Momma Told Me: Some Thoughts On....The Rising Costs of Weddings

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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Some Thoughts On....The Rising Costs of Weddings

It all started a week ago, flipping through a random Women's Interest magazine, in the waiting room of my doctor's office. It's a funny source of inspiration, I know; have you ever found the collection of magazines and topics ironically inappropriate at such times? The last thing I want to do is peruse Italian Vogue before a breast exam, or read about Paula Dean's home cooking prior to my bloodwork results! Yes the media is inadvertently half to blame for most of the health struggles I have, and my parents the other half (okay, I have some control, but that's all I'll admit for now).

In any case, this particular issue of this particular magazine happened to have a lengthy feature on Fall weddings and brides. I use the term 'feature' quite loosely, as it was obvious most of the pictorials were blatant ads (and some gorgeous, full page, ads at that). Now, I don't claim to know a thing about the wedding industry, though what few words were inside this article did inform me that Fall weddings are, by nature, "extravagant". And the term was used in such a colochial manner that one might think dropping $5k for the lowest end (of these dresses) was just the way things were if you wished to get married in the Fall. To have a Fall wedding meant you (the bride) needed to spend more on dress/venue/entertainment- and that anything less would be such a travesty you should move your date to the following Spring, now.

Of course my reaction was 'hogwash!' I know, having skipped the alter and joining at the courthouse, for marriage number 1 (no, I'm not looking to add #2 anytime soon), I may not seem very 'pro ceremony'. However, my feelings on the topic are far from rooted in personal preferences. Trust me, I love a good bedazzle and Dove release like the next gal- but when you get into all of the floral arrangements, choreographed wedding party processions, and cocktail hour; your relationship (and your wallet) will be lucky to survive. I may not have had a big wedding, but I do know, a marriage takes work. I'm not a big believer that the beginning, the middle, or the end is any harder than the next; I believe it is just plain dirty, often thankless, but completely worth it- work. Taking your relationship to the next level, marriage, is huge. It is no longer just about you and your partner, it is about both of your families, joining, and your potential family to be.

Now, two individuals taking the plunge, introducing new relatives, merging finances (debts and responsibilities); why would they need to drain their pockets to get there? A $5k dress? If you're with the right man, he should think you're a Queen in a prom dress from Macys. Your family? They'll love you and show up whether the chicken is served alongside lobster or mac n'cheese. Those memories? They'll be just as heartfelt and touching whether you book the most extravagant chapel, or get married beneath the willow at a local park. My point being, I sometimes wonder if we get so caught up in all the planning and rituals that we forget what the day is really about; all the ingredients are already there. Adding the dress, the band, the food, the entertainment, the limo- that's just icing. And if your cake ends up melting, or delayed, or the wrong flavor, well, that's life. You're getting married, expect a lot of melted/wrong flavor/late cakes along the way- it's not easy, but it's so worth it!

So, while I personally (someday far off) want an intimate sunset wedding in a field with nothing more than a tent, a dance floor, and some home cooked food by twinkle lights; I do understand the dream to feel like a princess on that one special day. Just remember, weddings became such a big to do, originally, because divorce was not an option, and when people 'traveled' to attend, they took boats and journeyed by carriage for days. The times have changed, so can your wedding, and it can still be just as special. You don't have to pinch pennies, but maybe, just maybe, there is an equally beautiful dress out there for .....say....$1k? And you can put that money towards your future- you're going to need it with a house, kids, healthcare.... Again, just remember, the most important part of your big day, the people, will love you no matter what you wear or where you wear it!

What about you? Did you have/Do you want a big wedding? Do you see merit in toning things down, yet still celebrating?

Update: Momma's response to this post:
My dress was only $89.95 at Hot Topic. Still happily married (10) years later..."


  1. I had a very small wedding. This was my choice, it was in the register office. The whole thing including 3 bridemaids dresses, page boy suit my dress and husbands suit cost £600. So didn't break out wallets and it was a beautiful memorable day.

  2. We got married 25 years ago in a registry office with 2 witnesses and thats it.Ive never regretted not having a big wedding.All that cost for one day.We never even had a honeymoon.Its our life together that holds the memories.

  3. I got married 3 years ago and you know what I found? The second you added "wedding" or "bridal" to the front or tail end of an item, the price doubled. At least. White wedding shoes? $100 or more at a bridal store. Plain white shoes? Can be found on sale at DSW for around $25.

    That said, hubs and I did have a larger, more expensive wedding. But we also did some cutting back. It became clear when we started planning the really small wedding that we initially wanted that my parents (who were paying) wanted certain things a certain way, hubs and I wanted things a certain way, and that in order to keep everyone happy, some compromises had to be made. One of them, I found, was giving in to other people's expectations (unfortunately). And that can be pricey :/

  4. We had a very big wedding and the cost was exuberant! If I had to do it again, I would definitely curb the costs. For one night we didn't need all of that!

  5. I couldn't agree with you more! the luxury weddings seem like a waste of money when you could be doing other more productive things like getting a degree or buying a home

  6. We spent less than $500 on our whole wedding. In a church, with flowers. My Aunt made our cake, it was beautiful, my Uncle is a photographer and just handed me the rolls of film when it was over and all the family members I needed to be there Mom and Dad, I also had several others but those two were the only ones I really needed. I spent $75 on a white dress at Penny's that was gorgeous. Though Not a 'wedding gown' it still did the job well.

  7. I couldnt agree more. WHen I watch those wedding shows and brides are spending $25,000 on just the dress..I can't comprehend it.

  8. It does seem absolutely crazy! I have a bunch of friends in the planning stages at the moment and its crazy the money they're spending. I'm not sure what I'd want to do, I don't need doves and horses but I do want all my friends and family there so would end up pretty big.

  9. I spent just 1500$ on my wedding - dress included (bought from a sample sale!!) I guess if you have the money its yours to spend, but I think the point gets lost in all the taffeta!

  10. On my first wedding, I had a full church top wedding. For my second it was only 13 people - I preferred the second as it was much more intimate and memorable. You don't remember much of the day anyway so why spend money on all the hoopla?

  11. I would agree that a special day like your wedding should be more about the memories and not about how much it costs someone. Personally I have never thought of a big wedding or expensive either because something simply but elegant on a simply budget is better.

  12. We had a big wedding, but my husband called it the "40% off' because of all the Micheals and JoAnn's coupons I used and the DIY projects that were involved.

    I encourage all the brides I work with to sit down and make a budget. Figure out what is important to you (it was important to me that I feed my guest a great meal) and adjust your budget to concentrate on those aspects.