One of the British newspapers has this mother-daughter advice column and the subject pertained to weddings, so I thought I would share:
Dear Vicki and Octavia,
Our only daughter is getting married and we've always said we would pay for the wedding. However, everything seems to cost a lot more than we had anticipated, and our budget of £20,000 [Editor's Note: I think that's $37,500 in US dollars] appears insufficient. We are thinking of remortgaging the house because we want the day to be perfect. Is this madness?
Vicki Hmm. We've just been asked to an engagement party: the wedding is next summer; her parents are of sufficient means to contemplate a doubling of the five-figure sum you first thought of. My own unmarried daughter (see below) was brought up knowing that her parents' means were insufficient to blow £23,000 (the average annual British salary) on One Perfect Day...
Octavia Yes, it's utter madness. I have yet to encounter these costs but when I do I'll do everything I can to slash them. The best weddings I've been to were those with personal touches: when the bride made her own favours (pots of jam - we were collecting old jars for her for weeks). Or when we turned up to find relatives making the buffet and laying a table for 150. Cheap weddings are a good lesson in marital finances. (Do have a free bar, though: it does impress the guests).
I would add a piece about how a wedding doesn't need to be "a perfect day." It puts too much pressure on everyone to frame it in those terms. Instead, the goal should be to create a wedding that is meaningful and memorable. And money is not the most effective way to make something meaningful and memorable. Instead, try things like sincerity and creativity. If you bring your closest friends and family together, let your personalities shine, and figure out how to make the whole thing fun, you're much more likely to have a meaningful and memorable event.