Last week, a fellow I know was lamenting to me the cost of his daughters’ weddings. He has three girls. Both he and his wife are very loving parents so I found it really quite odd that he was worrying about wedding plans. He even went so far as to express the hope that at least one of his daughters would be gay because that will “cut out 1/3 of my wedding costs.” (I politely refrained from reminding him that if his daughters wanted an expensive wedding, their sexuality would not necessarily be an impediment.)
His eldest daughter is only seven years old.
I can understand why parents might be concerned about wedding costs. The last wedding I attended was in 1993. The bride’s parents paid over $50,000 for the wedding which was attended by about 300 people, many of whom never even had a chance to speak with the wedding couple. In 1993, $50,000 would have purchased a home in many parts of America and it would have been a substantial down payment in those parts of the country where it would not have bought a house. More to the point, that money would have paid off all of the bride’s debt from law school. I shudder to think of what wedding reception costs must be like today.
My wife and I also married in the early 1990’s. We were a bit more pragmatic in our wedding plans, however. We eloped. We hired a justice of the peace, who performed a very nice ceremony, and he married us in the presence of two couples we knew from our office. We then went out for a nice dinner – just the six of us. We had a great night and then my wife and I went to a bed and breakfast to enjoy our first week of marital bliss. I will never forget a moment of that night. My wife was, as always, beautiful and I was, as I am today, the most fortunate man on this planet. She was the only person that I needed at my wedding and, I like to think, I was the only person she needed there.
Now that spring is here, several neighbors have announced the engagement of their sons and daughters. The weddings will take place next spring and both the betrothed young people and their respective mothers have started the endless hours of wedding planning. Meanwhile, more than a few fathers have started to worry about the wedding costs. Why is all that necessary?
Does it truly make sense for young people to embark on marriage with an expensive party that will add to the stress of their young relationship? Couldn’t that money be better spent by helping the young couple to get a start on their new life together, rather than using it to give them an expensive party to send them on their way? I think so.
I mentioned this to the fellow who was concerned about the costs of his seven year old daughter’s eventual wedding plans, and he rather liked the idea. Of course, he also admitted that he did not think that his wife or daughters would necessarily agree with him.
What do you think? Are huge weddings a waste of money or are they a necessary event that young couples should enjoy as the one great celebration that is truly about them? How can such celebrations be handled in a cost effective way? If you are planning a wedding now, how are you controlling costs or are costs not a focal point of your planning?