Let's Talk About Weddings, Money, & Really Bad Advice

Monday, July 17, 2017

Even if you choose to go the most minimalist route possible, weddings cost money. And if you're anything like most brides, you'll probably get caught up in at least part of the hoopla & hype that surrounds the wedding industry, whether you want a big bridal party or tons of gorgeous flowers or a poufy cupcake of a dress or a destination ceremony in a tropical paradise. And if you want all of the above? Well, it's gonna cost an arm & a leg, at the very least.

I'm in a Facebook group for CLE brides- & grooms-to-be, & as is the case in any local Facebook group, it's often a source of utter weirdness. From hideous dresses to maid-of-honor horror stories to plain old "WTF are you thinking?" plans, there are plenty of posts that make me cringe. Today, though, one caught my eye, & I haven't been able to stop thinking about it.

One woman posted asking for advice on the following abridged-for-the-blog situation:
"My wedding is August 18th and we are having trouble affording the rest of the reception costs ($1400). It's basically a choice between having the reception and paying the bills this month. With the wedding being so close everyone has chosen their food options so how would I go about switching the menus to just cake and some appetizers?"

My first reaction is "How the hell did you get into a scenario where you're having a wedding you so badly cannot afford to be having?" I assumed other commenters would say the same thing, perhaps more gently - but you know what they say about assuming. By & large, the other commenters did not share my view.

For starters, one commenter wrote:
"I applaud you for being willing to be responsible with your budget. People tend to loose their sense when it comes to weddings." 
Wait, I'm confused. Is it... is it responsible budgeting to get so far in the hole that you have to rework your wedding at the last minute? Somehow I didn't think that was how responsible budgeting worked. And it gets worse. Though some people shared helpful ideas for cuts to make instead, here are the most jaw-dropping bit of "advice" group members provided:
  1. "Payday loan! They have installment loans, try Mountain Summit or maybe Money Key...hey nobody wants to do it but you have to have your reception!"
  2. "I received money before my wedding esp from people who were not going. To be able attend it was around 500 total but it helped with last min expenses."
  3. "There are alot of 0% apr credit cards right now for 12+ months.....check out credit karma it will give you best options."
  4. "I knew a groom who had abismal credit, he was able to get a personal loan for the rest of the costs. Might be an option."
  5. "Is a credit card an option? $1,400 is such a small amount in the grand scheme. If people come expecting a meal, they will be hungry and super pissed to find just cake and apps."
  6. "Not the best idea but get a loan, and pay it off after the wedding. I'm sure lots of ppl will give you cash for a gift."
  7. "You cannot ask people to come to your wedding after they are already expecting a meal they chose (and they are bringing you gifts and money) and just give them appetizers and cake. You need to find a different option or cancel all together."
  8. "Just say that your caterer quit last minute and you had to choose something else, and on last minute decisions it ended up being appetizers."
  9. "We're in the same boat...Ive been selling stuff on FB, opened 2 new accounts at Huntington, deferred my car payment, and got a loan with hopes to pay off after the wedding."
Mike & I initially planned to have a very low-key wedding, but we're fortunate that our parents offered us money to help cover the cost of a larger wedding. I don't take lightly that gift, & I recognize that many couples aren't in similar situations in terms of familial or financial support. 

But look: At the end of the day, you should only be having a wedding you can afford. If you can't afford it, that money isn't just going to magically appear. If anything, new expenses are going to crop up - but new funding probably isn't. Make a budget, get creative, make cuts along the way, et cetera, but you should not find yourself, a month before the big day, choosing between paying your bills or financing your wedding.

If you can't afford your bills in order to pay for your wedding, you shouldn't be having the wedding you're planning to have. If you plan in advance to take out a small loan or something of the sort, OK - but having a strategic financial plan is a far cry from "Oh, shit, this ship is sinking, & I've got to take out a sketchy payday loan just to provide the meal I promised my wedding guests." Why did you plan that freaking wedding?

Maybe I'm being overly judgy here. Maybe I'm going to get nasty comments about this post - & honestly, if you've got a different POV that I'm missing, I'd love to hear it. But as someone who is very frustrated with the wedding industry & the many gratuitous expenses it insists are vital, I can't help but be aghast at the idea that people are going bankrupt just to have a wedding that looks like the movies. Aren't we smarter than this?! Aren't we more realistic than this?!

Real life isn't the movies - & real weddings don't need to be, either. Save the cash for your life together, not for an all-out wedding day that will leave you with a mountain of debt to start out your marriage.

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