Tying the Knot in a Meaningful and Memorable Way (Without Losing Our Savings or Sanity)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

"The More Grandiose the Service, the More Impoverished the Marriage"

There's an interesting little column in the Telegraph about the inverse relationship between wedding budgets and enjoyment at weddings.

The author argues:
The more grandiose the service, the more impoverished the marriage. My enjoyment of weddings has, for the most part, been in inverse proportion to the amount spent on them. The most romantic affairs have almost always been the cheapest, because then the focus is solely on the love between bride and groom. [Editor's Note: or bride and bride or groom and groom]
She continues:
I can't help thinking this recession will be good news for the affianced. It provides an ideal excuse for a budget wedding or, indeed, a Budgens wedding. It's insanity to blow your savings on a "big day", when most of us have a socking big mortgage.
One of the best weddings I ever attended as a guest was the simplest (see photo above). It took place at a local children's museum. The bride wore a colored sundress. The groom wore a shirt and pants. They had no bridesmaids or groomsmen. They didn't even have an officiant for most of the ceremony. They simply spoke to each other.

It was the most touching thing to witness. I had a solid stream of tears running down my cheek throughout the entire thing.

Afterwards, we went inside for a lovely buffet, free play on anything in the museum, delicious cakes, dancing to a homemade play list, and grandma's punch.

The whole affair was so comfortable, sincere, and fun. It showcased their personalities and their relationship so beautifully. It wasn't a show; it was a communal celebration.

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Anonymous said...

This is a great article with a wonderful sentiment -- thanks for sharing!

I love casual and intimate weddings, and my fiance and I are currently trying to plan one. The worst part is that it sometimes takes actual COURAGE to rail against the expectations of what our wedding will be like. The idea of what constitutes a "good" or "successful" wedding is so culturally ingrained as elaborate, grandiose, and expensive that I find myself struggling with it even though I know better. Planning a wedding has been a transformative experience for me in the best possible way because it's helped me define my own values and has given me an opportunity to put those values to the test.

I agree with the author that the recession might not be the worst thing to happen to the wedding planning industry -- after all, many people only stop to think about reducing fuel consumption when gas prices are at $4.00 a gallon. Like you said in your post about the best way to support gay marriage, it seems that the best way to incite a seismic shift in our collective consciousness about wedding planning might be economic.

Thanks for keeping us thinking! :)

Katy said...

What a great idea!

I'd never thought about having it at a Children's Museum. I've been juggling the idea of a regular one, but now I am definitely going to look into a CM.

I just can't justify spending thousands and thousands of dollars on a wedding. The wedding industry is such a rip off. I work for a printing company, so I know how much it actually costs to print invitations. It's pennies to the dollar (or dollars) for a single invitation.

Meg said...

I don't know. Goodness knows I like simple weddings, but I think, in the end, it's a mistake to judge the quality of the union on the amount spent on the wedding.

I get a lot of commenter's (achem often deleted) screaming that A) Weddings on a budget are lazy and cheap, and the couples clearly have no respect for marriage and will get a divorce (ick!) or B) That the couple spent to much money, they are extravagant spendthrifts, they clearly have no sense of judgment, and will get a divorce (ick!)

So, seeing this every day, I'm really think that the amount you spend on your wedding is each couples judgment call. If anything reflects on the quality of the union, it might be the thoughtfulness behind the wedding. But even that, who knows. Marriages are complicated and private, and who's to say who's is impoverished and who's is rich of spirit? In the end, it may have nothing at all to do with the wedding. That might be a more important thing for us to all ponder - the kind of wedding we have says NOTHING about the kind of relationship we have.

Anyway, that's my two cents. It was a interesting article though, and I love your friends wedding.

V. Wetlaufer said...

I'm really hoping that this is true. We've been getting so much flack from our families for refusing to spend more than $10,000 (and now even THAT seems extravagant and makes me feel like I'm spending way too much) and it doesn't help that my FSIL is getting married a few weeks before us in a typical WIC lavish wedding. Now, I hope FSIL and FBIL are very happy together, but I also hope that people who come to our cheapo wedding will still be moved by the love and devotion we have for one another and stop talking about the frickin sit down dinner we're not having or the huge rented luxe ballroom. (Of course it doesn't help that we're gay and FSIL is straight so our families automatically think our wedding isn't real anyway).

Sara E. Cotner said...

Wow, Loaf. That is a lot of pressure!

Matt and I were in a somewhat similar boat. His cousin got married the summer before we did and they spent five-digits on just the alcohol for the rehearsal dinner.

That same family then found themselves bringing their own alcohol to our "rehearsal dinner" (which was really just a Welcome Picnic for everyone).

The feedback on our "cheapo" wedding seemed to be really positive (although who is really going to tell you to your face that they thought your wedding sucked?).

And the people who probably did judge our wedding are the same ones who judge us for other stuff--our vegetarianism, our lack of corporate income, our environmental-consciousness, etc. You just have to be who you are. And your wedding should reflect that.

Have fun!

Maureen said...

From the day we decided to get married, we've been very firm on the thought that less is more. We bought our invite kits on clearance, used friends and connections for cheap locations, food, and music, and very simple decor. My mother doesn't understand this one bit. Every time I talk to her, she's got another extravagant idea. I just can't justify spending $10,000 on a ridiculous party, when it's truly just a celebration of our love and moving onto another step together in our lives. We're simple fun-loving people, and we hope that our ceremony will reflect that. :)

Kaitlin Wainwright said...

I'm reminded of an awesome Dr. Seuss quote that fel oh-so appropriate to Loaf & Sara's comments:

Be yourself. Because those who matter don't mind and those who mind don't matter.

In my opinion, it is beyond unfortunate that the only children's museum where we live (a city of a million...Ottawa, Canada) is the Science and Tech Museum which charges as much, if not more, than the National Art Gallery (yikes!)

If someone wants to prove me wrong, I'd appreciate it ;)

Hadeel said...

While I'll pinch every penny that I can, my wedding is still going to be pretty expensive. There is a lot of ceremony that goes on in Middle Eastern weddings and a lot of ceremony that goes on in Jewish weddings. Things that we can't cut out. But, I'll pay $3k for that over a dress.

It's not about how much money you spend, not to me. It's what that money is spent on and how it reflects the couple.

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