- 90 Day Fiancé -I Priced Out Andrei & Elizabeth’s $30K Moldovan Wedding & That Dance Floor Ain't Cheap
I know, I know: The general consensus between 90 Day Fiancé: Happily Ever After? fans seems to be that Elizabeth “Libby” Potthast Castravet’s brother Charlie is the absolute worst. They think he was wrong to make a scene at her wedding, threaten to fight brother-in-law Andrei Castravet, and confront their dad about splashing out for a second ceremony and reception.
I’m not here to argue that, but — was he actually wrong? Sure, he probably shouldn’t have called dad Chuck Potthast weak or soft, but if you look at just how much the wedding cost, it turns out that Charlie may actually have a point. Let’s break it down.
The Average American Wedding
During the Season 5 finale, which aired on Sunday, September 20, Andrei admitted in a confessional that his father-in-law dropped about $30,000 on the wedding.
At first glance, that number seems pretty par for the course. According to The Knot 2019 Real Weddings Study, which surveyed over 25,000 newlywed couples in the United States, the average cost of an American ceremony and reception is $28,000 (and the price tag in cities like Boston and Philadelphia can be significantly higher). So $30,000 is reasonable, right?
Well, consider that the price of a wedding varies not just based on the guest count and dinner menu, but also on the cost of living in an area. Renting out a 400-person venue for a few hours will cost less in Topeka, Kansas, than it will in Los Angeles, California.
Thing is, though, the wedding wasn’t in the U.S. — it was in Moldova, where the cost of living is much lower than Libby’s home state of Florida.
The Average Moldovan Wedding
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average yearly salary in Florida is $47,750. SalaryExplorer.com says the average Moldovan income is 320,000 MDL per year — or about $19,000. It stands to reason that weddings should cost less there, not more. Frankly, though, the actual data is hard to find. But if you’re willing to be swayed by anecdotal evidence, one Moldovan man took on just this question on Quora when curious 90 Day fans came asking.
Andrei Țurcan, whose profile says he currently lives in Chișinău, Moldova, after attending Moldova State University, estimated in June 2020 that the average wedding costs ran about $1,000 (though he suspects that number will be even lower these days considering the coronavirus pandemic).
For $15,000-$40,000, the original budget Andrei wanted from Chuck, Țurcan would expect a celebration that lasts several days, includes several hundred guests, and maybe even incorporates some grand gesture including a plane or helicopter. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t notice any aircrafts waiting in the wings to whisk the happy couple and all of their friends off to a second location for round two of the party.
Elizabeth and Andrei's Wedding
Aircrafts aside, the ceremony we saw on screen was still pretty "extravagant," as Elizabeth herself admitted. The venue was huge — there was a candelabra on every table, an outdoor patio that seemed exclusively used for verbal sparring between in-laws — I could go on.
When the bride and groom confronted each other and finally kissed and made up, they did so on a grassy area illuminated with a "love" sign that was several feet tall (which can run you a few hundred dollars, according to Etsy). Inside, there was also a giant, light-up dance floor and screens to get the party hopping, and you guys, those aren't cheap.
I reached out to PartyWorks Interactive to get an idea just how much something like that would cost, and suddenly that $30,000 budget started to make a lot of sense. Mickey Kakes, the head salesman for the company, has seen the show, and he estimated the couple's dance floor was an LED infinity floor that was likely about 30' by 40'. With 10' by 10' squares running you $3,500 at PartyWorks Interactive, a package like what Elizabeth and Andrei had could cost as much as $9,000.
Of course, Kakes explained prices vary based on where you are, what the installation process is like, and if a venue has their own setup in-house. I doubt Andrei and Elizabeth spent one third of their wedding budget on the dance floor alone, but it's easy to see how the costs could start to rack up.
As far as accommodations, I turned to Airbnb to get the average Moldovan rental price. While there are always going to be outliers, the site states that the average rental comes in at about $38 a night. Considering those numbers, you can get a lot of nights in Moldova at that rate.
Of course, no one needs an LED infinity dance floor at their wedding. No one needs an indoor space and an outdoor patio. It sounds like Charlie may have been onto something when he all but accused his dad of getting fleeced. After all, that budget likely didn’t even include flying out all of the Potthast family members so that they could get down with their new Moldovan in-laws. If Chuck also agreed to foot the bill for everyone’s travel, that likely added several thousand dollars to the grand total.
If you check out Kayak right now and plan a couple of months in advance, the cheapest round ticket flight you can find will cost you about $650 per person. Kayak's "best" deal is closer to $800 per person. Multiply that times several family members and add in accommodations and you're easily paying another several thousand dollars on top of the wedding budget.
Charlie's right that the couple is already married — and this isn't the first time they've asked for financial support from Chuck. They could've kept their second wedding simple and still enjoyed a special night with their family and friends. Instead, they ran up the bill, putting further stress on their already strained relationships with Elizabeth's family.
The Bottom Line
Here's the thing. Andrei wasn’t wrong when he asked Chuck to pay for the wedding the same way he shelled out the cash for Libby’s siblings’ big days, and he wasn’t wrong to want a party for his family that rivaled the ones the Potthasts would throw in the States. But when you compare the cost to what the average Moldovan affair should’ve run the family, well, it does leave you with some major questions.
Did Andrei take advantage of his father-in-law by demanding he splash out the cost of the ordinary American wedding for an extraordinary Moldovan party? Or did that $30,000 pale in comparison to the other Potthast kids' bridal budgets? Were the parties proportional or the price tags? I don't know about you, but I'm going to need to see some literal receipts before I dub Charlie the ultimate villain in this story.
Images: TLC Screenshots