a group chat today, which led to a conversation about weddings and their costs. I mentioned that I thought 30,000 USD was a lot of dough to drop on what is really just an extravagant (albeit significant) party.


Unsurprisingly, a heated debate ensued with equal amounts of people on both sides. From there, the discussion migrated to optimal venues, the merits of destination weddings, and the most important aspect of a wedding (consensus: great food and an open bar). As it was waning, a thought suddenly occurred to me:

Why don’t we have intimate, spartan weddings and splurge on an anniversary celebration instead?

Think about it. Couples are spending the equivalent of a brand new car to celebrate what exactly? A lifelong commitment that hasn’t been tested yet? Although divorce rates have decreased since the 1980’s, marriages still fail at a whopping 39%. That’s astronomical to me. In other words, there is a 39% chance that the expensive photographs you paid for will eventually become painful artifacts that you never want to see again. (Yes, I’m aware that everyone thinks they’ll be part of the 61%, but hope and prayers are not a successful life strategy.)

Instead of spending all that money upfront, why not wait until at least, say, the tin anniversary? The average length of a marriage that ends in divorce is around 7 to 8 years, so making it to the tin anniversary puts you past the riskiest phase. At that point, you’ll have something to celebrate. If you got married in your 20’s or 30’s like most people do, you’ll still be young enough to party it up ten years later. And ideally, the two of you will have significantly more money ten years after getting married than on your wedding day.

Or just get the in-laws to pay for everything, especially if they’re the ones insisting on the medium pink roses and forced-air heating.