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.
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