Mouse, the blogger over at Good Mouse Bad Mouse has started a new blog about planning her wedding, Souris Mariage. The blog makes me feel strange, because it reminds me of APW back in the day, and makes me want to yell things at the screen like, “Save-The-Dates don’t matter that much Isweartogod! Stay out of bridal salons Isweartogod! Engagement pictures are not worth lots of thought, or really any thought at all, Isweartogod!” Which are of course my lessons, not Mouse’s lessons, and everyone gets to learn their own. Or something. I tell myself that. But, anyway. The other day, in the middle of a post Mouse said something that made me blink my eyes at the screen, “Blink-blink-blink, wiggling-head-around, blink?” She said: “Meg, over at A Practical Wedding, has made a passionate and sustained argument for using your wedding money *for something.* Indeed, I won’t have a chunk of expendable income like this for, like, ever. So the purchases I make for my wedding–and I am making this commitment now–must support a better world. I’m not a super-hippie, and I may not be able to be green all the time, but when spending this amount of money, I’m called to consider its impact.” And then I whispered to myself, “Oh. Is that what I’ve been saying all this time? Oh.” So. In honor of that, I thought we’d revisit this post about the hows and whys of wedding spending. It wasn’t from ages and ages ago, but if I was compiling the posts I’ve written here that are most important to me, this would make the cut.I’ve noticed, over and over again, that out here in the indie wedding world, brides still a tremendous amount of pressure to fit in. It’s like when we get rid of all the crazy WIC rules (favors! matching dresses! chicken or fish! limos!) we want to substitute a bunch of other rules to live up to.
I know this, because I regularly get emails from people assuring me that their wedding was practical because they spent “under $10,000″ (we’ve put a lot of pressure around the arbitrary $10,000 number for some reason) or because they only spent $4,000, or because they spent $16,000 but that included their rings and their honeymoon. But here is the thing: I don’t care. I really, really don’t care how much you spent. You can spend a tiny bit of money and still drive yourself mad trying to live up to all the wedding industry standards, but at a lower price point. Or, you can spend a pile of money and still have a amazing laid back generous wedding that reflects who you are. So let’s re-think this. Here are some things that I think are important:
- That you have a honest wedding. That your wedding budget (whatever it is) reflects who you are, and what you feel you can afford to spend. That when you think of your wedding budget you don’t feel ill and wonder, “oh dear god, how are we ever going to pay off this party?” I mean, in my experience *any* wedding budget will make you feel ill now and then, but most of the time it should make you feel confident like, “Hey, it feels like a lot of money, but we’re spending smart, and we can do this thing.”
- That you tried to spend less then you can afford. At the end of the day, it’s nice to know that you have a little in the bank in case of an emergency, and you didn’t blow it all on one day. (I’m aware that this is not always possible. In my most broke days a marriage license would have felt like more then I could afford.)
- That you have a laid back wedding where you care more about having a wedding that reflects who you are then meeting some arbitrary criteria, whether they are set by a wedding magazine or a blog.
- But there is one thing that I care about most of all: I think how you spend your money is more important than how much you spend. When I look back at what we’ve spent our money on, the decisions I feel the best about are the ones where we put our money towards things we believe in. I don’t feel best about the affordable wine we bought at Bevmo (though I think it was a smart choice), instead I feel the best about the wine that we bought on sale from Meeker – our favorite funky, low brow, small, local winery. When we bought Meeker wine, we helped support a business that we want to thrive in a difficult economic environment, and I feel great about that. I’ve tried to look at our wedding budget as money we are going to spend regardless, and tried to allocate it to people, businesses, and local artists that we want to thrive.
We wanted to keep the focus on friends and family and each other. That said; things still cost money. We decided to spend money in a way that made sense to us, on goods and services from local vendors, many of them friends, and many of them Josh’s clients. I believe that these decisions, the energy we put out into our community, and our little bit of local economic stimulus are the reasons we had such a beautiful, and authentic-to-us wedding. Go karma!
So: PLEASE stop obsessing about if your budget meets some arbitrary standards, and start thinking about if it feels honest. Start thinking about where you are spending your money, and if it reflects your values and makes you feel good. And forget the phrase ‘budget wedding’, because it’s meaningless. My budget is not your budget. My wedding is not your wedding. And if you are reading wedding sites that are making you feel sad because they are suggesting that the budget alternative for invitations is a $2,000 letterpress package, or that you should scribble your invitations on printer paper for free and not even use the postal service because it is for sellouts, or some other nonsense, just stop reading. Their budget is *clearly* not your budget.
Keep it simple, keep it sane, keep it honest. And go karma!