Wedding Season is Coming
Are you planning a wedding? Were you asked to be a bridesmaid or groomsman recently? Or are you just a guest receiving invitation after invitation in the mail? Many of my clients, and nearly all of my friends, are in their late twenties and early thirties, which means we spend most of our summer weekends frequenting the open bar at nuptials held in fancy venues.
I personally love weddings. In fact, this May I’ll be officiating my first wedding ceremony. I’ve got the entire script written and I’m ready to marry the shit out of them! I’ve also had at least five people ask if I’m going to recite the lines from The Princess Bride, “Mawwiage is what bwings us togever today.” There’s still about a 50 percent chance I will and if you’ve never seen The Princess Bride, I’m not sure we can be friends.
I know a lot of people are cynical about weddings these days. In a way, weddings have morphed into competitions against other weddings to see who has the most creative table decor and desserts. The wedding industry provides the opportunity to personalize your special day, while simultaneously devaluing what’s truly important. Again, I love weddings and I try not let my contempt for the wedding industry affect my joy in getting to celebrate family and friends’ love. It’s not easy though! The wedding industrial complex is killing a generation already suffocating under the weight of student loans and consumer debt. So how can we creatively cut down on costs and get back to enjoying what weddings are really about: that bwessed awwangement, that dweam wivin a dweam.
If you’re planning a wedding, you need to prioritize what’s most important. Is the food, booze, music on the top of your list? That’s great! Write it down and make sure your partner agrees. Keep listing all your possible wedding expenditures and rank them by importance. You’ll likely be able to eliminate several items at the bottom of the list. Does anyone really give a shit about wedding favors? The best wedding favors in my opinion are the ones I can eat after I consume 15 drinks at your reception. Don’t spend an insane amount on favors people are likely to throw away as soon as they get home.
Another wasteful expenditure is the cake. I die a little inside each time I see a piece of uneaten cake left on a beautifully decorated table at a wedding. Why not try something different? Cupcakes, donuts, and cookies are all common alternatives. If guests don’t want to eat them, you can wrap them up and save them for later! There are dozens of cheaper alternatives to cut wasteful wedding spending. Don’t think because you opted to not have an ice sculpture serving liquor means your wedding will be any less fun.
If you’re a bridesmaid or groomsman, you’re a little bit at the mercy of the engaged couple. I would suggest trying to save ahead of time if you think a friend or family member may ask you to be in their wedding. If the bachelor/ette party requires travel, hotels, airfare, etc. do your best to cut costs when possible. Don’t be afraid to ask others in the wedding party to share a hotel room with you (in a non-creepy way, duh). Also, do what I always do: get sufficiently buzzed before going out to save on drinks later. But in all seriousness, saving ahead of time is key. If you’re asked to be in multiple weddings, sometimes it’s best just to be honest if you can’t afford a bachelorette trip to Vegas or a $500 bridesmaid dress. We need to stop shaming our friends and getting mad at them when they don’t want or can’t drop thousands of dollars to attend all your wedding related events.
If the recommended hotel for the wedding is out of your price range, see if anyone would be interested in splitting an Airbnb with you. Often when we rent houses it lowers the cost per person and encourages everyone to bring food and drink, thus eliminating the need to go out for every meal.
Generally, you know if you’re going to a wedding at least six months ahead of time. Do not procrastinate in making your arrangements. This is especially true if the wedding falls on a holiday weekend. Hotel and travel costs will skyrocket as the date approaches.
Here are some useful articles for saving on weddings:
Brides and Grooms:
Remember What’s Really Important
So let’s talk about why people get married despite the average cost of an American wedding standing at $30,000. First, you’ve got love. Hopefully the two people entering into this union are in love. I don’t know about you, but love is one of the few things that gives me hope for the future. I enjoy seeing people in love, it’s a nice way to remind yourself that the human race doesn’t suck all the time.
Secondly, life as we know is often sad and monotonous and filled with things that aren’t so great. You’ve been watching the news, right? I’m depressed right now thinking about how depressed I’ll be watching the nightly news in a few hours. Weddings provide us that rare chance to get together with friends and family to celebrate something beautiful and happy. It’s an opportunity to reconnect with people in your life you may not see as often as you’d like. It’s a chance to disconnect from the world around us and revel in a loved one's joy for a night.
Life is really hard. Weddings are a 4-6 hour refuge. If we’re going to live on the brink of nuclear war for the rest of my life, then I sure as hell don’t have any issue spending money to be with friends and family on their happiest days.