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2014-03-30 09:46 by Karl Denninger
in Social Issues , 234 references Ignore this thread
Excuse Me?

This is some sort of joke, right?

According to the site’s 2013 Real Weddings Study, the average U.S. wedding now costs $29,858. This is the highest average cost since TheKnot.com began surveying brides in 2007. It’s also more than half of the median household income in the U.S. ($51,371, according to Census data released in 2013).

What sort of fucking narcissism is this?

Thirty large on a wedding as an average?  Are people nuts?

Never mind answering that -- yes, they are.

Let's look at a few facts.  First, most people getting married are younger.  Second, when you're younger you tend to earn less.  Sure, they are exceptions, but they are exceptions, not the rule.  Third, averages are just that -- there are going to be people wildly out on both ends.

Now if you happen to be independently wealthy when you get married, go ahead and have a huge party, blowing all sorts of money.  Who cares?  It's yours, it won't impact your lifestyle, go ahead and spend it.

But -- I suspect this "trend" has much more to do with the same crap that leads people to have $1,000/year or more cellphone contracts and devices simply because they feel this need to show off.

And in this instance it is particularly destructive -- that's money that a young couple could use as a down payment on a house.

Which has more utility?  The house or the party?  Hell, in many parts of the country $30,000 is a third of the price of a smaller (perfectly suitable for a young couple; say, a 2 or 3 bedroom, one bath ~1,200 sq/ft residence) house.

The premise of "consume more" is the favorite of commentators everywhere, especially in the media, the "promoters" of junk expenses (such as "The Knot") and on Wall Street.  But that's exactly what this is -- a "you gotta have a big, expensive party because all your friends and relatives will remember and love you forever!"

Bullcrap.

First, I argue that the current American institution of "marriage" is terminally broken and there is no movement afoot to fix it.  Nor will there be so long as the economic incentives remain where they are.

Nonetheless if you intend to create children there are decent and solidly-defensible arguments for marriage.  And if you happen to have a quarter-million laying around in liquid net worth between the two of you blowing a tenth of it on a party doesn't sound all that excessive.

I will wager, however, that said "average" couple in fact has less than that $30,000 in liquid net worth between them, and as a result what they're actually doing is going into debt to throw that party -- a toxic brew of "keeping up with Mr. Jones" that does a material amount of harm toward the stability of what they're about to enter into.

As for religious leaders I will say this:  You won't see minsters and priests tell celebrants that if they're about to do something materially harmful to the stability of the alleged sacrament they are about to enter into they refuse to participate in or give sanction to it, but they damn well should.  I can see the point of a few grand on a nice honeymoon for the new couple to spend some time along together before returning back to the daily grind, but 30 large that you probably don't have on a party?  That's insane.