Category Archives: Wedding

Should Parents Pay for a Wedding (if they want to)?

With marriage on the mind and the remainder of my single friends getting wedded up and knocked up at full throttle, I’m more than ready for matrimony (with the exception of what it will cost me in taxes, but sans that thought, I’m ready to “settle down,” so to speak. While once upon a time I dreamed of a fancy ceremony and traditional large wedding, I’m kind of over that at the moment. I’m not sure if I’d regret not having a big wedding, but one thing is for sure, my parents want that big fancy ceremony, and they want to pay for it.

Now, wanting to pay for it is not synonymous with wanting to arrange a day that will be a symbol of my love and dedication to Mr. Right. To be fair to them their wedding day was quite horrible thanks to my mother’s mother who not only planned the entire thing to her liking but also joined my parents on their honeymoon to boot. I guess they’re thinking everything they do isn’t remotely as bad as what she inflicted on them. It’s just a bad and quite terrifying baseline to begin with.

Maybe in my 20s a big wedding with a poofy dress would have made sense. Even seeing my good friend married off at 32 recently in a fairytale ballgown hasn’t changed my heart. Perhaps if I was marrying someone different – someone who liked to dance or who enjoyed social events with many people who he barely knows then a big wedding would make sense. But if I have a big fancy wedding it’s surely going to only be applicable to one half of us, and given my latest take on the whole wedding industry, one half of a half of us. Continue reading

The Thing About Growing Up

You know the feeling of being far from a place you’ve been so real to you that you can’t imagine it’s really gone forever? That is what it feels like to grow up. You may be able to go back to the physical place, but it’s gone no matter how there it is. And time itself is this strange continuum that seems to be on your side until about your mid twenties when suddenly it becomes your worst enemy, pulling you further and further away from the security of your long lost home.

Some days I close my eyes and find myself, as if it was yesterday, sitting in gym class frustrated beyond belief for my inability to climb a rope or run a mile. I can taste the fall air as we would be forced through physical fitness testing, cold on my lungs, as I failed pretty much everything besides the flexibility test. I can smell the leather of my friend’s dad’s car as he drove us to dance class, the burn in my lungs as I chased a school bus down the street in the rain yet another morning of waking up late, the dizziness of being a child and spinning around fast looking at the ceiling in our empty dining room to entertain myself, or lying on the cold floor of our game room pressing start and go of my tapes in order to write down their lyrics. Some moments are crisp while many are a blur, but nonetheless the place feels so real that I can only imagine if I try hard enough I could find my way back to it, despite knowing that I never can.

It’s not that I had a wonderful childhood. I was miserable most of the time. I was bullied by my parents and my friends. I was hyperactive and annoying and constantly trying to figure out a way to fit in. I was lonely and bored and unable to handle my own many imperfections. But there I was safe and free all at the same time. And growing up means letting go of that person you once were, the place where you’ll never truly return. You might as well have blasted off to another planet a one-way trip because that’s life, shooting you fast towards the night stars, whether you’re ready for it or not.

I used to be terrified of death — I’d stay up all night and try so hard to imagine myself not existing for a moment, and I couldn’t find the feeling. In eleven days I turn 31 and I know that life is not forever. I have twenty years ahead of me of either/and a strong career or family, and time is ticking onwards as a little part of me hungers to return to that place I once took pity on myself and hid in my bedroom, looking out the window at the tall trees swaying in yet another storm.

There were things to, like stability, which used to scare me that suddenly are what I long for most of all. I think this is because I grew up with such a theoretically stable life (despite constant wars raging in my household which begged to question if the stability was a benefit or a curse) I wanted none of it when I left home. At seventeen I left for college in Chicago and never once considered returning back permanently. I was running ahead full force, faster than I ever had in those mile runs of the physical fitness testing, trying to find comfort in change, afraid to settle down, afraid to stop before I was ready.

Even now I’m restless in many ways, probably more than the average person, but I still need the stable base in which to build from. I’ve found that in my boyfriend who has been there with me for the past nine years. He’s level headed and calm and he has no desire to run away from stability like a man running from a loon wielding an AK47. With a childhood where he had never-married parents who didn’t know how to handle their accidental child, he is perfectly comfortable with a planted life. And, despite not knowing each other in our childhood, we can look in each other’s eyes and still see that person we once were. For a second I am able to transport back to my home, but locked up in the arms of someone who wasn’t forcing me into a box of something I’m not, jabbing at me at every opportunity. With him I have acceptance of the girl who never got that as a child. With him, despite being lightyears away from where I’ve been and can’t physically return, I’m more home than I ever was.


Why Being a Bridesmaid is Costing me Over $2000

Well, over $2500 to be exact.

There were a few comments on my last post about my budget over the next three months about why – despite my otherwise frugal expectations of spending – my bridesmaid budget was quickly draining my networth. Someone said “you do realize you are spending $2500 on being a bridesmaid and that is ridiculous.” Well, I wanted to break out my costs to show you all that it’s not really that ridiculous at the moment. As I noted in my response to that comment – also – my friend has three bridesmaids vs a larger party so all of the items we’re buying we’re splitting 3 ways, which quickly gets expensive. And she already had drama with one of her bridesmaids (having to replace her) so unless I’m going into debt over this I don’t feel comfortable asking her to step out of the wedding or pay less than the other bridesmaids (neither of whom are rich either.)

Bridesmaid Budget

Flights to NY area for 3 events: $1200  ($400 per flight avg)
Bridal Shower Cards, Favors, Games: $100
Bridesmaid Dress: $200 (already purchased)
Bridesmaid Dress Alterations: TBD ($100?)
Bridesmaid Dress: Silver Peep Toe Shoes (required) $75
Bachelorette Party Hotel in NY: $150
Bachelorette Party Activities in NY: $200
Wedding Day Hair/Makeup: $150 (required by bride)
Hotel Nights (2) for Rehearsal Dinner & Wedding: $300
Gift for Bride & Groom: $200

TOTAL $2625

There are a few items here I could minimize to reduce that budget a bit — I can use frequent flier miles for my flight (but they’re still worth something and tends not to be worth it to use them to fly cross country.) I can hope my dress fits well enough to not require any sort of severe alterations, but these dresses are designed to need alterations, at the very least a serious hem. I can make a stink about the $150 of hair and makeup required on the wedding day but she really wants us to get this done professionally for photos. If I was completely out of cash I’d say something to the bride about it, but it doesn’t feel right. I can skip the bridal shower which I’m sure she’d understand worst case scenerio, but now my plan is to piggyback an old friend’s baby shower the following weekend on that trip, and given I’ll be applying for jobs on the east coast too that week actually makes sense to set up some interviews while I’m there.

The actual bachelorette party in NY is super pricey. We were originally going to do it in Atlantic City which would have been cheaper but the bride really wanted NY so NY it is. I’m looking into ways to keep our budget in check so it’s no more than $300 per person total including the hotel room – as it’s very easy to spend much, much more than that in NYC for a night on the town.

In any chase when I agreed to being a bridesmaid I didn’t realize I’d be out of a job. I also wasn’t thinking necessarily about the costs but how honored I am to be chosen as a close friend of a girl who has indeed become a better friend of mine over the years despite our distance. It’s not like I have a ton of friends asking me to to be in their bridal parties (I was in one other wedding in my adult life — and that one had a ton of bridesmaids and all I had to pay for was my dress with alterations and opted for hair design at the wedding, plus I chipped in heavily for the bachlorette party because her maid of honor was refusing to throw a big party out like the bride wanted. Even that with a hotel in San Francisco did not come to over $600 or so total plus wedding gift.)

I’m not sure what to do now. Adding it all up on paper is a bit scary, especially given the no job situation. Also, if I do get a job and book flights for going back and forth that would be a pain in the first few months at the job. That may very well be what happens but it’s not going to be ideal. Anyway, now you all know why my bridesmaid budget is so high!


The Wedding Planner – How Much Should a Wedding Cost?

Weddings are a big business. I’ve been to weddings of all sizes and costs — some small and in local parks — others large in luxury city banquet halls. Looking back on the weddings, besides respective heat from being in a park outdoors with no shade, the actual cost of the event does not influence my own review of the event. What I personally remember most is the love the partners shared for each other, the kind words the family said, and how much fun was had by all.

So why is my own wedding budget suddenly increasing from $30,000 to $50,000? Even $30,000 sounds absolutely ridiculous. I have two very conflicting POVs in my mind at the moment and it’s a challenge to find a balance that makes sense.

My parents WANT to pay up to $50,000 for a wedding, but that doesn’t make it any less ridiculous in my mind. Regardless of how much they pay (and especially if they pay $50k) then it becomes THEIR wedding and not my wedding. At least they’re fairly flexible on some things, but my mother is starting to bring up all the horrific things her mother did at her wedding and, unfortunately, my mother is not the type to think “this means I should not do them to my own daughter” and instead sees this as an opportunity to do the same (*at least she claims she will not force herself onto our honeymoon, which her own mother did.) Continue reading

Divorce is the New Marriage: Why Marriage is Obsolete and Yet I’m Probably Going to Get Married Anyway

When one becomes an adult, often one gets married. My opinions on marriage are fairly strong as I believe it’s both religious ritual and business contract, neither of which actually are necessary if you are an atheist and have two working individuals in the relationship.

Marriage as a historic religious ritual makes a lot of sense. The whole concept of marriage between a man and a woman is core to the people who wrote religious books many years ago. It also helped ensure that a man would stick around to provide for his wife and children when women didn’t work. Continue reading

Let the Wedding Planning Commence (AKA Why I Shall Be Excommunicated by the PF Community)

No need for congratulations folks, I’m NOT engaged. Nothing to see here. Move along…

But, I think it’s fair that after seven+ years of dating (and a commitment-longing boyfriend who nearly dumped me in year one because of my admittance that I had no interest in marriage), I’m starting to think about “the big day” to seal the deal.

We’ve both agreed that 2015 is the right year to get married, and I’ve told him I need, ideally, a year and a half after the proposal to plan our wedding (mostly just for 18 months to commit to a hardcore diet and exercise routine because dear lord there is no way I’m walking down the aisle with jiggly tricep wings.) Why an old fashioned proposal? He is adamant that he is the one to propose, and he wants to surprise me, though that’s a bit of a challenge now that we’ve been dating seven years and have practically agreed on our specific 2015 wedding date.

Due to our families being on both coasts, it’s going to be a big production to ensure those most important to us can attend. He has a smaller family, and they’re mostly younger and in better shape compared to some folks on my end, so we’ve agreed that it makes more sense to have the wedding on the east coast (despite my long-term desire to get married at a beautiful northern California venue.) A lot of people have recommended having two separate parties, one on each coast, but that just won’t do. To me, what’s most important about a wedding is bringing the two families together. If we can’t accomplish that, then I’d be just as content with celebrating a quick elopement at city hall and calling it a day.

Or maybe I should be content with that plan anyway. While at 20 I dreamed of designing the perfect wedding and walking down the aisle in a princess dress, at 30, and much more financially savvy, the whole industry just reeks of rip off. Yes, there is definitely ways to have weddings on the lower end of the price spectrum, and lovely ones at that, but it becomes more challenging in a region with unstable weather patterns at any time of year (i.e. a good tent rental or indoor venue is required.) But beyond that, I know myself, and if I’m going to have a wedding, I’m likely going to give into that 20 year old voice in my head – though the dress will likely be more queen than princess in my ripe old age of 30-something.

Step One: How Much Do Venues Cost?

As the first step in the process, I’ve begun making a list of venues that photographically speak to me across the web, and have sent out simple inquiry letters to get a better understanding of pricing and options. When you start talking in the tens of thousands of dollars about anything it’s easy to loose touch of the difference between $30,000 and $50,000, because they’re both a whole lot of money. My father has apparently put away $50,000 for wedding me off, which seems absolutely ridiculous, except not, when I found out how much it costs for any of these professional spaces.

At the high end, a venue I adore in Pennsylvania is $175 per person, with a $5 per person add on for a ceremony. That wouldn’t be so bad with, say, 50 people, but this venue (and most venues in our area) has a minimum people requirement, especially on Saturday nights. Their minimum person count is 175, making it cost $31,500 for just venue and the meal. Perhaps that’s in my budget if I wear a dress from TJ Maxx and ask my friends to put together a band for the entertainment.

So I started with that and worked backwards. I don’t want to spend $50,000 on a wedding, and the rational part of me is saying “idiot take the $50,000 for a partial down payment on a house or invest it for the future or use a chunk of it to travel the world in style and put the rest away for safe keeping, don’t spend it all on one stupid day.” The wedding industry wants you to think that’s normal.

But Can’t I Just Have a $10,000 Wedding?

I recently found myself transfixed by a Four Weddings marathon where four brides compete with one another to win the votes of the other girls for best wedding. What’s most interesting about the show is how they actually display how much each wedding’s budget was — and it seems, more often than not, the weddings with the bigger budgets win (the prize of a lovely honeymoon, which clearly those with the smaller budgets more needed to win.) I read an interesting post somewhere (I can’t find it at the moment) which went back and analyzed the entire series of Four Weddings to determine if the most expensive weddings won more often, and the blog author also analyzed not just total budget but the cost per wedding, finding that weddings that were at least in the mid range or higher fared better overall.

But, other then these bridezillas trying to win a prize for having the best wedding ever, who really cares what other people think? Isn’t a wedding supposed to be about the two people committing their heart and souls to each other for all eternity, yada yada? I really want the wedding to bleed “us” without the blood, and symbolize our love for each other. I don’t want some sort of terrible hall for a standard reception complete with ugly 1980s carpeting and curtains. Beyond this, I’m aesthetically picky. Blame Pinterest, but my addiction to more vintage, DIY-looking, romantic weddings has been pinned and piqued. And there’s no turning back now.

Theoretically, this DIY look can be achieved for less than the typical, traditional wedding. After all, it was clearly inspired by brides seeking to have a classy wedding without the “downpayment” price tag. My mother, judgmental as always, disagrees with just about everything I want for my own wedding (yes this has been discussed as, if my parents pay for it, she feels – rightly so – that they get a say.)

I could opt to pay for the entire thing myself (I’m a working women) and I’m torn on this because it feels just wrong taking any money, especially of that size and sum, at this point in my life. And, if my father is throwing $50k at me to celebrate a wedding — and if it’s a party for them as much it is for me (and given that he has terminal cancer and has dreamed of the day he’d see one of his children wed) I kind of feel ok with it, albeit not quite the total cost. My boyfriend would be happy with a small, intimate wedding in a park any day, so this big hoohah would largely be for my parents. In that case, they can pay. I doubt I’m ultimately going to be able to enjoy the day much anyway, knowing the stress level of such events in my family.

Thus, I’m at the beginning of a long and impractical journey to figure out what my budget should be and how to stay within that budget, make my parents happy while also making sure the day – no matter if we spend $8k or $80k – is about the union of two silly kids who will never grow up and will always remain hopelessly in love for each other, in spite of our parent’s own turmoiled (mine) or nonexistent (his) relationships. Let the journey begin!




Say Yes to the Dress — Why I’m Going to Try to Say No…

My reality TV obsession as of late is TLC’s “Say Yes to the Dress.” Now that I’m 26, I’m like (almost) every other girl in the world who (isn’t married yet) is thinking about being a bride and all that goes with it. Hey, I’ve been with my bf 3.5 years, so it’s not like marriage is so far off I shouldn’t be thinking about such things. (Right… right?)

Watching the show has me fiscally horrified, especially the episodes featuring women who have no budget and can buy a dress that costs $6k or more. As a kid, I would have been certain that my wedding dress would be on par with the dresses shown on SYTTD, and that I’d have money flowing from every possible bank account to fund my dream wedding. Nowadays, I’m a lot smarter than that. And thinking about the cost of my one-day wedding makes me almost violently ill.

When I was 12, my family threw a huge Bat Mitzvah party for me. It was ridiculous. I don’t know how much it cost but I think it was around $13k. For a Bat Mitzvah. It was the fault of my parents as much as it was mine. My party was probably on the higher end of what my peers spent in my temple, but certainly not the highest. I wanted to have the reception at one venue that my parents deemed too expensive. Where’d all the money go? The venue and food, the DJ / band (yes I had a DJ AND Band at my Bat Mitzvah), the professional photographer, professional videographer, the outfit (though my dress wasn’t really that expensive compared to anything else), the party favors (I needed three colors on the custom t-shirts so that cost extra), the party planner, and who knows what else. With such a big family on both sides, a lot of people were invited, and many came. I didn’t know half the people at my party, but it was a party, and I enjoyed it (as much as an atheist girl can when she is celebrating the end of years of religious study.) 

Looking forward to my wedding day (even though I’m not even engaged yet), I know that I want to be frugal when it comes to the big day. But I’m also the type of girl that believes in going all out or not going at all. And I’m tempted not to go. At least when I was a kid at my Bat Mitzvah I was so ignorant. While that was awful for my parent’s finances, at least I could ENJOY the celebration, for what that’s worth. Knowing how much my wedding costs will make it tough for me to enjoy any of it. I’d elope except my mom would shoot me, so it looks like I’ll be forced to have a wedding.

According to I Will Teach You to Be Rich and the Wall Street Journal, the average wedding cost is $28,000. That’s the AVERAGE, people. I’m not surprised knowing how much parties cost, but I can’t imagine how so many people spend this much, especially when the majority of them are in debt.

When I watch Say Yes to the Dress, I’m amazed by how the lower-end buyers are looking for dresses that cost around $3,000. First of all, if I ever spend $3,000 on a dress it will NOT be white because God knows a white dress won’t be able to be worn twice (and a bridal gown can’t be worn twice anyway, unless you manage to have the Project Runway contestants makeover your dress into a modern frock.)

How can anyone spend $3,000 or more on a dress to be worn one day? I dream of finding a used designer gown that’s still in perfect condition so at least I’ll get a decent price on a nice gown, but really, I know designer gowns still cost more than what I’d like to spend on a dress. The most I’ve ever spent on a garment is $460, which was my $600 leather jacket on sale. And I wear that basically every day.

I’ve been eying the designer Maggie Sottero who has some lovely dresses that I could see wearing on my wedding day. I’m short and pear-apple shaped, so finding a dress that is flattering will be beyond difficult (I can’t pull off strapless unless I go on a serious diet)… I wish I could pull off a dress like this but with my waist that would just not look good. From what I can tell, this designer’s gowns run more like $1k – $2k, which is still more than I’d like to spend. Honestly, do I even need a wedding gown? Can’t I just get a nice prom dress and call it a day?

How much did you spend (or expect to spend) on your wedding dress (or wife’s wedding dress)? Was it in your budget, or did you spend more (or less) than you wanted to? Did you get your dress on sale, or full price? Were you happy with your purchase?