Prev Next

Madeline: The Wedding Investment


Madeline: The Wedding Investment | A Practical Wedding

I’ve had two mini-receptions since I last wrote, one in New York and one in Ohio. Meg says I’m allowed some time to process those before I get to wedding graduate level. Instead, I want to write about a concept that helped me reign in some of the financial panic of the last few months: the Investment Wedding.

A wedding is an investment, of course. That’s what makes it so daunting if, like us, you have barely any assets to funnel into it. I’m just not used to spending money! What helped was finding ways to spend it that felt lasting. Weddings seem so fleeting; I wanted something concrete.

This informed many decisions. I bought a fancy outfit, but all things I’ll wear again. I took an eco-friendly make-up lesson and skipped the makeover. (H/T Meg, Kate Middleton.) We bought Brandon a suit, and now he looks extra-dashing on job interviews.

My concept of investment changed with time. I was sure we wouldn’t miss flowers, because nothing sets off my brain’s “waste of money” alarm like overpriced bouquets that will rot in a week. But APW kept posting DIY tutorials—So cute! So easy!—and I changed my mind. The day before the dinner reception siblings, mother, best high school buddy and I hit up the New York flower district. I took $200 cash, which was both much more than I’d ever imagined spending on blooms, and much less than any WIC budget will tell you is a self-respecting minimum.

Madeline: The Wedding Investment | A Practical Wedding

Helpful sibling rocks the flower district

Turns out, purchasing armfuls of flowers is fun! Lugging them to Stumptown coffee for a pick-me-up—fun! Filling the bathtub with peonies and watching them open while you pee? Fun! Cramming stems into all the bottles and containers we could find in our apartment—OK, there were times when I worried it was all going to go horribly wrong. Then I took a nap and let my team take over. Fun again! I let my mother deal with setting them up in the restaurant, and it looked amazing. And while I’m pleased about that part, I’m even happier that the process was such a memorable part of the weekend. Turns out money wasn’t the issue at all. It was time that was being invested—time with folks who’d flown hundreds of miles to join the celebration.

Of course you can use any pro-sanity measure against yourself, and I did struggle a bit when it came to my headpiece. The fascinator with its flimsy bit of veil that I was dying to own was beautiful, but costly. It’s an investment! I told myself, ignoring the fact that I’d already “invested” a hell of a lot in shoes and a necklace. I’ll sell it on eBay! (I was lying.) Okfine. I didn’t buy it. Instead, I plundered the supplies section of Etsy and fixed up a plausible replica with superglue.

Was it a win for the investment bride? Sure, in a way. I didn’t spend dollars I don’t have on something that I’ll never wear again. But I also lost a lot of time dreaming about that wretched veil. I could probably have put it on the credit card on day one. The world would not have ended.

The point is, it helped me to have a strategy when answering the question “Is it worth it?” because it came up again and again. But strategies are rigid things and only helpful when they are reducing stress, not when they become a new channel for it. So when I’m printing out the photos or springing for the honeymoon, I’ll be trying to remember that the real investment is in, you know, the marriage. We’re already golden.

Images: Madeline’s personal collection

More in Recent Posts Staff Picks

[Read comment policy before commenting]

  • http://landlockedlove.blogspot.com Kelly

    I just started crying a little bit at my desk, because even though we are paying for the wedding ourselves, and even though we’ve saved enough in the last year to be able to do it almost entirely in cash up front (hell yeah!) I am so PANICKED about money because I have always always been poor, and even when I became financially independent about when I was 15 or so, whatever money I made had to go to things like supporting myself and paying off student loans. And now the largest sum of money I’ve ever personally had a claim to is sitting in my bank account, and ALL of it is spoken for. All of it is going to be gone by our wedding on September 1st (hell yeah, again!). And even though we made mindful choices, and supported local, small businesses we believe in, and all of that good stuff I am just LOSING. MY. SHIT.

    But the time investment? The night David and I drank three bottles of wine and went through our entire music collection, carefully cultivating a playlist for the reception? When we listened to songs and danced and cried and laughed in our pajamas in the living room for hours and hours from the late night into the early morning?

    I’ll never, ever forget that.

    • Jashshea

      What’s with you people this week!? I can’t read a damn thing without getting teary (which, um, is probably more about me than you). Drunk/dancing/playlist making. That’s just so lovely.

      Money is like riding a bike, I find – if you’ve ever struggled with learning how to manage it, it’s not something you forget how to do. And while MORE is often easier to deal with, you’re still using the same skill set from when there was LITTLE or NONE.

      I, too, panic at the thought of writing big checks (or, lordy, LOTS of big checks). I wish I had the magic bullet to make you feel better about it, but I think it’s just the nature of those of us who have had to make the hard money decisions at some point. I think we need a name for this – Personal Great Depression?

      ETA: My own perilous financial situation was of my own making (few months out of college; more debt than annual income by a factor of 1.5 THEN I started with the CC debt). That’s just an FYI – Not comparing my situation to being on my own at 15 certainly.

    • Kelly D.

      From one Kelly to another, you took the words right out of my mouth.

    • Madeline

      Those moments make the panic moments ok…hang in there!

    • Senorita

      wow.
      i’m in the planning-a-wedding-with-real-as-opposed-to-monopoly-money *sucks* phase,
      this gave me hope again.

  • Chelsea

    Your post buoys me up in the final weeks before our wedding. Thank you. The financial heaviness is hitting me, but so is the fact that things are actually being checked off the to-do list. I’m still missing RSVPs, but the pre-wedding prep time with the people I love is nearly here. Thank you for writing about how it will be memorable and worth it and a wonderful investment in our future as a couple.

  • KB

    Amen to the investment – and also amen to the “Oh my *&$%ing God, how much more money do you WIC people WANT???”

    I never thought I would be the type of girl to say eff my own wedding, we’ll go Vegas. But seriously, I’ve thought about doing this so much because I can’t bear seeing $15,000 disappear from my checking account like magic. Correction – like evil, black magic…

    • MDBethann

      I don’t know how many people you’re inviting KB or what style of wedding you’re having, but I spent a little bit more than you for about 150 people at my reception. Is it a lot of money? Yes. But how often do I throw parties for 150 people? Just this once (until I have a kid’s wedding to help throw some day). And we wanted to make sure the cake, beverages, and food were good, and while we didn’t break the bank, feeding 150 people isn’t cheap. But they were our friends and family and we couldn’t cut them. And it was a wonderful party.

      I don’t know if I’d call it an investment in the traditional sense, but was it an investment in our memory bank? Yes. Was it an investment in us? Yes – because it was a community celebration of our pledge to spend our lives together.

      • ElisabethJoanne

        I remind myself of this: Whenever I host a small dinner party, it seems to cost around $40, or even more. I buy quality meat, a bottle of wine, and one or two special ingredients. I stopped buying cheese because more than half was always left over, and I can’t eat it fast enough myself.

        My wedding is several dozen “dinner parties” at once, in terms of the number of people. Also, if I tried to actually have all those people over for dinner in the form of dozens of dinner parties, it would actually take more time and effort to arrange all those parties than is going into the wedding. People will get on a plane for a wedding. Not so much for dinner.

        So, while it’s not an income-generating “investment,” the time and money are actually a pretty good deal, relationships-wise. And I won’t have to do the dishes!

      • KB

        Yeeeeah, I should have clarified – I’m not looking for any particular kind of wedding, but, unfortunately, I live in a large metropolitan area where $15,000 is considered hilaaaarious if you want booze, chairs, and a roof of some kind (not even walls – I’m not kidding). I just get frustrated with the fact that money does not stretch at all in this city, even if you go for a “simple” wedding.

        But just a quick additional point – I think what it boils to is the debate going around a couple comments down and why people get so worked up over how much it costs to throw a wedding. The word “investment” is kind of a loaded word in the wedding context because some people think of it as “just one day” and other people think of it as “that one special day” and others think of it as “that one special day we threw a great party.” Which is why I REALLY liked this post because it redefined the “investment of a wedding” to include investing time with loved ones and time thinking about what you want. I also liked the comparison between “wasting” money on flowers versus “wasting” X amount of time obsessing over an expensive fascinator.

        Anyways, I think this is why APW exists – to make you check yourself before you throw yourself off *either side* of the deep end and to redefine what a wedding “should” look like or how much you “should” spend on it.

  • Laura

    Your post definitely hit home for me – thus urging me to pop my APW-comment-posting-cherry! My fiancee and I have struggled with this since the beginning of wedding planning. Imagine all of the wonderful things we can do with that money – put a down payment on a house! Go on a two-week vacation! Replace some of our hand-me-down furniture! (Mind you, we haven’t had an urge to use our money to do any of these things until we realized it would now be accounted for).

    During a recent breakdown, my mom said to me something that really hit home: “Even though we’re taking money out of the financial bank… we’re depositing it into the memory bank… and that’s what really counts.”

    It was pretty eye opening for me and has helped calm me down about spending the money… Hope this helps keep things in perspective for some of you too!!

    • Kat

      OHH!! THANKS! YES! THIS!

    • Marina

      Three cheers for your very smart mother. Wow.

  • Sarah

    Not sure what counts as too critical around here, but I must say, I disagree strongly with calling a wedding an investment. I have thought about this for more than a few minutes after reading the post and I cannot come up with a single reason one would think of a wedding as an investment. Just my two cents… a wedding is a lot of things and will give you memories (good and bad, probably) but… that’s not something you invest money for. It’s like calling a memorable vacation an investment.

    • Kat

      But a memorable vacation is an investment: in yourself, in your family life, in memories (see above) etc. It’s not a NECESSITY, life isn’t going to cease if a wedding or a memorable vacation isn’t had/taken, but sometimes they are part of what makes a good life or a more interesting life.

      • Sarah

        I think then, we disagree fundamentally on what an investment is. The marriage is really the only return you receive when you put money into a wedding, and, of course, that can happen without spending any money (except for license & fees.)
        Calling a wedding or a vacation an investment sounds like misplaced justification. You can justify spending the money on things like this because you want to have the experience. But the experience lasts the day. An investment is for the future. And while the memories may last, memories don’t cost money and I think it borderlines on the opposite of practical when you “buy” memories in the form of nice centerpieces.
        So no, a vacation or a wedding is not an investment. At least not a good one, by definition of investment.

        • marbella

          I disagree. I absolutely don’t think the marriage is the only thing you receive in return when you have a wedding.
          When setting up our wedding, I got to spend a huge amount of time with my family and close friends helping us to set up. My relationship with my parents, siblings, in-laws and close friends who had traveled a long way to be with us grew immensely over that week, and their relationships with each other also grew. It is over a year later now and I feel that the money we spent for our wedding was a wonderful investment in building family relations and friendships.
          We just returned from a week in California helping a friend (one who traveled for our wedding to help us too) set up for her wedding, and I also view the money we spent on that trip as part of our investment in a lifelong friendship.
          I think if you define an investment as something you will make money back from, then no, you can’t say that a wedding is an investment. But many of us do not define the repayments of our investments that way. It’s similar to saying that when you ‘invest’ in your children, you expect financial returns… you don’t, do you? So what’s different?

          • Amy March

            I think it is different because investing money already has a meaning, and it isn’t buying stuff. Investing time, investing emotion, investing love, investing dedication- all of those work for me. But claiming you are investing money by spending it isn’t accurate, and it’s part of what I see as a broader trend in talking about women and money in a way that doesn’t lead to financial security- like the saving money by buying something on sale example cited elsewhere.

          • Sarah

            I’d say comparing child bearing costs to a wedding is dubious at best. You will see a return on your investment with your child. It’s about turning them into a productive member of society, that earns, contributes, and gives back. All tangible returns.
            A wedding is a day of celebration. You can spend time with your family in many other ways that don’t include things like a dj and an open bar. Or ANYTHING that costs money. You don’t need to spend money to make memories!
            On top of it, for those who choose to spend little to no money on their wedding day, for practical reasons of their own, it’s rather insulting to call it an investment. At least that’s how I feel about people who, when trying to persuade me that I should have a big wedding for my family and friends to enjoy, use that as an excuse for me to dole out loads of money on a wedding that I personally would rather ACTUALLY invest. I would LOVE to celebrate my marriage with friends and family. Everyone can absolutely come over and toast our future, and spend time with me. Without custom monogrammed cocktail napkins.
            In fact, an investment wedding would be skipping all the things that cost money, and using the money you would have spent on a real investment.

          • Sarah

            I’d also like to say that just because a wedding is not an investment, does not mean there is anything wrong with spending 1 figure or 5 figures or however much you want to spend. That’s not my point at all.
            Just please do not use the term “investment” to justify it. It’s a false justification.

          • ElisabethJoanne

            Again, if your friends and family can and will just “come over” to toast you, that’s great for you. For most people, though, friends and family are far-flung. Sure, we could invite people flying across the country to a cake-and-punch reception, but I’d find that silly (to just spend an hour or two with people who have flown to celebrate with me), even if it’s not rude by APW standards. Also, it doesn’t escape the idea that weddings cost tons. It just spreads out the cost from the hosts of the weddings to the guests.

        • Marina

          For me at least, my wedding was not an experience that lasted one day. It was an event that deeply impacted my whole family. Probably my best example of this is the video I have of my grandfathers singing a song together that they sang at my parents’ wedding reception. One of them has since died, and having that video of the two of them has been a really big deal for me and for my whole family. My wedding was a chance to meet a nephew I’d never met before, and see two other nephews I rarely get to see because they live so far away. It was a chance for far-flung friends to hang out with each other. This is the kind of “one day” event that long-term changes to relationships are built on–not my relationship to my husband, but many, many other relationships.

        • ElisabethJoanne

          Certain memories do cost money. The sound of my cousins’ voices, for example. They live 1,000 miles away. Obtaining that memory costs money.

          Education. ‘Nough said.

          And things like education: Membership in voluntary professional organizations. I’ll enjoy going to events. Might even get some “free” food. Do my membership dues pay dividends like a stock? No. Are the dues nonetheless something with an expected financial return? Yes, if I use my membership correctly to make the relationships that will advance my career.

          • Sarah

            Things that are valuable does not necessarily make them investments. I’m sorry to beat a dead horse but you’re characterizing my comments as dismissive to things and experiences that people value. I’m not dismissing them as valuable but they are not. investments.

          • Sarah

            Your previous comment with regards to it being silly to fly people out for a couple hours or shifting the cost is another issue, not related to what is an investment and what’s not. It has to do with a number of things, first and foremost being if you have the means to fly your family out. If you do, great, if you don’t, it doesn’t mean you don’t value your family. Also, some weddings cost tons. Some don’t. Still has nothing to do with investing.
            Quantifying memories in terms of dollars by calling money spent on a wedding an investment is a great way to sell wedding related services. I also view that reasoning as something commonly associated with pressuring people to spend money on experiences. RE: “But dear, if you’re going to invite your family to fly out to your wedding it would be silly not to have an open bar/plated dinner/brunch the next day/entertainment for the weekend.” Sorry, but those things are not necessary to spending time with family and none of it is an investment and it certainly does not quantify whether you care enough about your family. It all sounds rather shaming.

          • ElisabethJoanne

            I actually carefully stayed out of the meaning of “investment” debate. I carefully never used the word. Sarah said, “memories don’t cost money.” I pointed out that certain memories do cost money. I particularly didn’t like the suggestion that wedding memories don’t cost money.

            And now I will enter the “investment” debate: I’m fine with the equivocation. I do feel Madeline’s post didn’t do enough to elucidate it, though. A suit can certainly be an investment in something very close to the traditional, financial sense. Certain jobs require one for interviews. If you don’t buy the suit, you won’t work, you won’t earn income. Sure seems like an “investment” to me, even if you’ll never sell the suit for a profit the way you would a stock. Maybe it’s technically a “transaction fee” or something. Finance isn’t my thing.

            Cut flowers are never an investment in the traditional, financial sense. BUT I think women have a hard time spending money on themselves, especially women enmeshed in the kinds of relationships that are at the forefront of wedding planning. Sensible (or “practical”) girls don’t spend money on “silly” things like flowers or expensive clothes (or limos, the first wedding-finance related debate in my family). But, sensible, practical women do “invest.” Sarah doesn’t like the analogy, and that’s fine. But I think for other women, it’s helpful. Just as you “spend” money to get more money back by investing in stocks or your business, so you spend money and get memories and relationships back in wedding planning (or just girls’ night out). The memory/relationship “return” may be more valuable to you than the money.

            2 footnotes. No, 3. (1) I assume this hypothetical bride “investing” in the memories is like most brides, who have friends and family spread out or apathetic such that it takes a big, expensive wedding to make memories with them. (Expensive just because of the size and distances involved.) (2) I DO totally object to the WIC “wedding investment” sense where extra money on a videographer is some sort of insurance against divorce. (See “One Perfect Day.”) That IS bologna. (3) By using the third person for “Sarah,” I’m just trying to keep the comments clear, not talk past her.

        • Maddie

          At this point we are just arguing semantics here, and while we obviously appreciate calling terminology into question when appropriate, this thread isn’t furthering the conversation and is reaching the point of being argumentative for argument’s sake so I’m going to end it here.

        • Kat

          I think we’re not agreeing on what investment means. If you DON’T have the cash and can’t afford putting food on the table or a roof over your head, throwing money at a big fancy wedding or vacation is NOT a good idea and definitely NOT an investment. But refusing to have ANY wedding or ANY memorable vacations because you don’t get a concrete or financial ROI seems silly to me.

          In no way am I advocating for vast sums of money to be spent on anything.

          By definition having a wedding is an investment, in your relationships, you and your partner’s future together. A vacation is also an investment in similar things. But at least for me, having either of these things does not mean that a big pile of cash needs to be or should be invested.

    • Rosa

      I think some people define investment literally ($) and others, including Madeline, define it abstractly (love, memories, time). We can’t conflate the two.

      It bothers me when wedding photography websites call their prices an “investment,” because that does smack of justification. But I don’t think Madeline was using “investment” to justify her spending; instead, she was using the idea as a tool to help her make choices.

      • marbella

        I didn’t read this that way either, especially since Madeleine had specified what her investment in the flowers had given her – time, joy, memories with her family.
        For some of us, we actually CAN’T just have family and friends over whenever we want without it costing anything. Mine and my husband’s family and most of our friends live across an ocean from us, and we DO have to spend money to make memories with them, always. There is no way around this.
        We chose to spend money on our wedding in a way that enabled both our families and friends to spend quality time together, and yes, it cost us some money, but I feel totally justified in making that investment in our family. And I feel perfectly fine about it being an investment. I also feel that comparing it to child-rearing is still valid – I have already seen tangible returns on the time and emotion I invested in my wedding.

        I appreciate that some people may not consider a wedding an investment, but please don’t presume to tell the rest of us that we aren’t allowed to.

        I do have a friend that buys designer bags and say they are ‘an investment’ which I feel speaks more to what you are saying. However I kind of think anything that you feel is an investment in yourself, whether that be learning a new language or as ‘silly’ as buying a bag, can give you returns – if that bag makes you confident and your confidence lands you a job, wasn’t it an investment?

        I’m waffling, so I will stop. I think what I’m trying to say is, to each their own, please lets not tear each other down because our opinions on something might be different.

        • Sarah

          This is my last reply because I don’t mean to hurt feelings, it is not my intention.
          Money invested means you are getting a return on that money, for the future. Spending money on something finite, like shoes or a dress, is not an investment. Ever. It has to grow, or perform tasks that will multiply some kind of output… Unless those shoes go up in value and you sell them, there is no value in using the term investment to justify the purchase.
          You can talk about investing time or emotions, sure… but when talking about MONEY spent on weddings, you simply cannot redefine the term investment for personal justification.
          I mean, you can, but you should know that people who take the term seriously when it comes to money will try to dissuade you from doing so, and may even correct you.

    • Liz

      I can understand this perspective because of the tension surrounding how we spend wedding money.

      I do think, in a manner of speaking, memories are investments. You compare it to a memorable vacation, and I think that’s a fair comparison. But in the sense that memories can fortify a solid foundation for relationships. I may take an expensive weekend with friends to the beach, but years later, our friendship is still strengthened by recalling those memories. Weddings can be the same way, I think (for the couple, for the family, for whoever is present).

      Of course, the question is then does that mean if you spend more money, you’ll have greater returns? Nah, of course not. But that’s part of making a wise investment- making choices. Some invest cash in having an open bar blowout, others invest their time making dozens of paper flowers with friends.

      “Investment” can look a number of different ways, and this was simply Madeline talking about what “investment” meant to her, personally. And if you look, she used that idea to help her make what she considered frugal decisions.

      • Sarah

        I did read, and re-read the post, to try to find the logic in making this statement “A wedding is an investment, of course.” Is it?
        Frugality does not mean one is making an investment. It’s not whether spending more or less means you have a greater return. (I never stated that.) It’s that the direct return on the wedding (memories, a marriage, spending time with family) has ZERO to do with the money spent (it’s true, you can have all of these things without spending money) and therefore justifying the money spent by calling it an investment is… incorrect. You can call it that if you redefine the word, but it’s just not.
        Saving money is not an investment. DIY versus retail is not an investment. So using the term investment, be it as an “idea” or not, is not useful when deciding to buy something that will bring no future return, on the cheap or not. I believe this is either demonstrating a lack of knowledge on what an investment is, or a redefinition of an investment.
        Spending money on things that you value and that bring you joy does not equal “investment.”

        • Liz

          No I think you’re misunderstanding me. I don’t mean frugal choices in that she spent less, but in that she spent on things she would use again later instead of not (greater returns, to continue the financial parallel).

          As I said, a wedding isn’t necessarily an investment in terms of money or time spent on DIY projects, but in building memories with those we care about. No matter how you choose to do that (with money, time or otherwise) a wedding can contribute to strengthening something bigger. Of course you can have all of those things without having a wedding (some preserve them by not having a wedding at all and instead going to the courthouse) but this is Madeline’s story about how SHE thought it best to “invest.”

        • meg

          Look, this has been an interesting thread, but at the end of the day it’s FINE to have different definitions of what an investment means, or even multiple definitions, personally.

          In a serious way, I consider my investments my 401K and mutual funds (and I suspect Madeline does too). In a totally different way, I actually do think going on a vacation with my husband is an investment. It’s not a MONETARY investment (in fact, it’s a way to *spend* our monetary investments), but it’s an investment in our lives together. It’s about working to live versis living to work, and it’s about where I set my values (not just on financial security, but also on a life lived with rich experiences). So, look, do I know what an investment is? Yes. I do. I worked in an investment bank, for goodness sake. But I also know it’s fine for us to define non-monetary investments in all kinds of ways, and to define them differently from each other.

          I totally have a problem with the Wedding Industry trying to sell you stuff you don’t need by arguing that it’s “an investment”, so I see what you’re getting at. But Madeline’s post is about finding a sensible internal strategy to determine where she did or didn’t spend money (Shoes! I’ll wear them again! Veil! I won’t!) and it involved some wordplay, and that’s part of what APW is about.

          So now, let’s all enjoy the holiday, no? We can invest some time in it. Ha.

          • Hannah

            I love the way you wonderful APW ladies deal with these types of disagreements…you have, by your example and, at times like these, your direct input, crafted a discussion place full of dignity and grace. I have so much respect for you, and I appreciate all you do!

  • Amy March

    I struggle with using the term “investment” to refer to money situations that don’t involve making your assets grow. I agree conceptually with this post, but the terminology just doesn’t sit right. Too similar to all the articles about “investment” wardrobe pieces when rarely are they talking about appreciating museum quality assets. Spend money on a wedding- yes; invest time in it-yes; but investing money is just not the same as spending it on things you value.

    • Sarah

      “but investing money is just not the same as spending it on things you value.”
      exactly.
      This reminds me of fashion magazines referring to an expensive handbag as an “investment piece.”
      No, it’s pretty and you like it and it makes you feel good to wear it and it may well last a long time. If that’s what you value, by all means i will not disparage your choice to spend your money on it.
      But you will never earn anything on it in the future.

    • Liz

      I think in this case the “asset” would be relationships. But I don’t want to put words in Madeline’s mouth.

    • meg

      Well, I think Madeline was also using a little wordplay and concept play here, which of course is something I adore. If she’d been seriously arguing that expensive wedding shoes were a monetary investment, we’d never run the post (and she wouldn’t be Madeline). So, given how the WIC uses the word investment, I totally get the sensitivity, but in this case: conceptual play. Fun!

  • http://www.theatreprojects.blogspot.com jessamarie

    I feel like your “It’s an investment” validation is the same as my “but I’m saving so much money”. I find myself seeing cute things on wedding blogs, or pinterest or Etsy and thinkiong , that couple spent $200 on that cute detail, but since I know how to do X and Y myself, and I have a friend who has Z that I can borrow I can do the exact same things for $75! I’m saving $125! Of course I don’t save anything by spending money on something I didn’t need in the first place, no matter how much less I am spending on it that someone else did.

    sigh…I guess I probably don’t need custom hand-painted bowls to serve the ice cream…

    • meg

      Ha! It’s like how my mom used to say, “I got this shirt on sale for $10 down from $20. I SAVED $10.” And my dad would say, “Nooo, you SPENT $10.” And then she would sigh.

      At the end of the day, we probably just need to balance being sensible with being nice to ourselves, right? Which is So. Hard.

      • Hannah

        <3

  • http://www.sarahhoppes.com Sarah

    Regardless of how we define “investment” the advice here is solid and helps me feel grounded. Especially “Turns out money wasn’t the issue at all. It was time that was being invested—time with folks who’d flown hundreds of miles to join the celebration.”

    I struggled a lot with figuring out how to plan and finance our wedding, and after a lot of thought, we decided on a wedding in NYC, where we live, and 2 parties in our home states. Initially we hated the idea that we’d gone from wanting to elope to now throwing 3 big events. It felt like we’d CAVED to the WIC, big time. But, it is important to us that our friends and family, many of whom wouldn’t be physically or financially able to come to New York for the wedding, be included. We will definitely end up spending much more money than if we’d gone with the initial elopement plan. We may not even save that much money compared to what it would have cost to have one giant party in Ohio or New Hampshire.

    But we do consider the time and the money we spend to be a worthwhile investment. (Or at the very least we consider it all to be put to good use.) We will get to celebrate 3 times with our parents, which will give them a chance to get to know each other better. We’ll be able to talk to more people individually than we would have if we’d been able to combine everything into one event. My fiance gets social anxiety and claustrophobia sometimes, and he will feel much more relaxed and comfortable if we are not interacting with 150 people at a time.

    This is a bit of a rambling comment, but I totally appreciate the perspective of someone who’s come out the other side of wedding/reception planning and feels that her money was well-spent.

    • Chelsea

      I totally identify with the “caving to WIC” feeling. I’ve ended up with a much more traditional wedding than I would have if acting in my own self-interest. However, my wedding as it is will be more reflective of my FH. In addition, having a more traditional wedding has made a lot of the decisions a lot easier. I picked the first venue I saw, went with their in house catering and the first dress I tried on with my mom that was reasonably priced. I think that I may have WICy vendors, but have been able to incorporate the A Practical Wedding mentality in not agonizing over decisions and trying to make the best choices for everyone involved.

      That doesn’t mean I don’t mourn the smaller, non traditional, neighborhood restaurant and bar wedding I was dreaming about when we got engaged.

  • http://www.dearlittlehouse.com.au Nat @ Dear Little House

    We spent money on the things that mattered to us and saved money where we could. It makes sense! I made lots of stuff myself with the help of my amazing bridesmaids and our day was beautiful. I had two dresses (one for the ceremony and one for the reception) and spent less than $200 on them in total!

  • Hannah

    This post was beautiful. Like many others, I teared up (planning a wedding can add a teary factor, can’t it?), specifically at the last line. You are absolutely already golden. May you have a wonderfully blessed marriage.