Break Free of Your Wedding Paradigm!
Wait for it….wait for it... I got engaged over the weekend!! To say that I’m overjoyed is an understatement. This new found title has started me thinking about the topic of weddings. I’m 40 years old and have never been engaged, let alone married. So I can’t say that I’m experienced in all things weddings. However, I have watched many of my friends and family get married. Most of them were financially practical when it came to their weddings. Yet, many Americans today are falling prey to the lure of a “perfect” wedding sold to them by the wedding industry. Is it really “perfect” for them and their future?
The average cost of an American wedding was $35,329 in 2016, according to the most recent figures from the Knot. https://www.theknot.com/content/average-wedding-cost-2016
$35,329!!! This is a phenomenal amount of money. My eyes nearly popped out of my head! Below are the details of the national average spend broken out by category, courtesy of www.theknot.com.
After saying yes to my future spouse, I asked her how much she spent on the ring. I know, you think I’m crazy and rude for asking such a question. Please refer back to my post entitled “Talking About Money is Rude…or is it?” Before she could answer, I told her that if she had spent more than $500 she would be in big trouble. She smiled and said…“$29.95 for two of them.” I thought I couldn’t love her any more than I did at that moment.
Now before you judge her on her frugal ways, the rings she purchased are from the company called Groove Life https://groovelife.co. These rings are nearly indestructible, and safe to wear almost anywhere. My partner and I love to hike, do CrossFit, cook food and even process our own chickens. So by purchasing an engagement ring from one of the highest quality silicone rings on the market, she showed me how she really knows and loves me.
Spending money on something, simply because society tells me that I should, is not the way I roll. My fiancé knows this about me, and so she went Against the Grain, and spent very little for high quality. She also broke the tradition of a diamond ring, and bought high end silicone.
This brings me back to my lifelong struggle understanding marriage ceremonies. Why do we have two people dress up like a prince and princess (or princess & princess in my case) for one day to recognize that they have made a commitment to each other? I’m sure this dates back to some ancient ceremony that probably had some sort of meaning, but it still makes me giggle just a little inside, to see two grown adults, and a handful of their best friends, dressed up like royalty. What does that have to do with their commitment to each other? I can’t figure it out.
Then there is the engagement ring. This may take me awhile here. First of all, why do we need to have an engagement ring AND a wedding ring? Shouldn’t they just be the same ring? Why does the couple need to purchase both? Being the feminist that I am, the idea of an engagement ring, without the man/partner wearing a ring at the same time, upsets me. Anciently it was a sign of ownership. More recently, it was a security deposit for the future bride. If the groomed backed out, she at least had the ring she could sell for her losses. If she lost her virginity to the groom with cold feet, then she actually had the right to take him to court for damages. It would be much harder for her to find a husband now that she was “damaged goods”. So the only way I could handle an engagement ring was if my partner had one on as well.
With the above history, most people move forward and spend thousands of dollars on an engagement ring. According to theknot.com, $6,163 is the average price for an engagement ring in the United States today. If you remember my previous post entitled “My $5,000 Regret”, it talks about how I used a gift of $5,000 poorly. Investing at least $5,000 of the above mentioned $6,163 into some sort of ASSET, would be a much better gift to your future wife, than a silly ring. I live and work in the world, and have had to deal with many male strangers and coworkers making uninvited advances towards me, so I actually welcome having a ring on my finger to help send a message. I am not anti-ring, but buying an expensive ring when you don’t have the means to do so, is insane!
I don’t have time or the energy to go into the “gift registry”. This is a ritual in North American societies where the bride and groom register the gifts they wish for their friends and family members to buy for them. I have seen some of the most ridiculous requests on these lists. Do you really need a Keurig Coffee maker when you are just starting out in life? How about fancy and expensive dishware? Probably not what you need when you will most likely be moving several times in the next 5 years of your life. The temptation to acquire physical things is too strong for some. I’ll leave it at that for now.
One of my most favorite celebrity weddings (this is the only one I ever really followed) was Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard’s wedding. They bragged that it cost them $142. Now that puts a smile on my face! I’m sure that they spent more than that if you count in the rings purchased, but I’m going to soak in the $142 anyways. They didn’t let society tell them how to spend their time or money! They went Against the Grain, and decided on what they wanted.
Theknot.com says that the average venue price is $16,107. Are you freaking kidding me! Are you telling me that you cannot find a place somewhere that will allow you to host all your friends and family for less than that? I would hope that the $16,107 would include food as well. Why is such extravagance necessary? Why do we have to be like sheep and repeat what others are doing? That’s a lot of money to spend simply because your friends and family are doing it. If your friend jumped off a cliff (financial cliff) would you jump as well? This basic lesson taught to us by our parents during our teens years, still doesn’t seem to be learned once we reach our wedding period.
When it comes to weddings, there is certainly room for tradition. I’m not a monster. However, the key point that I ask is for couples to sit down and truly think about what they want in their commitment ceremony (aka: wedding). How do they want to express their commitment to each other? Do they want an audience? If so, who and how many? Is a really uncomfortable and expensive dress part of what YOU want or what you have been brainwashed to want since your childhood? Does buying your fiancé a very expensive and shiny engagement ring a conscious act or one that has been super imposed on you by media and the De Beers Company?
I simply ask that each and every couple thinking about getting married, or performing some sort of commitment ceremony, take the time to think about what THEY want. Don’t think about how to have a cookie cutter, spending spree wedding. Think about how you want to spend your money and how you want to express your devotion to your partner in the best way possible. Hint……spending every cent you have or going into debt is not a good way to express your love to your future spouse/partner. It is not an impressive symbol of your commitment.