When you date someone for an extended period of time, the inevitable “when are you getting engaged?” question comes up more often than I would like. I have a great thing going on, why ruin it?
Truth be told, for our tax bracket and our life situation, getting married makes financial sense. After nearly three years, a house and a Brady-Bunch-meets-Noah’s-Ark-style family of pets, popping the question has been on my mind for quite some time. We love each other, and the benefits of marriage such as tax breaks, home ownership and joint insurance policies would save us a ton of money.
But, as many of my other millennial brethren have found, between loans, the actual rings, trying to save up for a house or trying to travel while young seriously cuts into wedding funding. The average cost of weddings today is around $26,000. To me, this is an obscene amount of money to spend on something that has been bastardized heavily and quite honestly, if you do your wedding right, no one should remember it anyway.
After another successful wedding season including groomsman duty at a very posh destination wedding, I’m not sure I could ever ask my friends and family to shell out $1,000 to watch me walk down an aisle. It was enough spending $350 on a pair of pants, a vest and some shoes, as well as $500 for a room on an exclusive island for three days. Sure, it was breathtakingly beautiful but as many of my friends are in the beginning stages of making a life for themselves, I feel asking them to do that is selfish.
My groom friend tended to agree, as he had a huge family who helped them but ranted about the price tag to me and how he wishes he could use the money from the two credit cards he had to open on a house. After speaking with several fellow writers, some of whom have actually gone through with the courthouse style wedding, our very own Caroline Carr Gould mentioned the family assistance as “corporate sponsorship.” It makes sense: if they foot even the remotest part of the bill, you known damn well mommy and daddy or the in-laws will try to exert varying degrees of control. As one that likes to do my own thing, this doesn’t bode well and is another reason to take it to the courthouse.
I used to be a traditionalist. I always wanted the huge blowout party style of a wedding with all my fraternity brothers as groomsmen and a fine sorority girl, complete with a host of her “faves.” I’m sure there would be some stupid hashtag, an Instagram and a lavish destination; a banger for the ages and something everyone would remember.
After getting my monthly reality check (get it?) from higher education loans and Sallie May every month, blowing 20k on a wedding is not only financially irresponsible but also super stressful. Knowing this money could be spent on things that would actually better my situation, like paying a huge chunk of my mortgage or saving for a trip seems a lot better.
Recently, a good friend of mine and I were talking during a long business trip to our state’s capital. With five hours of travel, we had a lot of time to talk about life, ambitions, etc. I found out I was in grad school with her husband, so naturally, I asked how they met, where they married, etc. She and her husband used their wedding money to elope, go to Vegas and get married. She said it was the best thing ever, and they did it in December so they could put it on their taxes twice. I can neither confirm nor deny that this is true, but in theory, it sounds great.
After doing a lot of soul searching, I’ve often wondered: what’s the point? Is spending in excess of $20,000 for a wedding really worth it? It’s hard to justify spending that much with poverty (both mine and others), the amount of logistics and really, the entire process seems overdone and excessive. At the end of the day, going down to the courthouse or having a priest marry us results in the same endgame. We are both not religious so what’s the point? Even if money weren’t an option, the amount of stress plus the tiresome thoughts of having to book venues, get flowers and try cakes sounds awful. There’s no issue of the bride’s, or groomsman’s, or anyone’s feelings hurt. I’ll probably do something, but it sure as hell won’t be with a $4,000 photographer and all matching J. Crew $400 suits like the past two weddings I’ve been in.
Getting a courthouse marriage seems to be becoming more popular, especially among millennials. I’m not sure if people look down on this sort of thing because I stopped caring ages ago what people thought. While it may not be the traditional wedding, I fully plan on having a party that is more financially responsible, but with an unlimited open bar because I firmly believe if you make people take PTO, they should be compensated with free alcohol.
Hell, I’ve even considered catering my own wedding because my food game is off the chain and I won’t have to sit through hours of testing food. There will even be a band, because paying for someone to play their iPod seems shitty. Hopefully, it’ll be something like Lynyrd Skynyrd with an angel band, and I’m in the front row and you know damn well I’ll be hammered drunk, just like everyone else..
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