Hey Party People,
Jack speaking. I’ve been tasked with writing a blog about something I really care about even though Annie is clearly the superior writer. I shall do my best to stick to what I know, which isn’t a lot. Here’s what I do know: I freaking love weddings. There’s just something about getting dressed up with all of your friends, celebrating love, and dancing the night away that always puts me in my happy place. When Annie and I got engaged, the thrill was even greater because we got to call all of the shots on how we would spend the most magical night of our lives.
Quite honestly, we’d already given it a lot of thought. What I loved about our planning process was that we came into it knowing that we were hell-bent on doing things our way. Annie hoped to undo the misogynistic patterns that have plagued standard wedding traditions for generations (classic Annie), while I hoped to examine something else that I found fascinating: how modern couples spend for weddings. Did you know that the average couple spends around $26,000? That’s right -- $26,000 just to get married. With that money, you can buy the new Toyota Rav4. You can also use that money for a down payment on a $700,000 house. I think it’s also worth noting that $26,000 was the average yearly income in 2008.
All that money...for just ONE night of partying.
Think about that. Doesn’t that sound wrong? I don’t mean to judge anyone for spending that kind of cash (live your truth!), but for Annie and me, that just doesn’t resonate with our values as a couple. I get it, a wedding is supposed to be your absolute special day. And in theory, you only marry once in your life, so dropping $26K might be appropriate for such a tremendous occasion. But does it really have to be this way? Does it take this much money to actually have an awesome wedding? Annie and I are led to believe that it does not.
It’s not that we didn’t have the money. Annie and I have been blessed with great jobs and our parents were extremely generous with financial support. More than anything, we just wanted to prove that you don’t need a lot of money to marry the one you love. If more people believed that, we think the world would be a better place. Couples would be more inclined to get engaged when they actually want to. Newlyweds wouldn’t need to start their marriage strangled with debt. Crappy materialistic wedding shows would cease to exist! We can’t stress enough how important this is. And with that, here are five ways we chose to tie the knot with financial integrity:
1. We chose a venue without a food or beverage minimum.
The cost of weddings tend to skyrocket depending on the choice of venue. Some places may have reasonable rent prices, but then they tell you that you need to spend at least $5K on food and $5K on beverage. Before you know it, your wedding already costs $13K and you haven’t even bought flowers or hired a photographer. Annie and I chose the Rickhouse in Durham because not only is it a beautiful space, but we had full control of what we spent on food and beverage. And it made all the difference.
2. We eliminated low-impact practices.
For those of you who aren’t assessment enthusiasts, a low-impact practice is something that you do that has a low level of significance or value. In terms of our wedding, we were very critical of the things that couples spent money on that don't really matter. Annie and I had one rule for spending: unless it contributes to the fun, positive energy, or memories of our wedding, then we should pay little to no money for it. This philosophy led us to use paperless invitations, not purchase party favors (nobody cares about them), and a lot of DIY projects for the wedding (engagement photos, flowers, etc), just to name a few. We saved literally thousands of dollars from this method alone.
3. We asked our friends for help.
We were so lucky to have such generous and talented friends that supported us in our cause to have a fiscally responsible wedding. Through their efforts, we’ve saved so much money on live music for the ceremony and reception, videography (my friend AJ has volunteered to film our wedding, he works for shows like White Collar and Suits), manual labor, decorating, and so much more. We were seriously #blessed.
4. We got married on a Sunday.
I used to be so judgmental about people who got married on a Sunday, but now I get it. It’s so much cheaper! By about $1,000 in our case. I know one might think that it’s inconvenient for your guests to come to your wedding on a Sunday, but now that I’m an adult who accrues vacation days, Sunday weddings aren’t that big of a deal. Also you have Friday and Saturday to spend quality time with your family and friends. I’m so glad we chose Sunday!
5. We rejected traditional wedding gifts.
In hopes to offset the wedding costs and supplementary expenses, we eliminated traditional wedding gifts and just asked for money. Before you roll your eyes or pretentiously scoff, hear me out. While it may sound like a tacky thing to do, to us it was the most sensible practice because it helped us to better afford the night of partying for our guests. And realistically speaking, that money would have been spent anyway! Only instead of people buying us a $40 picture frame or set of novelty salt/pepper shakers, they gave us $40+ that went towards our amazing cigar bar, the delicious Mediterranean catering, and all of the other incredible things we had that night. What difference does it make where the money went? The most important thing is that the money helped us experience a night that we'll all remember forever with no debt to show for it. We'll take that over bath towels any day!
So there you have it. It’s not the sexiest thing I could have written about, but hopefully you found it worthwhile. More so than giving you advice on how to save money, I can’t stress enough what this blog post is really about: LOVE. Don’t let the love you have in your heart be stifled by the money you have in your wallet. Love and marriage are truly amazing things. I know that they may not be for everyone, but if you aspire to be in love and to have a spouse one day, you can do so without worrying about financial struggle. Don’t let mainstream, traditional wedding culture tell you how you should get married. Focus on being in love and doing it your way. That’s what we did and we couldn't be more proud of it.
Thanks for reading,
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Annie & Jack
Love. Marriage. Teamwork. Art. Offsetting the patriarchal footprint. These are some of the things we're thinking about.