• How We Spent Money on Our Wedding, Or Not

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    This is a post from Make Love, Not Debt staff blogger, Abby.

    Wedding Cake

    There Is No Price Too High for Delicious Cake

    Image: Cat

    When I was younger, I never dreamed about my perfect wedding. Rather, I spent my adolescence imagining the day I could become a reclusive editor in New York City, living in my fabulous apartment with my multitude of cats, free from the limiting requirements of “marriage” and “other people.” So you can imagine my surprise when I found myself engaged rather young (for people of my generation/education level/geographic area), and confronted with the reality that no, we could not just go to city hall, because my husband has lots of family that would like to see us get married and eat cake.

    I’m not big on having feelings in public, or spending money, or having people look at me unless I’m doing something very funny or charming, so the whole idea of a wedding was slightly abhorrent to me from the get-go. My own issues aside, my then-fiance and I knew that we wanted to keep a strict budget (graduate school stipend and non-profit salary for the win). Luckily, he is from an area of the country that is infinitely cheaper than our current city, which made the planning process a whole lot simpler. Once we had a public park reserved and the save-the-dates in the mail/email, we got into the nitty-gritty details, and that’s when I found out just how ridiculous the whole process can be. Take, for instance, this scene from a local rental company we visited:

    Abby: Hello! We are getting married, and will need some chairs for the ceremony. What are the cheapest chairs you have?
    Rental Store Employee (RSE): These are our white wooden chairs.
    Abby: Yes, but are these the cheapest chairs you have?
    RSE: These are our white plastic chairs.
    Abby’s Internal Monologue: DID I STUTTER?
    RSE: Well, these are our cheapest chairs. They’re brown.
    Abby: We’ll take them!

    And even those were far, far more money than I wanted to spend on plastic chairs that people would be using for all of ten minutes. To the point that my husband and I had a legitimate argument where I told him that we only needed ten or so chairs for the older folks who would need a place to sit, and he made the (correct) point that if we were asking people to travel to this inconvenient rural location for our wedding, at the very least we could provide them with a place to sit, and could I please stop being so miserably cheap about these things?

    At this point, almost a year out, there are things I wish I’d done differently. We kept to our budget, and had a really nice little wedding, if I do say so myself. But my stingy tendencies did, I think, get in the way of enjoying certain things. For instance, I was very strict about not purchasing anything for other events. And do you know what? I regret not splurging a bit on a nice new dress for my bridal shower, or that fancy clutch for my wedding. These are purchases that wouldn’t have broken me, and would have added some frivolity to an event that I otherwise imbued with a sense of obligation and financial stress. You might notice a pattern emerging in my behavior – I tend to be strict to the point of purposeless unhappiness in certain financial areas. While our wedding was lovely, I could have loosened the reigns on my spending, and it would have been fine.

    Have you had to juggle the budgetary delight that is planning a wedding?


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