Getting Married For Dummies

Last night I went to a party.  It was a surprise party, the surprise being that people kept dropping by the birthday girl’s house anytime after 7:30pm.  Best surprise party I’ve been to and I’ve been to a lot considering I’ve had three myself.  Well one was a ‘Suprise’ party since all the signs my best friend made had the ‘r’ in the wrong place, but it still counts.  It’s a scary, scary thing having all those people jump out at you.  This method was much less traumatic. 

But I digress.  At the party I met a woman who talked weddings with me.  Recently married, she hosted hers in Los Angeles on a budget.  Her point being that she and her hubby refused to start their marriage in debt.  When she told me her bottom dollar amount I blinked a few times and then told her mine.  Her mouth gaped.  “If you can do it on that budget you’ve got to let me know.” 

Her shock was not at the amount itself, which is substantial enough to be a downpayment on a home, but at the amount in context of today’s wedding crazy society.  Lesson #1: Everything and I mean everything is twice as much when you’re getting married.  More places than I can count won’t even let you in the door without a $10,000 “site fee.”  Site fee is code for bribe I think because it doesn’t really come with anything.  Sam asked if it would at least pay for our hotels rooms or a hooker named Candy for his best man.  The answer to both is no every time I ask. 

Lesson #2:  Invitations, flowers, gift bags, menus, programs…this stuff is the cheap stuff believe it or not.  My new friend from last night’s party told me the real scoop.  “The invitations are a couple thousand, the flowers are a few thousand more, the menus and programs are a thousand, and the gift bags are a thousand…but that’s all just a drop in the bucket.  The place where they really get you is with the rentals and the service fees.  If you ask me, rentals are to the wedding industry what sanitation is to the mob.”  My new friend had a point.  Everyplace I’ve called has told me that plates, silverware, and glasses for 60 people will be at least $7000.  Not to mention tables and chairs, which adds on another $7000.  Heck, my guests can sit on the grass for those prices.  And don’t get me started on lighting and linens.  And when did tap water go up to $10 a person?

I’ll finish this discussion tomorrow as it’s time for me to go to my hip hop class now and I’ve got a lot more I want to say.  In the meantime, there’s a new sheriff in town and I’m going to teach this wedding business who’s boss.  We’re in a recesssion people.  It’s wasteful and irresponsible to spend $70,000 on a one-day event when there are people in our own country who have lost their jobs and can’t make rent.  Make a budget, stick to it, and give the rest to charity…even a dummy can see the wisdom and rightness in that.



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3 responses to “Getting Married For Dummies

  1. megan

    $70,000! Are you serious?
    PLEASE do not spend that much on one day.
    Your Suprise party only cost about $150 and you still remember it as one of the best days of your life. BTW, why didn’t anyone tell that poor girl (like her teacher!!!!) that she spelled suprise wrong while she was making the 80 signs?
    Set a realistic budget and stick with it…it works, I promise. We had 170 people for under $20,ooo all in. Granted we roasted swine, but whatevs…get a taco truck.

  2. Andrew

    Weddings prices are insane. Everyone gets quoted as if their middle name is “Goldman Sachs”. As a guy, my opinion is to spend as little as possible while keeping my bride sane. Nothing like walking the tightrope.

    I think the most important thing is to keep communicating with your spouse to be. I always thought everything cost too much and I personally could not care less what color the flowers or napkins were. Meanwhile my wife was stressed about making sure everything was perfect and putting together a ceremony that I would be happy with while also meeting the expectations of her family. Again with the tightrope. But somehow she managed to pull it off perfectly.

    But weddings can be a lot of fun. I’ve been to high dollar weddings, and I’ve been to low dollar weddings. I’ve been to fun weddings, and I’ve been to some where even an open bar doesn’t make it worth the time. The correlation between cost and fun is zero.

    In the end, the price of your wedding has very little impact on how much your guests enjoy the event. And it has absolutely no effect on the marriage itself. For me, planning the wedding was, to date, the most stressful event in my marriage. But YMMV.

    I happen to think planning a wedding is a good exercise for the relationship, since it may flush out any lingering communications issues.

    In the end, I think comparing the cost of your wedding to the salary of someone who’s recently lost their job is irrelevant. What is germane is comparing what else you could do with this same amount of money. If skipping the ice sculpture and the fancy plates means you can put a bigger down payment on a house (or whatever is important to you) then it may be worth the sacrifice.

    As far as determining the value for spending money on a wedding, my metric was always the same. Find someone (female) who’s been married
    more than once. Ask her what she spent on the first wedding, then the second wedding. I find that ratio very revealing. I think the first wedding is the attempt at the Cinderella wedding, while the second is a practical, non-hollywood approach to valuing a ceremony. I bet you will find a difference in how much they spent. The first wedding is often an attempt at the fairy tale, while the second was likely planned a bit more realistically. But that’s just my opinion.

    And, FWIW, our wedding budget was very similar (per person) to Megan’s post above. And we have no regrets. Getting married is great fun, but its just one day. Don’t forget to budget for the rest of your life… after all, you’re just getting started.

    So my advice is to do want you want, not what you think is expected. And have fun!

    Take care.

  3. Harry

    The crowd is what makes the wedding not the place settings. I can’t remember what our appetizers were or what color the seat covers were, but I’ll never forget all of the idiotic dancing that took place, or the fact that Colleen and I were up and partied until 4am, or Chris Jr. taking his shirt off in the bar after the reception. I’m telling you, its all about the crowd and whether they are ready to have a good time or not.

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