If you are a close follower of celebrity culture or spent the best part of your 20′s living life vicariously with the girls from Sex and the City, you may well be persuaded that the first thing you have to do, having decided to get married, is to flick through countless glossy magazines to find a dress you love in order to create a perfect fairy tale like wedding. So you swap your copies of Vogue and Elle magazine, and make like Carrie Bradshaw, ditching the cigarettes along the way, for copies of Brides or Wedding Day Venues magazines.
Open them to any page and the list of expenses begins… From hen night venues, to wedding bouquets, bridesmaid dresses and reception dinner menus, your list of costs can easily spiral to astronomical proportions. It’s fine if you’re a high-earning actress with a disposable income and then some, but for an average waged couple, this year’s wedding costs can turn into next year’s financial headaches as you struggle to put a deposit on a home. In other words – are we bankrupting ourselves just to have the ‘perfect’ wedding?
How to tell when the wedding fairy tales are all out of hand:
If you’ve begun to allocate funds for a venue, 70+ guests, dinner, dancing and a photographer to record the whole thing, you may find you’re blowing all your money on the wedding day in order to please family and friends, but not leaving enough left over for the life you want to have together. Be clear from the beginning – which would you prefer: to make yourselves happy or to make your family and friends happy for a few hours? Weddings are all about celebrating something personal. So if you feel you’ve lost sight on how the plans for the wedding relate to you and your fiancé’s tastes, then stop for a much-needed reassessment.
How to ‘get real’ about your budget:
Pick three or four things that are the most important aspects of the wedding for you and your fiancé. For example:
1) Number of guests
Is it most important for you that all your friends and family are there, or is the location more important? Some people opt for a wedding abroad and only invite a few family members and one or two friends, because the cost of flights is only manageable for a few people. This can be fine if you plan a post-wedding night out at the pub to pass round a few photos with all your friends when you get back.
2) The perfect dress
If this isn’t your priority, there are charity shops, eBay and Etsy, where you might find a lovely dress for less. It doesn’t have to be white if that’s not your style. Don’t go on what others may think. If you want a dress you can wear again, it is possible to find white dresses that don’t scream ‘wedding’ and off-white can work even better…
3) A really good honeymoon
If you spend less on the dress, bridesmaid dresses and venue you could save enough for more time away. If you decide to get married abroad, or elope to marry in a registry office or a Vegas-like wedding chapel, you can be closer to your destination to enjoy a holiday together and make the most of your money to please yourselves, not everyone else.
4) The perfect wedding photo album
Pick a photographer that fits the style you want, but if photos are not top of your list of requirements, why not enlist a student photographer or a friend who has taken photos you liked the style of in the past, and ask if they would do it as a bit of work-experience? You could repay them in recommendations to prospective clients for the future.
In all of the planning, if you prioritize your top 3 things, you’ll find it easier to say, “no” to the overpriced, less important ones.
If we’ve learnt anything from SATC, it should certainly be that the full-on dramatic wedding in a gorgeous venue and a gorgeous dress needn’t be your only choice. A simple white suit in a registry office with a few good friends can be just right. If you remind yourself and your fiance that it’s “me and you; no-one else”, you can bring all of the fairy tale perfectionism into line and find the best and most genuine way to seal your love for each other without breaking your budget. Or your inner child, who wanted that perfect dress’s heart.