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Consumerist directs us to this infographic from bridepop, which says that folks who get married in SF spend more than people in the rest of the country, with an average price (this includes the rings, if you care) of $45,284.

That is the average. I am stunned by this! Do I just have the wrong friends, and the even wronger husband? What goes on in these “average” $45K weddings?

Of course, I’m dying to know what makes an SF wedding cost so much more than one in Phoenix (avg: $21K) or Philly (nearly $17K). So I contacted two prominent local wedding planners to see what we’re spending our money on.

The first told me “I do not discuss money” (inspiring a friend to quip “prolly cuz most of it goes to her”), and the second said he could not speak on record, but that “a lot of brides have something to prove.”

Readers, have any of you attended a SF wedding that you suspect cost more than some college educations? If so, let’s hear the scoop. Were they worth it? And when the gays all start getting married (which they will, eventually, we gotta believe), will this bring our average up or down?

the author

Eve Batey is the editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal. She used to be the San Francisco Chronicle's Deputy Managing Editor for Online, and started at the Chronicle as their blogging and interactive editor. Before that, she was a co-founding writer and the lead editor of SFist. She's been in the city since 1997, presently living in the Outer Sunset with her husband, cat, and dog. You can reach Eve at eve@sfappeal.com.

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  • Xenu

    Is this really a surprise, considering the cost of living?

  • Greg Dewar

    Actually, this makes a little sense. Over the years I’ve known many people who’ve gottem married here, now none of these are mega wealthy people, but they have spent at LEAST that much, if not MORE.

    I can tell you a few reasons why this can be the case. One is that many venues charge a lot just to show up, and you have to use their catering. I know at least a few weddings that have chosen venues in wine country etc. that pay more, because of all the expenses of having an outdoor event etc.

    The other is of course the whole SF “lets prove how much I’m worth with my wallet” mentality. I realize this isn’t popular to say, but since the first Dot Com era, people here feel a need to prove their worth by spending. Thus, they’ll spend top dollar on every single little thing, which as any smart event planner knows, is stupid. Yes, it’s nice to know you spent a fortune on high end hermes napkins for your dinner, but really, does anyone care? No.

    Finally, people here tend to take more exotic vacations, and that can add up REALLY fast….the thing is you can have an awesome wedding and not pay 100,000 dollars and be broke for the next 10 years. One picks out the things that matter, realize this is for the one and their beloved, and have a nice time. And there’s no shame in going to Disneyland for your honeymoon :-)

  • Eve Batey

    I don’t know about you, but the money I spend on “living” makes it kind of hard to drop $45K on something that might not be absolutely necessary.

    But isn’t NY’s cost of living more? They’re only $26K.

  • John Murphy

    Amusing murphstahoe fact – My wife used to be a wedding florist. Her bill was rarely under $4,000, and frequently went over $10,000. She did good work (www.jillbakerdesign.com) but she wasn’t pulling in Stanlee Gatti numbers. Big bills, but the margins weren’t actually that high, even using me as slave labor for delivery and cleanup. Flowers are expensive, and when you are making centerpieces/bouquets, you end up with a lot of flowers that bruise/etc… to get the numbers you need to finish the pieces. A lot of the markup comes from brides who insist on specific flowers that are out of season for the Northern Hemisphere and get flown in as cargo from places like New Zealand. Not cheap.

    Venues like the Flood Mansion were $10k just for the room.

  • Tamara

    I totally believe that wedding planner’s quote about brides having something to prove. Which to me only proves that they don’t know what really matters in life. But I suppose it’s good for our local economy? Whatever.

  • bloomsm

    I spend $45,000 on a wedding. Or, I should say, my wealthy ex-wife’s Hong Kong parents paid that. I paid for the tux, which was significantly less money.

    Great story years ago in the New York Times about why the price of weddings keeps going up. The theory was that today, when people have careers and get married later, they spend more on a wedding because they are insecure. They need a big wedding to say “see, look how in love we are.”

  • bloomsm

    UPDATED: “Happiness is not based on the price.” The $45,000 wedding ended in divorce nine years later, with two kids and custody fighting. The price means zilch, zip, nada, nothing.

  • sfboogie

    See… legalizing gay marriage just makes good financial sense. If for no other reason than helping the economy.

  • seth22

    Consumerist called it a “terrifying infographic.” Awesome. I don’t see how this is supposed to be surprising to anyone, given the wealth and flash here in San Francisco. And the wedding industry is no different from any other consumer racket.

  • Kevin Montgomery

    “100 people every minute pushed into poverty by economic crisis” [1]

    If I ever meet a girl that insists on spending $45k on something so fickle as a wedding, I’m going to throw her on the street, mourn the loss of my relationship at Bender’s, and give my money to Oxfam.

    [1] http://www.oxfam.org/en/pressroom/pressrelease/2009-09-24/100-people-every-minute-pushed-poverty-economic-crisis

  • John Murphy

    Kevin – you are pointing your finger at the wrong demon.

    The $45,000 wedding provides work for the better part of 100 people, when you add up florists, preachers, musicians, caterer, waitstaff, facility, dressmakers, and the dollars from all that wine trickle down pretty nicely. Even with the costly flowers and chicken picatta ingredients a wedding is a good transfer of wealth from the top to the bottom. The biggest profit margin sans labor goes to the facility owner. Add it all up and you might get a better percentage transfer to people who need the money than if you wrote a check to .

    Consider instead, the $45,000 Engagement ring…

  • cedichou

    I think the key word here is “average.” Some people can blow shitloads of money on weddings and tilt the average to $45k for the rest of us. It’s like the average net worth of Bill Gates and 99 penniless regular starving Joes being $580,000,000: the distribution is skewed.

    The methodology seems funky as well, it looks like they compute the average price for a long list of items that won’t necessarily be part of the average wedding. It’s like defining a restaurant meal to be a bottle of wine, an appetizer, an entree, a dessert, a coffee, a digestive and then computing the average price for each item, and then saying that the average dinner at the restaurant costs $150.

    Anyhow, the list is here:
    The following items are included in the average wedding cost or wedding budget:
    * Cufflinks Cummerbund Tie Pocket Square Shoes for Bride Shoes for Groom Tiara Combs Hair Pins Garter Tuxedo/Suit Veil Wedding Dress Wedding Dress Preservation Facial Hair Service Makeup Service Manicure & Pedicure and Massage.
    * Aisle Runner Ceremony Location Other Accessories or Decorations – Ceremony Ring Pillow or Box Unity Candle Justice of the Peace or Officiate or Ordained or Friend Family Member or Pastor Minister Rabbi or Priest Band at ceremony Band at reception and Dance lessons.
    * DJ at ceremony DJ at reception Musician/s at ceremony Musician/s at reception Boutonnieres Corsages Bridal Bouquet Bridesmaid Bouquets Ceremony Flower Arrangements Flower Girl Flowers Flower Petals and Reception Flower Arrangements.
    * Gift/s for Attendants Gift/s for Parents Gift/s for the Bride Gift/s for the Groom Wedding Favors Ceremony Programs Guest Book Invitations & Reply Cards Reception Menus Table or Place Cards Thank You Cards Anklet Bracelet and Brides Wedding Band.
    * Earrings Grooms Wedding Band Necklace Watch for Bride Watch for Groom Bachelor Party Bachelorette Party Rehearsal Dinner Wedding Photographer Wedding Videographer A La Carte Services Day-of-Coordinator For Getting Started and Full Service.
    * Month-of-Direction Hotel Room for After Reception Other Accessories or Decorations – Reception and Reception Bar Service Reception Food Service Reception Location Reception Rentals (Tent Table Chairs Etc.) and Reception Table Centerpieces.
    * Toasting Flutes Wedding Cake Wedding Cake Topper and Serving Set Antique Car Rental Horse & Carriage Rental Limo Rental Motorcycle Rental and Regular Car Rental.