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Wedding Expense

Original post made by WeddingExpense, Midtown, on Jul 9, 2007

A few months ago my co-worker told me that his daughter had decided to get married. Both he and his wife are really excited about this. Later on we asked him about the wedding plans and he said that the bride and the groom had decide to have a court house wedding and had asked the parents to put $ down towards the down payment of their new house; rather than spending the $ on wedding festivities. There is no wedding registry and no reception - any family and friends who want to give a gift was asked to go the same route. Parent's were not expected to empty their savings into this fund - but just to give whatever amount they were planning on spending.

Going by the bay area prices, my co-worker thinks that this is a very wise decision. However, his wife, who had been looking forward to a modest wedding, is disappointed to some extent, though she sees reason behind the decision.

Personally, I thought this was a very sane decision! I have been to weddings in Saratoga hills; Monterey Bay - where the wedding must have cost $50K at least, if not more ! Yes, all of us had a good time, we all admired the flower decorations, the food and other such things. However two weeks down the line, the memory was for a 'fancy party' and nothing more.

Every bride wants this day to be special and wants it to be memorable. The wedding industry is huge and I am sure they are not going to support such radical thinkers :)

We spent $1000 on our wedding - we got married and had lunch with friends and family at a good restaurant (yes, and my friends called me cheap! - we couldn't afford a major festivity; we didn't want our parents to spend their savings on this)

What do you think? Is it worth spending spending so much on a single festivity? If yes - why; if no - why ?

Comments (5)

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Posted by Wedding supporter
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 9, 2007 at 12:47 pm

I agree that a wedding is important, but definitely not a splashy affair.

When we got married we put money into what we thought was important. The clothes were on the modest side, the food was good, plentiful, but not spectacular. The flowers were adequate and my mother made the cake but we had it professionally decorated.

What was important for us, was the occasion to get family and friends together, to give a lot of them time to celebrate with us, but almost as importantly, to give them time with each other. We had several different groups of family and friends who had not seen each other for sometime and it was good to let them enjoy being together.

One thing we did spend money on and was worth it, was a good photographer. It wasn't just for the moody/glamorous wedding shots, but for the memories. We had pictures taken with lots of our friends and that made them feel more special and gave us some pictures. I almost think we could have spent more money on this and sent everyone souvenir pics.

Anyway, I do think a wedding is a time to celebrate and a time for get-togethers, but I do not think it needs to be a time for outdoing everyone else (I went to one friend's wedding and the food was a potluck and it was a great party). The only other time families get together is for funerals and I would rather have a wedding any day rather than waiting for a funeral to get us together.

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Posted by Monica
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 9, 2007 at 1:05 pm

My parents told me that if I want to get married, they would suppport a very small party, following a courthouse official ceremony. The "party" was a very small affair in their backyard. They also said that if I could achieve a succesful marriage, and still be married at the end of ten years, they would throw a big party.

I was more than a bit dissappointed, but they were right. I have been married 40 years now (three great kids), still with the same husband. That ten year party was GREAT! It was so much more meaningful to me, because I thought we had achieved something.

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Posted by joyce
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 9, 2007 at 3:49 pm

A nice wedding is something to remember, but the amounts of money spent on these are nuts. Clearly anyone can have a nice wedding much more frugally. I do agree, don't skimp on the photographer, and delegate someone to take amateur snaps as a backup.

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Posted by StillANewlywed
a resident of another community
on Jul 9, 2007 at 4:36 pm

I was approached with this in a "would you rather" scenario three years ago when I first got engaged. As tempting as it was to want the money for a down payment, the idea of being surrounded by my closest family and friends, even if it was for a couple of hours overruled. Like the PP said, in my instance my last family gathering was for my father's funeral 7 years prior. I wanted to create happier memories with those I love, as well as to give my mother the wedding for her only daughter that she and my father had always envisioned.

We didn't have a fancy wedding; we split the cost three ways. It was truly was a team effort to get these crazy kids married. But we didn't skimp on the things that were important (& priceless) to us, liking having my oldest brother give me away, and my older-younger brother officiate the wedding. That is what made the memories. Those were the things my guests still talk about today.

And wouldn't you know it, 6 months before celebrating their 2-year anniversary those starry-eyed newlyweds were homeowners. You can have your cake and eat it too!

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Posted by Old married lady
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 10, 2007 at 10:25 am

When I got married 20 years ago, I could quickly see that we could not afford a wedding in the Bay Area. Forget a fancy one, we have so much family in California, we couldn't afford a reception even at a "cheap" restaurant.

Long story short, we ended up getting married overseas, near where my mother grew up. We chose a beautiful, ancient chapel that cost the equivalent of $50 US. Old friends did the professional music for next to nothing. No flowers were necessary except the bride's bouquet and a few table centerpieces. I borrowed my wedding dress from a friend. My husband wore a dark suit he already owned. We bought simple, inexpensive gold wedding bands. We got cheap airline tickets through a consolidator (and then we didn't have to pay for more air travel for the honeymoon, we were already there). Although my one regret is not hiring a professional photographer, we saved a ton of money by having friends and family take all the photos. I wrote letters and made phone calls instead of printing invitations. (This was before it was easy to print invitations by home computer.) The single splurge was on the reception, which was first-class, something we could not have afforded stateside. Friends and family who traveled so far planned vacations around our wedding, so they had special memories of their own associated with our wedding.

We had a beautiful, magical, memorable wedding for a pittance. I spent more money on my washer/dryer a few years ago. It can be done, still. It just takes a little creativity and willingness to give up on all the trappings we've been sold on by the wedding industry.

We have lovely parks and beaches in the Bay Area. I know people who have planned simple, beautiful outdoor weddings that were also inexpensive. It's possible to save on the same things we did, and still have a nice event -- wedding dress, groom's suit, invitations, flowers, everything. Getting families together is priceless. When it comes down to the rest, everything (except maybe some good food) is negotiable.

Why is it that people feel they have to do all this stuff to make a good wedding? Why is it that wedding dresses are made to be worn once? A hundred years ago, women got married in dresses that they then altered or dyed and wore again. Only extravagantly rich women bought dresses that they wore once and never again, a show wealth. Why do women feel they have to do this? The wedding industry has come to count on this so much that they sell outrageously priced garments to women that can only be worn once, literally, because they fall apart with one cleaning. I was a bridesmaid once in a wedding where the bride told us to just use a dress of a certain color that we'd all worn in previous (different) weddings. It worked out great! Most men already have nice suits in their closets - matching shirts, ties, handkerchiefs, or even just boutenirs is enough.

When the focus is on the family gathering and not all the trappings, as we discovered, the experience is all the more meaningful.

I'm with most of the commenters above -- the wedding is fundamentally for gathering family together and celebrating relationships. While I think your friends are being practical, they can have their cake and eat it to, if they are willing to be a little creative.

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