Reality TV star Kim Kardashian's Aug. 20 wedding has been estimated to have cost anywhere between $10 million and $20 million, much of it donated (including three $20,000 wedding gowns by designer Vera Wang).
That's outrageous, especially in these hard times when so many can't afford to pay their mortgage or find a job, but those Kardashians know how to make money, so I can't really blame them for cashing in on what most people consider to be a fairly private celebration.
That's what the Kardashians do. But if some magazine wanted to pay me millions for exclusive rights to my wedding photos, I probably wouldn't turn it down, either. Ahh, to be a celebrity.
Most brides and grooms are scaling back their wedding plans due to the recession, though. The average cost of a wedding dipped $10,000 in a year after the recession began.
According to The Wedding Report, last year the cost began to recover, rising from $19,581 in 2009 to $23,867 in 2010. But with the economy still down, and fears of a double dip recession hovering, the average cost of a wedding for the first half of 2011 sunk to $21,277.
Weddings expert Cara Davis of Orlando, Fla., author of "Cheap Ways to Tie the Knot," and www.cheapwaysto.com, offers some tips to "recession-proof" your wedding.
1. Choose an off-season month for the wedding, such as January, February or November, and an off-peak day and time. Instead of Saturday afternoon or evening, have your wedding on Saturday morning, or Friday or Sunday night to save money on venues and services.
2. Keep the guest list small. Most caterers charge per-person, and with food prices rising, it can be very expensive to serve your guests a full meal. Simplify the reception - which is usually half the cost of a wedding - by serving high tea, dessert buffet, brunch or finger foods instead of having to cup back on options for a multi-course meal.
3. Shop around and negotiate prices and packages with vendors. Don't pay more than you think you should. Get everything in writing and have backup vendors you can call just in case something goes wrong with your first choice.
4. Do as much of the work as you can yourself. Delegate tasks to friends and family, if possible. They can address envelopes, fold programs, create favors and make your headpiece or veil. Saving money on things you can do yourself will allow you to spend more on what you can't do - or don't want to leave to chance, like photography.
5. Scour yard sales and thrift shops for things you can use for wedding and/or reception. You might also borrow dishes, utensils and glassware from family and friends.
6. Consider buying a wedding insurance policy to protect you in case a vendor goes bankrupt or closes. If you're spending more than $5,000 on your wedding, insurance could be worth the cost. Talk to your insurance agent or look online at www.wedsafe.com.
"When couples or their parents are faced with the choice of paying for a 150-person reception or putting money toward a down payment on a house, the more practical option may win the day," Davis said in a press release. "Do what's best for your situation and remember a lot of people are going through what you are. Friends and family will understand if you don't throw a soiree of Kardashian proportions."
And you'll be just as married, whether you spend $1,000, $10,000 or $10 million on your wedding.