In the end, we agreed that $2000 is enough for a big party to reunite our friends and family, celebrate our life/love, and have fun.
However, when we actually allocated money to specific categories, I was convinced that we would be forced to go over our budget (indeed, that's what all the wedding books, shows, and websites suggest will happen). I mean, we only had $250 for a location. $50 for invitations.
However, so far in this process (knock on the proverbial wood), we have come in under budget. Our location: $0 ($250 under budget). The ceremony site is free because we will have a lot of guests staying there. The reception site is also free because our guests are filling up the whole place.
Our invitations: $30 because we used a lot of material we already had at home and didn't splurge for the personalized stamps. $20 under budget.
My outfit: $180 under budget because I went with the $20 clearance sun dress and am wearing shoes, jewelry, and a shawl I already own. We're personalizing the dress with an embroidered story of our lives together (and embroidery floss is only $0.33).
All of this feels very good, especially in light of the current U.S. economy. I read an article in the New York Times the other day about how consumer spending is down. And, in an economy that is based largely on consumer spending, that's a bad sign.
What does it say about us as a nation that our economy is based largely on consumer spending? I imagine that it says we are trying to seek happiness in all the wrong ways. More clothes. Newer technological gadgets. Bigger houses. More luxury cars. More lavish weddings.
We are immersed in an advertising culture that seeks to convince us that all of these things are integral to our contentment. This same culture simultaneously injects us with insecurities. Our hair isn't shiny enough. Our skin isn't clear enough. We should fight the advance of wrinkles.
The American culture of competitiveness only fuels the situation. We compare ourselves to others using consumer goods as our gauge.
And what is this really about? At the core, we all need to feel valued, loved, and appreciated. In our capitalistic society, corporations compete with each other to make products that we can purchase in order to fulfill those needs. We've given these corporations permission to create an advertising culture that has led to the creation of a materialistic and consumeristic society.
Weddings fit right into this warped Salvador Dali picture. So many of us are convinced that we need the best flowers, the best dress, the best invitations...in order to have the best wedding.
Matt and I are trying to paint a different picture. It's about having fun during the planning process. Creating an itinerary and selecting a venue to foster genuine connections with our guests. And making each other, as well our friends and family, feel valued, loved, and appreciated without spending a lot of money to do it.