What is the "average" wedding budget?
Most of us are curious about that. And, I'm willing
to bet I'm not the only person who has gone OMG when
reading stories about the "average" wedding budget,
and how much "on average" couples go over budget.
One recent report had it that 4 out of 5 couples
(82%) go over budget and that they spend an extra
dollar for every 5 dollars originally budgeted
(20%).
Time for a little maths talk. But hang in there, I
promise, it is so worth it to understand how knowing
how the maths works can save you from feeling
pressurised to spend a certain amount of money, or
guilty if you go over it, or, worse, like a
cheapskate if you plan to come in way under!
So, words of advice: Your budget is nobody's
business except your own. There are no budget police
checking to see if your spend the "average" amount.
Why does the media talk
about wedding spends the way it does?
What is interesting is
when the press is
reporting on the housing market, it doesn't talk
about average price of houses. It talks about the
median price. While both average and median
are what the statisticians call
measures of
central tendency, that is, both average and
median represent the
middle of a set of numbers,
there is a difference, and that difference is
important. For one simple reason. Averages
normalise, and that matters.
When we are told that something is the average, it
tends to become a benchmark, to feel normal. Which
gives it some emotional clout.
The press
and the industry concerned will likely use average
when it wants to influence behaviour (or express
outrage), and median when it just wants to
convey information that, over time, could be useful
in plotting trends. It is easy to find out what the
median house price in any suburb is. Wedding budget
information tends to be for much larger geographical
areas. So, for example, most of the stories you will
read about the average wedding budget will specify
Australia, but may not actually be explicit about
where in Australia. Capital city or small country
town, for example. It makes a huge difference!
What is "average" and
how do you work it out?
To find the
average wedding budget you add
up what each individual couple's total budget was
and then divide the total by the number of
couples. Sounds simple. And it is also the
explanation as to why the "average" wedding budget
can differ markedly from report to report because
it all depends on who is collecting the
information and where they found the couples in
their sample. (No-one can afford to collect the
data from everyone, so they collect from a sample
drawn from the larger group). In Australia there
are some 120,000 weddings a year. The samples used
to calculate the average wedding budget is much
much smaller that that. A few thousand couples at
most.
These three (hypothetical) examples show how just
one figure can alter the average:
Sample A: 5 couples: 10,000 + 14,000
+ 15,000, + 20,000 + 28,000 = Average spend of $17,400
Sample B: 5 couples: 10,000 + 14,000 + 15,000, +
20,000 + 60,000 = Average spend of $23,800
Sample C: 5 couples: 2,000 + 14,000 +
15,000, + 20,000 + 28,000 = Average spend of $15,800
Notionally, let's do the maths again, but this
time with two hypothetical examples from different
parts of the wedding market, budget, and high-end.
Sample D: 5 couples: 2,000 + 3,000 +
5,000, + 6,000 + 7,000 = Average spend of $4,600
Sample E: 5 couples: 20,000 + 30,000 + 50,000, +
60,000 + 70,000 = Average spend of $46,000
What is median and how
do you work it out?
The
median is the value (when talking
about budgets this will be the dollar amount), of
whatever it is that you're measuring that lies
smack back in the middle. It is not affected by
either very small or very large numbers. In all
three of the Samples A, B, and C, the median
budget is $15,000,
Sample A: 5 couples: 10,000 + 14,000 +
15,000
+ 20,000 + 28,000 = Average
$17,400 Median
$15,000
Sample B: 5 couples: 10,000 + 14,000 +
15,000
+ 20,000 + 60,000 = Average
$23,800 Median
$15,000
Sample C: 5 couples: 2,000 + 14,000 +
15,000
+ 20,000 + 28,000 = Average
$15,800 Median
$15,000
Where the sample is
drawn from is important, as is when the data was
collected
When it comes to average spend, where the sample
is drawn from, and how big it is can make a huge
difference to the final figure. The latest annual
ASIC survey of 3,300 marrying couples around
Australia, reported on the Australian government
Moneysmart website, came up with a figure of
$36,000. whereas the
Bride to Be magazine
survey came up with an average cost of $65,452.
One can only assume that a high-end bridal
magazine would be sampling its readers, which
would very likely not include those many couples
who have a simple backyard wedding with a handful
of friends and loved ones. Not only that, if you
live in outback Queensland and the couples
surveyed all got married in Sydney or Melbourne,
the results are not relevant to your situation.
When the survey took place is also relevant..
What's the take-home
message?
Ask lots of questions to determine the source of
the data on which the reported averages are based
- Who collected the data?
- Where was the data collected?
- How big was the sample?
- What was the spread? (that is lowest and
highest spend)
When you get married, whether or not you have a
wedding, and what sort of wedding you have is
optional. The past few months of COVID-19
restrictions have ably demonstrated that. Whether
you spend more than the "average", less than the
"average", or bang on the "average", you'll be no
less married.
More information about
how to rein in your wedding budget
Thanks for reading!