by REBECCA SPARROW
It’s fair to say that I’m something of an expert when it comes to cheapskate weddings. After all, I’ve had two of them in the past decade.
In 1999 I married my American boyfriend in the Silver Bell Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas. The bride wore baggy shorts, a t-shirt and a big floppy sunhat. The groom wore … actually I have no idea what he wore. Can’t remember. What I do remember is that the wedding cost us $25 and that the priest greeted us by saying, “So do you want to live happilly ever after or do you want to get married? Boom Boom.”
Seven years (one divorce, one emotionally abusive relationship and a few dodgy internet dating attempts including one with a guy who appeared to have two rows of teeth) later and I was getting married again. This time to my current husband (I like to say that to keep him on his toes) – Brad. For this wedding I decided to go more traditional and not, you know, get married wearing shorts and a t-shirt.
But again my inner-Cheapolina came out. Brad was a student. I was a writer. And I steadfastly refused to go into debt for ONE DAY OF OUR LIVES. So our entire wedding - my dress, the rings, the reception (music, food, decorations) – came in at just under $10,000.
Brad and I wanted a wedding that felt more like one big, fabulous party. And I figured, if you can’t throw a brilliant party for $10,000, there’s something wrong with you. And our wedding is still the best party we’ve both ever been to.
It seems I’m not alone in my thinking that weddings are something of a money pit. Journalist Amy Keyishian and I are singing from the Cheapskate Handbook.
In a recent article in the Huffington Post, Amy wrote:
I’m usually not one to give Dr. Phil any credence; I hate that self-righteous, twangy, moustachioed cue-ball. But he did say one thing that struck me as genius.
A woman on his show was pouring some huge amount of money into her wedding, and as a reason for this irresponsible, childish behavior, she said, “But I’ve always dreamed of my wedding.”
“Well, I’ve always dreamed of playing in the NBA,” he told her, invoking his most patronizing sing-song so it sounded like enn-bee-aaaaay. “That doesn’t mean I get to suit up and play.”
Point taken. Just because we were brainwashed into thinking a wedding is the ultimate entitlement doesn’t mean we have to act on it.
I Learned Better the Second Time Around
I’ve had two weddings. One cost about $20,000 and had 150 guests. It was really fun, and I cut a lot of corners and was proud of how little I (my parents) spent. The second time around, there was no way I was going to ask for their financial input yet again. The total cost was $6,000, it was just as fun, and we had the rest of our savings for the three months of unpaid leave I ended up having to take a few months later to care for our premature baby.
Now, I realize putting those things in the same paragraph might seem unfair, but it’s actually the perfect way to illustrate what I am talking about. Because maybe you’re a bajillionaire with stacks of money placed together to form an end-table on which you have a lamp that burns $100 bills, in which case, go on with your bad self at Lake Como across from George Clooney.
It Was Not the Best Day of Our Lives
I don’t know if I speak for every wife when I say this, but honestly, when I look back on my wedding pictures, the main emotion I feel is incredulous — that my husband and I had no idea of the challenges we were facing, that we barely knew each other, that I wish I had professional portraits that weren’t so obviously bridal shots and oh my God, my dress was more low-cut than I realized.
It was not the best day of our lives. It was an amazing party and probably the best day of our lives up till then, but we’ve had days since that blew that one out of the water. And some of them didn’t cost nothin’.
Sing it, sister. I am the only person who’s shocked to know the average cost of a wedding in Australia is $36,000?
I’m sorry but WHAT? THIRTY-SIX THOUSAND DOLLARS.
For the same amount of money you could:
- Buy an Audi A1 + registration + stamp duty + a $2000 fuel voucher.
- Put a deposit on a three bedroom home in the outer suburbs of Adelaide.
- Go nuts at Westfield. Buy 7 pairs of Sass and Bide jeans, a Chanel handbag, a Michael Kors watch, 3 pairs of Christian Loubitons, a few hundred singlet tops a Supre, a Mars bar and STILL HAVE MONEY LEFT OVER.
- Give 654 people living in third world countries lambs to provide milk and cheese for food and manure for crops.
Of course if you’re reading this post while rolling around on a bed full of one hundred dollar bills — props to you (Who are you? Scrooge McDuck?). Go for it. Order the flamingos and the ice sculptures. Knock yourself out. But if you’re not loaded, you may want to rethink the $5000 dress.
Who’s with me?
How much is too much to spend on a wedding?