I’m not a math person. In fact, when I’m commenting on other blogs and their comment approval system uses a math problem to prove that I’m human I panic.
So that’s why until recently I’ve always believed what news outlets and infographics on Pinterest have told us all: that the average cost of a wedding is in fact (at least here in America) $28,500. Or at least that’s what the number came out to in 2012.
$28,500 is A LOT of money. That’s some people’s salary. And it really got me thinking – is that true?
Well, I don’t believe it is and here’s why:
If you want to know how much brides in America are spending on their weddings you need to look at the median, not the average.
What happens with an average is this: 9 brides have a wedding and they each spend around $15,000. The tenth bride comes along and has a luxury wedding and it costs her $150,000. Add all those weddings up and then divide by 10 to get the average, which in this case comes out to $28,500.
But 9 out of 10 brides had weddings WELL below what the media is now telling you is the average cost of a wedding in America!
(I reeeaaallly hope my math is right on this. Someone check for me please)
So does that make the average cost of a wedding in this example $28,500? Mathematically yes, but certainly not in the way that we use and understand the word average on a day-to-day basis.
What you should be looking for if you’re interested in this sort of thing is the median. What the median is is quite literally (in Latin) ‘the middle number.’ To find that you take your data sample, line them all up from highest to lowest, and whatever the middle number is would be your median. So in my imaginary example the median cost of a wedding in America would be $15,000.
Media outlets like The Knot and The Wedding Channel periodically collect data from surveys they do where brides type in how much their wedding budget is or former brides disclose how much their wedding cost. They then average it out and get a number like $28,500.
Then news outlets like Huffington Post and Financial Times blast that all over the Internet and people around the world gawk in shock and horror and leave opinionated comments haranguing those who choose expensive weddings or bashing industry professionals for what they charge.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not disparaging people who have expensive weddings. I had an expensive wedding. But what does get me going is when I hear brides-to-be talking about how their wedding is going to be terrible or ugly because they can’t afford near the ‘American average.’ Or when couples think that they need to spend close to $28,500 just to get married to each other. Or when people start accusing florists, wedding planners, and other industry professionals for price gouging.
That number is a myth and now you know why.
image via OneWed
How do you feel about the way that wedding costs are portrayed by the media? Let us know!