The average price of a wedding in the U.S. is $26,000, according to wedding-industry trackers TheWeddingReport.com. But an increasing number of couples are embracing frugality by tossing out the preconceived notions of the big-ticket wedding.
This year, more than 2 million wedding ceremonies will take place in America, and although 34% of the couples will spend more than $20,000 on nuptials, another 39.5% will spend less than $10,000. The substantially smaller price tag of the latter group is a trend that saw an uptick during the recession, and it's one that's here to stay, notes Andy Brennan, an analyst at research group IBISWorld.
One reason: The cost of getting married has soared. From 1980 to 2012, wedding costs jumped 460%, according to IBISWorld, while the cumulative rate of inflation grew only 178.6%. Another reason is that more people are delaying marriage because of the still-stagnant economy. According to a 2012 Pew Research Center report, 20% of people aged 18 to 34 put off marriage because of tough economic conditions. 'The landscape has definitely changed,' Brennan says. 'People tend to have more of a focus on their careers and get married at a later time because they're much more conscious about what they can save and when they should get married.'
一个原因：婚礼费用已经飙升得太高了。根据IBISWorld的数据，从1980年到2012年，婚礼费用增长了460%，而同期累计通货膨胀率也不过178.6%。另外一个原因是，越来越多的人因为经济依旧不景气而推迟结婚。据皮尤研究中心(Pew Research Center) 2012年的一份报告显示，18至34岁人群中，有20%的人因为经济不好推迟结婚。布伦南说，情况无疑已经发生了变化，人们愿意把精力更多地放在事业上，并为此推迟结婚，因为他们在考虑能存多少钱和何时该结婚的问题上变得更加地理智清醒。
So for all those frugal brides and grooms, here are some ways to save.
Go digital for save-the-dates
This year, nearly $200 million will be spent on save-the-date cards, according to TheWeddingReport.com. But that time-honored tradition of mailing a wedding reminder several weeks before receiving the actual wedding invitation is starting to be viewed by some consumers as antiquated and a waste of money. In fact, save-the-date spending is anticipated to diminish over the next four years, according to TheWeddingReport.com.
So while spending $97 per wedding for save-the-dates (plus postage) isn't a huge expense, many couples have forgone lickable stamps and paper. In 2012, nearly one in three couples created and/or sent save-the-dates online, compared with just one in five in 2009, reports theKnot.com. Why the shift? The rise of online shopping has helped change perceptions of what's appropriate wedding planning behavior, notes IBISWorld's Brennan. 'It was once considered cheap to put a save the date online, but now it's accepted,' he says.
In fact, it's so widely accepted that some well-known designers have started creating electronic save-the-dates. Paperlesspost.com, an e-greeting card website, offers more than 500 different virtual save-the-dates, and some were designed by Kate Spade New York and Oscar de la Renta, among others. Last year, the site emailed 3 million wedding save-the-dates, says its CEO, James Hirschfeld. Many of the designs are free, while some incur a small fee for a virtual envelope and liner. Another popular free e-card site, Evite.com, sent out 2.6 million save-the-date invitations in 2013, says its editorial director, Marilyn Oliveira. Among the more than 95,000 save-the-date events sent via Evite, Los Angeles, Houston, New York, Chicago and Atlanta were the top five mailers last year.
实际上，在网上发预请帖确实已被广泛地接受，甚至有一些知名的设计师也开始制作电子预请帖。电子贺卡网站Paperlesspost.com上有超过500种的虚拟预请帖，其中一些设计出自Kate Spade New York和Oscar de la Renta等知名品牌之手。Paperlesspost.com首席执行长詹姆士·赫希菲尔德(James Hirschfeld)说，去年网站共发送出300万份婚礼预请帖。许多请帖的设计是免费的，但虚拟的信封和封套需要花点钱。另外一家热门的电子贺卡网站Evite.com，其网站编辑部主任玛丽莲·奥利维拉(Marilyn Oliveira)说，在2013年他们共发送了260万份预请帖。共有95,000场仪式的预请帖是通过Evite发送的，使用数最多的前五个城市是洛杉矶、休斯顿、纽约、芝加哥和亚特兰大。
Get married in the off-season
Traditionally, the demand is high for summer weddings, as are the costs. Venues, bakers, caterers, florists and planners may all charge more during the peak season because their time and services are so stretched. Thus, couples can easily save thousands by getting married when these services aren't in high demand. For example, booking a reception at a venue (particularly in cold-weather states) in the fall when they have more vacancies makes it easier to negotiate a lower price -- and it can help you land the ceremony date of your choice.
Consequently, fall weddings are growing even more popular, as 32% of couples chose the season, theKnot.com says. So while June weddings still reign supreme -- 291,000 June weddings took place in 2013 -- September has become the second-most popular month to get hitched, according to TheWeddingReport.com. Even October dates are more attractive than April, May and July.
But off-season weddings aren't the only way to save, says Wendy Kidd, the vice president of the American Association of Certified Wedding Planners. More couples are also opting for Friday ceremonies rather than Saturday or Sunday. While a weekday wedding makes it more difficult for cross-country guests to attend, it's a clear money saver, she says. Take the Indian Pond Country Club, which is located 35 miles outside of Boston, and is a reoccurring best pick by theKnot.com. The club charges $6,000 less for Friday peak-season receptions ($11,000) compared with Saturday receptions ($17,000) in its 500-guest-capacity grand ballroom. Similarly, Friday receptions in the off-season, which runs from Nov. 1 to April 30, cost $8,000 -- compared with $12,500 for off-season Saturday receptions.
但美国持证婚礼策划师协会(American Association of Certified Wedding Planner)的副总裁温迪·基德(Wendy Kidd)说，淡季婚礼也并非省钱的唯一办法。许多夫妻还会选择周五而不是周六或周日举行婚礼。她说，虽然在工作日举行婚礼会让外地的亲朋好友做难，但这显然是省钱的好办法。以波士顿郊外35英里的印第安池塘乡村俱乐部(Indian Pond Country Club)为例，它曾多次被theKnot.com评为最受欢迎婚礼场地。它能容纳500人的大宴会厅对旺季周五婚礼的报价是11,000美元，比周六报价17,000美元少了整整6,000美元；同样，在11月1日至4月30日的淡季期间，周五婚礼价格是8,000美元，到了周六就得要12,500了。
Trade in a cake for cupcakes
A spectacular wedding cake with fondant flowers dusted in gold, scalloped edges -- or whatever your Pinterest board inspired you to do -- can get pretty costly. The average wedding cake costs nearly $500, and while it's only a sliver of the total wedding cost, one in five couples spend more than that, even upwards of $1,000 on dessert, according to TheWeddingReport.com. So don't let the price of a wedding cake take the...well, you know.
The cost of a cake is calculated per slice, and can range from a few dollars to $15 a slice, reports theKnot.com. And don't forget about the delivery fee and cutting fee. While it's best to have the baker deliver the cake themselves because they're the experts, the cutting fee goes to the vendor when you don't use an in-house baker. The cutting fee ranges from $2 to $5 per slice for cutting, serving, and cleaning up afterward. To avoid those pesky fees and save on the overall expense, many couples have turned to cupcakes. (But some couples also prefer cupcakes because it's the trendy thing to do.) After all, they're just mini cakes in disguise. You can mix-and-match different flavors to suit your guests' varying taste buds. Plus, you'll save on the baker's end, as assembly and design time are minimal for cupcakes.
Live stream the ceremony
Today, the average wedding has 131 guests, and the price per head is $192. So many couples have started to keep the nuptial costs down by limiting the guest list. In fact, since peaking at an average of 184 guests in 2006, the figure has been on a steady decline, dropping 29% over the last seven years. To accommodate those who were axed, or who simply can't make the trip, couples have started broadcasting their weddings like the royals themselves. Last year, nearly 20,000 weddings were broadcast over Ustream.tv, the largest live-video streaming platform. Ustream.tv is well-known for streaming everything from zoo-animal births to space walks, but in the past year alone it's seen a 250% rise in wedding streams, says spokeswoman Joellen Ferrer. 'It's been an interesting phenomenon,' Ferrer says. 'More people are looking at this technology to bridge the gap and allow family to attend an event when they physically can't be there.'
Ustream.tv charges $99 a month for its ad-free-pro-silver plan, which enables couples to live stream their wedding ceremony via a mobile device, webcam, or other compatible device for friends and family not in attendance -- essentially saving the couple $9,600 or more for 50 virtual guests. They can then download the saved video file to a hard drive as a keepsake, or store it on the Ustream cloud for $15 a month if they cancel the pro-silver subscription plan.
Opt for something borrowed
If tacking small sections of the budget isn't enough, some couples are forgoing wedding planning altogether -- only not in the way you think. They aren't eloping to save money, but are purchasing the actual wedding (catering, venue, and all) from other couples who cancel their weddings and don't want to foot the bill. With 270,000 (13%) of couples cancelling their weddings each year -- or an estimated $6.8 billion dollars down the proverbial drain -- it's potentially a lucrative enterprise as wedding insurance doesn't cover everything, some industry insiders say.
Subsequently, bridal brokerage websites have emerged to help put some of that money back into the hands of the jilted ex-couples. CanceledWeddings.com, a fledging wedding brokerage site, boasts that its registrants have a cumulative budget of $50 million that needs to be spent in the next six months, according to its CEO, Peter K. Ulrich. Recently, the website brokered a deal for a fully-paid wedding in Maryland discounted by 70% (where the average wedding costs $32,600, according to TheWeddingReport.com). 'The more expensive it is, the better deals you can get,' Ulrich says. 'The buyers just expect a good deal, and that's what we're trying to do; we saw a way to solve a problem so no one loses.'
帮助这些取消婚礼的前夫妻们挽回部分经济损失的婚礼中介网站应运而生。CanceledWeddings.com就是一家新兴的婚礼中介网站，据网站首席执行长彼得·k·乌尔里希(Peter K. Ulrich)说，在其网站上登记的用户有累计5,000万美元的婚礼预算要在未来六个月消化掉。最近，这个网站促成了一单交易，把马里兰州一场全额支付的婚礼以七折的价格转卖给了另外一对夫妻。（据WeddingReport.com称，当地婚礼的平均费用是32,600美元。）乌尔里希说，婚礼费用越高，你能拿到的折扣就越大。买家们就想买到便宜的婚礼，这也是我们努力的方向，我们找到了一种皆大欢喜的方式解决大家的问题。
These websites broker deals by acting as the point-of-contact entity between the wedding cancelers and prospective buyers while maintaining each couple's privacy. For example, when a couple cancels their wedding, they enlist a broker's help to list their 'pre-packaged wedding' on the broker's canceled weddings website. Then, another couple can reserve the package by taking over the first couple's contracts with the vendors and by paying any remaining fees. Thereby, they've accepted financial responsibility for a wedding they never planned, but will still participate in at half the cost.