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BOSTON ( MainStreet) -- Wedding couples who let a case of cold feet cancel their plans will be lucky if their relationship is all that gets lost in the exchange.
Wedding jitters and nullified nuptials are just fine when it's Julia Roberts'
Runaway Bride lacing up the track shoes or Simon Pegg's
Run, Fatboy, Run character on the lam from responsibility, but it can become a costly proposition for grooms or brides looking to bail out before the big day. The mean cost of an American wedding last year, including the engagement ring, was $26,984, according to
WeddingChannel.com'sReal Weddings study. The fact that the total price dropped 5% from the year before likely comes as little consolation to former couples whose wedding investments were wiped out by second-guessing and doubt.
Wedding couples stand to lose more than their relationship by calling off the ceremony.
"There are a lot of costs associated with the wedding that are nonrefundable at the very beginning," says Amy Eisinger, associate editor of WeddingChannel.com. "Typically that includes the engagement ring -- even if she says no -- and the wedding ring. Same with your formalwear, wedding dress and bridesmaids' dresses."
By buying an engagement ring, which averaged $5,400 last year, couples are already putting a nearly 20% nonrefundable deposit down on their ceremony. Add on the average costs of a wedding gown ($1,099), groom's attire ($216), bridesmaids dresses ($139 a pop for an average of four bridesmaids) and groomsmen's gear ($146 apiece for an average of four groomsmen), and that $7,855 couples are forfeiting is already nearly 30% of the wedding's cost. That doesn't even factor in the average $784 and $572 that wedding research company
The Wedding Report says couples spent on bride and groom wedding bands, respectively, in the first half of 2011.