According to this chart (click to enlarge):
OK, let me do a little math here.
When my wife and I decided to get married, our plan was to go City Hall and have a justice of the peace do the deed. Just seemed like a normal thing to do. Until my mother said, “Nope, you’re going to have a ceremony.”
So, here’s what we did.
We had the ceremony at our house, which at the time was a two-family building shared with a museum.
We bought flowers.
We had live music. There was a piano in our house, and my wife’s sister wanted to play the wedding march.
The wedding dinner was essentially a toned down version of a Thanksgiving dinner.
We didn’t send out invitations. Just called some family members and said “We’re getting married at our house.” So members of my family came in from New York and New Jersey and members of my wife’s family came in from Kentucky and Colorado. More than a dozen people. Fewer than 20. A couple of friends. Our landlords were taking a walk in the neighborhood, so we invited them in.
My mom found the minister to conduct the survey. I think I gave her $50 to $100.
For our post-wedding “reception,” a bunch of us hopped on the Staten Island Ferry (round trip, 25 cents a piece), and did a walking tour of Greenwich Village. I was the guide. I think we might have stopped for ice cream.
Everyone from out of town stayed at our house for the weekend.
So, adding this all up, I think the expense was in the low to mid-hundreds. Factor in time married (26 years), multiply by the likelihood of getting divorced (looks like nil) and carry the 1 … the calculator says we’ll be married …
(And I do know a few couples who spent a lot more and are now divorced.)