Wedding Finances Survey | Part 2

In an earlier post, we discussed some of the initial results of our Jewish wedding finances survey. And interestingly enough, the breakdown of those responses did not change much as more people answered the survey.

We continue our analysis of the survey responses with question 5, namely who paid for what.

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FLOP, what’s that?

Only 16% of respondents split the wedding bill using the FLOP system. In case you belong to the 84% of people who did not use FLOP, let me fill you in. FLOP stands for Flowers, Liquor, Orchestra, and Photography. It is one way to divide the wedding bill between the two parties: the groom’s side pays for FLOP, while the kallah’ side pays for the rest (which is mainly the Hall and the Catering). This system is (or perhaps was) popular with a more “yeshivish” crowd, but only 16% of this blog’s readers used this approach. The most popular way to divide the chassanah expenses, used by almost 50% of couples and families, is the 50/50 split.

There were many instances (these were mentioned in survey comments) where one side paid for 100% of the wedding bill. The bride’s side was the paying side more often than the groom’s, but the occurrence was frequent enough to be significant. When does one side pay for the entire wedding? Does this happen when one side is significantly less advantaged than the other? Or when one side wants a lavish wedding reception, while the other is looking for a budget approach?

We also wanted to know if parents still foot the wedding bill like they did back in the day.
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And the answer is yes, in 56% of cases, the parents paid for the whole thing. Baruch Hashem for mom and dad (or abba and ima or mommy and totty)! That’s not to say that many brides and grooms do not contribute. In the rest of the couple contributed or paid for the whole thing themselves in the rest of the weddings (besides the three percent of weddings where a sponsor paid for it).

What about borrowing? With wedding expenses being what they are, are families forced to borrow to make it happen?
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We found it pleasantly surprising that 65% of respondents said that they did not need to borrow to cover the wedding costs. Out of the 35% of couples that did borrow to afford their wedding, 17% borrowed upwards of $20,000.

This is worth contemplating. In question 10, where we asked for the total wedding cost, almost a quarter of respondents said that they managed to make a wedding for less than $15K. Which means, that the couples borrowing more than $20K for their wedding either were not blessed with this magical ability of squeezing the giant of an affair as a wedding into a $15,000 box or they preferred debt to going skimpy on this once-in-a-lifetime celebration. Of course, it is also possible that they had a larger guest list. But this also raises that question if one is really obligated to invite that many people. Who are we to judge people for the voices they make? A lavish wedding reception is certainly alluring, and it’s been that way for as long as there have been weddings. There’s just something special, almost supernatural about the grandest of all life-cycle events that is a wedding that elicits such feelings.

Now let’s get into the more sensitive aspects of paying for the wedding. We asked: Did conversations about wedding finances result in tensions between the couple or between the two families.
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wedding-budget-survey-q9aThe Gemara in Shabbos says that “there are no Ketubah [discussions] that do not result in a fight”. This, of course, is not be taken literally. ¬†As we see from our survey, in overwhelming majority of weddings tensions were almost non-existent. In only 12% of weddings, did conversations about money result in serious problems, and that’s good news.

 

 

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Wedding Finances Survey | Initial Results – Part 1

Some time ago we added a 10 question survey to the right side of this blog. (Go ahead, I’ll wait a minute until you scroll to check it out.) The survey relates to wedding finances – setting a budget, the actual wedding costs and other related issues. While the responses are slowly trickling in, we couldn’t wait to share with you these early results and what they seem to indicate. Meanwhile the survey continues, so feel free to take half a minute and fill it out. And if you’re still in the early planning stages of your wedding and not ready to answer these questions, do come back and share your experience.

{Perhaps it is necessary to point out the obvious. This survey is in no way scientific. It is an open, voluntary survey of visitors of this website. We don’t know much about the respondents nor about the truthfulness of their responses. Still the results are certainly interesting and worth a discussion.}

Let’s begin with end, with the last question of the survey: “How much did your wedding cost?”

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There were 7 possible categories to choose from: from below $15,000 to above $75,000. Interestingly enough, the two categories that got the most responses were these two extremes. Almost 26% – more than 1 in 4 – of respondents kept their wedding costs down to below $15,000 and almost 20% shelled out more than $75,000.

Do you think $15,000 gives too broad of a range? Is it that easy to pull off a Jewish wedding for under 15 grand? We certainly didn’t think so when we drafted the survey and don’t think so still. Between the hall, catering, music, flowers, photography, videography etc. it seems nearly impossible to put together a wedding under $15,000. But, to our great surprise, more than a quarter of the survey participants managed it. What do you think?

The smallest response was given to the $65,000-$75,000 range. Could that indicate that if one spends one really spends? Perhaps. Although, with more kallahs filling out the survey, things may even out.

Now let us take a look at the survey’s first question: “Did you budget plan for your wedding?”

Yes, we know proper English would be: “Did you set a budget for your wedding?” But we felt that this version was more appropriate, more closely descriptive of the process of trying to set a budget for something that really requires professional and experienced planners. Whilst most people sort of learn the trade of figuring out the various options and their costs as they go along not unpleasantly overwhelmed.

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As you can see from the chart, almost half the survey participants took their budget quite seriously. Only 20% of respondents did not set a budget at all. Wait, are those the same 20% with wedding costs exceeding the $75,000 mark?

In the next question the survey wants to know: “How successful were you in setting a budget?”

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Here again 26% answered – making it the most frequent response – that they managed to fit into their budget. Whoever heard of fitting into a wedding budget??? Who are these people? Wait, are these the same 26% that managed to pull of a whole wedding under $15,000? Hmm, there does seem to be a pattern of sorts.

This next question is a personal favorite: “The price tag of which wedding service surprise you the most?”

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I was rooting for photography, but it only came in third. The winner is “Flowers”, with almost 32% percent of people surprised by the cost of wedding florals. Isn’t it a wonder that one can get a beautiful, large bouquet for about $50, but if it’s a bridal bouquet, well that’s $150-$250?

Many (almost 28%) were also surprised by the price tag of food. It’s generally the biggest of all wedding expenses. Prices for catering (which sometimes include the venue and sometimes are in addition to the cost of the wedding hall) can range from $25 per person to $200 per person. The total cost here is dependent, in large, on the amount of guests you are expecting at your affair. To set table at a large frum wedding with 500 guests or more even at $50 per person adds up to a hefty $25,000.

Now we wanted to know if you think your wedding is costing too much. Duh, of course it is! Well, as you can see from the chart below, about 12% of people answered that they kept wedding costs to a minimum. Most respondents, however, indicated that their wedding expenses are high – some are just more OK with it than others; after all it is a wedding!

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The second half of the survey we shall discuss in Part 2 of this article. Stay tuned, but add your two cents to the topic of wedding costs in the comments.

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No Kallah Left Behind

TenYad is looking for extra help this summer wedding season. No Kallah Left Behind.

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A Hurricane Chasanah

Photo by Meir Pliskin Photography
Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on NYC as well as the rest of the North East on Monday October 29, but this couple and a majority of their guests created their own whirlwind on the dance floor at their wedding which proceeded as planned. The wedding of Chaim and Nechama was held in Brooklyn Jewish Center as one of the worst storms in US History was raging through the streets.

Quite often, weddings, which are planned months in advance, get caught up in some unpredictable nature event (like this Blizzard wedding in Chicago last year or the Blizzard of 2010 in NY). For Jewish families a wedding is more than a celebration with friends and family, more than a lifecycle milestone; a wedding is a beginning of fresh branch within the House of Israel. It takes more than gusty winds to put the brakes on this occasion. Mazel Tov to the new couple!

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The Daf at Your Wedding

Many thousands while still under the inspirational influence of last night’s Siyum Hashas of Daf Yomi will begin their attempt to scale the tall and difficult mountain that is the Talmud Bavli. The Daf Yomi Commision – the organization that coordinates the Daf Yomi efforts around the world – offers an interesting resource that may add to the spirituality of your wedding as well as offer a meaningful diversion for your guests during the sometimes lengthy portrait session that usually occurs after the chuppah. The Daf Yomi Commission will print a personalized copy of that day’s blatt gemara that can be distributed to your Daf learning wedding guests. If necessary, the Commission can also help to arrange for a maggid shiur. The shaar blatt will serve as an additional and meaningful wedding memento for your family and your friends to retain.

Contact the Daf Yomi Commission at (212) 797-9000 ext 267 at least two weeks before the wedding date.

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