Tuesday, May 15, 2018

James Tulp: The Absurd Cost of Weddings


I can actually say I’ve had someone ask me for $1,200 in exchange for cake. Cake.

“Is it made with magic flour?” I wondered, trying to keep my face as straight as theirs.

This cake was no magic cake. This cake was a wedding cake. (Disclosure- it wasn’t just a wedding cake, that was quoted $800. The remaining $400 was for sheet cake)

Needless to say, we took our business elsewhere.

A few days later, my fiancée and I sat across the table from two lovely photographers, a husband and wife team, who calmly explained that pictures for our wedding would cost $5,900. That did not include printed copies. It also did not include our signatures on a contract with them.

I’m not writing this to complain. I’m writing to explain. And to warn.

According to The Knot's 2017 Real Weddings Study, the average cost of a wedding in the United States is now $33,391. That is insane.

Mississippi is the 10th “most affordable” state for weddings at $22,645. 



The wedding industry generated $72 billion in revenue in 2016. That’s up almost 38% from 2012.

The cost of weddings have skyrocketed in recent years. You know what else have? Divorce rates. Is this evidence of correlation? Not necessarily, but clearly the values of our culture have descended into temporal materialism at the expense of spiritual mysticism , a phenomenon which has manifested itself in myriad ways. This, I would argue, is not desirable, let alone ideal.
Think about the most extravagant wedding you’ve ever been to. What color were the flowers? The table cloths? What kind of wine did you drink?

Unless it was your own wedding, you probably don’t remember because none of those things matter.

Weddings should be a celebration, even a big event. In Isaiah 25:6, the prophet tells of a future time in which God is reunited with His people forever. “On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples,a banquet of aged wine—  the best of meats and the finest of wines.”

If the profound mystery of marriage refers to Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:32), we should celebrate with good food and drink. It should be a significant event for everyone involved. That doesn’t mean you should go broke doing it though.

Planning a wedding is an emotional and often stressful time. If you’re not careful, those emotions could be exploited by people looking to make a buck.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for an industry to get into and don’t mind taking advantage of young naive people in the immediate lead up to the biggest event of their lives, consider starting a wedding business. The profit margins are phenomenal, apparently.

James Tulp is an adjunct professor of political science at Mississippi College and a talk radio host for WYAB 103.9FM.

44 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ironically, cost of divorce isn't too far behind.

Anonymous said...

Amen, amen, amen.

Anonymous said...

BEING A WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER, I SAY THAT WEDDINGS ARE OVER PRICED ALL OF THE TIME. HOWEVER, THE THINGS THAT THESE "MILLENNIALS" WANT AND EXPECT MAKES ME CHARGE HIGHER PRICES. EACH ONE WANTS TO OUTDO THE NEXT AND THEY ALL HAVE DREAMS AF GRANDEUR. EVERYONE WANTS TO LOOK RICH, SO I MAKE THEM PAY THE COST.

Derrell Ray said...

WHATTHEHELL,I just searched yahoo an you can become a minister for FREE as long as your over thirteen,,,,smh

Anonymous said...

Wedding coordinators that charge $8500 “or” 10% of the wedding cost. I just recently had a friend get married. $20k plus with the caterer and he didn’t even get a bite of his own food. It’s a racket but what can you do. People these days are tired of the stuck up church weddings and I can’t say I blame them.

Anonymous said...

My wife does wedding cakes for a living and I can attest to the outrageous prices that people will pay for a piece of cake. However, as the photographer stated at 4:22pm, everyone wants to outdo one another and that means bigger, and more creative cakes. Most wedding cakes are priced by the serving slice but people want a huge cake just to make a statement so a couple that needs 100 slices for their wedding will often end up with a 300 slice cake just so that it has plenty of tiers and size to it. I agree its nuts! But I sure do love having my "sugar momma" wife

Anonymous said...

My wife and I spent money on a beautiful bunch of flowers and two rings. We tipped the pastor. The pastor's secretary was the witness. Over twenty years later we still laugh at the largess of the weddings we're invited to attend. Dad, give the money for a down payment on a home for the newlyweds or a start of a financial retirement for their kids. Grow up, people.

Anonymous said...

why should you buy a cow when you get the milk free.

Anonymous said...

James Tulp fails again. Tulp just elope my man

Anonymous said...

This is exactly why so many young people now are pictured barefooted on a beach somewhere, all dressed up, getting married. It's pure nonsense to pay that much for a wedding, a cake or photographs. All you 'service providers' have priced yourself out of the market and out of your haughty professions. Not unlike funeral parlors.

Marie Antoinette said...

Why should purveyors of desirable, high-end specialty services knock down their prices for people like you, Mr. Tulp, when there are a dozen people right behind you who are willing to pony up? I dont blame the patissiers, photographers, wedding planners and caterers one bit for charging as many thousands as the market will bear. Why do it for less, when there are big spenders out there? It’s not as if they are providing basic medical care or fresh water to the masses—-they target the wealthy, and good for them, say I. Don’t like the price point, don’t have a big wedding. Simple as that. Nobody’s forcing you.

Anonymous said...

Tulp is right. Forget the dog and pony show. Have the wedding at 2:00, serve ginger ale over sherbert as punch, mixed nuts, and finger sandwiches. Forget the honeymoon to Bali and have the hefty downpayment on a home.

Anonymous said...

the leading cause of divorce is.......................................marrige

Anonymous said...

Both of my daughters were married within the same year - 2016. I gave each couple $25K and said get what you want. If you have money left over it's yours for a house down payment or whatever. If you go over budget don't call me. You get no change orders on this project. The two weddings were different as night and day. I think one had money left over and the other didn't. But I didn't ask. I just showed up, made a toast, gave away the bride, and had a good time. If I could have afforded only 5K or 10K, the procedure would have been the same - you get this much money from brides parents and you take it from there. If they don't have mind enough to plan their wedding, they cannot run a household and aren't ready to get married.

Anonymous said...

people should spend about 50$ on a wedding and then if they are still married 10 years later , then throw the big wing-ding party

Anonymous said...

When I got married a few years ago, her parents offered us $35K for the wedding. We explained we didn't feel right taking that much money from them and we would pay for our own wedding. They insisted they had saved the money for their daughter's wedding and she could spend it as she wished.

We planned a destination wedding in Antigua. We invited our parents to attend and any other friends that wanted to come. The week in Antigua with the wedding included cost us $6,000. After all was said and done we spent 10k of the 35k.

We took the remaining 25k and used it along with other money we had as a down payment on our first house. Her parents were very happy with how we used the money they gave us. I had a friend recently get married and their wedding cost $60k. That is insane in my opinion.

Old Curmudgeon said...

Contrary to what he writes, Tulp IS complaining...and nobody cares.

How about you just plan your wedding based on what you want and quit bitching about it - if it costs too much do something else. Facebook, Instagram and all of those stupid TV shows have created an environment of false expectations and the need to please and compete with people who really don't give a shit about you.

Anonymous said...

25K---35K-- for a
wedding,are you all insane or stupid,or ignorant. What A Waste of good money.If they stay married,they will need that money to raise the kids...Hello-----

Anonymous said...

@6:27 Most Americans in my generation, or hell, most Americans period simply don't know how to handle money. Wedding, Mortgage, you name it. You have two options 1) get informed and do the exact opposite and/or 2) make money off of the uninformed.

They literally think that the more it costs, the better the quality. The more they go into debt, the better their social standing (which sadly is mostly true).....I guess the moral of the story is if you aren't trying to keep up with the joneses, make money off the joneses.

The middle ground in all of this is just to save your money, but the financialization of everything has made that quite the tricky thing to do.
Every vendor selling something more than $500 has its own finance department. As far as savers are concerned, we're getting the bad end of the stick as the best interest rates barely keep up, if at all, with they yearly est. inflation rate even with a well thought out C.D. ladder or something to that extent.
It's pitiful, but umm yeah.

All of the cheap money in today's world mainly goes towards leveraging schemes in the capital markets i.e. Hedge funds and "trickles down" from there. You have to hand it to them, it's a well thought out game of which most Americans are simply unaware.

none said...

Weddings actually cost around $100,000

Theca Jones said...

Weddings are very expensive and it's a racket but you know who directly controls the prices?.... Hmmm.... Lol Stop falling for the traps.

Anonymous said...

My wife & I spent a grand total of $1K of our own money on our wedding, and we've been married for 20+ years. 7:14 is exactly right about these high dollar weddings; it's all about keeping up with the Joneses. What a load of $hit.....

Anonymous said...

Studies have shown that the more money that's spent on a wedding, then the higher the risk of eventual divorce.

Anonymous said...

I think ours cost less than $5k, including the church, preacher, musicians, photographer, reception, cake, dress, and honeymoon. This was in 2005.

Anonymous said...

So anyone that pays more than the authors preconceived notion of wedding costs is getting ripped off? Really? It's a free market... don't like the price, go somewhere else, like you did. But to sit around and bad mouth others who do pay for a big event and enjoy a big celebration is a little narrow minded...
Have you ever worked at a wedding? Have you ever seen how much work and preparation goes into one? I have worked on the sound & light team of my church for weddings, I have worked with large production weddings, and have worked behind the scenes on numerous weddings. I show up at 3 in the afternoon for a 7 o'Clock wedding and when reception is over at 10-11 PM I still have another 2 hours of cleanup and lockup after the event.... So how much is my time worth? How much is the alternative use of my time? How do you calculate the ROI on this "big day"? If you want to be cheap, fine. I see it all the time. I have helped young couples who paid for their own small wedding with no help from parents. They had family cater, they had a friend take pictures, etc. And I have worked at large weddings with over 1000 attendees. Just cause it isn't worth it to you, doesn't mean it isn't worth it to them....

Anonymous said...

Just to rent the venue at CCJ is $35,000 even if you are a member. Shiver me TIMBERS that's a lot of paper.

Anonymous said...

My son and stepdaughter were both married in 2016. Our son and his wife spent about $4,000 (cash) and we spent $4400 on the rehearsal dinner. Our stepdaughter "had" to go all out, and we gave her $15,000 and she and her Mom paid the rest, and maxed out every credit card they had, for a total of probably $35-40k. Our son and his wife have no debt other than car payments and house payments, and our stepdaughter and her husband are now paying off those credit cards and two student loans.

Both were beautiful weddings, but our son has no weight of debt hanging over him, while our stepdaughter struggles every month, on an income of $130k.

Makes no sense.

Anonymous said...

I’m not sure when weddings became “productions” but that seems to be why the wedding industry has become so lucrative for service providers and vendors. After seeing her friends have the same cookie cutter productions, with the self-inflicted stress of “production perfection” and worry that “friends” (and their mommas) will talk critically about the “production” if it’s not over-the-top, my daughter said “no, thanks” and planned a simple destination wedding with 30 invited guests. No bridesmaids, because she didn’t want girl drama and being in her early thirties, recognized that most of her friends are busy with work/children/life and asking them to fork out money required to be a bridesmaid seemed ridiculous. She said her wedding was perfect... no stress and no worry. As her parent, I would add “no debt.”

Anonymous said...

Mine was $75,000 because each time we tried to save money, the family would complain and demand the most expensive option. Beer, a red and white wine option? Nope. Had to be open bar. Thank f we weren’t paying. Boomers try to outdo each other also, 4:22.

Anonymous said...

The best comparison I’ve heard is to go out....purchase a brand new luxury car with all the bells and whistles....costing at least 75~100K.. Drive it for a day and then push it off a cliff!

Anonymous said...

Let’s hope that the awkward girl from the Cowboy Maloney’s commercial has a moment during her wedding when she stops and points at the preacher and says “just what does for better or worse mean?”

Anonymous said...

We were married after the last church service of the day. 500+ were at that service! The Paster stated; " the church service is over, we are having a wedding, anyone want to stay is welcome". We came up to the front of the church and married in front of 500+! No cost!!!

We paid $675 for a dinner for 50, and a $ 300 for a 3 man band( instrumental music) ensemble at the Thad Cochran center at USM on 17 June 2017.

I had the means to spend $50,000 plus, however I didn't see the logic. Oh yes I gave my pastor $100.

Happily married and living in Lamar Countyk (Hattiesburg).

Anonymous said...

These high priced weddings are mostly about brides competing. I bet 75-80% of the grooms could care less about the wedding. The are doing it to please the girl. Because every Southern girl knows, they deserve anything they ask for. Especially half of the assets several years later.

Sam Kinison once said “ the next time I think about getting married, I’m just gonna find a woman I hate and buy her a house.”

Anonymous said...

Things have never been the same at the office of Southern Living magazine since they let an intern mistakenly put the Cox-Rings wedding in the bridal edition. Many a blue haired old lady stroked out that month.

Anonymous said...

to 10:04pm....... your comment wins the prize!!!

Anonymous said...

i been practicing law for 30 years. have had many a client come in the office and ask about the possible repercussions about some deal they were about to get into. however i have NEVER had a client come in and seek legal advise about what could potentially happen to his $, his kids, and his property if he got married and the deal went south and ended in divorce. people are in total denial about that. marriages are a deal like any other. why do you think european royalty only marries other european royalty? its to keep all the $ together. here it is boys, for better or for worse, the definition of divorce is where you hand over the two things you love most, your kids and your $, to the person you despise most, your ex-wife.

Here comes da bride said...

One of my favorite weddings that I attended was at the now infamous CCJ aka JCC. A skaky scraggly hair girl went to the wedding, dogged the bride (who is gorgeous) and walked out drunk with an unopened bottle of wine.
My other two favorite weddings were both a washout outside reception. All the other weddings are just a blur.

Anonymous said...

These are the reasons this millennial is having a $22(price of the license) courthouse wedding and laid back backyard reception. Any money provided by parents or friends will go to a cost-effective honeymoon.

Anonymous said...

1. Advice to young men - a professional hooker is cheaper than a wife!
2. A good wife is worth far more in the long run...but it is a long long long run. LOL
3. Pray for boys if you have kids...far less expensive and fewer headaches than girls.
4. Both of my girls wanted a PARTY (plus they got married in a full mass). Cost $60K each, but was worth it for daddy's little girls. They had all their friends and we got to see all of ours and had a great time at each wedding (one in town and one in NO). They married well as Jerry Clowers would say, and we have a grandchild from one of the happy unions (they are pretty neat little people) and my wife and I a lot of joy without the headaches.
5. You can't take the $$ with you. You will die. Enjoy your family while you can and make good memories.

Anonymous said...

Don’t blame millennials for their problems that what we, their parents created for them. They weren’t born with their arrogance and wild expectations; we instilled this within them.

Expensive weddings (for the non-wealthy) are just another example of how people will follow each other off of a cliff, regardless of how idiotic it is.

Of course the media and marketers get credit as well. Take yesterday’s royal wedding BS. This country was founded to break free from that very royalty but the American media is obsessed with it; and of course the guest included royalty wanna be entertainers, etc.; almost all lefty socialist (everybody is equal) types, but royalty worshippers nonetheless.

Funny stuff!

Anonymous said...

good point 11:10...." that this county was founded to break free from that very royalty". but a good point like that goes right over the heads of 99% of the population of this country cause they dont know history past last wednesday. for hundreds f years the royal families of europe held the populace in virtual slavery. when an estate or land was sold the people working the land were sold along with it. they dont teach that in the schools.

Anonymous said...

4:45:

Yeah, you sound like a great husband/father: 'Get a hooker instead of a wife'; 'have boys, they are easier/cheaper'(says a guy with two daughters); ' my daughters' weddings cost $120k 9because we wanted to party!)...
You sound like a real loser, not father material.

Anonymous said...

My daughter’s wedding was at the NOCC, The whole deal - invitations to limo that drove them away. 100k plus. A lot of fun. My neighbor’s daughter’s wedding.... and her dad could write a check for whatever , Wedding at 11:00 am , lunch for 60-70 people at Antoines, three piece combo, Approximately 10k .A lot of fun....

Kingfish said...

Gripe all you want about Tulp but his columns are beating Salter and Crawford, usually combined.

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