OCTOBER
THRILLER ROMANCE


10-21 Sarah Raplee – Author of “Blindsight” Psychic Agents Series, Book One

Friday, June 22, 2012

Lose the Wedding Fluff

Okay, you’ll probably label me unromantic, but wedding extravaganzas aren't my cup of tea. As a kid—even as a teenager—I never dreamed about a BIG wedding. My older sister’s wedding would be considered quite moderate by today’s standards. Nonetheless, the pressure got to her. She broke out in hives the morning of her big day, and her feet swelled so much she feared she’d never stuff her sausage toes into her pointy shoes.

Sprucing up the house for wedding guests, Mom decided to spring for a rug for our living room. I helped her with the hurried measurements. Somehow the order mixed up feet and yards. We plopped the resulting postage-stamp rug under our dining room table, and the doctor gave my sister a shot to tame the hives. The wedding was beautiful, but who needs the stress?

Though my sister’s been married to the same fella for 48 years, I’m not convinced a church ceremony helped this marriage stick. My husband and I just celebrated our 36th anniversary, and a justice of the peace tied our knot. Azalea bushes provided natural color. I did go all out and tuck a pink sprig in my hair. Our cost? Dinner for us and our parents at a local restaurant.

I guess I'm just too practical. In 2011, the average wedding cost $27,021. That’s higher than the median income, and outstrips the median down payment on a starter house. In today’s economy, young couples often are saddled with student loan debt—coincidentally, the average ($27,200) about equals the typical wedding pricetag. Plus it’s much tougher today to land a good-paying job right out of college. According to recent stats, about 40 percent of 18-34 year-olds live with their parents. Pardon me for saying so, but I doubt the most romantic wedding in the world is worth setting up housekeeping with mom and dad—or stressing over unpaid bills. And I won’t dwell on the U.S. first-marriage divorce rate of 41 percent.

That's why I think it makes sense to keep the wedding small. Use the money to start housekeeping and/or pay off debt. Then, 25 or 50 years down the road--if you’re still together--have one whopper of an anniversary celebration. Now that’s worth celebrating!

Nonetheless, I know many young ladies would feel deprived if they didn't have a big wedding. Everyone has different priorities, and I'll dance and toast anyone who wants to spend thousands of dollars in a day. I may be Ms. Scrooge, but I won't turn down a relative's wedding invitation. No reason to impose my personal biases on anyone else.

So, let's hear it. If you had it to do over again, would you spend as much money? 

14 comments:

Christy Tillery French said...

Linda, I'm just as much a scrooge as you. My husband and I got married in a courthouse by a judge. But my daughter wanted a big wedding and I found if you attach the word "wedding" to anything, the price automatically triples. We pulled it off but, dang, the expense was horrendous. Now she says she'd rather have had the money (which we offered) as a down payment on a house. Live and learn...

Linda Lovely said...

Christy, you have it right--live and learn. Hindsight is always easier. But I think engaged couples ought to sit down and look at their income versus expenses for their first years as a couple before they sign on for big wedding expenses.

Paty Jager said...

My wedding nor my daughters weddings cost more than a couple thousand dollars. We made the dresses, the cakes, the food, and the decorations. And used my brother's stereo system for music at the receptions. I don't think weddings need to be huge, expensive undertakings. But if a bride wants to share the event with family and friends it can be done at minimal cost not for outrageous amounts of money.

And you're right, there are much better ways to spend the money when starting out.

Pam said...

I agree Linda. My wedding was small, simple, for family and close friends. I wouldn't change any of it.

I have recently attended weddings where the bride has two gowns; one for the wedding, one for the reception; where professional lighting and sound engineers are brought in to create atmosphere for the reception; and limos are hired to take the wedding party to various locations for pictures. The most extravagant to date was a reception catered by Wolfgang Puck. As much fun and beautiful as these were I wonder how a young couple affords this.

I feel like you do Linda; this money could be spent on things far more useful and lasting. But like you I certainly will go if invited, and will enjoy the festivities.

Sarah Raplee said...

I'm with you, Linda! Personal, meaningful, reasonable, practical - these things can make a wedding even more beautiful!

My church wedding cost less than $500. One of my goals (even at the tender age of 17 - stay tuned for my upcoming post, 'I Was a Child Bride' - I dreamed of candlelight, sacred blessings, and celebrating with those close to me. So no, I wouldn't spend less. More importantly, I wouldn't spend more.

Pauline B Jones said...

My wedding started to get crazy, so I trimmed it back. Wedding lunch after, no reception. My MIL did give us an open house. But it was all family provided. Both my girls did their own weddings (knew better than to get my help LOL) and they were lovely.

Linda Lovely said...

Sounds like we're quite the economical crew. Could be writers have to think economical because we don't make the big bucks?

Nancy Means Wright said...

A delightful blog, Linda. Having been involved with weddings of three of my offspring, I know how things can go wrong. My older son wearing dirty sneakers as an usher, for ex, and my mother-in-law freaking out when three ushers arrived with booze on their breath. My daughter invited everyone to bring a chicken, head or alive as wedding gift--and luncheon. Several did! But no matter what, everyone has always had a great time.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Linda,

I could write a book on the subject! Actually, an article I wrote on my wedding was published some years ago. I made it humorous, but it wasn't at the time. My husband wanted to elope and we probably should have. But my mother would have felt cheated. She wanted the whole wedding affair. It was stressful for many reasons, and I also broke out in hives, but on my wedding night. Best wedding was my older son's who got married before a judge on Valentine's Day. Just a simple wedding breakfast followed for the couple and parents.

dkchristi said...

The stress with a high end wedding is not worth it - for the couple, their family & friends.

Judith Ashley said...

Hi Linda,

My wedding was very inexpensive, the cost of the license and a fee to the Justice of the Peace...I experience my fantasy weddings in my stories as each of my heroines does or will have the wedding of her dreams. Cost? a little chocolate to nibble on as I write the original scene.

And I don't believe the cost of the wedding has anything to do with the length of the marriage - the love and strength of commitment between the two people takes care of that.

Congratulations on 36 years!

Diana Mcc. said...

I agree with you Paty, there are ways to keep the cost down while still having the kind of celebration you want. My daughters both paid for part of their weddings so they could have the family and friends in attendance for a memorable event just the way they wanted. And cheap doesn't always mean a lasting relationship any more than expensive does. My youngest daughter's first marriage was in Reno, NV with a few family members. That marriage lasted 1 1/2 yrs. Her second marriage has lasted 6 yrs and they still act like newly weds, and are extremely happy.

Nikki said...

I'm going to buck the trend here and say I might spend a bit more. I certainly didn't want the big deal; with our combined families it would've been well over 150 people. Instead we had about 15 in a tiny chapel, and we all walked a couple of blocks to a diner for brunch afterward. Maybe we could've gone to a nicer restaurant. But the marriage is still going strong at 40 years!

James said...

My ex and I were married outdoors in August at her marents' farm with a Justice of the Peace, whole slew of guests, a keg of beer, and picnic type food. Her and my wedding clothes were bought at used clothing shops, so little loss if they were never used afterwards. The best man wore his suit, women on the bride's side just wore good clothes if they wished while everyon else was justr dressed for a party. I think most of the food was donated by women on the bride's side. Don't know the whole cost but it was quite a bit of fun, though one or two conservative family members were heard to mutter somethign about "hippy weddings." :-)