Money and Matrimony

money-matrimonyI’m going to let you in on a little secret. I love weddings. I’ve been to a lot of weddings. Defying all odds, I even found someone willing to marry me.

The Big Day

There’s really no other occasion that compares with the pure joy and optimism of a wedding. I love the radiance of the bride as she walks down the aisle. I love catching up with friends and family that I haven’t seen in far too long. I love seeing small children dressed to the nines and their parents struggling to keep them still. I love seeing grandparents and great-grandparents wearing clothes from another era and still looking classier than everyone else in the place. I even love the clinking of the glasses and the painfully awkward dinner speeches. I love the first dance when the bride and groom don’t really dance, but just sort of rotate around in the middle of the dance floor with everyone gawking at them. Somehow it works. I love the beaming looks of pride on their parents’ faces as they join them on the dance floor.

And you know what?

None of that costs a dime.

None of that requires you to damage your financial future for years to come by making an excessively huge contribution to the wedding industry. Canada’s wedding industry generates over $4 billion a year with the average wedding today costing well over $25,000. Twenty-five thousand dollars for one day, and this is at a time in most people’s lives when they can least afford it. Craziness.

Think Towards The Future

“Your wedding is the most important day of your life.” Here’s something to ponder: if you believe that your wedding day is truly the most important day of your life, aren’t you kind of saying that every other day for the rest of your life is going to be a disappointment? Yes, your wedding day is important, but let’s not forget what’s important about it. The marriage. Your partner. Your commitment to each other. The start of a lifetime together. Those things are important.

Chocolate fountains aren’t important. Overpriced ice cubes (ice sculptures) aren’t important. A multi-tiered wedding cake that no one will eat isn’t important. Having your reception in a banquet hall the size of a NFL stadium or inviting 250 guests – most of whom you haven’t seen in over five years (and won’t see again for another five) – isn’t important.

The Debt Is In The Details

There are lots of ways to keep wedding costs under control without diminishing what is truly important. Custom invitations from a printer are nutty expensive and there are lots of elegant alternatives available online at a fraction of the price. Renting a limousine is costly as well and you’ll be just as married if you arrive at the reception in your old Honda Civic. Brides look every bit as radiant and stunning in a beautiful once-worn dress costing only $1,000 as they do when wearing a new dress close to (or over) $10,000. Skip the florist and arrange your own bouquets with flowers bought at Costco. Be careful when making venue decorating decisions because they can get pricey. Trust me, your guests will care more about the bar being open than they will about it being adorned in gold satin.

Bigger Isn’t Better

Minimize the guest list. As this post is about spending less money on your wedding, I could recommend you to elope or to restrict your wedding guests to immediate family and a few friends. I could also suggest that you get married at home, at city hall, or at your parents’ house. And if that’s what you want to do, or if that’s all you can afford to do, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

However, I also understand that most people want to share their wedding day with more than eight people – and this is where it gets tricky. The more guests that attend, the larger the venue will need to be. The more people you invite, the larger your food and beverage bill will be. An oft-touted guideline is not to invite anyone you haven’t seen in a year, anyone you haven’t talked to in the past six months, or anyone that either the bride or groom doesn’t know particularly well.

Whatever you decide to do for your special day, please don’t do it with borrowed money.

Weddings usually occur during a stage in life when most people are already facing more than enough financial challenges. The last wedding “gift” any new couple needs is to begin their lives together under a mountain of matrimonial debt. Weddings are special. But your wedding day won’t be special because of what you spend on it. It will be special because who you are spending the rest of your life with.

That’s what’s important.

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