Is there a better way to balance our weddings and our wallets?


The project “Our Weddings, Our Wallets” examined the costs of today’s weddings, featuring industry insiders as well as perspectives from parents who’ve married off several children.
The underlying question throughout was: Is there a better way? 
This project did not intend to present a neatly-tied package of solutions. As a magazine, it’s not our role to dictate communal standards. Instead, we share what worked for others, we focus on initiatives that look promising, we highlight numbers and data — but mostly we start a conversation.
What do you think? Join the conversation below. 


Conversations on Mishpacha.com continue the dialogue on current issues covered in Mishpacha Magazine. The Conversation Host will respond to a selection of comments and points raised by the participants. See our Conversation Guidelines right here. 


Shmuli Margulies |
September 9, 2019
LAST UPDATED 3 years ago

Comments (15)

  1. Avatar

    There is nothing funny about Corona Virus, but it sure did put the breaks on all the materialism for quick minute.

  2. Avatar
    M.K., Los Angeles

    I’m a senior in high school and a stickler for managing my finances. My wedding is something I think about often, and the breakdown of wedding expenses, with different outlooks on oldest/middle, son/daughter, in town/out of town, was very thorough. I had fun going through it and showing it to my father, trying to see which parts of the wedding I’d be okay with cutting down on. It was quite thought provoking and made me realize what our parents do for us. I look forward to the day that I’ll be able to celebrate at my own leibedig wedding, without breaking the bank.

  3. Avatar
    R.K., Lakewood

    Kudos to Esty Heller for her well-researched article detailing wedding expenses, and giving us the thorough breakdown of the numbers of what people spent on their simchahs. But I feel it was wrong to juxtapose this article with her serial, Yardsticks. If you take a closer look at the numbers shared, it becomes clear that the main discrepancy in expenses between certain communities is not the cost of the actual wedding, but rather in costs devoted to setting up the couple’s future home — be it apartment rent, security deposit, furnishings, housewares, etc.
    I’ve been married over a decade and am still using much of the clothing and basics I got married with. Certainly my housewares and linens, and obviously my furniture and jewelry are in condition to be used “til I marry off my grandchildren,” as my mother put it when purchasing them. Although the issue of these kinds of expenses needs to be examined and discussed, I don’t think it’s fair to place them into a conversation headlined “People who spend $10,000 on a dress for one night.”

  4. Avatar
    Mindy Fried

    Thank you for pointing out some of the problematic aspects of our frum publications.
    I’m coming from the perspective of a grandmother and great-grandmother who watches her young couples with love and also with compassion. Sometimes I just get furious at these magazines, who set such impossible standards for our young balabustas!
    Back when I got married, a perfect Pesach Seder meal was chicken soup, followed by chicken from the chicken soup, with maybe some kugel or boiled potatoes on the side. We served the same thing at the second Seder. Today I see our young veiblach struggling to put together varied menus, which means more shopping and more cooking. And I blame the magazines for this.
    Have some rachmanus! There is so much on these young women’s plates, do they really need to keep reading about fancy recipes?

    1. Avatar
      Shmuli Margulies

      I strongly identify with your dismay at the rising standards of living and the struggle of the young mothers to keep up with all this. But is it fair to blame the magazines? They cater to their readers and most likely reflect the reality rather than create it.

      What we as parents and teachers need to do, is to arm the youth with the tools to protect themselves from the influences out there. Not just the openly negative influences, even subtle ones that prod us towards increasing our standard of living. We mustn’t come across as restrictive. The message must be that it’s liberating to not chase materialism, which results in unsustainable rises to standards.

  5. Avatar

    Thank you Mishpacha for raising this important issue.
    There were some great ideas and most importantly awareness.
    However, As Rivky from Chicago said, this is just a (large) symptom of a far greater problem. We need to address the problem. And stop giving in to demands of ‘everyone else has it’ etc.
    Can you address that point as well?

  6. Avatar
    Rivky, Chicago

    I don’t get it. We drive cars we can’t afford and live in homes way out of our budget and live with debt and credit cards and tefillos. Why should simchos be different? Do you really think it’s worth dedicating a whole issue to a symptom of a problem rather than addressing the problem itself?

    1. Avatar
      Shmuli Margulies

      I couldn’t agree with you more. The fact that weddings are once in a lifetime events for the couple and a heavy ticket item, doesn’t mean it should be treated differently than all our other expenses.
      I often say that if people viewed wedding costs the same way as their electric bill, it would be much more manageable, as we see that very few people need help with their electric bill, but unfortunately a very high percentage need help when it comes to weddings. When I was growing up the percentages were much lower, and obviously the savings rate was much higher.
      By all means, let’s address the issue itself rather than the symptoms.

  7. Avatar
    R. P.

    The feature on wedding expenses was interesting but missed the most financially draining and stressful wedding expense: support! A wedding that cuts costs and the guest list can total maybe $40K for the kallah’s side, but support for the couple is now at a not-quite minimal minimum of $1,500 per month for seven years. That’s $126,000 for one child! For the lucky family with three girls in a row, that’s $4,500 per month in support alone. That figure is a full salary for the month! How is this sustainable?
    I’m a kollel wife who values learning, who supports her husband in kollel, who saves money monthly for her kids’ weddings — and I have no idea how I’m going to support my kids in kollel when the time comes.
    As a community, we need to have an honest conversation about supporting kollel couples. Many times, the families that are demanding these figures or higher for their boys cannot pay them for their girls. At this point, marrying a “good boy” has become a privilege of the wealthy. This cannot be the answer to living a kollel life.

    1. Avatar
      Shmuli Margulies

      I greatly commend you for the unbelievable support of Torah learning, and I strongly identify with your dilemma. But at the end of the day (and the beginning!) we’re believers. We believe that Hashem runs the world and provides for all of us. He also doesn’t need our help, and we only work because that’s His will.
      So continue your phenomenal work, but try to avoid worrying about whether or not you’ll commit to support your married children. Worrying is very problematic from a Bitachon perspective, although it’s a lifelong effort to achieve the level of not worrying at all.
      If you do all you can, rely on Him to do His bit and more! When the time comes be”H, you should consult with Daas Torah and do whatever the Torah requires or allows. As far as I know, the Torah doesn’t want us to overextend ourselves in such situations.
      Your children will be”H do excellent shidduchim regardless of support. This is a reality I have personally been zocheh to witness numerous times, which has of course influenced the ideas I’ve shared here.

  8. Avatar

    Where is your achrayus for the service providers whose parnassa is effected by articles such as the one you printed? I am not in the flower business, but I would be irate if I was and the largest frum magazine attacked my livelihood. I happen to do sound systems and engineering for a living, and count on simchos to get by. What about my wallet?

  9. Avatar
    Chani Einhorn

    Your project about weddings costs made some very important points. However, I was upset about an error that was overlooked. When you wrote about Reb Yoel Roth and the beautiful, low-cost wedding that he made, you wrote it can’t be done by other people. Let me tell you, it can — and by anybody.
    My aunt made two of her sons’ weddings in Reb Yoel’s beis medrash for under $5K, from top to bottom. He does not charge for his hall and anyone can make a wedding there free of charge, on the condition that they follow his takanos.
    I’m not saying it’s easy to make such a cheap wedding, but it can be done. Unfortunately most people are not brave enough to do away with so many extravagances and we use excuses that it’s not possible for anyone else to do it. But the facts speak for themselves.

  10. Avatar
    Dovi G., Toms River

    I love how Mishpacha opened a conversation, and I appreciate the attempt- but we’re too far from normal to even see the shoreline. We’re far gone. I wonder if we can ever get back to simchos that don’t require going into debt. If we can, please offer a practical guide. I’m ready to go first. Tell me, Mishpacha, where to begin?

    1. Avatar

      LOL to your comment about being far from the shoreline. But it is true. An average family making 200k cannot afford the frum lifestyle.
      Buy a house in a frum neighborhood, and pay beyond top dollar…and refinance every few years.
      Pay tuition that runs at least 8k per child yearly.
      Camps. After all is bought and paid for, 3k per child
      The wedding, that’s the least of the financial problems.

  11. Avatar

    Thank you for the ideas about chasunah budgeting. Here are two more ideas:
    Here in Manchester it has already become quite common to share flowers with the baal simchah making an event the night before/after. The standard arrangement is a 60 to 40 percent agreement, with 60 percent being paid by the baal simchah using them the first night, or the one who prefers to choose them. This arrangement cuts down the expenses quite a bit.
    As far as as the mitzvah tantz, in addition to paying the badchan, you also have to pay the hall, the musician, and the photographer for the overtime. For what? For compliments that everyone is too tired to listen to? To get everyone late to bed including the grandfathers you are trying so hard to honor? Instead of the long list of honorees, cut it down to the grandparents and chassan and kallah, cut out the rest — and make everyone happy.

Shmuli Margulies is the Chairman and co-founder of Mesila, an international organization dedicated to strengthening the financial foundations of Jewish communities around the world by building a culture of financial stability and independence in homes and at work. Mesila’s primary programs include community financial education programming, elementary school through seminary/Yeshiva financial education classes, and financial management coaching for families and businesses worldwide.

Mesila has active branches across Israel, USA, and the UK, with educational programs in many more countries.

Visit www.mesila.org or email info@mesila.org for more information.

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