A Tale of Two Weddings

January 11, 2009

CBS Sunday Morning did a segment on wedding trends this morning.  Watching it, my jaw dropped open when I saw the jewel-studded $2000 gown that a bride had custom made.  FOR HER DOG.  As it turns out, though, that was a relatively minor expense.  The wedding carried a total price tag of over $600,000.

For a moment, I thought I’d been transported to a parallel dimension.

Then I realized that when I had my first wedding, I wanted everything to be “perfect” and “beautiful.”   After all, this was a once-in-a-lifetime thing!

Except it wasn’t once in a lifetime.  And even though I strove to make sure that everything was perfect, the couple getting married was about as far from perfect as you could get.

While I didn’t spend anything close to $600,000 on that wedding, I did spend a lot relative to my income.  More than I should have.  The fancy dress, the professional photos, the guest book and cake server and even the preacher (who was also the groom’s father) all became excised from my life just three and a half years later when my husband said he wanted a divorce.

My second wedding was quite different.  My gown was a renaissance style dress that I purchased from a professional costumer for $300.  We invited only 30 or so people to the wedding.  Rather than have a fancy big reception with DJ and tiered cake and champagne, we rented a banquet room of a local restaurant, and got a regular sheet cake.  It was small, it was cozy, and it enabled us to make a trip to England that spring as a delayed honeymoon.

If I were speaking with a young bride-to-be today, I would encourage her to opt for a smaller wedding, then have one heck of a fantastic honeymoon with the money she saved.  The beginning of a marriage should start with creating memories together and enjoying each other’s company.  It should not start with a mountain of debt, stress over the wedding details, and trying to be queen for a day.

Simple is good.  Debt is bad.  Any questions?


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