Americans Underestimate the Cost of Tying the Knot

by Magali Rheault

Women spend less on gifts than men do

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ --When George Banks, the main character in the classic comedy Father of the Bride, finds out how much his daughter's wedding is going to cost, he's shocked. And with the wedding season now in full swing, many Americans may feel just like George.

In a recent Gallup Panel survey that asked about wedding costs, conducted May 21-24, 2007, Gallup found that a substantial majority of Americans (86%) say people spend too much on weddings. A quick run to the courthouse is always an option, but many brides and grooms want their wedding to be memorable, and for that, they (or Mom and Dad) will need to cough up some serious dough. In addition to the cost of the reception, stationery, wedding dresses and tuxes, flowers, music, wedding rings, and photography add to the overall cost of tying the knot. So while Americans may be on the right track when they say people spend too much, the actual cost will give people a dose of reality.

The Cost of Getting Hitched

The poll asked Americans to guess how much the "average wedding costs these days." The mean estimate was $13,609. But according to the Wedding Report, an industry publication, the national average wedding budget in 2007 is $27,490, nearly double what Americans guess. The most expensive item is the wedding reception, which on average costs about $14,000. The second most expensive item on the bridal list is photography and video work for which the average cost is about $3,600. In the Gallup Panel survey, only 16% of Americans guessed that the average wedding costs more than $20,000. So even though Americans think people spend too much, they greatly underestimate the actual cost.

Just your best guess, how much money do you think the average wedding costs these days?

May 21-24

Less than $10,000

38%

$10,000 to $14,999

22

$15,000 to $19,999

10

$20,000

11

$20,001 or more

16

No opinion

3

 

Mean

$13,609

Median

$10,000

Americans younger than age 55 guess that weddings cost more than do those who are older. On average, adults 55 and older say weddings cost about $11,329, which is significantly lower than the average cost of $15,132 among 18- to 34-year-olds and the $14,134 among 35- to 54-year-olds. At the same time, perceptions that people spend too much on weddings is higher among Americans 35 and older than among younger Americans.

The Right Price

Toasters, silverware, and other kitchen accessories are still popular wedding gifts. But many brides and grooms ask their guests for more offbeat gifts such as helping fund the couple's honeymoon, making a contribution to a favorite charity, or helping pay for grills and patio sets for the newlyweds' backyard. When spending money on weddings gifts for friends or relatives, Americans are neither exceptionally cheap nor exceptionally extravagant.The poll shows 64% of Americans think spending between $50 and $125 on a gift for a friend or relative is an appropriate amount. Fewer than one in five Americans (18%) say less than $50 is an appropriate amount. And only 13% of Americans think spending $200 or more is appropriate.

Just off the top of your head, what do you think is an appropriate amount of money to
spend on a wedding gift for a friend or relative?


Less
than
$50

$50-
$99

$100-
$125

$126-
$199

$200
or
more


No
opinion

Mean

Median

May 21-24

18%

34

30

5

13

1

$110

$75

Who's the Tightwad?

Although most men (60%) and women (66%) think spending between $50 and $125 is an appropriate amount, they differ dramatically in their gift-giving attitudes at both ends of the price scale. Only 12% of men think spending less than $50 on a wedding gift is appropriate, but 23% of women think it is. At the high end of the scale ($200 and more), 20% of men think it's a proper amount to spend while only 6% of women think so. Overall, the average amount men think is right to spend is $139, while women think the suitable figure is $84 on average, or about 40% less.

Just off the top of your head, what do you think is an appropriate amount of money to
spend on a wedding gift for a friend or relative?


Less
 than
 $50

$50-
$99

$100-
$125

$126-
$199

$200
or more

No
opinion

Mean

Median

Men

12%

29

31

7

20

1

$139

$100

Women

23%

37

29

3

6

1

$84

$50

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup Panel study are based on telephone interviews with 1,007 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted May 21-24, 2007. Gallup panel members are recruited through random selection methods. The panel is weighted so that it is demographically representative of the U.S. adult population. For results based on these samples, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.

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