Thursday, July 15, 2010

Weddings: Part I

A few weeks ago, I was reading a magazine and came across an article by Hollywood diet guru, who wrote in great detail of the art of "crash-dieting" for a special event. "There are certain times we all just need to look our best," she explained, "and that's where an occasional crash diet comes in." She went on to offer an example. "Take your wedding. This is the day you've been waiting for your entire life. We all want to be picture-ready at our nuptials; after all, the big, beautiful wedding is every girl's dream."
"Every girl's dream?" Really? Because a big, beautiful wedding has never been my dream. In fact, the idea of a wedding has never been something even mildly interesting to me. And when I came across a statistic the other day, I found myself wondering why weddings even exist.
The average cost of a wedding is $27,800. Twenty seven thousand and eight hundred dollars.
Now, this number wouldn't be so appalling if you imagined an upper-middle-class couple with little debt and proper savings. But in reality, when you compare that $27,800 with the average yearly income of a young newlywed (many of whom are still paying off school debts or even working their way through grad school), and take into account our current economic climate, it's a shocker that people are still bothering with these things.
Since weddings are one-day ceremonies, and don't affect a married couple's day-to-day quality of life, one would think they would be the first thing to go in a debt-burdened country like ours. Doesn't it go without saying that a wedding is not going to make you happy? And that if a big, beautiful wedding is really your main dream in life - a dream you're willing to sink deeper into debt for - don't you think you may have some reassessing to do?
Now, don't get me wrong. Weddings aren't all that bad. They get you nice pictures. There are lots of nice things to eat. Both the bride and groom look nicer than usual. Weddings are, in summary, nice. But I firmly believe that we need to shift the category of extravagant nuptials from necessity to luxury. If they're going to cost a whopping $27,800, they need to be reserved for those who can pay for them.
I have attended all of one wedding in my lifetime that I can actually remember. And what I remember most about this wedding was not its romance or bliss. No, I remember the price tag, as the couple themselves described it: over $100,000. And before you start to say, "Ah, they've gotta be rich, if they can pay for it, let them go for it," reconsider. They were not rich. The bride didn't have a job. The groom was - get this - in grad school. And this is the fortune they dropped on a five-hour show-off marathon of celebrity photographers and exotic soup dishes.
In the movie Valentine's Day, Ashton Kutcher's character notes that "love is the only shocking act left on the planet." Correction, Ash - love is not alone. Weddings are the most shocking acts left on the planet, and for me, the least understandable.
Now, enough of my ranting. The question to ask yourself is, "Is this how I want to begin my marriage - steeped in unpaid bills and financial stress?" If the doomed-marriage deal is what you're going for, congratulations for you. But I know for a fact that many girls have bigger dreams than that big, beautiful wedding. And I say, kudos to them. Now if only we could all adopt a little sense.

- Meredith


  1. agreed, wedings are very expensive, but for some, i guess they are worth it
    i had a modest wdeding in a chapel and i am now enjoying a happy marriage, i cannot say for sure how happy wed be if we had the bills of a big,e xpensive wedding to pay off though

  2. Weddings represent love and family coming together as one, what is unnecessary about that?

  3. I am ambivalent, some ways I think weddings are a valuable tradition, others I think, this is way too much, it's untasteful, but I think we should let people do what they want and either suffer the consequences or reap the benefits depending on their situation

  4. PaulYin -
    I must say, I was a little unclear on what you were trying to commuicate - "depending on their situation"?

  5. i think he means whehter they can pay off the wedding or not, that makes sens

  6. I mean, like, if you're well-to-do, go ahead and have the wedding, if you're poor, don't

  7. Everything depends, I guess, but I agree that weddings are luxuries for those who can't pay off the twenty thousand dollars or whatever amount it is, it's irresponsible if you're struggling, if you can pull it off go ahead, like you said, reserve them for those who can really pay

  8. Agreed, I do think the wedding should be adjusted to your limits. And we're talking realistically here - one of the problems with America is we don't set realistic boundaries. That's why people get seven credit cards and throw caution to the wind when it comes to buying. That's why we're so liberal with our money. People need to say, "No, I can't afford those shoes, and so I'll get something else" - they need to recognize that they're not in the same league as other people when it comes to money. That's something that we as a country need to pay more regard to. Optimism's great, but not when it comes to money. You have to prepare for the worst. I strongly believe that weddings are an excellent place to start - as I said, they really should be the first things to go.

  9. Maybe it's not that weddings should be the first thing to go; the problem stems from people linking that big, over-the-top ceremony with the extent of the love they are feeling at the dawn of their marriage.
    People definitely shouldn't connect the two; however, I don't feel as if you are in a position to chide the public on their spending habits. if people want a wedding of $100,000, let them have it, as long as they are mindful of the consequences. The marriage industry is huge, to say the least, but as long as you yourself are wary of it, it's not necessary to criticize others.

  10. I definitely agree that, especially in this economy, super extravagant weddings and events do seem a bit outrageous. That said, I know I hope to have a nice wedding and maybe one day we can invite each other to our weddings to see how it all turns out. :)

  11. Charlotte - I do agree that one should let people "do their thing" to a certain extent, and as a society we should make more of an effort to mind our own business and stop the criticism of other people's ways.

    However, I think the reason I speak so passionately about this topic is because I don't understand. Why link love with an extravagant wedding; why link love with money? Reading your post, I was tempted to say simply, "People are not mindful of the consequences, and that is why I criticize." But that would be false. I believe people are fully aware of the consequences of a costly wedding. And yet, they drop down the dough anyway.

    That is what simply bewilders me. Maybe it's just me; speaking for myself, I seem not to make that connection between love - romantic, platonic, or otherwise - and luxury.

    That's the question I now want to ask; if, as you said (probably correctly), people by default "link that big ceremony with the love they are feeling," why is this so? Why do our minds feel the need to put our love on display? Is it a twisted way to prove our love for one another, or something more?

    I have several theories on this topic, but first, I would love to hear yours. And along that line, I think you have leaded us on an excellent tangent here. I will further examine this topic for my next article. Hope you don't mind being quoted.