- 2 years ago
My fiance and I just got engaged on 9/20 and we’re so excited to be married! We’re less excited over the idea of wedding planning.
We’ve talked a lot over the last 10 days about what we want to get out of our wedding day. We want to spend time with our families and our best friends (meaning, we won’t be self-catering and I would like to minimize the amount of time my mom and I and my bridesmaids spend setting up the room). I’d love to have an outdoor ceremony, but I’m far too much of a pessimist – it would rain – and I hate the heat so a big outdoor summer bbq wedding doesn’t appeal to me. We also want to leave for our honeymoon somewhat immediately.
We drew up a guest list and visited the one venue we’ve been able to find in any kind of reasonable price range in our area that we like. We got a catering quote from a reasonably priced caterer for the 80 guests we think will come. We took guesses, but I think realistic ones, at the other items in the budget. And we came up with a total budget of just under $18,000. And this is a tight budget. It includes minimal decor and nothing for programs or favors, and $1000 total for my attire (and DIY hair and makeup) and $250 for his and $400 total for rings. The rehearsal dinner included in this budget is catered from a local sub shop and held at our apartment building.
We live in a really expensive area on one coast about 4 hours from my parents and many of my friends. His family and and many of his friends are on the other coast. Much of his family is not in a position to spend the $1-2,000/person it would cost to attend our wedding. Knowing this, his parents would want to throw a party on their coast for us for people who are local to them. His parents gave us two diamond rings, one of which became my engagement ring and the other we will sell to put towards honeymoon costs. They will likely contribute a few hundred dollars towards food for the rehearsal dinner and will be unable to contribute more except for the party they will throw us on the west coast and their own travel (which is of course a significant contribution, but doesn’t make much of a dent in the wedding budget). My parents will contribute a significant sum, but it won’t be $20,000. We haven’t talked about an exact figure yet, though. My fiance and I will likely be able to contribute $7,000 at the most. I’m not really interested in delaying the marriage for 2 or more years to give us more time to save up for a wedding.
Assuming my parents have $15,000 they are willing to give to my fiance and me…shouldn’t we spend this money on a downpayment for a house? But on the other hand, I just graduated from law school in 2013 and I’m in an entry-level, nonlegal, administrative assistant-type job. I should be able to find a new job paying me close to double (a little more than my fiance makes now) in the next 2-3 years at the longest. And my fiance’s salary will obviously increase as well. Even at our current salaries, I think having a wedding in the range of $20,000 would delay home ownership for 3-4 years (assuming my parents would give us $15k towards either a downpayment or a wedding, our chioce…which I believe whatever sum they give us it would be up to us, they wouldn’t for example, say we could have the money for a wedding but not a house. They’re not like that).
Right now, my sensible side is saying we should invite his parents and siblings to fly out and mine to drive down, get ourselves to the courthouse and go out for a nice dinner, then leave for somewhere tropical the next day. We can still have the party on the other coast for my fiance’s family and friends, many of whom wouldn’t be able to travel cross-country anyway. My mom can throw us a party for her friends she wants to invite. We can celebrate with our other friends as we go along (a cocktail party for our local friends and a weekend for me with my friends back in my hometown, etc.) And we buy a house in 3-4 years. OR, we have the wedding and delay home-ownership to 6-7 years out.
Now, I have to admit part of what I like about my smaller wedding plan is that while I’m very happy to help pitch in and help my FILs man the grill for a bbq at their house for a celebration of my marriage, or to help my mom cook for her friends for the same, I’m not willing to have a bbq on the other coast as my wedding day, and I’m not willing to self-cater my wedding day. I’m also scared that our $18k budget will very quickly turn into $20k or even $25k as we fill in guesses with real numbers and things inevitably come up. My parents would probably step up and cover the difference, but I don’t want to ask that of them. But my mom is pushing for a ‘real wedding’ that she can invite her friends to. We’re scheduled to have a real budget talk soon, and I just don’t know what to do. I suspect the outcome of this talk is that we’ll be able to do $15k, but $20k would be a real financial strain and anything over that will be a hardship for someone. And $15k would involve a lot of DIY, minimal-to-no decor and almost certainly no DJ – so it’s nothing extravagent, even $20k wouldn’t be. We just live in an expensive area, and the easiest way to make it cheaper (outdoor bbq) isn’t appealing to me at all. There’s just not much you can do when your venue and catering along add up to close to $10,000 alone.
Ladies of the bee, is it worth the stress a $15k-$20k wedding will cause us and the delay in home ownership to get those once in a lifetime memories of a wedding that includes the 80-100 people we’re closest to from all around the country? Or should we just have a simple courthouse wedding with our immediate familes? Ladies who have done this, left immediately for your honeymoon and then celebrated with friends later, were you sad and disappointed and unemotional about your wedding day? How do we make this decision?
TL/DR, is it worth it to throw a $20,000 wedding at a real, but not crippling, financial strain, or should we just be sensible and hoard our money for a house?