Why Are Weddings So Expensive?

The modern American couple starts life with a heavy financial burden: In a big city like Chicago, the average wedding costs between $22,500 and $37,500. Yet in the 1930s, it was cheap, costing around $400. There’s no question that wedding prices are out of control. What went wrong?

Jason Cochran of WalletPop went to the Chicago History Museum’s “I Do! Chicago Ties the Knot” exhibition, whose historians have figured out how it happened.

If you want to blame someone for how much weddings cost in our society, the paperwork points to Marshall Field & Company.

For example, it was the first store to implement a gift registry for brides, which encouraged friends and family to make expensive public purchases on the couple’s behalf.

It created low-cost knockoffs of high-fashion garments so women of every income could imitate the rich.

Also, in the name of luxury and convenience, it also designed a system that took couples under its wing to sell them a range of other expensive accouterments that proved their place in society, including flatware, linens, and catering.

You’re paying what you pay for your wedding now because capitalism — and not religion — convinced you that you should.

Photo by bubor.

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