For richer for poorer
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When you tearfully blurt out ‘yes’ in some romantic marriage proposal setting, or you’ve spent months meticulously planning your proposal to your loved one, you probably don’t imagine that the next succession in your journey together into married life will most likely involve haemorrhaging your life’s savings - in addition to potentially those of your parents or other family members, and working every hour under the sun to pay for the wedding. Whilst also continuing to repay the glorious celebration for months after your foray into married life commences, when many guests can’t recollect if they sipped a glass of burgundy or sauvignon and whether they had the salmon or the chicken main course, but simply they had a wonderful time.
It’s easy to get carried away in childhood fantasies of the perfect wedding, but without even living out a fraction of our wildest dreams we are shelling out a fortune on that special day. A study of 16,000 couples by wedding website The Knot recently revealed the average spend has reached a record high of $31,213 , possibly even more surprising as the average wedding party size has actually shrunk. If we put that total cost into context it’s a whopping 60% of the average US annual income when benchmarked against a Census Bureau statistics report from Sept 2014 .
We do have to sense check and remember – THIS IS FOR ONE DAY!! I know from my own experiences that you just have to mutter the word ‘wedding’ and most related services will whack on extortionate profit margins for ordinary returns. Why? I can only assume that they imagine all clients are so lovey-dovey and google-eyed they’ll pay it. The reality is if you are unfortunate enough to have to procure a lot of services they all seem to do that so you really do have quite limited choice if you want any semblance of a wedding and you need to purchase things as you can’t dedicate every hour of your waking day making it happen.
I distinctly remember being flabbergasted that my usual hairdresser wanted to charge more than four times as much for my typical trim and hair treatment plus a wedding day hair trial (obviously I daren’t utter the words ‘bridal hair’ when I next went to a different hairdresser prior to the big day). Whilst the quote from the florist made me want to scream ‘are they made of gold?!!’ It’s like you walk around with an invisible stamp on your forehead as a fiancé/fiancée saying ‘please rip me off’!!! Of course you can approach the memorable day with utmost frugality, but even with the best intentions doing things with minimal spend is tricky – a whopping 45% of couples surveyed went over budget.
The frenzy around weddings has become so extreme that the term for an obsessive bride (‘bridezilla’ if you aren’t familiar!), is officially listed online on the Oxford Dictionary site. Psychologists frequently agree weddings and the intense planning they involve, not to mention the complex family and friend dynamics which sometimes have to entertained, can be highly stressful . Although 40% of couples have 13-18 months to plan for the big day this isn’t always a blessing as there are a billion tasks you can’t action until nearer the time, despite of course having to fight over venues, photographers, florists etc months in advance to get your top choices.
It’s easy to get swept up in a crazy whirlwind, but surely what really matters is that you get to share your special day with your favourite people and celebrate your union? What, when, where and how is secondary. So, if you are yet to embark on the wedding planning journey think carefully beforehand about what you can realistically afford, budget carefully and look at some useful sources for money-saving tips (and don’t be afraid to ask for DIY help from those closest to you). Plus last but by no means least, don’t lose sight of the most important factor hinging this wedding scenario together – love. However you choose to define it (here are some interesting ideas for the most ‘Googled’ searched phrase in 2012)….it doesn’t need to cost a thing.