I am reading a lot on PF blogs about people not wanting to spend a ton on their wedding day.
For instance if you go on vacation for a week and spend $1000, you will be happier than if you spent that same $1000 on a laptop.
(Whether or not they take into account that your old laptop went on a blitz and needed to be replaced, has not been determined.)
Nevertheless, the equation for happiness seems to be:
EXPERIENCES > STUFF
With that in mind, why NOT spend on your wedding day? It’s an experience, no?
It’s not technically ALL stuff.
I mean yes, there are wedding dresses, tuxedos or suits, bridesmaid dresses and so on, but the rest of it is paying for the experience of sharing your commitment to each other on a big day.
So why not spend on making your day as a couple together as perfect as possible?
I think where it falls short for many people to avoid wanting to spend all that money on a wedding is because of the following reasons:
1. THEY SEE A MORE PRACTICAL USE FOR THE MONEY
A lot of people see $33,000 (the average cost of a wedding) could be put towards a down payment on a home.
But a home is … STUFF, is it not?
Okay, so it’s more than “stuff”, it’s a fixed asset and a type of investment *cough*, but even so.
Still, $33,000 is no joke. Some people take years upon years to save that, and to spend it all on a dress, food, flowers and entertainment seems so… frivolous to some extent.
2. THEY KNOW THEY WON’T BE MAKING ANY MONEY ON THE WEDDING
I doubt that if anyone spends $33,000 on a wedding and invites let’s say 200 people, they are going to even break even.
$33,000 / 200 people = $165 per person
This means each person would have to gift $165 just for the couple to break even.
So unless your parents are paying and all the cash you receive is yours to keep, or your parents are uber generous and give you a major gift for your wedding (like a new home!), you are probably going to lose money.
Or in the old days, you basically had a simple ceremony and dinner (it wasn’t a big party like it is today), and people still gave pretty generously to help the new couple along, seeing as most young couples started out with $0. Like my parents’ time.
Nowadays, it’s seen as one big party or a celebration where the couple eats the cost to show everyone how committed they are, and what’s worse is that many guests don’t even give a fraction of what I consider to be the standard rule:
AT LEAST cover the cost of your plate (assume $100 – $150 a head, so if you bring a partner, you better fork over $200 – $300 in cash).
This is a rule I follow.
I’ve heard of people giving $20 gift cards to Wal-Mart, buying cheap dollar store candy and putting it into a basket, and considering it all perfectly fine.
In fact, these people are angry when people tell them otherwise.
Sure, if the couple decided to have a cheap hoe-down BBQ where they bought food in bulk and had it in a public park, that would be fine as a gift, but if they are booking a venue, paying for food, decoration and so on, you should consider what is appropriate as a gift or not.
Otherwise, DON’T GO IF YOU CAN’T AFFORD IT, but send that $20 gift card to Wal-Mart anyway to thank them for inviting you (come to think of it, that gift card would probably only covers the cost of printing the invitations, I bet.)
Alternatively, maybe you can offer to help them with the wedding (driving them around, helping them make centerpieces, decorating, etc), in lieu of paying for the cost of your plate. Be up front that you don’t have any money or cash is tight, and act accordingly.
This is in the same vein as people who go to restaurants but then refuse to tip the waiter or waitress. If you cannot afford to go out to a restaurant AND leave at least a 15% tip, eat at home until you are able to treat service industry folks fairly.
The only exceptions I can make to this rule are if guests had to fly in and stay for the wedding from out of town, which is not cheap in the slightest.
BUT THAT’S NOT FAIR! THEY CHOSE TO HAVE AN EXPENSIVE WEDDING!
Yes, yes they did. But you chose to go as a guest.
I am not saying that if you go to a wedding you know cost $100,000 with 500 guests, you are expected to pay at least $200 a head to cover the cost of their wedding, but there is a MINIMUM amount you should be gifting.
3. IT IS A LOT OF MONEY TO PAY FOR THE EXPERIENCE OF ONE DAY
$33,000 for ONE day. Not even 24 hours.
$33,000 / 24 hours = $1375 an hour
..but if you imagine that a wedding starts at perhaps 5 a.m. and goes until 2 a.m. in the morning at the latest, it is more like 22 hours.
$33,000 / 22 hours = $1500 an hour
Solution? Party longer.
4. SOME EVEN GO INTO DEBT FOR IT
I obviously don’t recommend this, but this is not unusual. What they don’t see is that those expensive flowers THEY HAD TO HAVE for their wedding will have to be paid with interest off their credit cards long after they have wilted and died.
I see plenty of brides on TV fork over $5000 – $8000 for a wedding dress they will wear less than 24 hours because it is THEIR DAY goddamnit.
Perhaps, this is one case where experience does not trump stuff.
5. THEY ALREADY SPENT A LOT ON THE RING ITSELF..!
Maybe they already spent a lot on the engagement ring itself, and once the momentum of spending picks up, it is VERY easy to start thinking: SCREW IT. … and to spend more and more and more just to enjoy themselves without thinking about the long-term consequences.
The equation is more like this for me:
WEDDING DAY < DOWN PAYMENT ON A HOUSE / SAVINGS
..which is probably why I skipped the whole wedding thing and went straight into having a baby instead.
That and getting married apparently makes you fat to the tune of about 4 pounds a year once you start realizing you don’t have to impress your significant other any longer.