My little sister is getting married this August. She’s an incredibly sweet, smart woman and her fiance is a gem. It goes without saying that I love her dearly; this love and my role as her maid of honor are the only ways to explain how I found myself wandering through the packed aisles of a massive wedding expo in early January.
Bleary-eyed from the late night before and inexplicably unable to find a single vendor selling coffee, my mind began reeling as we walked from stall to stall. Granted, it’s been a while since I planned my own nuptials, but has anyone else noticed that weddings have gotten insane?
Four-foot-tall cakes. Bronzed and immaculately groomed male strippers advertising extravagant bachelorette parties (“Last ride for the bride!”). Photobooths, custom-monogrammed chocolates and a 30-passenger Hummer limo in a violent shade of green.
The pursuit of perfection was suffocating.
As I examined a wedding dress which cost more than a year’s rent on my apartment, I wondered if I was just being a grumpy curmudgeon. Was I jaded?
I had a wedding of my own, after all, and I remember well my heady feeling of excitement. I, too, wanted it to be special, memorable, perfect. I’ve never been much of a traditionalist when it came to weddings (I opted for a pearl ring instead of a diamond) and granted, I’ve always been of the “less is more” mindset (we had 35 guests, my dress cost $250) but I do understand the excitement surrounding such a happy day. I get it, is what I’m saying.
Nonetheless, I wondered about the impact of the sizable financial burden so many couples were so eagerly signing on for. And, consummate hippie that I am, I wondered about the environmental cost of the innumerable parties that crowd our calendars each summer.
After coming home from the expo, I dove into the research. What’s the true cost of a wedding?
Well, it turns out that I’m not a bitter old hag after all – the astronomical price tag of weddings is terrifying, and it’s just the beginning.
The average cost of a wedding in the US now tops$31,000, and £21,000 for UK brides. Forty-five percent go over budget, and a further 23% didn’t even have a budget in the first place.
If this is disheartening, hold on to your veils because recent studies seem to suggest that these extravagant budgets don’t do much more than heap loads of stress on new couples, with wedding costs inversely correlated with marriage longevity.
Women who spend more than $20,000 on their wedding are 1.6 times more likely to get divorced than women who spend less than $20,000. And, sorry DeBeers, men who spend between $2,000-$4,000 on an engagement ring are 1.3 times as likely to get divorced when compared with those who spent a more modest $500-$2,000.
Now, as any student of statistics knows, correlation doesn’t necessarily indicate causation. Downgrading your diamond isn’t going to divorce-proof your marriage. What I do think these numbers speak to, and why this fluorescent-lit wedding expo struck a nerve with me, is the priorities of brides- and grooms-to-be.
When you’re lusting after more, more, more, and digging yourself into debt to pay for it, what is it all for? The wedding? Or the marriage?
TV reality shows overflow with angry, irritated women in white dresses making everyone else’s lives miserable so that they can have “one perfect day”. Fullyone-third of couples go into debt paying for their wedding and six years later, 30% of couples were still paying off bills from the big day.
This is too much. This is insane.
The financial costs and corresponding stress many couples take on by going into debt for their nuptials is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Weddings carry a huge environmental cost, too. Travel arrangements for hundreds of guests, imported flowers, bleached and mass-produced bridal gowns, limos and extravagantly decorated venues – it all adds up. The average American wedding (of which there are a staggering 2.5m a year) contributes 62 tons of carbon dioxide and between 400-600lb of garbage.
For all the brides-to-be who feel like strangling me with their garters right about now, there is an upside to all of this. There are alternatives to this sort of wedding insanity, even for those who are understandably reluctant to have a minimalist city hall ceremony.
To reduce costs both financial and environmental, first trim the guest list. This is the easiest way to drastically reduce the price tag of your special day. Invite your nearest and dearest, those people you love most, those who have provided you and your soon-to-be-spouse with support and encouragement in your years together.
Next, streamline. Ditch the save the date cards, the programs, the bedazzled “bride” flip-flops, and any other optional or one-time use items. This also applies to wedding favours – no one will miss those miniature pots of honey engraved with your wedding date.
Make “small and simple” your mantra. Ring? Small and simple. Flowers? Small and simple. Venue? Small and simple. There’s a lot to be said for understated elegance and letting the joy of the day speak for itself, rather than getting crushed beneath the weight of meticulously coordinated color schemes.
If all else fails, may I humbly suggest that you follow the brilliant advice of my personal guru, Bill Murray, who has devised the perfect way to shift focus back to the person you’re marrying, rather than wedding you’re planning:
If you have someone that you think is ‘the one’, don’t just sort of think in your ordinary mind, ‘OK, let’s pick a date. Let’s plan this and make a party and get married. Take that person and travel around the world. Buy a plane ticket for the two of you to travel all around the world, and go to places that are hard to go to and hard to get out of. And if when you come back to JFK, when you land in JFK, and you’re still in love with that person, get married at the airport.”
[Source:- The Gurdian]