God damn, weddings are expensive.
Even if you try to have a ~small~ wedding that's mostly family, things can quickly inflate.
This isn't to say that a modest, inexpensive wedding is completely impossible, but in my fiancé's and my case, it would not be feasible without excluding a lot of blood relatives. Just our extended families alone are a good 70+ people.
We certainly considered eloping to Italy or just saying "Fuck it! What time does the courthouse close?" but knew that we wanted our immediate families there. And then once you include your immediate family, don't you have to include your grandma? And if your grandma is there, what about your uncle that lives nearby? And then what about your other aunts and uncles? Where does it stop?! I mean, I know people get courthouse married all the time. We could have, but in the end, we chose to include family and a small number of our favorite non-related people.
We decided to get married on Maui during spring break next year thinking, "This is a pretty expensive trip. They won't all show up, will they?"
Well, it turns out the 60 people closest to us really love us and love the idea of a Hawaiian vacation.
It will be lovely and we're so happy to have our dearest humans with us on the big day. It'll be a once in a lifetime family vacation, really, and we'll cherish it forever.
The headcount is one thing, but the wedding industry has a lot of hidden prices and tricky methods to get you to shell out a bunch of money.
For example, our wedding planner (who is really just a contact for vendors) told us initially that we could book a photographer through her for $800. This was cheaper than most photography packages we'd seen, so we were like, "Great! We choose you to be our wedding planner." Then when she sent us all the photographer choices and we picked the $800 one, she informed us that he was booked and the next choice was $1,200. WTF? So we were like, "I guess we'll just spend the extra $400 because everything is a hassle and it's our wedding so okayyyyyyy."
Also, our wedding venue is just the outside area of a restaurant and they're charging us a "lawn fee." I mean, when you go to restaurants, they don't charge you a table fee, they just charge you for food and drinks! I've heard that businesses will just charge, charge, charge people getting married because it's like the one event in your life that you'll shell out extra dough for. I've also heard that if you tell a venue you're just having a party instead of getting married, they'll quote you with a lower price. Hmmmmmm.
Anyway, having a destination wedding is not particularly cheaper than if we had gotten married in Portland with a guest list of 200 people. However, we do get a 12-day built-in honeymoon with it, which is sounding really dreamy right about now.
Okay, so how are we paying for our wedding? The short answer is: I don't fucking know! But the long answer is that we're making it work. Here's how:
Basically right after we got engaged, Joe and I opened a joint account and started contributing to it for our wedding savings. After we're married, it will just be our joint checking account, but for now, we only use it for wedding purposes.
We each contribute a certain amount into the pot on paydays. I like to schedule transfers on paydays to come directly out of my bank account so that I don't have to think about it on the day-of.
The other big thing we're doing is transferring $12 each to our account on a daily basis. (It used to be $10, but we got a little behind so we upped it to $12.) What we do is check in with each other every night to see if we're able to save $12 that day. If the answer is no, and we need to wait a few days for a payday, that's okay. But 95% of the time, the answer is yes! This has been a really helpful tool in staying on track with our savings goals. If we each saved $12 a day for an entire year, it would add up to $8,760, which is why we plan to continue this practice even after we're married. We're forming good habits like motha fuckin' adults and it feels really good.
Another thing we're doing is just literally foregoing activities and purchases that we might normally partake in like nice dinners, new shoes, concerts, comedy shows, birthday presents, etc. We're still doing some of these things, but cutting back has allowed us to save money. Also, upon foregoing spending money, we've been trying to immediately save that money instead.
This is how it works: If you decide not to buy a latte, you send 7 bucks to your savings account. If you don't go play poker, you transfer $50. That way, not participating in the event actually means the money will be saved instead of turning around and spending it on something else. It's kind of like a game and after the painful first couple thousand, it can be really fun.
For someone who doesn't like to go to every single party and much prefers staying in to cook dinner and watch a movie on a Friday night, the "Sorry! We're saving for a wedding" excuse is actually really helpful.
For a while, we were saving a ton of money on food with the meal delivery service industry by getting half-off starter weeks. That was fun. But now we just get Sun Basket delivered each week and it still saves us some cash.
In the spirit of honesty, I should mention that Joe's parents are generously hosting and paying for the kickoff dinner the evening before we get married and my parents contributed to our savings a little bit. In the end, we're paying for about 90% of the whole shebang ourselves.
Last but not least, we're burning through our third money candle and hoping for the best!
Joe and I have been pretty good about saving over the past year. I think it's made us closer too, like we're moving towards married life with a joint financial goal. On some days, we feel like stealthy savings ballers and on other days we feel like Oliver Twist! I mean, we cringed when we purchased the airfare for our wedding, even though we've been putting money away all year for the trip.
Mini conclusive rant:
I'm all about privacy, but I also believe that money shouldn't be quite as taboo as it is, especially in regards to planning a wedding. From a young age, we see countless weddings either on TV or in person and never learn how they're paid for. Some are funded by parents (which is totally cool!), some are paid for via credit cards (do you!) and some are scraped together with heavy planning and budgeting. I just think a lot of people are ingrained to have extravagant expectations in regards to their wedding day and these expectations are based on almost no information on what the realistic costs are, let alone how (or by whom) they're funded. Weddings are just effing expensive (for guests too!) and the millennial generation (my generation) could benefit from talking about the real numbers a bit more.
Do you guys have any money saving tips or tricks for crazy people like us who plan to get married and buy a home soon after? HALP.