Q: I have been “pre-engaged” in my mind for many years. I proposed to him on our ninth anniversary, last August, and the other day he finally and romantically said “yes.”
So we started non-traditionally, by having the bride propose. But that’s not all! Because I know that the marriage was my idea, I think it would be polite to have the wedding include mostly his ideas. So I am letting him make most of the big planning decisions—big or small, formal or low-key, sit-down dinner or buffet.
Trouble is—he is a trad bride. He wants it all. And he wants to spend all the money. All the sensible APW advice about “Want a big wedding? Hire a pizza truck in the park! Want a small wedding? Hooray, you can have silver-service three-course dinners!”? Water off a duck’s back. He wants a big wedding (150) with proper sit-down service, everyone at the ceremony and the reception, open bar, the works.
It’s not as though I can object to paying for it, because he is the one who makes all the money, and he thinks he can afford it. I am objecting in principle, as a poor-person-by-habit. Is there a way to rein him in whilst still giving him the traditional, formal, fancy wedding he deserves for our ten years together?
Girl Running Out Of Moxie
A: Dear GROOM,
Like so many nice things in life, big fancy weddings aren’t something someone gets because they “deserve” it. It’s entirely a matter of 1. What can we afford? and 2. What suits our ideals and priorities? There are a whole hell of a lot of things that I deserve and my bank account just flat disagrees.
You’ll notice I said wedding choices come down to two questions, and neither of them was, “Who’s making the money?” Moving forward in life together, you guys are going to have a lot of different financial choices to make. It may seem to make sense to let the breadwinner call the shots, but that’s not how an egalitarian relationship works (especially if you have joint finances). Instead, it comes down to discussing financial priorities, and deciding together the best ways to use your cash.
So, let’s talk about this wedding. What can you afford? What suits your ideals and priorities? You cite some examples of APW weddings up there, but you know what? There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a giant fancy dinner for everyone you’ve ever met, depending on how you answer those two questions I gave you. Lots of people need to work hard to make room in a small budget for what they want—and that often means swapping fancy food for a longer guest list, or the reverse. But it’s not a necessary trade for everyone. Is it for you?
To get that conversation rolling, pop over to the handy engaged section of this here site and see if you can nail down the basics. Start with the number of guests and try to ballpark a reasonable budget. Then, start sketching out other decisions, and see how they fit with those two numbers.
But, listen. You can only have that conversation honestly when you step outside of this imagined list of “shoulds” and instead think about what makes sense to you as a couple of individuals. Who should propose, who should be the one pushing for a big wedding, and how much the Internet says you should spend and how you should spend it. Ignore all of that. There are enough factors to worry about when planning a wedding, without adding in some imaginary ones. No one is giving out prizes for the most fiscally responsible wedding. I know the Internet makes it seem like they are, but the trophies are all on backorder.
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