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June 22, 2006


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This summer a lot of my friends are getting married. We have our own wedding, one 3 weeks prior, one 2 weeks prior, one 2 weeks after, and then a couple in September and October.

My friend that is getting married 2 weeks prior was going to get married in New Hampshire, but then moved it to an hour west of Chicago. We just couldn't afford to get out there. The September wedding is in Florida, which we also won't be able to afford to go to.

Very unfortunate. Our wedding is near where we live, so hopefully folk can make their way up here for it.

I was a participant in a wedding last year, but didn't have the finances to attend (much less participate.) I was uncomfortable saying no. I was honored to be asked, but also resentful because I was open about my lack of $$. The wedding was economical, no over-the top costs. I can't imagine how I would have felt if it had been more expensive.

Mostly, my family doesn't get married (or if they go, they split up right away) and we're not very close. So I'd do the Justice of the Peace and save the $$ for a house. I guess anybody that I don't see at least once/year can't be expected to attend my wedding, so I'd have it near home.

I'm certain my parents don't have any monetary gifts planned for me. But if they did, I think they'd want to save the $$ to get the groom a psych eval: they'd surely think he'd need his head checked. :P

My wife and I went through wedding planning and had considered several options, one of which was a destination wedding. It would have been much smaller, and cost less in that regard. But, we calculated in the airfare and hotel for the handful of friends and family. (They'd have to fund their own food/booze/etc). It still ended up cheaper. It's the only way we would have chosen the option.

But, ultimately we determined it would have left out some of the people we'd like to have attend, so we went traditional and local. Even that was about half the alleged average cost.

My $0.02.

For what it's worth, I'm recently married and have seen both sides of the destination wedding.

On the one hand, my wife and I certainly understood the appeal. Getting married on the perfect beach on the perfect little Caribbean island as the sun set behind us would have been really great. You simply can't duplicate that setting where we live. But for all the reasons you mention and more, we thought it made more sense to have the wedding near our home. It was important to us that the people who have been part of our lives up to that point be part of our wedding. Some of those people had the means to go to a destination wedding. Others didn't. We didn't want anybody to feel like they had to spend a bunch of money to be part of the celebration. Then again, we also told people that they shouldn't feel obligated to bring gifts (though we certainly enjoy them). Their presence at our celebration was the greatest gift they could give us.

From what I saw, the marriage industry (and don't ever forget - it's an industry) capitalizes on two things:
- The sentiment that you only ever do this once, so it must be perfect
- There seem to be a lot of women out there who really, really want to be a princess (and a lot of parents who want to indulge them)

That doesn't capture all brides by a long shot (not mine, for example). But it does seem to be quite common. If both of those things are true, you're going to spend a lot of money. Yeah, the $1500 cake is nice, but the $6000 one is so much nicer and you're only going to do this once. Sure, there are $500 dresses that would look OK with a few alterations, but the $5000 one that's like the one on the cover of Modern Bride? You only go down the aisle once and don't you want to look beautiful? Yeah, you can get a photographer for $1500, but don't you want the award-winning one for $8000? You can't retake those pictures. And don't you want video? But you don't want just one camera - you could miss something - so get two. We saw some really gorgeous invitations in one of the magazines that were laser-etched mahogany and cost $35 a piece, for crying out loud. And don't get me started on the cost of flowers.

It goes on and on. None of these choices are illegitimate, by the way. If you (or your parents) have the money and want to spend it on those things, that's your business. But understand that these costs add up. Soon, somebody's writing checks for $50K or more.

At our wedding, we broken expenses into three categories:
- Things that are important and that we will spend the bucks on.
- Things that are important but which can be done inexpensively
- Things that aren't important.

For us, the first category included the location and the photographer. Those two things made up about half of our total budget and we were thrilled with both. The second category included the cakes (a friend pointed us to an inexpensive bakery that produced a wonderful cake), the food (Texas barbeque, which was far tastier than most wedding food), the music (it helps to have a friend with a Grammy nomination under his belt) and the dress. The third category included a lot of other stuff that I don't remember (which is the point - it wasn't important).

Our wedding wasn't cheap, but it was well under the average given by the bridal magazines. You know what? At the end of it, we were bride and groom, just like couples that spent a lot more.

As someone who has just started planning a wedding, these comments have been very helpful. I also like the idea of breaking up the expenses into three categories. Will have to do that ourselves. Thanks!

this is an interesting post just because my sister and i are having drastically different weddings. her wedding is in 2 weeks and in san diego (granted this is where she lives) but most of our family is in the midwest so, in essence it's a destination wedding. I will be getting married in a year so it's been really interesting witnessing the planning. my parents are giving us the same amount and this is how we are utilizing it:

she pretty much racked up a bill of the average cost of a wedding. church, reception hall, designer dress ect... not to mention most of my family (i have a large immediate family and even larger extended family) is traveling out to california to attend the wedding.

my fiancee and i on the other hand, knew that we wanted to elope and throw a party when we got back. we never expected anyone to show up at all. we are spending money on the trip, photography, and the wedding attire (ok...i had to get a designer dress too!) but other than that we have no other real cost. my sisters were pretty mad about us eloping and not expecting people to travel until my youngest sister realized how much it would be to travel to my other sister's wedding in SD.

I was expecting that we'd have to pay for the wedding ourselves. it wasn't until recently that my mother brought up that she was giving us that money. after my mom saw how much everything was, she remarked to me that she would rather see me elope and save/invest the money (we already bought a house) than for me to throw a wedding. and i agreed with her 100%.

my brother and his wife moved to CA and she decided to have her wedding in carmel. well his side of the family lives in FL and her side moslty on the east coast. dont know about her side of the family, but mine has never really forgiven her for it. my uncle has basically not spoken to her whenever they see each other since they got married 5 yrs ago, of course he is a cheapskate. luckily my mom took care of my flight. but there is still a lot of animosity between all of us and she knows none of us were really in a financial situation to afford the air and fancy inn.

My fiancee and I seriously considered getting married in Michigan (where all of her family and about half of mine are...and the other half are closer to Michigan than to Chicago where we now live). But the Church really, really, very strongly pushes back against having the wedding at a parish you don't attend...especially a different one than the one where you get your pre-cana counseling. Which means that, in order to get married in Michigan, we'd have to drive 5 hours each way, and stay in hotel rooms, every weekend for the next year. Which is pretty expensive (not to mention time-consuming...that's 520 hours, also known as a hair over three weeks, just commuting between cities) by itself, even before you add in the approximately $3150 in gasoline and $8400 in hotel bills. And remember, this is _before_ factoring in the cost of the wedding _itself_...this would just be the _extra_ costs associated with having it in a place that's convenient to family but not to us. Making all the arrangements from two states away would likely lead to things going avoidably awry as well.

Flying away to some far-flung destination not convenient to either you or your guests may indeed be destructively self-indulgent. And I lack words to express my outrage at the concept of a marrying couple angrily dropping friendships with people who couldn't manage to attend their wedding (for any good reason or even most bad ones). But before unilaterally condemning every marrying couple who don't bend over as far backwards as necessary to spare their would-be guests any inconvenience whatsoever, folks should try to remember that _guests_ only have to spend one day at the wedding. The couple getting married, on the other hand, has much more invested in the process, spends much more time on it, and consequently has their expenses balloon much faster when distance from _their_ home to the wedding site expands.

Yes, we'll be happy to help out those of our relatives who genuinely can't afford to come and genuinely want to. The house we're buying this summer (which I won't actually live in until after we're married) has 4 guest rooms, for those who mightn't be able to swing a hotel. And if any folks, other than the ones we're actually flying in all-expenses-paid (her mother, my mother, her maid of honor, my best man and his wife and kids), still can't come, we'll miss them but understand. And of course 90%+ of our current friends live here in Chicago anyway, so travel is a nonissue for them.

And if folks don't want to give gifts, that's up to them. This is a wedding...a celebration of devotion and a Holy Sacrament...not a fundraising drive or an entertainment venue with a ticket price.

(Total current projected cost to us: $18,000. We can afford it. Total cost to our families, other than their travel expenses: $0.)

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