The cost of a typical wedding fell to $17,500 last year, down 8% from 2008 thanks to the recession. But that's not even the half of it, writes Brett Arends. If couples did the math, they'd "probably get married in flip-flops," he says. "Your $18,000 wedding? It may really end up costing you between $90,000 and $200,000. That $2,000 dress? Think: $10,000 to $22,000. The $10,000 food bill for your guests? Try $50,000 to $110,000."
Arends explains his figures in the Wall Street Journal: Each dollar spent by a bride in her 20s is taking $5 to $10 away from her lifetime savings, depending on interest rates. Maybe even more. If she saved instead of splurged, she'd reap great benefits in the future. Yeah, it's a once-in-a-lifetime event (in theory). So at least cut down the cost—a smaller cake, a DJ instead of a band—and sock the money away instead.