I read the scariest thing this morning. Out of curiosity, I plugged our zipcode into a website that tells you what, on average, people in my area spend on their weddings. I about fell out of my chair when I saw the results…
“On average, couples that live in Washington, DC 20007 spend between $27,384 and $45,641 for their wedding.”
My jaw just about hit the floor. Patrick and I are paying for the wedding ourselves. If we had all the money in the world, who knows what we would blow on a wedding. Even if we were making substantially more than we make now, however, I’m not sure I could justify that kind of pricetag. Right now we’re not even CLOSE to the lower end of that spectrum. Chop off about… $13,000 to $14,000 from that low figure, and that’s more our speed.
It depends on the kind of bride you are, though. I’ve heard stories where people have been told “You can’t have a decent wedding under $50,000.” Other people err on the side of being frugal. It just depends what your priorities are.
I have to admit that once the first flush of the “OMG I AM GETTING MARRIED! OMG I AM ENGAGED!” wore off, and I started looking at how much things actually cost, I panicked. Eventually I put myself back together, but it was a panic that re-occurred time and time again because, as planning went on, I felt like we were having to sacrifice and compromise so much, due to cost constraints.
For example, when I was looking at hairdressers to do my hair on my wedding day, I found one that was definitely in my price range! It was then that I read the fine print. “My fee is $X. If this is for a wedding, regardless of what day of the week, please add $350 to the normal fee.”
See, I’m totally okay with businesses capitalizing in a niche market, such as weddings, but I think the inflation of certain costs have gotten completely out of hand. I understand going into debt for a car, or getting a mortgage for a house. What I don’t understand is going into marriage in debt due to one day! If it is something that is well within your means to pay off after the big day, of course, no problem. Otherwise, I think there’s just this compulsion, when it comes to weddings. Things have to be just so. The right flowers. The right dress. The right food. Otherwise, people will talk!
It got to the point where a couple of times, I would cry to Patrick, saying we can’t afford a wedding, but I just want to get married! The thought of a courthouse wedding was tossed out by both of us at various times, but we just kept trudging ahead, hoping it would work out.
What was interesting is that once we stopped focusing so hard on what we were “supposed to have” at a wedding, and just started planning what we really wanted, things got much easier… and I got more creative.
Ours, while somewhat traditional, will have its quirks. The rehearsal dinner is probably going to be more like a house party, with beer and pizza. I would say I would do my usual cooking, but I will also be making our wedding cake, so I don’t know how much I’ll want to be cooking the night before the wedding. It isn’t some lavish evening affair on a Saturday night. It’s a cocktail party with dancing, early Saturday afternoon. Instead of a champagne toast, we’re contemplating buying everyone a round of Guinness or Cider. A nice simple wedding dress for me, and no tuxes for the guys. The girls, other than “fun red cocktail dress” have received no further rules about what they should wear as a bridesmaid dress. Instead of a “big fat” diamond for my engagement ring, I have a “big fat” ruby that is so sparkly and beautiful.
We wanted to focus more on everyone having a good time and being able to relax, rather than on the scalloped edging of a label that’s going on a favor box. That’s not to say I am not paying attention to detail, it’s just… we have different priorities.
While there have been roadblocks due to financial hiccups, I will say that I like that we’re the ones in control of the money. Why? We’re the ones making the final calls. People can have opinions (although we’ve both been blessed with parents who are happy with whatever we’re happy with), but ultimately we have the final say in what we’re having at our wedding. There’s no one there, dangling a check in front of us saying “YOU HAVE TO HAVE PUFFY TAFFETA SLEEVES! YOU CAN’T HAVE A WEDDING WITHOUT A WALTZ! OH, BUT THIS SHADE OF TEAL IS ALL THE RAGE! YOU’LL SEE!”
Planning is definitely not what I expected it to be, and I really don’t think it has to do with money. Frankly, if we had more money, I’m not sure we’d make any drastic changes, other than an open bar, more food, and maybe a few other perks. It makes you evaluate what’s important. While I definitely started out this process feeling like nothing we could ever afford would be good enough, and I would constantly and forever feel gipped, I don’t feel that way anymore. Everything is perfectly us… right down to the Guinness toast.
Find out the average in your area! http://www.costofwedding.com/