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In the U.S., the cost of an average wedding exceeds the median income. This illustrates two points: one, moderately lavish weddings are very culturally important; and two, Americans are willing to sacrifice a lot for that special day.
If you’re planning a wedding, you may be feeling overwhelmed by the task. From rings to cake, dresses to venues, there’s a whole lot of decision making ahead of you. The following infographics provide some guidance to help you plan, pick and choose your way through the American wedding marketplace, and put your own wedding into perspective.
A Brief History of Weddings
Before you embark on your wedding journey, learn a little bit about the institution. The following infographic explores how wedding traditions began and what they signify, and highlights some of the most outrageous wedding gifts of all time.
The Wedding Planner
Planning a wedding is complicated. Even small events require lots of leg-work: booking venues, sending invitations, finding outfits, picking bridesmaids, hiring photographers, choosing the food… the list is long. Many a bride or groom-to-be has put off planning for too long, finding him or herself having to settle for less-than-ideal arrangements at the last minute. The following infographic outlines a 12-month wedding planning schedule to keep busy couples on track.
The True Cost of a Wedding
From napkin rings to tablecloth rentals, corking fees to bridesmaids’ gifts, weddings are notorious for little unexpected expenses that really add up. Remember: Americans typically spend upwards of $27,000 on their weddings. The data visualization below details where some of this money will likely go, and offers some tips for keeping costs under control.
Use this handy printable infographic to keep track of costs as you plan.
When Do You Want to Get Married?
One of the first choices you’ll make is the time of year you’d like to celebrate your wedding. Every season has a traditional color-palette, in-season flowers and foods, and ups and downs weather-wise. The following infographic outlines the aesthetics of each.
Once you’ve decided when you’d like to get married, you’ve got to decide where it’s going to happen. Are you looking for an outdoor or indoor venue? Would you rather get married in a fancy hotel, in an old barn with rustic charm, or in a field under the stars? Cost, accessibility, availability, and size will all be important considerations.
Save-the-dates aren’t mandatory, but they help your guests plan ahead. They also give you a little extra time to prepare your formal invitations. These don’t have to be expensive or stuffy, as long as they include the critical information: venue, date, time, and your names. Many couples see save-the-dates as an opportunity for creativity and make a video, record a song, print their information on a candy wrapper, or send out picture postcards.
Wedding Invitation Etiquette
Some people really care about wedding invitation etiquette, while others couldn’t care less. Understanding what’s traditional can help you decide where on the spectrum your wedding will fall.
Consider this: your wedding ring will (hopefully) reside on your finger for the rest of your life. This makes it important to find one that fits comfortably, complements your skin and hand, and won’t decay over time. Expect to pay at least a few hundred dollars for a high-quality ring. (There is no real need to spend the American average of $2,100. Simple, quality gold rings of medium weight start around $300.)
If you’re buying a ring without the input of your partner, you may need to do some sleuthing to find out his or her ring size.
The Dress and Hair
Stylistically, there aren’t any strict guidelines on wedding dresses. Long, short, modern, Victorian, lace, taffeta… the style and material should flatter your figure and match your wedding aesthetic.
Your hairstyle should complement your dress, adding sophistication, elegance, loose abandon or retro flair.
Make Your Wedding Memorable
It’s relatively straight-forward to plan a wedding by the book but what if you’re going for something original, something your guests will really remark on and remember? The following infographic offers ideas for sweet, creative touches to make your wedding stand out. It’s all in the details.
Tech is the New White
Today, no wedding is complete without a little high-tech gusto. Wedding apps help couples plan, pay, register for gifts, find seasonal foods and flowers, book venues, share photographs, and much more. Brides and grooms-to-be are using iTunes playlists instead of DJs or bands, Facebook events instead of save-the-dates, and wedding websites instead of complicated invitations.
Anni Murray is a writer, editor, multimedia artist, amateur mycologist, and biology student. She is currently working on Prism, a speculative science fiction story cycle. All opinions expressed in this article are her own. Follow her on Twitter.