Monday, May 28, 2007

About Weddings

In most cases marriage means spending a lot of money. One sees a good deal of this topic in personal finance blogs. In this post I don’t even want to discuss who must pay for a wedding: newly-weds, their parents and relatives, or a bank that loans money (though I sincerely believe that the last option is a disaster). What I want to understand is why people desire to throw so much money on a wedding?

There is a fixed idea that the ceremony must be big and “proper”. So a bride and a groom draw up an impressive budget, even if they can’t afford it. Then they somehow get the money they need. After months of exhausting preparations, the ceremony takes place. The wedding leaves some pictures to remind about it, and a sense of accomplishment that “we did it right.” Is it really worth all this money? It’s a tradition, I may be told, and it’s unthinkable to dispense with any part of the established ceremony. It’s a dream of many girls to go down the aisle in a splendid white dress, with hundreds of people watching her. Well, I would like to know, is it a really good tradition that is so ruinous for a new family’s finance? That money could be spent in more family-oriented way like on mortgage down payment or house maintenance. It could be put into emergency fund or invested in appreciating assets—something that lasts. And you could still celebrate the wedding, but in a more modest way.

I understand that I am not going to be married in the near future, and if I were, my attitude to weddings could be different. I also understand that marriage deals with psychology, traditions and social rites, and I can’t judge it only from the position of logic and financial sense. But still.

In one of my favorite movies, Mona Lisa Smile, the character of Julia Stiles says: “We're married. We eloped over the weekend. Turned out he was petrified of a big ceremony...” You know, I would have eloped too. It doesn’t seem to be less romantic than a proper wedding.


Krystal said...

I agree ... the money spent on a wedding could be put to better use as a down payment for a house, or to set up an EF.

When I eventually get married, I want to have a small wedding somewhere tropical (or as cliche as it sounds, even Las Vegas), with just immediate family and a couple of close friends.

SF Money Musings said...

I knew a girl who didn't have an engagement party and only invited 100 people to a small gathering for a wedding. They spent a few thousand. Their family cooked the meals for the post-wedding get together at the house. They used the money they originally budgeted toward a down payment on a house.

It's amazing the girl agreed to a simple wedding. She's a very girly girl - wants to have it all but then after looking at the costs of a big wedding realized the money could be used toward more useful things like the downpayment.

Olga said...

That's what Free Money Finance says about weddings

GoldnSilver said...

like you said, sometimes it's cultural. I know for Indians, a wedding is one of the biggest event for a family (notice it's not about the marrying couple but for their respective families.) A classmate (she's indian)from my market research class said, it is very normal for an indian wedding to run up to six figures.

They'll spend the rest of their lives to pay it off. If that's what they have to do, and they'll do it.