How Much Does it Cost to Get Married?

by Josh Champagne on July 6, 2012

Every enterprising young man who is considering popping the BIG question to his girlfriend has probably asked himself another question as well: “how much does it cost to get married?” We are talking here about the costs a young man is usually responsible for. So, this doesn’t include the cost of the wedding day itself (except for the honeymoon suite of course). That cost (averaging $29,000) is traditionally paid for by the parents of the bride. So, for the young man thinking of marriage, how much does it cost to get married? More than you might think!

A friend of mine recently started a relationship, which if all goes as planned, will probably lead to the marriage altar. Since I recently got married he asked me frankly, friend-to-friend, how much I figured he’d need to get married, zip away on a lovely honeymoon and come back to a fully furnished, comfortable home for his bride. I gave him a pretty easy figure: $50,000.

How Much Does it Cost to Get Married? $50k

If you are a young man considering marriage, you can stop reading this article, go back to work and start piling away those savings! Or you can continue reading and find out how I arrived at this figure.

I tend to be extremely debt averse, which is apparently unusual for Americans. My goal was to marry completely debt free. Mission accomplished. The only debt I hope to ever incur in the future, is a mortgage. Mortgages are a ‘useful’ sort of debt and have their benefits, but we’ll save those details for another post. Needless to say, when I was considering the idea of getting married (before I ever started a relationship) I did some itemizing and calculating to come to the $50k figure. Here they are.

 

One Time Costs (aka non-budget items)

  • Furniture / Appliances  -  $15,000
  • Engagement / Wedding Ring  -  $4,000
  • Honeymoon  -  $4,000
  • Home Goods (pillows, sheets, curtains and other items for setting up a house)  -  $2,500
  • Kitchen Equipment (non appliance)  -  $2,500
  • Emergency Fund (3-6 month’s expenses) $10,000
  • Total One Time Costs = $38,000

 

 cost-of-getting-married-starting-outRecurring Costs (aka budget items)

  • Starter home rental $800-1,000/month ($800 + first and last month’s deposit = $2,400 up front)
  • Food & household $600/month
  • Communications (phones,internet) $150/month
  • Transportation (1 car) $300/month
  • Utilities & Services (heat,cooling,water,trash,etc) $300/month
  • Clothing & Personal Products $300/month
  • ‘Fun Money’  $200/month
  • Healthcare and Pharmacy – $400/month
  • Savings  -  $300/month (varies based on usage of other budget categories)
  • Total = $11,650 in the first 3 months of marriage

 

GRAND TOTAL = $49,650   (about $50k give or take a few thousand)

 

Of course, this is only a rough sketch of what it might cost a couple just beginning their first 3 months of married life. I left out a lot of finer details. But, it makes a good starting point for anyone considering what it might cost to get married and start a home together.

What do you think? Is $50k too conservative, or more than enough? Couples, what was your newlywed financial experience like? Did I miss any big ticket items? Sound off in the comments below.

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Daisy @ Add Vodka July 6, 2012 at 9:10 am

I’m skeptical about this because men need furniture and appliances even if they don’t get married, assuming they are not living-in-their-mom’s-basement losers prior to it (and I doubt they would be able to find a girlfriend if they were ;) ). I’m also in complete disagreement about the budgeted part in that every individual pays for those things him or herself, so those aren’t new expenses that crop up when one gets married. Plus, it not being 1953, women work and so guys don’t actually have to save up $50K even if mom paid his expenses before he got married.

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Josh Champagne July 6, 2012 at 9:42 am

It’s great to hear different perspectives. Every couple’s situation is different. This particular young man was from a very conservative Christian culture where the roles of men and women are played out very similarly to 1953 popular culture. And young men often live with their parents, work hard in some sort of trade, save up and then go get the girl. The age for marriage is also younger than the current average.

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Michelle July 6, 2012 at 10:06 am

We’re not married, but already have all of this! Haha nice to know we are “saving” in one area :)

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Emily @ evolvingPF July 9, 2012 at 6:55 pm

I think that figure is really steep! Since you’re not including the wedding itself, I’d say we only spent about $8k on getting married – half on the rings and half on a honeymoon. Our budgets didn’t change much when we combined households. The discretionary amounts you threw into the sample budget are also much higher than what we spend (though we spend more on rent, so the cost of living must be comparable).

Certainly there are going to be more costs for starting a household for someone just moving out of his/her parents’ home, but why should these kids be “comfortable” to the tune of $20k in furniture right off the bat? Personally, I live with craigslist furniture and appliances we received as wedding gifts. I think throwing up a figure of $50k (aside from the wedding! shocking!) is going to discourage instead of encouraging people to get married in a reasonable timeframe. You don’t have to have your parents’ standard of living right at the start of your married life.

Personally I don’t think people should get married before they are adults and part of my definition of an adult is living independent of parents – but I understand I’m not in the same subculture as your friend. I just think he and his bride are going to have a lot more issues adjusting to living together if they have always been with their parents. Premarital counseling is a must!

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Josh @ Live Well Simply July 9, 2012 at 7:06 pm

The subculture I referred to and where I got the numbers is pretty unique in that young people usually live at home until marriage. Also, most of the young men in this subculture make between $30-40k / year in the trades starting at around 16 years old. With few expenses, amassing $50k in savings by age 20 is pretty easy to do.

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My Money Design July 9, 2012 at 7:32 pm

Wow, I didn’t spend anywhere close to that on my wedding. My friend just had a very nicely done wedding for around $30K. But I do like how you’re including the first few months of living together in there. Those are costs you definitely can’t ignore!

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Jason @ WorkSaveLive July 10, 2012 at 7:15 am

I think $50,000 is way too much. I agree with Daisy…why do they need to buy new furniture.

I also wouldn’t factor in the recurring costs for the first 3 months as they’d be working (hopefully) and those expenses would be covered by their income. Furthermore, I’m not sure it’s necessary to wait until you have a 6-month emergency fund until you get married.

Our wedding cost $7,000 and it was awesome.

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LifeInTransition July 10, 2012 at 12:34 pm

I think that he should be able to cut some costs across the different catagories. For example, I don’t think he would need $4000 for rings. My husband and I only spent about $1600 on the engagement rings and wedding bands, and there are cheaper ways to honeymoon. Also, we got a lot of our home goods and kitchen equipment through our wedding registry, so the amount of money spent we actually spent on those things are minimal.

At the same time, I understand that sometimes it’s good to overestimate how much money needs to be saved up for a certain tasks/events, or base estimates on averages. Either way, I think you should still encourage him to live frugally below his means by showing him areas where costs can be cut. It can be disheartening thinking that you must have $50K saved up before you get married.

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Well Heeled Blog July 14, 2012 at 10:55 am

The honeymoon expenses sound about right, I think they can go a little lower for the rings, and all the setting up house expenses seem REALLY, REALLY expensive! Or maybe I just have cheap stuff. If your friend is as conservative as you described, I would assume that his wife wouldn’t be working post-marriage (or at least post-children), and so one of his priorities should be to build up a sufficient emergency fund and insurance so that if something happens to his job/ability to work, they would be adequately protected. It might be the most romantic thing he ever does.

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Rob May 30, 2013 at 11:34 am

While marriages can vary on cost, the real questions should be answered about the marriage and whether it’s worth the investment, not just monetary investment but long-term health of both parties. Often times people get married in the blur of love and emotions. Think it through before investing so much money and be ready to invest in each other for the rest of life :)

Rob.

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