What would you spend on a wedding?

In our latest poll we asked readers what they would be prepared to spend on their children’s wedding.

More than a third said that they would tell their kids to take out a loan (hopefully this is a discussion that has already happened so the children involved don’t have any expectations!)

A quarter said that they would not put a price on their child’s happiness, which would suggest there is no budget allocated to what can be a very expensive exercise.

A further quarter said that they would be prepared to spend a month’s salary, while only 15% are prepared to spend more than three month’s salary on a wedding.

But unless you have ever forked out for a wedding, the figures may bowl you over. According to one wedding website a modestly priced wedding for 100 adults would set you back about R100 000. That is R1 000 per person and would not include extras like a DJ, for example.

The items that really add up are: the wedding dress — anything from R8 000 to R20 000; photographs will at least be about R10 000; and flowers at around R10 000.

For those readers that would spend one month’s salary, either they are big money earners or they need to ensure that the couple or the other set of parents chip in.

Today it is acceptable for both parents to share the costs of a wedding, so if you have a daughter (or several daughters) it does not necessarily mean you have to re-think your retirement plan.

But what you need to start with is what you can afford. This amount should not affect your retirement plans. There is no point in giving your children the wedding of a lifetime but then having to move in with them later in life.

Have an open and honest discussion about what you are prepared to contribute. The other parents-in-law need to do the same thing so that the couple has a clear idea of what budget they are working with. From there they can decide how much they are prepared to spend.

What is important is that everyone spends only what they can afford to. The last thing a couple needs starting out in life is wedding debt, especially when they will be looking to buy a home and start a family; and for the parents, no wedding justifies hardship in retirement.

But this is easier said than done. There is a lot of expectation within communities for a big wedding, and then there are always those relatives that you last saw when you were two years old who would be mortified if not invited.

So you have several options:

  • Have enough savings set aside
  • .

  • Get brutal on the guest list (how many of those people will you ever see again?).
  • Get innovative — cocktails rather than a sit down meal, renting the wedding dress, indigenous flowers, a friend who is an amateur photographer.

Personally if I were getting married now and had parents who were prepared to give me R100 000, I would rather put that as a deposit on a property than spend it on a big wedding. That is a personal choice but it helps to keep in mind that R100 000 invested would be worth R1-million by the time the couple celebrated their 20th anniversary.

Read more news, blogs, tips and Q&As in our Smart Money section. Post questions on the site for independent and researched information

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Maya Fisher French
Guest Author

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