Getting hitched is pricey, but not everyone can afford it

You’re ready to plan your wedding with the love of your life. And you want so many pretty things for all of the wonderful people attending your dream ceremony. But then you look at how much money you earn and realize you can’t have it all.

Wedding site The Knot says that it costs $35,329 on average to get married. That’s more than double the annual salary of a minimum-wage worker, who makes $15,080 a year.

While the average cost of weddings went up more than $2,600 from this time last year, wedding guests are down (from 149 in 2009 to 141 today). That’s good, because average cost per wedding guest is up — couples are forking over roughly $245 per guest. That’s up about $50 from 2009.

It obviously matters where you get married, as the average cost varies from state to state. The Knot says Manhattan celebrations cost more than $78,000. Getting hitched in Arkansas is less than $20,000. But even for minimum wage workers there, it still costs them more than an entire year’s salary to get married in Arkansas.

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Where the money goes

So with more than $35,000 going to a one-day party, where are couples and family putting all of this cash?

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The venue is the most costly purchase, averaging $16,107. After that, bands are $4,156, photographers are $2,783, and florists are $2,534. For some reason, cakes average almost $600.

Regardless of what money goes where, couples are shelling out a ton of money for their weddings, and their bank accounts are showing for it. The Knot says more than one-third of couples are paying for their weddings on credit cards. That’s a lot of marriages that are starting out in debt.

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How can minimum wage workers still have a great wedding?

The Knot survey shows that one-third of couples make a wedding budget pretty soon after they get married, but as dream ceremonies and receptions grow, so does the cost of the big day. How can you avoid getting too far into the clouds?

For the more than 1 million workers who make federal minimum wage, planning a wedding doesn’t have to be this expensive. Start with realizing how much money you have on hand. If you can afford the credit card payments each month, you may have a good friend with your plastic. Credit cards can actually help you when making big purchases, and weddings aren’t excluded from that. Remember to use your friend wisely. Just because you have a credit card handy doesn’t mean it should always be handy.

You will spend more time than you’d like negotiating and haggling prices, especially for the most expensive item: venues. Hopefully this is something you and your partner can split the time doing. Try nontraditional outdoor spots, like parks, farms, and nature reserves. These smaller, less common areas are accommodating while still being gorgeous scenery for a wedding.

While weddings are traditionally on weekends, consider doing something during the week, when prices tend to drop. Weekends are busy! Weekdays aren’t. Keep that in mind when planning your big day.

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Article last modified on June 5, 2017. Published by Debt.com, LLC .