Should you focus on a perfect day, or a perfect life?
Weddings are wonderful – two people who love each other, coming together to make their love for each other official in front of their friends and loved ones, and making a commitment to creating a future together. What’s not to celebrate?
Yes, a wedding should be about all these things: love, commitment, friends, family, looking to the future… what it shouldn’t be about is spending large amounts of money. I see so many young people today delaying their wedding for two or more years because they need to save enough to throw the wedding of their (and their family’s) dreams. Imagine if that two years of saving went into buying a home, investing for the future or saving for kids – what a great start to a marriage that could be!
In some cases, people even go into debt to host a splendid wedding. Remember, your wedding day will be over, but the debt will be with you for years. And if you go into debt to start your married life, then you’re starting your marriage with the kind of stress that is the number-one reason for divorce!
It’s as if there’s some unspoken rule that all weddings must be the same. They must have an expensive white dress, a big overpriced cake, catered food at a hotel or venue, a band, a marquee – the list goes on! None of this has anything to do with the true meaning of the special day.
Remember that your wedding is about the two people coming together.
Remember that your wedding is about the two people coming together. It is not about what their families want or what their communities expect. You don’t have to keep up with your neighbours and you don’t have to put on a show of extravagance. Your love and commitment is between you and your partner, the gold-plated cutlery and enormous flower arrangements won’t make any difference to that.
Some of the most beautiful weddings are ones where couples throw their own parties and ask their friends to help – everyone participates, and everything that happens is meaningful to that particular couple. And, it doesn’t have to cost a fortune.
It’s even more difficult for couples who have strong ties to their culture or traditions to have an affordable wedding. This is not necessarily because the traditional wedding is expensive – in a lot of ways it’s cheaper than the white wedding – but because black people often get married TWICE! They have the traditional wedding (which is seen as a marriage in the eyes of the law) and then they go ahead and do the whole thing over again, this time with a white dress and bridesmaids and all the expenses that go with that.
My advice? Pick one!
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and spend more than you intended, so discuss your plans right up front, make a budget and stick to it! Here are some ideas of where you can save:
- The easiest way to reduce the cost of your wedding is to limit the guest list. I know that can be difficult in a community where everyone expects to attend, but if you’re having a “white wedding” and you are paying per head for catering, make sure you’re asking just the people you really want.
- The dress is a big expense, and it’s one area where you can get carried away and find yourself paying much more than you’d expected. Do your research. There are lovely off-the-rack options that are much cheaper than designer gowns. If you have a good seamstress (or a talented family member!) you might be able to get your dress made much more reasonably. The same goes for bridesmaid’s dresses.
- Use the talents of your friends and relatives. If your aunt is great with flowers, or your sister is an amazing baker, ask them to help out. You’ll probably still pay for the ingredients, or the flowers, but it’ll still be much less than getting a professional baker or florist.
Remember, the wedding is not the end, it is the beginning. The marriage is what counts. The best way to start a marriage is in financial health and with a commitment to building a secure future together. If your wedding spending is going to put you in a difficult financial situation, you need to adjust your priorities.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of 1Life or its employees.