Tag Archives: wedding

Happy Birthday To Me… an Awkward Conversation with My Father

It’s past two a.m. on my 31st birthday morning. I’m already in this odd mood and exhausted, not in the mood for any sort of serious conversation. Unfortunately I started to doze off on the couch which meant at 2am I had to walk past my awake father in the kitchen who apparently had something he had to get off his chest. No, he didn’t want to wish me a “happy birthday.” What started as a somewhat kind “do you want to talk” inquiry launched into a tirade about how my father is upset that my boyfriend hasn’t proposed to me yet and that, at the same time, he hasn’t said hi or thank you to them in the time he has been at our house, which has now been a few days on and off.

I understand my father’s concern – and he’s expressed this many times before – but this time it was clearly more pressing for him. It made me quite uncomfortable. My response is always that I’m not sure I even want to get married and maybe I will, maybe I won’t. I have a good job. I can take care of myself. Etc, etc. My father, being of the traditional mindset (who refused to get a divorce despite it being obvious both him and my mother would be much better off apart from each other and who also pretty clearly hate each other and/or love themselves too much to ever love another person who doesn’t fuel their narcissistic supply) is freaking out that 1) I’ll never have children and 2) That I’ll have children out of wedlock and 3) That I won’t live the life he envisioned for me.

This may be fairly typical of parents from that generation, and I understand that he’s also looking at not having many good years left due to suffering from terminal cancer, so I try to be sensitive to this, but at this point I don’t know what to say. I want to just scream at him – what do you want me to do? You think starting over now, even if that was the right thing to do (which it isn’t – my boyfriend and I are going to be together permanently and already have discussed this) – how would starting over help matters any? Do you really think I’d be able to find another guy in this world who is as compatible with me and obtain a marriage proposal and jump into having kids before I’m too old to even have kids? It just doesn’t make any sense. Logistically, love aside, I’m best sticking with my current option if the end goal is grandchildren.

That said, I understand that he is upset that my boyfriend hasn’t said hi or thank you. What can I say, my bf is an odd duck – but so am I. He’s shy and he grew up in a household where social norms were far from the norms. While I have social anxiety and struggle to act like a normal human being I have learned, I guess thanks to my parents, how to fake it. They’re so good at faking it that they can convince people who don’t know them well that they’re an actual sane, lovely couple reaching their senior years. It’s amazing how my father is so completely delusional about many things – caring so little about his own appearance or other’s emotions yet being so overly paranoid about how other’s chose to live their lives. I wanted to shout “fine, if you have an issue with him then we just won’t visit again.”

At this point marriage is on my mind too, though, and I know in some respects my father is right. While I’m not sure I actually want to get married due to the marriage penalty taxes and huge potential losses in annual income, I’d like to think that at the least my boyfriend would have proposed by now and we can discuss it. Tomorrow is our 8.5 year anniversary. I know he’s been waiting on me to learn how to keep my stuff organized in our house (which is a huge challenge due to ADHD) so I have to hold up my end of the bargain before he puts a ring on it and we can discuss whether we want to get “real married” or “legal alternative to marriage married.”

Regardless, it’s going to be an awkward week at my house, to be sure. I just hope no fireworks are set off.

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!




Marry for Love, Passion, or Money? All Three?

Every time I attend a wedding I do two things. One: cry. Two: put myself in the bride’s shoes, and wonder how I’d feel walking down the aisle, tying the knot forevermore. I’m writing about this topic a lot lately because it’s been on my mind. I’ve spent my entire life fighting against allowing money to factor into who I date, but at the ripe-old age of almost 30, I’ve realized that there are two key pieces of a happy marriage: One: financial compatibility. Two: frequent blow jobs (seriously.) I’m pretty convinced at this point that as long as those two things exist in a marriage, it will be successful.

This week, I spent time with a good old friend who is now the mother of a one year old. Just a few years into the marriage, she says that if she could do it over again she’d get married for money. When you have a kid, she explained, they become your world, and all you care about is providing for them. Her husband apparently went to school for a certification and failed the exam, refusing to go back to take it again, and he’s stuck in his job making around $55k per year. Meanwhile, she makes a small salary as a hair dresser, and they both struggle to make ends meet. The pair bought a condo and, additionally, are paying off a car payment of $300+ per month. On the other end of the spectrum, sort of, I have another friend who is pregnant with her first child, and she’s married to an engineer for a major tech company, and even they are struggling with finances at the moment with a kid on the way and major house remodels. I kick myself when I share my concern about my boyfriend’s financial situation with her, as she’s struggling to pay off her debts as her husband pays for their expensive bay area starter home.

I’ve been scared to be with a man who has his life together. Because of my depression and other crazies, I just don’t trust myself to maintain a relationship with anyone who is focused on their career. I feel safe with my boyfriend, I know I’ll always be in charge of the finances, he’ll surely stay at home with the potential offspring, and maybe that’s fine. I just don’t know what I want. I can see myself going on like today if I don’t have kids, living with roommates, semi cheaply, splurging on dresses, shoes and makeup on occasion but overall keeping my living expenses low. Thinking about a life with kids changes the picture. And I worry one day I’ll be upset at myself for not seeking out a man who had his life together. Just enough to have a bit of retirement savings at 30. Continue reading

Engagement Ring Shopping: Is All This Necessary?

My boyfriend and I have our seven year anniversary this month. I can’t believe we’ve been together seven years. For the last year, we’ve been on-and-off again shopping for an engagement ring. I told my boyfriend I don’t really want an engagement ring. It just seems silly to spend a few thousand dollars on a piece of jewelry. Rings bother me anyway when I type. But I also, deep down, have my mother’s voice in my head about how sad she never got her “diamond ring” for her wedding and I wonder if I’d regret not getting one later. I’d rather put the $5k or whatever to the downpayment on a house. And in that sense, I’ll just plan an entire wedding on Pinterest and invite my guests to a WebEx to look at it, while stashing the $30k+ from my dad into the house payment as well.

I feel so awkward going into jewelry stores, or any fancy stores for that matter. We went to a couple this weekend. I felt absolutely in love with a sapphire ring with four side diamonds (it was “estate jewelry” ie pre-owned) and it happened to fit perfectly on my now 6.5 size finger. The same person who was, just hours before saying that she didn’t want a ring, was ready to bust out her credit card to spend $6k on this beauty. Still, I don’t want a multi-thousand dollar ring. I’d be perfectly happy with a basic white gold band with some meaningful inscription on the inside. Or, as I joke with my bf, ten thousand $1 plastic rings, so I’ll never have to worry about losing them and he can still spend $10k. Continue reading

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?

Everyone is Getting Married!

Is it just me, or is everyone getting married? I guess now is the age for white poofy dresses and walking down the aisle and saying I do. In a few weeks I’m flying out to my friend’s wedding back east. On Facebook I see messages of old classmates saying that they’re off to their honeymoons.

Me? Well, I’ve been dating the same guy for 3.5 years. But we’re not engaged. We’ve joked about getting married, I like to send him pictures of engagement rings I like, often with $1M+ diamonds in them, just for kicks. But we’re not seriously considering it any time soon.

I don’t feel ready to be a wife. But I wonder at what point in life I will feel ready, if ever. I also would love to be able to afford a nice wedding, and I have to figure out a way to be rich before that.

When did you get married or do you plan to get married? How did you know it was the right time for you? How old were you?