I always envisioned a giant, gorgeous wedding when the time came. Like many women, I pored over websites and magazines to find the most perfect ideas for my upcoming nuptials. We reserved a beautiful and idyllic location in London and were beginning to speak with caterers… and then I canceled the whole thing.
Weddings are way too expensive.
This was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I called one caterer to ask for a ballpark figure per person for what we were envisioning for our reception. The amount they recited back had me almost flat on the ground. I couldn’t believe it. I also couldn’t afford it.
There’s so much pressure to be perfect.
Weddings are prime time for not only you and your significant other to flex your “Keeping up with the Jones’” muscles but for your family to do the same. Not only did I worry about my wedding not looking Instagram-ready, but our parents also had their own idea of what our event should look like. We had this one insisting on a specific singer, another dictating alcohol choices. It was enough to make my head spin.
It’s more of a party for everyone else.
I had a come to Jesus moment after I get off the phone with the caterer. I turned to my then fiancé and said, “Who is this actually for?” Why was I paying so much money for other people to have the time of their lives? What was I really gaining from this? What I came to realize is this isn’t actually what I wanted at all. I’m not someone who likes to be the center of attention, so what was I even doing?
We were already married.
We were actually married a few months prior, but it was only the two of us and a few friends. To be on someone’s health insurance, a marriage or birth is necessary. I needed to be on my husband’s, so we went to the courthouse and had a spur of the moment wedding, intending to have our actual event on the day we had been planning on. Although we hadn’t planned on that being our “big day,” the feeling that we had from that small, informal event was enough to make anything more appear insignificant. We had accomplished the end result, which was to be married. Everything else felt like fluff at that point.
We were poor college students.
After the fateful catering call, we really needed to reanalyze where we were. That’s when reality truly hit. How were we about to embark on such an expensive adventure when we were in no financial position to do so? Both of us were finishing our undergrad degrees and surviving on student loans. The budget didn’t have a lot of wiggle room, especially for an extravagant wedding. It could have put our marriage in financial ruin before it ever truly started.
We were entering into student loan repayment.
Not only were we poor college students, but we were also about to be poor graduates. Just a few short months after graduating, we would be paying back all of those loans. This not only meant battening down the hatches financially but securing proper jobs to pay them. Job hunting is stressful any way you slice it, and adding wedding planning to the mix makes for a whole new kind of anxiety.
We wanted the best possible beginnings.
What we discovered was that we wanted to abandon the plan that we had begun because we wanted to start off our marriage the best way possible. For us, this was reducing our obligations to account for more quality time together as newlyweds as well as putting ourselves in the best place financially.
We wanted to be selfish.
We realized, in no uncertain terms, that we really just wanted to be selfish. It was our wedding, a pivotal moment in our lives. We wanted it to be about us. What did we care if Uncle Frank got the opportunity to enjoy a $100 steak in our honor? We haven’t even seen Uncle Frank in four years. It kind of started to feel like we were paying for our own Christmas presents. Why foot such a giant bill for others to celebrate us?
There would be no ridiculous gifts.
One fortunate byproduct of our decision was the avoidance of ridiculous gifts. I’ll be honest and say that there were a few times I found myself wishing we had at least a small reception—typically when I would go to pull out our poor college student, falling apart at the handle pots and pans. But what I came to learn years later from attending friends weddings and our own baby shower is that people don’t like to purchase items on a registry. Oh! Do you want this bouncy seat? Your guest is getting a totally different one because they like that color better!
We knew it meant better odds for us.
Ultimately, we realized that our decision really made for better odds for us as a couple. We took the money that we had set aside and took a 10 day trip to China. The memories made and the quality time that we had those days bettered the couple that we are today. Much more than an expensive party. Starting our marriage off in a place of positivity instead of stress over planning to everyone’s expectations and financial turmoil provided us with an awesome advantage that we are still benefiting from today.
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