Writer Compares Her Parents’ Wedding Costs To Today’s Rates

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How do wedding costs in the 70’s compare today?

It’s kind of a fun activity for me and my siblings browsing through photos of our parents from the time before we came into the picture, and it’s especially nostalgic to go through their wedding pictures.

My parents’ wedding had the whole nine yards: a full entourage, catered meal at a hotel, and they paid for makeup and dresses too.

We never really asked them how much it cost them back then, or if their folks chipped in with the expenses, so it was really timely when this article from writer Meg Keene explored what her parents’ wedding costs back then, and how much that translated into today’s figures.

“My parents’ San Francisco wedding cost about $2,000, which in today’s money is roughly $10K. What it would actually cost to throw their wedding in 2017 is a whole other story,” she writes.

We cackled going through her article probably because we related a ton: Keene gets engaged in San Francisco as well, and when you get engaged, you generally think you can pull off a nice wedding ceremony afterwards; but when the reality of how expensive and meticulous that industry hits, words like ‘intimate’ or ‘let’s just get married in court’ sounds way more appealing.

“But by today’s standards, my parents’ wedding was BEYOND,” she wrote. “Their cake alone was so big that when we tried to re-create their wedding, we couldn’t even find a baker that still made cakes that large.

And yet their budget was only $10,000 in 2017 dollars.”

Here are her parents’ wedding costs:

Photography

According to Keene, in 1974, her parents hired a photographer who charged them $50!

“Most professional photographers working in San Francisco will be priced at $2,500 or above — and that’s on the conservative side. The experienced photographers often start around $4,000,” she said.

1974 cost: $50

What it should cost in 2017 dollars: $240

What it actually costs in 2017: $2,500

Increase: 941%

Wedding Costs: The Ceremony

“My parents got married in Grace Cathedral — aka a huge-ass church in the middle of San Francisco. They weren’t members of the congregation, but they were able to snag the membership discount in exchange for a kneeler, needlepointed by my grandmother. (Totally how weddings work now!!!!)”

1974 cost: $250

What it should cost in 2017 dollars: $1,201

What it actually costs in 2017: $7,650

Increase: 537%

Invitations

In the 70’s engraved wedding invitations were the most “traditional, formal and expensive” method. It was sort of rare to find retailers who offered engraving services, which is why during that time, they had to spend a lot. How much? Exactly $250. (YES! $250) For 300 invitations.

“They invited 600 people because… 1974,” she wrote.

When adjusted for inflation, that’s $1,201 today.

“In 2017, you can get a set of 300 engraved invitations in a simple design for $2,209 (with the invitation card, envelope and RSVP included, but no other bells and whistles.)”

1974 cost: $250

What it should cost in 2017 dollars: $1,201

What it actually costs in 2017: $2,209

Increase: 84%

 

Flowers

“My parents got married three days after Christmas, so for the ceremony, they used the flowers that were still up from the holidays. All in all? $50 in 1974 terms,” she wrote.

She writes that today, Grace Cathedral has an “approved florist list,” at the minimum of P8,000. Worst, you can’t re-use the flowers at the Cathedral for your reception.

“That said, many florists in San Francisco these days don’t get out of bed for less than $4,000, so in reality you may end up with more flowers than my parents had…and a much higher bill,” she explained.

1974 cost: $50

What it should cost in 2017 dollars: $240

What it actually costs in 2017: $1,400

Increase: 483%

Attire

“Getting married in December meant my mom was able to get a nice wedding dress from the premier department store of the time during a half-off sale the previous spring. It cost $150 in 1974, and her super-long cathedral veil and satin flats added an extra $45.”

If adjusted for inflation today, her mom would be wearing a $937 dress.

1974 cost: $195

What it should cost in 2017 dollars: $937

What it actually costs in 2017: $1,900

Increase: 102%

 wedding cake 70s

Cake

Quantity was in consideration when it comes to cake during the 70’s. According to the writer, her parents’ wedding cake was so big, it could feed all 600 guests.

“In 2017? Of the handful of bakers we called for quotes, most of them didn’t even offer a cake that big anymore,” she wrote.

1974 cost: $100

What it should cost in 2017 dollars: $480

What it actually costs in 2017: $1,500

Increase: 212%

Reception and Catering

“My parents had their reception at San Francisco’s Marines’ Memorial Club, where they got a sizable discount because my grandfather was a founding member. Total cost for the reception? $1200 (which if you adjust for inflation would be $5,769 today).

“All in all? Getting the same package they got in 1974 would cost $24,000 today, before taxes and tip (and more than $30K after),” she said.

1974 cost: $1200

What it should cost in 2017 dollars: $5,769

What it actually costs in 2017: $30,128*

Increase: 422%

*Includes 2.5% discount

TOTAL COST

Total 1974 cost: $2,095

What it should cost in 2017 dollars: $10,068

What it actually costs in 2017: $47,286

Increase: 370%

Reading through her cost breakdown had us in cold sweats imagining our own wedding ambitions, and if you factor in the fact that currently, San Francisco is the most expensive place in America; then it’s definitely a loft ambition to match a ceremony as grand as Keene’s parents’ had.

 

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