The Truth About “Average” Wedding Costs

Recommended reading for today – especially those struggling with your wedding budget – is an excellent article from in 2013:…/average_wedding_cost_published_numbe…

The article’s writer, Will Oremus, does an excellent job of explaining the difference between “average” and “median” and why couples should beware of falling into the trap of thinking that “average” is what you should pay for a wedding.

In questioning TheKnot’s “average” wedding costs (which are frequently quoted and relied upon by media and industry folks), Oremus says:

In 2012, when the average wedding cost was $27,427, the median was $18,086. In 2011, when the average was $27,021, the median was $16,886. In Manhattan, where the widely reported average is $76,687, the median is $55,104. And in Alaska, where the average is $15,504, the median is a mere $8,440. In all cases, the proportion of couples who spent the “average” or more was actually a minority. And remember, we’re still talking only about the subset of couples who sign up for wedding websites and respond to their online surveys. The actual median is probably even lower.

In 12+ years of running this blog, it is constantly frustrating that reported wedding costs are nearly always inflated by averages – and that smart couples struggle to save the equivalent of an entire year’s wages to pay for a single wedding day.  Or worse: they (and/or their parents) get into debt for it.

I’m curious what your thoughts are about the Slate article and if you’ve felt pressure to expand your budget to fit the industry model of average costs.

Tori and Nano’s Rustic Wedding at Kitsap Memorial State Park

One of the joys of being the editor for this site is getting to know the stories behind the photos; to see how our couples came to be, to see how they tick. When so much of the wedding industry focuses on things, it’s an utter privilege to be able to tap into the human side and celebrate the people we feature. Tori and Nano have a great story and it starts (for us) with the winning of a Nice People contest.

Photographer Amanda Summerlin of Amanda Summerlin Photography shares the Tori and Nano experience:

Tory and Nano were actually the winners of our 2013 Nice People contest, a contest based on a public vote system for the nicest couple, so they got their wedding photography for free. They created this wedding on a literal shoestring budget, right down to buying the burning used from a couple that were cleaning up their reception when Tory toured the venue.


Let’s get to know Nano and Tory.


Splurging and splendor will probably never be an option for us and that’s okay. Our wedding will be beautiful and joyful, but, out of necessity, it will also have to be somewhat frugal. The theme of our wedding is fun- and it would be truly wonderful to have you there to be a part of it and to help us remember and celebrate each moment.


The one thing I admire most about Tory is her heart. She has the biggest heart I have ever known and can love without restraint. When I say ‘love,’ I mean Tory has this incredible ability to love everyone and everything for simply being alive and apart of this world. Through Tory I have learned how to also open my heart to my world and my community. During college she would take me with her to service events to clean invasive species from parks, collect canned goods for food pantries, and tutor children at elementary schools in Seattle. If not for Tory, I would never have realized the joy and satisfaction that comes from serving and opening my heart to others. I also would never have spent two years of my life as a City Year volunteer, and I would never have discovered my passion and purpose as a teacher.


We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into when we moved to the middle of the country in 2010 and joined City Year, an Americorps program that works to end the drop-out crisis in urban schools. It was the most intense experience of our lives as we spent 50 to 60 hours a week tutoring struggling students, breaking up fights, creating behavior programs, running after school classes, putting on Spelling Bees and generally trying to be everything and everywhere in schools that didn’t have the money or staff to provide fully for their students. Then we’d be at the City Year office at least 3 nights a week and most Sundays, trying to catch up on lesson plans, creating flyers and templates, and planning trainings, workshops and appreciations. We made due with a meager stipend and food stamps, sharing a tiny apartment with several roommates. We spent 10 to 12 hours a day with a team of people that sometimes drove us nuts, and were lucky to see each other for an hour each night. We poured our energy into kids with heart-breaking stories, who were more likely to cuss us out than thank us, and who might not have anyone else in their lives telling them they were smart and capable. Needless to say, we totally fell in love with it.

What surprised me was that through all the stress, frustration and sleeplessness, I also fell so much deeper in love with Nano. I had always treasured his gentleness, his romantic side (that beautifully off-sets my overly pragmatic tendencies), his unique insights, his sense of humor, and his thoughtful, open-minded attitude. But it wasn’t until we worked side by side and faced such intense challenges as co-workers, that I learned a whole new level of admiration for him. I suddenly saw him a leader and was so incredibly proud to see him step up to challenges with a confidence and passion that he’d never shown before. Not only that, but he supported me every step of the way, and helped me have faith in my work and in the difference I was making, even on those days I wanted to give up. I might have been what brought him there, but he brought me through it. Seeing how much of himself he was willing to give to improve the lives of others was more than enough to convince me to say ‘YES!’ when he proposed during the fall of our second service year.


As we prepare for our new, married life, we’re also preparing to start our careers. We have decided to dedicate our lives to serving our community by becoming teachers. It’s our passion to work with the most challenging students in the toughest areas, because we believe in the power of education to create change and in the ability of one caring adult to inspire the youth in our community to succeed with confidence. We know this path will not be easy. It will not be paved with gold, but there will be treasures along the way. The treasures ahead of us are not the kind we can hold in our hands or fill our pockets. They are the treasures we will hold in our hearts and will fill our souls with love and purpose. And, most importantly, we will walk along this path of love side by side and share in these treasures together. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Tori and Nano
Kitsap Memorial State Park – Log Hall, Washington
Event Date: August, 2013



Photographer:  Amanda Summerlin Photography//Cake Designer: Bella Bella Cupcakes//Invitation Designer: Citrus Press Co. Stationery + Design//Tuxedo and Mens Attire:H&M//DJ: H&M//Dress Store: J. Crew//Reception Venue: Kitsap Memorial State Park – Log Hall//Beauty:Seaport Salon and Spa//

Submitted via Two Bright Lights

Samantha & Taylor

Barn wedding lovers, unite! Today we have Samantha and Taylor’s beautiful wedding day that combines everything we love about rustic weddings – burlap, cowboy boots, mason jars, chalkboard signs, a great farm location – combining them in a way that’s uncluttered and unpretentious.

Photographer Kelly Rae Stewart of  Kelly Rae Stewart Photography gushes about Samantha and Taylor:

These two people are a perfect example of why we love being wedding photographers. Not only was I almost in tears behind my camera while watching Taylor say his vows to Samantha, but being able to capture their love for one another all day gave me butterflies in my stomach. They danced, not just for their ‘first dance,’ but all night. They stayed close together throughout the evening and watching them exchange smiles back and forth filled me with joy. I couldn’t put my camera down because I wanted to catch every moment for them. I wanted them to see what I saw. This is what true love looks like.

We love how everyone looks happy and joyful – just the way weddings were meant to be!


Samantha & Taylor
Event Date: March, 2014
Starlight Meadow, North Carolina

Photographer:  Kelly Rae Stewart Photography//Floral Designer: Just Priceless//Event Venue: Starlight Meadow//Musicians:Turpentine Shine//Submitted via Two Bright Lights

Create Your Ultimate Personalized Wedding With Avery


How do you make a do-it-yourself wedding stylish and budget-friendly while not spending all of your free time (and cash) creating crafts? While I encourage everyone to try a new craft or two, I don’t want anyone to stress out and agonize over creating the perfect projects for their big day, especially you lovely readers!

If you’re a longtime reader, you’ll know I’m a huge advocate of using shortcuts, templates, and handy tools to make your life easier and craft time more efficient. And that, friends, is why I’m happy to introduce you to the new collection of  customizable products and templates from the design team at Avery. From invitations and thank-you cards to favors and place cards, a little help from Avery can make your day full of thoughtful, personal touches that’ll wow your guests – and not break your budget.

Using the free Design & Print Online software from Avery and their selection of professional-quality templates, it’s super easy to create a fully personalized suite of wedding details at home. All you need is a computer (Mac, Linux, or PC), a printer, and the coordinating Avery labels, tags, or cards.

To see how easy the Design & Print Online software is, check out this video from Avery.

The software allows you to customize any of the Avery Design & Print templates and with many themes to choose among, you’re sure to find a style you love whether your big day is casual, elegant, rustic, modern – or anything in between.


Since I’m a total hands-on learner, I had to take the Design & Print Online software for a spin. The result? This pretty save-the-date:


Here’s how to create this on your own:

1. From the Design & Print template page, select the Flower Garden 4-1/4″ x 5-1/2″ Postcard. The Design & Print software will open the template in your browser.
2. Simply click on the customizable areas on the template to add your text. The software allows you to change the font, its color or size, add graphics or photos, move text, and parameters so that you’re able to easily customize your template to accommodate your details and style preferences. If you can use Microsoft Word, the Design & Print software will feel familiar to you.

3. Every change you make is shown in real-time so you know exactly what you’re creating. Make a mistake? No problem! The software makes erasing mistakes or changing your design very easy with just the click of a mouse.


4. When you’re satisfied with your design, hit Preview & Print. You’ll be prompted to print your design yourself or you can opt to use Avery WePrint.  With Avery WePrint, Avery will print and deliver the finished product to your door. (Pro tip: If you have a lot of printing to do and your inkjet loves to drink ink, it may be more economical to use Avery WePrint.) If printing from home, click Print It Yourself, and your designs will print directly from your own printer onto your coordinating Avery card.


This project took about 5 minutes to complete, start to finish. As for cost, a pack of 60 Avery postcards costs around $12.00 so 60 of these save-the-dates would cost about $0.20 each (not including ink costs, postage, and envelopes, of course). For a fraction of the cost of commercially printed designs, you can create a professional-quality, personalized design at home with the free Design & Print Online software and Avery products. How awesome is that?!