On Economic Uncertainty, Fear, And Changing


by Meg Keene, Editor-In-Chief

On Economic Uncertainty, Fear, And Changing | A Practical WeddingNormally I don’t repost pictures of weddings, but I’m making an exception this time. Many of you have probably read all about Kimi & Paul’s wedding and Kimi’s stunning handmade dress on A $10,000 wedding, and if you haven’t go look. Now. I’ll wait.

I’m reposting pictures of this wedding, because it set me free. Wedding planning has been awful and scary for us of late. Well, more precisely, life has been awful and scary for us of late, as we’ve been thrown emotional curve ball after emotional curve ball, and having the wedding on top of everything else has felt like too much some days.

The hardest part over the past few weeks has been dealing with, well, money. As the economic uncertainty around us has gotten more and more intense, the idea of spending money on a wedding has gotten scarier and scarier to me. I’m a money hoarder by nature, and I hate any kind of spending, so spending money on the wedding was always going to be tough. On top of all, lets just say that I have a very clear and data driven perspective on exactly what is going on in this economy, and frankly, its terrifying.

So, after a budget put together with much thoughtful consideration and discussion, we’re now looking and finding more ways to simplify. We still have a very large family that we want to include, and we have a venue booked, and lots of things that we can’t change much, but we’ve been trying to evaluate and re-evaluate things. And I was getting absolutely frozen with fear. How do you change course mid-stream, especially when you’d thoughtfully and lovingly picked the course you were on? How do you find new creative ways to make things work for you? Add to that the fact that as much as I write and think about new and interesting ways of planning a wedding, sometimes I feel trapped inside this crazy box of “how things are done” and I feel like I’m fighting for my life trying to get out.
On Economic Uncertainty, Fear, And Changing | A Practical WeddingAnd then I saw this wedding. Maybe it was that it took place in the Prospect Park Audubon Center, a place very familiar to me, and very close to my heart. Maybe it’s that the bride clearly made simple but wildly creative decisions like making her amazing dress out of a simple sheath from Target. I don’t know quite what it was. But suddenly I felt like the world cracked open for me. Of course we could do this. Of course we could throw out the way things are done (like, say, buying a dress) and figure out something new that worked for us. Of course we could simplify and streamline even more than we already had. Then I started looking at things we’ve already done. We have a venue we love in a public park. We’ve designed Save The Dates together that we adore. We’ve designed invitations that I love so much I have no words for that my sister will letterpress. We’re excited by doing our own flowers. So we can do the rest of this. We can figure it out.

And for starters, I’m going to start asking for more help. So I talked to my sister, and we decided that we’re going to attempt a wedding dress together, with her in charge of the technical aspects and me in charge of the endless pleating. If nothing else, we won’t be bored over Christmas. And that’s a start. And we’re going to figure out the rest, somehow.

And at the very least, at the end, we’ll finally be married. Dealing with economic turmoil, like dealing with everything else, is so much better when there are two of you.

As always, I welcome your stories and perspective. This is a h*ll of a time to be planning a wedding.

The rest of Kimi’s amazing pictures are over here

Meg Keene

Meg is the Founder and EIC of APW. Her first book, A Practical Wedding: Creative Solutions for Planning a Beautiful, Affordable, and Meaningful Celebration, was published in January 2012, and has been a top three bestseller on the wedding bookshelf ever since. Meg has her BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and son.

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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01105755263373802813 invisiblyrose

    I’m totally with you. At times like this it feels horrible when I look at my budget. Even though it’s a practical budget, it’s still more than I hoped. But what’s keeping me positive is the thought that in bad times, it’s doubly important to celebrate the happy moments, to remind yourself that there are still happy moments. And you’re totally right – dealing with everything together is way better than alone. Best of luck on all your plans!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10267120839614636271 feministfinance

    A heck of a time to plan a wedding, indeed. It scares the crap out of me at times, especially when I think about long we could live off the amount we’re spending on the wedding. But mostly I’m psyched to just be freakin married already so we can stop saving for the wedding and start throwing that money into savings. And in the slightly shorter term, excited for the RSVPs to come in so we have a slightly more specific idea of how much certain line items like food will be. Not that we’ve overcommitted, just that I, like you, am a money hoarder and I want to see how under budget we will be.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07227749397688782777 Sarah

    Thank you for such an honest, real, vulnerable post. It’s refreshing. I’m glad you had your world cracking open moment. Don’t let the magazines dictate your day. You’re celebrating the person you love and who you are together. You could do that in blue jeans if you wanted.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00174894872050076618 Marie-Ève

    Meg, you have such a knack for posting about things that are also on my mind at the exact same time! For the third time in a few months, I have posted about the exact same thing you did just yesterday!

    http://marie-evelaforte.blogspot.com/2008/10/planning-wedding-during-less-than-ideal.html

    I’m so on the same page here… And love this wedding (my dress is also an inexpensive one from Target my mom and I will work on customizing!)It’s great to know that we’re not alone, at least…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10648725099262152263 AmyJean {Relentless Bride}

    I agree with you totally. I try to remind myself why i’m getting married, what really matters at the end of the day, and how to keep focused on the big picture and not let the tiny details get me down … budgets are hard. money is tight. But i think the fact that you acknowledge how it is effecting you is the first step to not let it effect you as much! Keep on going girl, there is a light at the end of the tunnel for all of us!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01723202743021861347 Cyd

    Sometimes contemplating the fact that we are actually attempting to plan a wedding in the midst of this economic turmoil is nearly paralyzing for me. I will find myself overcome with trepidation and, frankly, guilt. With that said, our history and our story together stems from meeting at a wedding as Maid of Honor and Best Man, and I do believe years late we would regret it if we did not have a wedding…so we push forward despite my occasional attempts to bring it all to a screeching halt, and we work to stay rational and present in every decision we make. There is no whirlwind of emotion or “I must have that!” in this wedding.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05750659066802561501 Erika

    I hear ya. We got married on September 20, and in the haze of the last weeks before the wedding and the wedding itself, I remember hearing words like “AIG” and fleetingly thinking, oh, something really bad is happening. Coming out of the haze the next week, I started feeling guilty and selfish about the money we had spent. It’s a very hard thing. But you know, there are always *better* things to spend money on than a wedding. Having a wedding, even if it costs just a few thousand dollars or less, is a luxury. It just feels like more of an *unneccesary* luxury in uncertain economic times. But I applaud your approach: being sensitive to the economic situation and seeing where a few small changes in your plans could make a big difference. Can’t wait to see your dress. How wonderful will that be to make it together with your sister? My dress was one thing I wish I had spent less on, and I only spent $300. But it was the most expensive item of clothing I’ve ever bought, and I’ll probably never wear it again.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03208244458086146065 Blablover5

    It can be so hard to fight off that dragon of the wedding industry that lures you into it’s cave with “But you must have this it’s your wedding” and then promptly roasts you alive.

    It seemed like for years there was little to no support for a woman who wanted a simple wedding, she was viewed as a pariah and snickerd at. Thanks to you and a few of us that are pulling up our bootstraps there is at least finally a break in the huge monster. And with the current economy I have a funny feeling a lot less brides will be looked down upon for trying to find a simple dress for their wedding.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06650731630598286205 Rebecca Green Neale

    Meg, My husband and I understand the rollercoaster of emotions about spending all of that money on just one day. With hindsight, though, I have to say that the expense was worth it. There is one point I concede to the WIC: Hopefully, we will only have one wedding — make it good! (although the WIC and I disagree on what “good” is) My husband and I groan whenever we think of the down payment we could have with the amount of money it took to throw our wedding, but we know that we didn’t spend more than we needed to and didn’t spend more than we could afford. Knowing that, we have been looking back on what was the BEST day of our lives (so far!) without regret. Even if you stick to your original budget, Meg, I’m sure you won’t regret any expense!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09361658418978897159 Danielle

    You are so brave to be addressing the thing that terrifies you. I’m proud of your honesty and clarity. Thank you for describing what so many of us feel.
    I love your blog!

  • http://thisistemporary.wordpress.com/ thisistemporary

    Ahhhhhhhhhhh your blog is my newest favourite blog. I love your honesty – and how you address the personal side of things.

    Whenever I find that money is determining whether or not I’m happy, I realise that I’m either a) not valuing the right things or b) worrying about the future – always a mistake. It’s easier said than done, but it’s true that worry doesn’t help anything. Live one day at a time and remember that when the time comes and you need money, you will survive. Maybe you won’t have as much as the Jones over there, but who wants to keep up with them? The important things in life are the people you know, and you have a hubby-to-be!!! EEEE!!!

    That’s my perspective on money.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10375459870432504143 sarah

    Thank you for this post. I’m planning my wedding for the spring and haven’t been as budget conscious as I could have been, I’ll admit now. Now my parents are totally freaked out about retiring and it seems ridiculous to follow through on so many of the contracts I’ve already signed, based the contributions our parents offered last year. I feel like I have more guilt than anything about this wedding, seems like the silliest thing I’ve ever done. Thanks for letting me know I’m not alone!

  • http://qfinder.wordpress.com/ Christine

    When Seth and I first started planning our wedding, we couldn’t agree on anything — budget, size, venue, date — nothing. Then one day, Seth said to me, “This is so frustrating! The only thing we have picked out is our JP!” (who happens to be a good friend of ours, and she volunteered right off the bat).

    I responded, “Which is all you need, really,” more as a joke than anything else.

    Then we both laughed, and it brought us back to ourselves. It was nice to have that reminder that getting married is what the day is all about.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06939935590766216936 Bridechka

    Thank you so much for sharing these thoughts with us… its really nice to know that your not the only one feeling this way… absolutely love your blog!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10933407474487393296 The Broke-Ass Bride

    Girl, I completely feel you. Its scary and sometimes paralyzing to contemplate dropping this much money during a crisis such as this one. But you’re being so pragmatic and level headed, I’m sure it will be spectacular, and feel just as luxe as it should. You rock.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05532197787877824868 Becca

    Relentless vendor research and a focus on priorities helps me sleep at night. I know I can do a large Los Angeles wedding weekend for $15,000 (down from our initial $30K cost estimate!) without sacrificing financial security. Reasons:

    One: $15K is a manageable savings goal for us and we started a year ago, before any official engagement. This money is in addition to the emergency fund, 401K, etc. It’s a TON of money, but we won’t miss it (terribly?) when saving it over the long-term and when viewed in perspective with our other financial plans.

    Two: Photos of my parents’ and family members’ simple weddings keep me sane. Their pre-WIC weddings remind me of the simple joy at the heart of any wedding. I may not get a photographer, rented plateware or a pretty salon day. But somehow, when I look at my parents’ $700 wedding, it doesn’t matter at all. I’m marrying my life parter, and I’m d*mn sure our joy will shine through the amateur photography, paper plates, and at-home makeup job.

  • Peonies and Polaroids

    This is so very true. Meg, you could strip back every last aspect of your day and it wouldn’t detract from how beautiful it will be at all. It will be magical and you will be in love and it will be filled with joy.

    I’m sorry you’ve been taking such a hit emotionally recently. Hang in there.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18209533406055486161 Rachel

    We’ve never been rolling in the dough – when we started out planning and budgeting for our wedding, my main focus was to stick as close as we could to what my parents were chipping in, and to not go into debt for the rest. I can proudly say that we haven’t, we’ve paid for everything with cash.
    We haven’t gotten everything we wanted, maybe, be we also had an idea going in on how much we would be able to afford.

    That all being said, while it is hard to part with your money at any time, I don’t feel bad at all for spending a little money here and there. As long as you’re not overextending yourself, you’re fine. The economy is not just bad for us, it’s bad for the florists, the caterers, the planners, etc. – so I don’t feel bad for supporting them and paying them a reasonable fee to perform a service. I look at it as a way to help keep our economy flowing – even if it’s just a little bit.

  • Anonymous

    I am sorry to hear that so many are genuinely worried and emotional right now.

    But honestly, I’m so sick of hearing / reading how the economy is affecting this, that and the other. And now weddings.

    What are my guy and I doing differently? NOTHING. We’ve saved patiently for 3 years, and planned carefully for the wedding we want. It’ll be a fantastic celebration with all of our friends and family. It’s not budget. It’s not DIY. We are allowing for splurges. We’re spending more than some, less than others. We’re paying for all of it in cash.

    Could we use the $$$ for something else? You bet. But you can say that about A LOT of things in life that require a significant amount of cash.

    And a gentle correction: “uncertinty” is spelled wrong.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08756863577585445579 Alison

    Ah – I could not agree more with what you just wrote. Sometimes the money aspect of my wedding literally keeps me up at night. What’s worse is that all I can think about is how the wedding budget might be better spent helping us start our lives together – my fiance and i are graduating from college in may, and needless to say, we practically don’t even have the bare minimum.
    BUT, it can be done! Just keep your creative juices flowing.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09526722516550185150 Meg

    Anonymous-
    Please don’t make assumptions. We’ve saved for years too, and we’re spending all in cash. And yes, we have emergency funds in the bank, and no credit card debt. We don’t have a problem spending to celebrate, nor do we have a problem with small splurges. You’ll notice that I’m not telling you what a responsible budget is, or that you should cut back on yours. But lots of people have very real economic worries right now. People are facing worries about potential job losses, worries about parents who’s retirement savings have been seriously impacted, jobs that are harder to find, and grocery and gas bills that are higher.

    So, it’s great if the economy is not affecting your wedding plans. That’s something to be profoundly grateful for. But please don’t think that those of us that are having economic concerns related to our weddings are somehow trying to diminish your appreciation of your day, or guilt you into spending less, or are somehow anti-wedding. I know the economy is bad (please don’t make me explain the numbers behind the latest GDP print) and I know it’s not getting better soon. So, I personally am worried about spending money that I could keep in savings and use to pay the bills if we needed to. And we, quite frankly, are in much better economic shape than the majority of American families right now. Which I’m grateful for.

    Surely you can sympathize with these concerns, even if you are not in the same situation.

    Meg

  • Kat

    Oh man, do I hear you on this post.

    I’m engaged and have just been laid off. The funny thing is that losing my job has actually killed any wedding stress I had. We’re lucky that the big day is still a while off so we don’t have to make any rash decisions about our wedding budget, but really we just want to be married. A wedding is just gravy — and nothing to lose sleep over.

    We’re pulling through this tough time together, which serves as a great reminder of why we actually want to get married. My (admittedly expensive) new-found perspective is worth its weight in pink slips.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08842191847941847564 Bride in Exile

    Meg, like so many others, I’m right on the same page. Our wedding is funded with savings in cash and we’re in a good financial place right now. We can still have the wedding we want and keep enough in savings to afford a down payment on a house, which we are very grateful for.

    But I’ve been looking at our budget and wondering if we’ll wish we had that money back a year after the wedding. We’re both academics finishing graduate school, and so many universities are watching their endowments shrink and thinking about hiring freezes. What if we don’t get jobs? What if my car gets totaled while it’s minding its own business in the parking lot and I have to buy a new car? (Don’t laugh, that’s happened to us before!) What if one of us gets hurt or sick or any of the other million things that could go wrong goes wrong? Our parents are also contributing — will they regret their generosity? In a bad economy like this, all of those things seem much scarier, and it’s tempting to just hoard our money in case things get worse.

    Having our friends and family together means the world to us, but my fiance and I have agreed that we will re-evaluate in December and if we’re not sure spending that kind of money is the right thing to do, we’ll cut back dramatically. I’d be bummed to lose the gourmet menu and the gorgeous invitations I’ve been eyeing. But I know I will still be holding my new husband’s hand at the end of the day.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11371172824707301749 Cate Subrosa

    I’m glad you’re feeling better about this. I know how you feel – seriously cannot wait till we can start putting our money somewhere sensible again.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14491035554915805002 storeflittig

    I’m so in love with your blog:) I really enjoy reading, as you follow the same values as I do regarding weddings. Good luck with the dress!

    Ps: Cake is also VERY easy to DIY:)Buttercream, and ribbons as decor, and done:)But I guess you know:):)

  • Anonymous

    Meg,

    Thanks for this post. This is a topic that is hitting home for me as my fiance is in the finance industry and has been able to survive three sets of lay-offs. I just took a pay cut to switch careers. Weactually already own our apartment and are very careful with how we spend our money, but it still does not help knowing that he could possibly be out of job before the wedding. I just try my best to make sure that we come under budget as much as possible and don’t spend needlessly. We have our health and each other.

    I definitely have made sure not to buy into the WIC, but at the same time I don’t think I can do the DIY route either. My new career is more travel intensive (and 8 weeks before our wedding it will be at its most intense period). I don’t craft. I’m not a designer (I can barely sketch!) and I don’t have friends or family who are designers or seamstresses. While I really like this post, I feel like the opposite of the WIC is the DIY movement. I guess I don’t really feel part of either.

    Thanks again for provoking thought as always.

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  • Heather

    Is it true that you MADE those flowers at the place settings? Those are amazing! Please tell me how!

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