Couples are often willing to open their wallets wide for their special day. On average, U.S. brides and grooms shell out more than $33,000 for their weddings, according to wedding planning website The Knot. Whether it’s worth spending tens of thousands of dollars on an extravagant wedding — or opting for cheaper nuptials — is up for fierce debate.
But plenty of average folks believe that splurging on their big day was money well-spent. These 13 real people spared no expense and shared reasons why certain wedding details were worth the big price tag.
The Memories Will Last Forever
When attorneys Katie and Josh Berkely were planning their wedding for 2013, Josh insisted on splurging on photography. They paid about $3,500, which was more than double what Katie had originally budgeted for a photographer.
“It was the only aspect of wedding planning Josh felt really strongly about, so I agreed and I’m so glad I did,” Katie said. “As he said, when it’s all said and done, all you have left are the pictures — plus the whole lifelong commitment thing.”
Nobody Missed the Big Day
When Grant Sabatier and his wife, Erin, got married in 2016, he didn’t want any of his friends or family to miss it. So Sabatier paid for airfare and accommodations for those who otherwise wouldn’t have been able to afford the trip to La Jolla, Calif., where the wedding was held on a cliff overlooking the ocean.
He ended up spending $85,000 on his wedding. “To see all the people I love together having an amazing time was worth it,” said Sabatier, who is the author of the upcoming book “Financial Freedom: A Proven Path to All the Money You Will Ever Need.”
The Wedding Day Was Stress-Free
Beta Haney and her fiancé (now husband), Dan, were living in Florida but wanted a wedding in California, where most of their friends and family were. But with their busy careers, planning a cross-country wedding would have been too much for them to take on. So she paid about $3,500 to hire a wedding planner.
“It was worth every penny,” said Haney, executive vice president of media and strategy at ConsumerTrack, which is the parent company of GOBankingRates. In fact, she recommends hiring a wedding planner to anyone getting married because it can take the stress out of the planning process and the ceremony. “It’s like peace of mind,” she said. Haney said she was calm on her wedding day and could actually enjoy it thanks to her planner.
The Dress Held Special Meaning
There are plenty of ways to save money on a wedding dress. But Ashleigh Allman, creator of the blog Smart Cents Mom, ended up getting a dress that cost three times as much as she had budgeted.
She fell in love with the dress while shopping with her mom, who offered to pay for the dress. At the time, Allman’s mom was battling breast cancer but hadn’t told her. “Looking back, I realize that she was paying for this special moment in time that we shared together,” Allman said. “She passed away a year later. I still have my dress as a beautiful reminder of time spent with my mom.”
The Suit Was Worth the Investment
As the creator of the blog PF Geeks, Richmond Howard knows a thing or two about being frugal. That’s why he balked at paying $150-$200 to rent a tuxedo for his wedding in 2015. The price seemed outrageous for something he’d only be wearing for a few hours. So Howard decided to spend even more to buy a suit that he could keep.
“It was definitely more expensive, but I’ve worn that suit dozens of times since our wedding day,” Howard said. “It was a splurge at the time that ended up being totally worth it.”
They Found the Perfect Venue
When authors Molly McCaffrey and David Bell got married more than 20 years ago, it was uncommon for wedding venues to charge much — or anything at all — for simply renting the space, McCaffrey said. You could either get the space for free but use the venue’s catering and alcohol provider, or pay a fee of less than $1,000.
“But we fell in love a place called the Glendale Lyceum for the reception venue,” McCaffrey said. “Every other place we considered did not have a fee to walk in the door, but the [Glendale Lyceum’s] was $3,000 just to step foot in the place, which seemed excessive back then.”
So McCaffrey and Bell dug deep into their pockets to secure their perfect venue. However, it actually worked out in their favor because they didn’t have to use any of the Glendale Lyceum’s vendors. The couple was able to save money on their reception by choosing their own caterer and buying alcohol for the event.
The Entertainment Was Unforgettable
If you’re going to spend a lot of money on any aspect of your wedding, it should be the entertainment, according to Barry Kronhaus, president of Discount Packaging Depot. When he got married in 1994, Kronhaus and his wife hired an expensive band to play at their wedding.
“At the time, we theorized that the food, venue and everything else could be awful, but if the entertainment is good, people will still enjoy themselves and the party will still be memorable,” he said. It has been 25 years since they got married, and people still tell them that their wedding was one of the best they’ve attended, Kronhaus said.
All Guests Made It Safely
When Jim Wang got married in 2008, he wanted to make sure out-of-town wedding guests made it safely to the ceremony. So he splurged on a chartered bus to drive about 30 of his parents’ New York-based friends to his wedding in Maryland.
“The wedding was in the winter, and we didn’t want them to drive the five hours, potentially in bad weather,” said Wang, founder of the personal finance website Wallet Hacks. “It actually worked out because they all went home that night on the same bus, saving them a lot of money on hotel rooms.”
The Wedding Party Deserved a Treat
To be in a wedding party, bridesmaids and groomsmen often shell out big bucks. But two couples said they returned the favor by splurging on their wedding party. When Haley and Ian Evans got married in 2018, they paid for a bus to transport their wedding party from place to place on the big day. It was the best extra $1,500 she has ever spent, said Haley, a product manager with budgeting service Budgit.
Mike Pearson also spent $1,500 on a bus to drive his wedding party from the hotel to the church and reception, and back to the hotel. “Our wedding party had done so much for us — and spent so much money already — that we wanted to make it a special celebration for them too, without them having to worry about getting around all night,” said Pearson, founder of credit repair website Credit Takeoff.
No Worries for the Wedding Party
Talk about splurging on your wedding party: Rayce and Leif Dahleen rented three large townhomes for their bridesmaids and groomsmen and paid for their wedding attire. “Knowing that the entire wedding party would be spending money to travel, we decided to take care of them once they got to the resort in northern Michigan,” said Leif, founder of the blog Physician on FIRE.
It was money well-spent, he said. “I was in a position where I could afford to pay, and the gestures were appreciated by our wedding party, many of whom flew in from around the country,” Leif said.
Business Was Taken Care Of
There are the typical things that brides and grooms splurge on — flowers, photography, entertainment for the reception — but toilets aren’t usually one of them. However, Michelle Schroeder-Gardner was willing to spend extra for nice portable toilets for her wedding in 2014.
“We had an outdoor wedding and could have gotten cheap port-a-potties,” said Schroeder-Gardner, founder of the blog Making Sense of Cents. “Instead, we splurged and got air-conditioned ones with sinks and everything inside. Guests appreciated it, but it did turn into a joke because, back then, it wasn’t common to see wedding port-a-potties.”
Love for Travel Bonded the Newlyweds
When Veneta Lusk met her husband, Todd, they bonded over a shared love for travel. So when the couple got engaged and started planning a wedding, they decided to splurge on their honeymoon. “We spent two weeks in Italy, and our honeymoon was more than a quarter of our total wedding expenses,” said Lusk, founder of the blog Becoming Life Smart. “It was an incredible experience and one we’d gladly pay for again.”
Splurging vs. Saving on Your Own Wedding
If you’re planning a wedding and are tempted to splurge, focus on the aspects that are worth the extra money to you. Then, keep your wedding budget under control by looking for ways to save money on the things that don’t matter as much. For example, you might want to limit the guest list so you can afford a reception with a sit-down meal, open bar and great entertainment.
Or, you could opt for a small wedding so you’ll have more money to pay off debt or make a down payment on a house. The key is to figure out what is the most important to you and your significant other, and align your spending with that.
More on Saving Money on Relationships
- Why Americans Are Spending $1 Billion to Get Married This Weekend
- The Price Tag of the Most Notorious Second Weddings Ever
- Financial Benefits of Getting Remarried
This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: 13 Real People Share Why It Was Totally Worth Splurging on Their Wedding