Money has been on my mind today. One of the wedding-related (yes, still stuck on the wedding) websites I read consists of several pseudonymed women blogging about their wedding planning for weeks or months and then recapping the wedding after the fact. I’ve been reading the site for a couple of months and have read through the archives, so it was pretty obvious that the majority of women were planning (in MY opinion) expensive and/or lavish weddings, and when they wrote about projects they did themselves it wasn’t necessarily to save money but just because they wanted to do them. Granted, most of the bloggers thus far have had weddings in or near NYC (or other big cities), and I could tell from the way they wrote about designer dresses and letterpress invitations and how much they were paying for hair and makeup that their budgets far, far exceeded ours. It’s still an interesting site to read, though, one that has given me quite a few ideas for projects or other elements which could be interesting to have.
Today, in response to a comment someone left a few days ago, some of the bloggers wrote out their wedding budgets (ballpark figures) including everything but rings and honeymoon. As I suspected, the one in NYC was nearly 50K, while the one in the midwest (with a lot of DIY, or do-it-yourself projects) was 8K. And that one was a dessert reception – no appetizers or meals were provided.
Way back a long time ago, before we got engaged, before we were even thinking about it, I spoke to a coworker who was planning her wedding, and she cited a figure to me that just sounded outrageous – she’d read that the average wedding cost in the US was over $20K. “For one day!?!” I interrobanged. “Over 20 thousand dollars for just a party for one day?” That figure sounded completely absurd to me – how could people possibly justify spending that much money on a party for one day? When *I* got married, I’d do it for super cheap. I’d do everything myself, or it would be a really tiny event, and I would show the world that it was possible to throw a one-day party (that happened to include two people getting married) for a miniscule amount of money. It could be done, right?
I didn’t think much about it again until we got engaged, a couple of years after the conversation I had with my coworker. I didn’t know a lot about weddings or wedding planning, so I started doing research. I talked to people who had planned weddings, and I started looking at sample catering menus and poking around on photographer websites. The sticker shock I began to encounter was far greater than I had expected. Dan and I came up with a number for a budget that sounded reasonable to us, one that would allow us to have good food and good drink, yet still not be a completely ridiculous amount of money to spend on a party for one day. As I read more and more information, and read about more budgets and on what sorts of things people spent their money, it started dawning on me that I’d never seen any sort of budget for under a certain amount (the amount we’d decided on) unless the food was provided via family or friends (potluck, knowing the caterer/restaurant people, etc.) It just isn’t possible to have a full meal with beverages served to people for under a certain amount of money, and when you add in all the other expenses (despite all the deals and hookups) you arrive at the number we’ve decided upon. And surprisingly, I’m starting to be OK with that.
I’ve read about a lot of different kinds of weddings these past few months, daytime and evening, city and country, indoors and out, in all ranges of style, formality, and budget. And I’m starting to realize that money doesn’t mean the same things to all people, that the amount of money my wedding dress is going to cost is, in comparison to some of the coture designers, a very small amount. I went to the library this afternoon to do a bit of research and found myself looking at a wedding magazine for the first time. Now I know that I’m not missing out on anything by not buying the enormous bricks they call wedding magazines (because you pay for 25 pages of content and 230948029384 pages of ads), and now I know that wedding magazines really aren’t geared for people with the sort of budget we have (just as the trash I read at the gym doesn’t feature clothing I could ever afford), I’m glad I did said research. Not to knock the magazines – it’s just that I can see the same pictures online, read about lavish details in other people’s weddings, and shrug and be OK that our wedding just isn’t going to look like the photos in the magazines. Besides, we’re not photos-in-magazines people anyhow. To me, it’s more important that everyone has a good time, gets good food to eat and drinks to drink, and feels that it was worthwhile to attend.