… or, the things we want to do cost money, and I cannot feel guilty for that anymore.

I want to preface this with the following:

I feel as if this blog has become a wedding-blog.  Of course, that would only be true if I posted more than, say, once a month.  But, that’s beside the point.  The posts I have had have been very wedding-y lately, and this is likely because my own wedding has consumed more of my thoughts and my life than I am really even comfortable admitting.  However, that’s another post for another day.  And, yes, it will also be wedding related, like this one is.

Anyway, I read a GREAT post yesterday on Jezebel on the oh-so-evil Wedding Industrial Complex.  Then, I read some, well, not infuriating comments, per se, but some somewhat humbling comments.  And then I read a comment from Becca, who writes A Los Angeles Love.  It prompted me to visit her blog, which had this post and this post outlining the sheer idiocy of these types of comments, and it has put a lot into perspective for me.  And, I realized, though I wasn’t initially infuriated by the comments on the Jezebel article, I should have been.

My wedding budget is lower than the national average, but not really by a whole lot.  Of course, the national average (just under $20,000) is a lot lower than it was, say, 3 years ago (just under $30,000), which is directly related to the economy.  I don’t have the money to spend that on a wedding.  I barely have the money to spend what I’m spending.  And then I read these comments and think, “Well, why didn’t we elect to do a cupcakes and champagne reception mid-afternoon, instead of the Friday evening dinner and dancing soiree?  It would have been cheaper!”  But, would it have?

Fiance and I knew we wanted good food (not necessarily dinner food, though that is what we ultimately decided on), we knew we wanted good alcohol (and a cash bar, for us, was out of the question), and we wanted a unique and meaningful venue.  We live in New York State, which has some very puritanical strict laws regarding the serving of alcohol.  If we chose an offbeat venue and self-catered, we would have needed to secure a liquor license for the event, which is no easy (or inexpensive) feat.  We didn’t have a good option for a house/backyard to host a wedding of the size we wanted (our invite list is around 130).  And, as Becca points out, I don’t have a seamstress cousin or a baker aunt or anything like that.  So, these were all services I had to procure myself.  I DO have a dear family friend who is a judge, so we have an officiant who I’ve known since I was six years old.  Officiants aren’t expensive, anyway – I’m more excited about having someone who I care about perform our ceremony than I am at the prospect of it being discounted.

We ended up choosing a venue that, though not far away, is far enough away that some of our guest list will self-select to not attend, and this coupled with the fact that it is a Friday evening will add to that.  We also put the time of the reception a bit later so as to save a bit on the bar (i.e., 4 hour reception, instead of 5 hours).  We aren’t doing a rehearsal dinner, and also thought that the later reception (6:30) would give people the option of checking into the hotel and getting ready the day of, rather than coming in the night before.  However, we agreed that because we’re asking people to travel, we should feed them dinner.

If I had the reception here, the guest list would have been bigger (or, rather, the regret list smaller, as the invite list would have been the same).  There were some offbeat choices I could have used, but our bar would have been more expensive as we’re fussy about our alcohol.  A similar reception at the best-value venue in Albany would have cost us about $3000 more (possibly more, if you factor in that there would be fewer “nos”).  If we did just cocktails and dessert, maybe it would have been less – but based on the prices I saw, probably not a whole lot less.  So, instead, we get to have our wedding at a vineyard on a lake, and have craft beer and NYS wine served, for less than most of the open bar packages the caterers around here offer.  In other words – what we would have saved on food, we probably would have spent on alcohol, anyway, and we would have been settling for something that was less than what we wanted.

We’re instead saving in small ways in other areas.  I’m not doing flowers.  We’re skipping the videographer and instead going to give my fiance’s niece the job of filming us at the reception (which, I guarantee, will be a lot more fun to watch than a cookie-cutter video, and it will cost us nothing).  We hired a BFA student at a nearby college to be our photographer.  I did get the traditional dress – mostly because Fiance wanted to see me in a “real” wedding dress – but his aunt made me a “veil-hairpin.” (Okay, so I do have some crafty elves in the wings, but I would have skipped the veil entirely if this was not an option.)  Of course, by skipping all of these things, we’re saving a chunk of money, but we’re still spending a LOT of money on the food and beverage.

Also, can I take this a step further and rant a bit about the “not starting your marriage off in debt” mob?  Because it’s really starting to piss me off.  We’re trying to pay for as much of this as possible in cash, but let’s face it – who has $15,000 just lying around?  I sure don’t.  You want to know what was the last thing I spent $15,000 on?  My car.  And how did I purchase that?  I took out a five year loan.  Yes folks, that’s right, I took out a loan.  You would never tell someone that he should, instead of taking out a five year car loan, save up money for five years so he can pay for his car in cash, right?  So why isn’t it considered equally ridiculous to tell couples that they should put off their weddings for two, three, four years or more, so they can save money to pay for it in cash?  Really?  I’m not saying that you should finance your entire wedding on your credit card (particularly if it is on the more expensive end), but I’m SICK AND TIRED of people making brides and grooms feel bad about needing a little extra help to pay for their weddings.  It’s not so easy for many couples to  just “have a less expensive wedding,” and I know there are a LOT of people (myself included) that think it’s totally worth it to take out a SMALL loan to help shore up the coffers rather than, say, ask Mom and Dad to pitch in towards the bill.

Here’s the thing:  a part of me would rather “publicly elope” (i.e., have a private ceremony but not a secret ceremony, and invite our parents) and then take a fantastic trip, and maybe have an informal barbeque after the fact.  However, our families want a “real” wedding.  And though perhaps one could say, “If they want it, they should pay for it,” it is important to us to pay for the bulk of this undertaking ourselves.  And, if we’re going to DO this, we want to do it a certain way.  Doing it that certain way is going to cost a certain sum, and I need to accept that this is okay.  Becca reminded me that I should not feel bad about this.  We’re doing something that we can afford (in a manner of speaking), in a way that will be meaningful and special to us and to our families and friends.  This is something to rejoice, not feel guilty over.