Dreams of a Lavish Wedding Crushed by Inexpensive Wedding Trends

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Dream of a Lavish Wedding? Not So Fast!

In my quest to understand fiscal responsibility and share it with you, I am glad to discover that girls dreaming of lavish traditional weddings may become a rare breed.

Weddings expert Cara Davis sent me a list of 8 wedding trends that seem to indicate couples are starting to think more practically about the celebration of marriage.

Here are 3 new wedding trends that caught my attention.

1.  Non-traditional wedding dresses.
The part that interested me was not so much the changing style, although I get it – who needs a 35-pound wedding dress that will probably never be worn again and that cost so much your conscience requires you to preserve and store it for the rest of your days at no small expense?

But  the part I liked was that some brides are spending as little as $40. I spent $80 for mine, back in 1986. I got it at Loehmanns. I wore it on a number of occasions other than my wedding, too. (My ex spent $900 on his suit, but let’s not go THERE.)

2.  Less Elaborate Desserts.
Don’t get me wrong, I have a kind of stunned fascination with watching The Cake Boss, but I’ve actually never sampled a wedding cake – or any large, heavily decorated cake, for that matter – that tasted anywhere near as good as it looked.

And did you know that a wedding cake is usually priced by the slice? It can cost as much as $12 per slice. Yikes. I like the idea of an ice cream sundae bar, or a tier of cupcakes. Cara says, how about Whoopie Pies? Yum.

3.  Food Carts instead of Salmon en Croute.
Remy used to be a wedding planner, and she told me that if you order the exact same food for two events, and one is a wedding, the wedding price will be significantly higher. Why? Just because they can, I guess. The bride is feeling like she’s being showered with gifts and cash, and the least she can do is feed the people doing the showering.

The caterer has her at an emotional disadvantage. I say, bring in a taco truck! Or any kind of truck for that matter – they’re getting to be all the rage. You can find falafel trucks, gourmet burger trucks, pizza trucks, all kinds of trucks.

One trend that strikes me wrong is something Cara called “alternative gift registries.” That’s a polite way to say registering for cash instead of for china. My hesitation is that I don’t think one should ever assume a gift will be given, and then on top of that presume to say what the gift should be.

I guess I have that problem with traditional wedding registries anyway (a point of view that will probably not be very popular with many readers). But I think it hits a higher rung on the crass-o-meter to let it be known that you’d like your gifts in cash.

Your job as the recipient of a gift is not to control the gift giving. It’s to say thank you for whatever you are given, and be gracious.

I have seen lavish wedding fever from a pretty close (but still safe) distance.

I once worked with a guy who spent $50,000 on his wedding.  It was shocking to everyone around him, but he just laughed ruefully and said his future wife would accept only the best, and he wasn’t about to let her down before she even said I do.

They didn’t just send save the date notes, they sent hand-folded origami boxes containing save the date notes. They were dimensional, so they had to be packed into rigid shipping boxes (to prevent smashing) and mailed to 200 people.

They reserved an entire floor in a 4 star resort hotel (during tourist season) for the wedding party, for three nights.

They hosted golf outings for the guys and spa outings for the ladies. The rehearsal dinner was not just for the wedding party but for any invited wedding guest who wanted to pop in a day early.

They didn’t have a caterer, they had a chef. And so on.

The drama and stress of planning this wedding for a full year was so compelling that when the wedding was over a kind of emotionless twilight settled over the poor guy. He couldn’t figure out where all the excitement had gone.

I wonder what happened when the bills started showing up.

For myself, I might say that even a cheap wedding costs too much.

I’ve been married once, and that was a planned elopement. I’m not married to that guy any more, but it didn’t have anything to do with the fact that we eloped.

I have a different husband now, and that was even cheaper than eloping since we didn’t actually get married.

Why? Because our accountant told us that being married was a bad tax move. So we made our commitment to one another privately. We didn’t have it catered, and I didn’t buy a new dress. Every couple of days we renew our vows by clinking glasses. His is beer, and mine is wine from Trader Joe’s.

Now THAT’s cheap, and so far it’s sticking.

How about you, World of Dreamers?

Did you have the big wedding? Are you glad you did?


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  • as a planner, I was shocked alot with bride to be behavior. When it spread throughout the wedding party and especially to MOB (mother of the brides) it was sometimes hard to ‘manage.’
    I found that if you do the right research and remain objective (haha) you can spend way less than needed – and still find a way to buy the boxes of butterflies to release at the end. yikes. great post. xo REm

  • I love the financial slant – wish I’d thought of that for my first wedding. I got the message with the second one though!

    Lots of financial discussions need to happen before “I do” and I agree with Cath – spend some time with the CPA.

    Love it – H

  • Listening to your accountant about whether or not it is financially prudent to get married is what I call fiscal responsibility to the max! (Clapping to you).

    And I love that you don’t live by the confines of a traditional marriage.

    Couples should sit down and run credit reports and talk to a CPA before they tie the knot. I’ve known women who end up paying off the husband’s tax issues long after they are divorced — and the tax issue was brought into the marriage by the guy.

    I know men, you’ve been stung too.

    But women tend to over-romanticize love and getting married, so they don’t sit down with a CPA and a financial adviser before they think about becoming engaged. They’ll spend thousands on a wedding gown, but not a few hundred dollars on a consultation with a CPA and a financial planner.

    And a poor financial background shouldn’t be cause for a break up (life happens), but should be used to make some hard decisions about how to change it before you start commingling funds and tax responsibilities.

    Maybe a great wedding gift would be a gift certificate for a consultation with a CPA?

    As someone who spent her 20s as a wedding planner I can tell you that the lavish, crazy spending by brides who never mentioned their fiance’s name wore me out. I had to get out of the business.

    And girl … I could tell you some amazing crazy bride stories!