Weddings, Inc.

Well, Fin and I have been off the air for a bit. Together, we went forth and managed to live through one of those goals couples have – getting married. And yes, I do mean “live through”. Being married to Fin, well, it’s an awesome thing. I could go on about how I feel, but it’d really sound like your standard gushy newlywed. And really, for everyone that’s seen us together, it’s pretty obvious we’re really happy with a relationship that’s worth the work it takes to keep it great.

So yeah, marriage is awesome. Getting married though – a wedding – sucks.

I was prepared for dealing with the multi-faith issues surrounding the wedding with my family coming. I don’t share their faith and was concerned over complications that would bring.

I was prepared for needing money to reserve a venue, and obtain a minister.

What I wasn’t prepared for? The long list of items of things that people expect.

In the US, your average wedding costs $20,398, and that doesn’t include the honeymoon. Despite the “Father of the Bride” traditions, it’s now typical that a large portion of this cost is shouldered by the bride and groom themselves. While I don’t want to give out the exact dollar figure for our wedding – I will say we did it for substantially less than twenty grand.

It wasn’t that we wanted our wedding to be cheap, although we did have a small budget. No, our wedding was low cost because we did what WE wanted to do. And what’s more – the family supported us doing what we wanted to do. When it comes down to it, I’m glad the family was so awesome about everything, because that made a huge difference.

What shocked me was the number of people, and prevalence of the various ideas of things we needed to buy or rent or have available. As we went through the process of the wedding, I decided to grab on the internet and find out what a “usual” wedding consisted of.

As I grew up, a wedding seemed little more than a specially decorated religious meeting, with a reception hall rental afterward. Cheap ceremonies – at least in comparison to the national average, we’re very much the norm.

Early on, I noticed an interesting trend. If I called a store to find out a price on a rental or specific item, I’d get a largely different number than if I called a store to find out the price of a rental or item for a wedding. The most dramatic example was in finding a pair of champagne glasses for the toast – “wedding toasting flutes” – started at double the price. Annoyingly, the more expensive wedding toasting flutes were also crap in comparison.

I sat and read article after article for a while, on what was “standard” for weddings. Only to find a dizzying array of things that we “had” to do – bachelor party, bachelorette party, rehearsal dinner, wedding favors, save the date cards, ceremony programs, wedding invitations, bridal shower, bridal shower announcement, engagement announcements, etc… etc…

The worst offender of the “have to” list of things? The engagement ring. There’s multiple places you can learn about the history of the engagement ring. I’ll save you giving details about how short the history of today’s engagement rings is. No, what bothers me is the advice on pricing. An engagement ring should cost double one months pre-tax salary. Ever notice they all look the same too?

It’s not about finding a gift for a potential bride. It’s not about searching for “just the right” thing for the girl. The question of cost doesn’t come to a question of compromise between what one can afford and what would make a perfectly sculpted ring. The engagement ring isn’t a symbol anymore, it’s a business transaction.

Despite all of the commercialization of a huge milestone, we expressed our own individuality. We decided what was important to us, what we wanted to make special. And in that are some of the best memories of all.

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