The Average Cost of a Wedding – Lies and Statistics

Cash bundlesUnderstandably there has been a lot of wedding talk in the media just lately and the cost of the Royal Wedding is one subject that’s had its fair share of coverage and discussion. Of course none of us really know what the cost was but we can be fairly sure it’s up there as one of the most expensive ever – the Daily Mail estimates the cost to the Middleton family at £250,000

Although this is an extreme example getting married is always going to be a costly event. For most couples the budget will run into the thousands but it is difficult to generalise and to say with any certainty what the typical cost really is – every wedding is unique after all?

Who Has an Average Wedding Anyway?

Now if I asked you how much the average wedding in the UK costs I’ll bet that the figure that comes to mind is £20,000 – it’s a more or less accepted fact that this is true and nobody bothers to argue about it – even the Guardian quote this figure so it must be right – no?

Well, ask yourself where this figure actually comes from and you might be forgiven for being a little sceptical – who has an average wedding anyway?

The Likely Average is £10,000 – not £20,000!

Earlier this year journalists Paul Bradshaw and Martin Griffiths investigated this subject and posted their findings on the excellent Help Me Investigate Blog. Unsurprisingly they found the source of this figure was highly suspect and that the true average cost was more likely to be around half of this amount – more like £10,000. Bear in mind also that couples are now cutting back heavily on the wedding spending – so the true figure is probably even less.

The £20,000 comes as a result of a survey carried out by You and Your Wedding Magazine in 2008 and the number of readers questioned was 1,500 – that’s just 0.6% of marriages in that year, so hardly a big sample. And, if you know your wedding mags then you’ll know that You and Your Wedding isn’t exactly aimed at brides on a budget – so that’s a huge proportion of couples omitted from the figures straight away.

The results were published at the time in a general press release which was very widely reported. Even though the survey is now almost 3 years out of date the figure has stuck and it’s one everyone refers to and one you should take with a very hefty pinch of salt.

The subject has also been covered in the US by the Wall Street Journal’s Numbers Guy and although the numbers are different the same conclusion was arrived at. Over there the cliché figure is $30,000 but the investigation found that the likely true average was around half of this figure – just $15,000.

To our knowledge no exhaustive and reputable survey has ever been carried out on the subject so next time anyone asks you what the average wedding costs say about £10,000 and you’ll be a lot nearer the mark (probably).

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