Why I Think Weddings Are Totally Stupid

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WeddingPeople have a lot of opinions about money.

In our “Money Mic” series, we hand over the podium to someone with a strong opinion on a financial topic. These are their views, not ours, but we welcome your responses.

Today, one married woman tells us why she thinks that weddings are not only not the best day of your life, but also a huge waste of money.

I’m usually not one to give Dr. Phil any credence; I hate that self-righteous, twangy, moustachioed cue-ball. But he did say one thing that struck me as genius.

A woman on his show was pouring some huge amount of money into her wedding, and as a reason for this irresponsible, childish behavior, she said, “But I’ve always dreamed of my wedding.”

“Well, I’ve always dreamed of playing in the NBA,” he told her, invoking his most patronizing sing-song so it sounded like enn-bee-aaaaay. “That doesn’t mean I get to suit up and play.”

Point taken. When I was nine, I thought I was going to marry a horse, for heaven’s sake. (Wait. Actually, I kind of did that; my husband is six-foot-four.) Just because we were brainwashed into thinking a wedding is the ultimate entitlement doesn’t mean we have to act on it.

I Learned Better the Second Time Around

I’ve had two weddings. One cost about $20,000 and had 150 guests. It was really fun, and I cut a lot of corners, and was proud of how little I (my parents) spent. The second time around, there was no way I was going to ask for their financial input yet again. The total cost was $6,000, it was just as fun, and we had the rest of our savings for the three months of unpaid leave I ended up having to take a few months later to care for our premature baby.

Now, I realize putting those things in the same paragraph might seem unfair, but it’s actually the perfect way to illustrate what I am talking about. Because maybe you’re a bajillionaire with stacks of money placed together to form an end-table on which you have a lamp that burns $100 bills, in which case, go on with your bad self at Lake Como across from George Clooney.

Or maybe you’re just a regular woman who really does have a secret desire for Your Day, and you need to be talked down. So I’ll say it again: Because we kept the wedding to a reasonable party level, we had a big enough savings cushion to get us through the worst health crisis of our lives (we hope).

And that is the correct priority to keep in mind when planning your wedding.

It Was Not the Best Day of Our Lives

Look, I get it. Any overhyped event can make you anxious enough to turn into a ‘zilla of some kind–I’ve known Prom-zillas, Christmas-zillas, and even a Bris-zilla. You must resist the hype and focus on the fact that no matter how beautiful an event it is, it’s Just. One. Day.

I don’t know if I speak for every wife when I say this, but honestly, when I look back on my wedding pictures, the main emotion I feel is incredulous–that my husband and I had no idea of the challenges we were facing, that we barely knew each other, that I wish I had professional portraits that weren’t so obviously bridal shots, that oh my God, my dress was more low-cut than I realized.

It was not the best day of our lives. It was an amazing party and probably the best day of our lives up till then, but we’ve had days since that blew that one out of the water. And some of them didn’t cost nothin’.

A Wedding Costs a House Down Payment

Enough preaching. These are the numbers. According to CostOfWedding.com, which is produced by a market-research company collecting information for the wedding industry, the average wedding in the U.S. costs about $25,631, possibly more depending where you live (here in the Bay Area, it goes up to more than $40,000). That is a down payment on a very nice house here–or the whole house, in large swaths of the country–and an amount many claim they just can’t manage to save up.

So ask yourself: You want to take that amount and blow it on a one-day party, or you want to use it to create an investment that’ll end up paying your kids’ tuition if you play it right? And if your answer is the former, holy crap. Are you bipolar?

The website goes on to list all the expenses you should take into account when planning a wedding. Things like gifts for the parents, wedding favors, a “traditional leather bound album” for the photos, flower-girl petals. According to the Association of Wedding Professionals, the wedding industry nets about $86 billion per year. That’s billion with a B.

That is a lot of people counting on you getting starry-eyed about your wedding. Just like Las Vegas counts on chumps who think they’re going to beat the craps table, and the tobacco industry counts on weak-willed copycats who feel rebellious when they emulate Courtney Love.

It’s an industry. It wants your money. Don’t give in to it. This idea that you deserve a wedding is not the point; of course you deserve a wonderful day. But what you deserve even more is financial security and a debt-free future. So plan a wedding based in reality, and who you are and what kind of wife you want to be: supportive, smart and with two feet firmly in reality.

You’re not a princess, princess. You’re a smart cookie. Trust me, that’s so much better.

Amy Keyishian has been a staff writer for Cosmopolitan Magazine, a freelance writer for Glamour, Self, Maxim and other magazines, and now blogs for Learnvest as well as Recipe.com and Kveller. She lives with her family in San Francisco

  • Sisnash

    After 10 years of marriage, my husband and I renewed our vows.  We had our closest friends there to join us.  They loved that we reserved the party room at Golden Corral. All you can eat with drinks and desserts included. It was during the brunch time of service.  My friends are still talking about what a great ideal that was.  Now that it has been 20 years of a wonderful and happy debt free marriage, we are still sharing our testimony with others.  Try it, and they will like it.

  • Unknown

    I disagree about weddings being totally stupid because its all about how the individual choose to celebrate their day.  However, when I think  about the $50,000 plus spent on my wedding, no it was not a good idea.  Do I wish I had half of that money today, yes I do. 

  • http://blogs.msdn.com/devschool Sam Stokes

    Holding a wedding at a Church and having a nice dress, tux and then a cake and beverage reception isn’t that expensive.  It is all of the other things, hosted bar, sit-down dinner, special venues, really expensive dresses for bride and brides-maids.
    Here is a suggestion:
    1. Bride’s dress: A nice white dress at Macy’s is under $500
    2. Tux for groom: cheap, say $100
    3. Bride’s maid and best man (stop at that): they well something nice from their closet, no cost.
    4. Church: $500 (For Catholics, do the short mass)
    5. Reception: Cake, coffee, and punch, $300 use relatives for servers, hold it at home
    6. Flowers, etc.: $200
    Total cost $1800, no Practice dinner (useless)

  • elise

    Why didn’t I read this 12 years ago?  WHYYY???  LOL.  This is thought provoking, empowering, and so funny at the same time.  (“Bris-zilla – ROTFL.) 
    My mom tried to tell me this, and I wish I’d listened.

  • Rockstar_chick87

    Not sure if I’m ever getting married or not, but I think $5,000 or less is a good budget for a wedding. Spend any more and I’d rather use that for say… a new car? I think my sister-in-law spent only $3,000 on her wedding, and it had everything a wedding should have.

  • Mindyobusiness

    To each his own….Life is too short …..If you feel you are worth the best and you are willing to work for it…Spend as much as you want on your wedding.. tomorrow is not promised to ANYONE…all couples don’t want children and some don’t want the costly upkeep of a house…I know a few people that are “house poor”….Spend your money Or go into debt for whatever YOU want ….Some people love champagne others beer…the cost is different the end result the same . Is the champagne drinker stupid? Or is it just a matter of personal taste?

  • Savannah Jay

    This article made me laugh… and then think seriously about priorities for the future. Thank you for that. :)

  • Peregrinne Dewhurst

    As a wedding guest this weekend, I’m not sure why my friend needs a $72 salad bowl, a $250 decorative wall clock, or a $300 waffle maker, to name a few things. I wish her practical husband-to-be would have made the list.

    Bridezillas out there, at least try not to make your registries one big middle finger to your friends and family who are unemployed/have no money to spare. It sort of makes us feel like a$$holes when we show up with the $30 teacup set.

  • PhilChance

    I agree with the author/article. She is a realist, being honest, which I we need to hear. I’ve been married both with/without a wedding ceremony. I was not raised with wedding dreams but lessons on having a good marriage which I have had. Some comments are snipy about multiple marriages-shame on you. My reasoning for skipping it was looking behind the reason for the event (and the details) to begin with. It didn’t apply to who we are and certainly not who I am. I don’t need anyone to fawn over “my day” to value my marriage and I certainly don’t appreciate their meddling to make my day “perfect”. Many of those traditional weddings/marriages of the past had their ups/downs and infidelity also..they just didn’t dare mention it. It is an industry set to get our money while we are vulnerable, like a new birth or a funeral or lord forbid you sprouts some gray hair. They search for your insecurities and feed the ego. Imagine what you can do with that money in terms of the world instead of terms of self. Would you go into debt to make sure the homeless in your town have a warm place to sleep? Even if the $$ is not an issue do you even need as much as you can afford? I see those things as showing something is lacking in self and we try to patch it on the outside.