Confessing My Wedding Costs

I’ve wanted to confess this for some time, as it’s proven difficult in the PF-world where I feel I would have to justify/explain.  But I felt I needed to be honest and come clean, and now’s a good a time as any.  Because as of yesterday’s booking/payment for my hair stylist, I’ve spent the same amount thus far for my wedding as the remaining balance of my debt.  What does this mean?  It means that combining my portion, B’s portion (we’re splitting “our” contributions evenly), and my parents’ generous contributions (for which I’m eternally grateful for), our wedding is very much hitting the national average of how much wedding costs, roughly $25k, and actually over as this still doesn’t include bridal party gifts and our wedding rings.  If we include the rehearsal dinner, which is B’s family’s contribution, it’s well over.

At first, I was pretty embarrassed about this total.  Not knowing what I know now, I couldn’t fathom how people could spend that amount on one day.  However, after going through this process over the last few months… well hot damn, things add up!  And with a quickness!

Could we have cut corners?  I think the biggest way we could have cut costs is to limit the guest list – “my side” of family, friends, and parents’ friends make up 2/3 of the list, and though we projected 150, it might go over that (invited approximately 215 w/o kids, and we’re thinking a 25% attrition rate).  However, I can honestly say that when I look at my list, there isn’t one person on there that is being invited because we “have” to, but because we genuinely want to, and couldn’t imagine not inviting them.  Family’s a no brainer – I’m blessed to be incredibly close to my family, my sister-in-law’s family, and my (step)dad’s family.  With my friends, which take up a significant bulk, I am not afraid to say that I am pretty proud of the time I take in terms of cultivating and nurturing my friendships.  I’ve known them for at least 1o years, with the majority half my life or over, and as much as I’d like to think I’ve been a good friend, all of them have been there for me during some extremely dark and painful moments of my life (so much so that it brings me to tears to write that).  Some friends (who are no longer in my life) did me dirty or were just in certain periods of my life, but this bunch – they’ve genuinely been there for me regardless of my flaws, and I can’t imagine them not being there when something so good is happening in my life.

Add this same sentiment to my parents’ friends, who are not only amazing friends to them but took the time to write notes to me to say how happy they are for us, then there was no way to cut that corner.  Besides, I actually like each and all of them, and no words can express how happy I am in looking forward to seeing all of them in one place.

B’s side is a bit more intimate, but I’m amazed at how I also genuinely enjoy his friends.  Surprisingly, B’s family and family’s friends is a lot bigger than I expected, as well, and you know what?  I am stoked.  I feel it’s my chance to finally meet them as I only know his nuclear family, since they’re sprawled all over the country so who knows when this opportunity would arise again.  It was also amazing to know that B’s family shares the same outlook on inviting long-time friends of theirs, as they’ve also known them for decades.

Beyond the guest list, I can confidently say I did my due diligence in finding reasonably priced vendors.  Yes, we’re going for a more traditional wedding model with all the “typical” line items that go into weddings.  But I know deep down I did my best to research, explore our friendships/networks for vendors, asked my friends for ideas/tips, and haggled and negotiated away.  I know that with a little digging, we managed to cut the costs of some vendors in half, and that though we splurged in some areas, we’re still cheaping out on some items that aren’t super important to us.  Most importantly, I know that despite the hefty price tag, that B and I both agree to this, and have the consensus agreement of both our families.

And honestly – that’s what helps me be okay with this, and leaves me unashamed and unapologetic about it.  We could speculate on the missed opportunity costs of what this could have bought instead, but having all these amazing people in one area is honestly the most meaningful purpose for us on what we could spend that money on.  Because as much as this wedding is a sacred ceremony between B and I, it’s also a convergence of all our respective “villages” into one big reunion, and I am incredibly excited to not only see everyone again, but have all these amazing people who have impacted our lives meet each other.  I plan on thanking my lucky stars every minute of it.

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48 thoughts on “Confessing My Wedding Costs

  1. I felt the same way about my wedding! You try as hard as you can to cut costs, but at the end of the day, when you’re hosting that many people, you want it to be a good experience and as a result, costs add up (you can only cheap out on so many things)!

    It’s definitely a special day, so take it all in and enjoy it! One last thing: my wife really wanted to get a videographer, but I didn’t want to incur that additional cost. She ended up having her friend take footage of the day, and we’re so glad that she did. It brings back the day in a way that photos can’t, so if I have one recommendation, it’s to get a videographer!

    • Aww, thanks for the support, Roger, and nice to know I wasn’t the only one with these thoughts concerning wedding costs! Ya know, we hadn’t actually considered a videographer – I’m kinda shy and I didn’t want documentation on what a blubbery mess I would be. lol I’ll have to look into it, we have some tech-savvy friends, so maybe that could be their gift to us. Thanks for planting the seed. 🙂

  2. When I was planning for my wedding and every time I was researching other peoples’ real wedding budgets, I felt horrible. Because even though they say the average wedding costs around $25k, what’s out there on the blogs are either $2k or $80k weddings. Don’t beat yourself up for it. You’re not getting pressured into buying things or planning things that you don’t want and like you said, you are finding the best deal you can find and you do have a plan in place to pay for this.
    I was thinking about posting my wedding budget since it seems like a lot of PF bloggers are engaged this year and I wanted to present a realistic average wedding budget. Of course, I got lazy and didn’t do it yet. Maybe your post is the push I needed.

    • Thanks so much for your support, Michelle! It really means a lot coming from someone who’s been there and “knows” me. I do still feel really guilty at times, usually when the “but it’s for one day” thoughts pop in my head, but I do feel deep down I tried my best to keep costs down. I would *love* to see your budget breakdown! I will keep a watch out for it. 🙂

  3. GAH! I can totally relate to the statement about reading about the average wedding cost and thinking people were insane. I NEVER thought we’d be anywhere close to it. But turns out… when you know nothing about weddings it’s pretty hard to make judgement about cost. Now that we understand everything involved it makes sense. We’re just trying to be as smart as we can and not beat ourselves up too much now that we’re inching closer and closer to that average mark. One thing that helps me is thinking about how much it would cost to just take 200 people out to dinner and drinks… it would be CRAZY expensive. That’s not even including decor, dress, transportation, photos, and all the other extras.

    • I completely relate, Kelly – I didn’t understand it until I was in it, and do admit I was way too judgy before. It’s kind of crazy how things cost per person for a “simple” wedding, but yeah, I can see why the average mark is where it’s at. Best wishes planning your wedding!! When is the special day? 🙂

      • Haha yep, a former judgy bride too… but now it’s like “oh. I get it.” Still working hard to have a ‘simple’ wedding and include details that are important to us. I know it will be way more than someone else would spend on their wedding…. but also WAY less than somebody else. We just have to do what feels comfortable for us… after all we’re the ones living with it. And agree with you about the average mark… now it totally makes sense. Our wedding is January 18, so excited!!! When is yours??

      • We are so on the same page with that – we want to keep it simple, but add some special touches. Mine is about a month after yours!! Ooh, love knowing that someone out there is going through the same process around the same time! Hope the planning continues to go well for you!

      • Yay!! This is awesome finding somewhere close to the same schedule!! I haven’t found any other winter brides 🙂 Glad to have found one!! Hope planning goes well for you too… looking forward to reading more about it!

  4. Way to be, Anna. Own your choices and you cannot go wrong.

    Have a beautiful day. I’m sure in the PF world this view is not always accepted, but I feel that once-in-a-lifetime experiences are one of the best things you can spend your money on. It’s a different ROI, but a real (and awesome) one.

    On the plus side, with all those guests, if everyone just handed you a hundo, you’d break even. Just saying. 🙂

    • Thanks for your support, Mr. DbF! I truly hope it’s one of the best ROI’s we can experience. I think I still waffle at times, especially when I start reading PF blogs, but for the most part I do still stand with this choice. Oh man, breaking even would be awesome! 🙂

  5. I don’t think you need to be embarrassed or apologetic to anyone. We have different ideas on what weddings are, and the planning that you guys are doing reflects the kind of day you want it to be and you’re doing it without loading up the credit cards is awesome. That it is YOUR day and no one else’s is what really matters in my opinion.

    • Thanks for the kind words, Mrs. PoP! I do admit, that one of the things I get too consumed about are people’s opinions… I know at the end of the day I just have to answer to myself, so I just need to keep working on that. Or maybe I just went to one too many Catholic premarital sessions, so the guilt-force is high? 😉

  6. I agree with your comment about not really understanding how people spend so much for a single day, until you actually have to plan it and it all adds up quickly! I am seeing my friends plan their weddings right now and the costs scare me, there is so much to think about and everything costs money! I know this will be a point of contention when I start planning my wedding.

    • I know, right? It’s amazing how something might be pretty reasonable, but when you multiply it by the number of guests, it can quickly add up! It does still scare me, as well, and something I still struggle with, but I have a strong feeling (or hope!) that it’ll all be worth it once it actually happens!

  7. Weddings are damn expensive! I thought we could get away with $10K for 70 people since I was DIYing so much but the venue was perfect so I couldn’t say no even though it took up the majority of the budget. We ended up spending $14K but we had a lot less people than you do, so I think you’re doing well. But, we saved up and paid for the wedding in cash. We didn’t put it on credit. And no matter how much you spend on a wedding, if you can do that then you’re winning 🙂

    • Wow, I am so envious you managed to have a wedding at $14k! I agree with not putting it on a credit card (though I probably sadly would’ve done it had I not discovered PF blogs) – we did for points whenever we could, but would quickly pay it off before it accrued interest. Thanks for the kind words, I would love to know what you DIY’ed on – creative people always amaze me. 🙂

  8. There is no need to apologize or feel guilty, Anna. It’s your wedding. That is the one thing that I sometimes struggle with in the PF community. It is overall so incredibly supportive but I do sense that sometimes people feel bad for wanting things or spending money. And you know – I don’t think there is anything wrong with wanting. 🙂 It sounds like you’ve been very conscientious on looking for the best deals and making sure everything purchased is something you truly want and need. It’s your special day and you’ve been working hard to keep it a price where you have your dream wedding and can afford it.

    • Thanks so much, Shannon! I agree about the PF community – it’s so supportive, but I do admit I get caught up in what some might think with my wants… I need to really get over that! lol But know that a lot of the spending decisions were based on a lot of things I’ve learned from your blog, so thank you so much for that. 🙂

  9. If you and B are happy that’s all that matters. You were conscious of your spending the entire way through when most people would just accept the cost of what they want at face value and pay for it later. I think it’s amazing you have 200 people you genuinely want to share your special day with. I’ve never planned a wedding so I have no idea how much goes into it. I really enjoy reading about the experience of others, and your honesty about it is nice!

    • Thanks so much EM! Indeed, I can’t imagine any of the ones on the list not being invited (though I might have said that incorrectly, as it was my friend plus their current partners, which doubles the guest list), so I’m really hoping most if not all can make it. Thanks for your kind words, at times it feels kinda pretentious or self-absorbed to write, but I’m glad people out there are reading it with actual interest. 🙂

  10. Anna, shame on you!!!! 🙂 Just kidding, my friend. If there is one thing I’ve learned this year it’s that we all have to make our spending choices in a way that allows us to sleep at night. And I am convinced, had you done your wedding any other way, you’d be disappointed. You are picking relationships and experiences over money, and that’s the way it should be! The most important part of your big day is that the two of you are celebrating it the way you want to. It seems to me you’ve found the perfect balance in a well-thought-out and researched dream wedding. Kudos to you both. 🙂

    • Awww, thank you so much, Laurie, your words mean so much!! I do truly believe that I made the expenses stretch out as much as I could, and I agree that if I didn’t do some things some way, I would have regretted it. Indeed, experiences and time with loved ones is for sure what matters most to me, so I can’t wait to see everyone’s faces! 🙂 I hope you have a wonderful weekend, love xo

  11. Last time I checked-this is your wedding not ours! Since you’re paying for it you do what your feel is appropriate for you and your fiancé. One day when I am planning wedding I hope you support me in what I decide to do. I think you’ll have a fantastic day filled with friends, family, and love. Can’t wait to see the pictures.

    • Undoubtedly, Michelle, I would support you on anything when the day comes for your wedding planning! I’m for sure excited to see everyone, thank you for *your* support… it means so much. 🙂

  12. PERSONAL finance girl! personal choices….no need to apologize or justify to ANYONE! I still plan on traveling overseas with my massive student loan debt, because it’s a priority for me. I know it’s not the ‘pf’ thing to do, but at the end of the day you do what you want, with the information you have, and what you think will make you happy. Being in the pf world just means we are more aware of these things! You are going to have a great day and I can’t wait to hear about it.

    • Haha, I know, I think it’s just my own personal issues and I’m just projecting. I do agree that it gave me more awareness, this pf world, so at least I’m thankful for that! Ooh, I can’t wait to hear about your travel adventures, it’ll be so exciting! I agree experiences and travel are good priorities, and money well spent. Have a great weekend! xo

  13. I wouldn’t pay 1/10 of this for my wedding, but it’s a PERSONAL choice. Neither me or Mr. Dojo found this to be important, so we stuck to a simple civil ceremony and a nice meal with our friends afterwards.

    But, if it makes YOU happy, then I see no need to explain/justify. I mean we ‘wasted’ thousands upon thousands of dollars just by staying for 18 months in NYC (which is really a ‘splurge’ thinking that we live somewhere in Europe and many people in my country can’t even afford the plane tickets), but it was something we thought important. Come to think of it, your wedding might actually cost less 😀

    So … have your great wedding and enjoy. I’m all for being responsible with the money and saving, but there are things in life we should know how to pay for

    • Thanks for your kind words, dojo!! That must have been so much fun experiencing NYC for an extended period of time… I tend to be a little homebody and get attached to having a permanent living situation, so I’m always envious of people who can travel and stay some place completely different from what they’re used to. I’m sure you experienced so much! Hope pregnancy is going well for you. 🙂

  14. Don’t feel bad! If you have the money, go for it! It’s your day. 🙂 The only reason my husband and I were so cheap was because we had to. I got $6,000 from my dad and we had to pay the other $6,000 ourselves for our total (totaling $12,000). We couldn’t afford more than $6,000 out of our own pocket so we made it work. People get judgmental about spending more and they can deal with it. Every person spends money on something that some other person thinks is frivolous so you can’t please everyone. I promise, working in non-profit fundraising has showed me how outspoken people can be about how they think money should be spent! I just hope to see pictures of this event when it’s all said and done.

    • Thanks for your kind words and support, Tara!! I agree with you that just because someone might think something is frivolous, doesn’t mean that another doesn’t think it’s meaningful. I had such a hard time with telling it, but deep down I know that this experience will be worth it. For sure, I’ll show pics. Hope you’re having a great weekend. 🙂

  15. Aww Anna, this is such a beautiful post. I may or may not have shredded a tear when you mentioned how important friendships are to you and the ones that lasted for so many years. You shouldn’t be apologetic, this is *your* and B’s wedding day, you make it as big as you want it to be! I am sure it will be a beautiful day that you will never forget! xo

    • Thanks Eva!! I know, I just felt so nervous about posting the bottom line, but you’re right – it’s our day, and as long as we’re both okay then that’s all that should matter. Indeed, I can’t believe my friends have stuck by me during some pretty messed up parts of my life, but I’m grateful and fortunate that they have. 🙂

  16. The guest list is a really important part of your wedding Anna and it sounds like there are some amazing people who will be invited to your wedding. You will have the best day ever because not only will you be celebrating and confirming your love for B but also you will be celebrating with these people who also mean so much to you. The costs do add up when it comes to weddings and it is largely about numbers, but it sounds like the costs are under control! 🙂

  17. I don’t think you have anything to feel bad about or apologize for. How much you spend on your big day is nobody’s business (even if you are a personal finance blogger). Each individual (and couple) has to make the right decision for them, whether they want to spend $100 or $100,000. It sounds like you have a lot of really special people to spend the day with. Can’t wait to see all the photos.

  18. This is a tough one. As long as you’re not losing sight of what is important (you and B), everything is OK. It seems that a lot of people work so hard on their wedding day that they miss the point entirely.

  19. All of my friends who are getting married are running into this issue. They are quoting prices of $25k or $30k. It sounds crazy to me, but if that’s what it takes, that’s what it takes. I’ve always said spend money on experiences instead of stuff.

  20. No need to be ashamed! I know that I want to spend well below the average wedding costs, but I do know that having a wedding is NOT cheap – especially with big families on both sides. As long as you’ve done your research! Plus, an average is just that – an average! Don’t see it as a limit or anything like that. You won’t regret investing in your big day 🙂

  21. Pingback: BOOM! December goes DOWN! | The Great Bacon Payoff

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