Notes From The Board Room


I was in one of those Big Money, Big Wedding conversations this week. You know, the one’s where words like Vera are thrown around like nothing-doing.

When you’re planning a practical wedding, and a Big Wedding conversation starts up, you sit there thinking, “Don’t ask me questions, don’t ask me questions, don’t ask me questions.” And then inevitably someone says, “Well, Meg, what are you wearing?” And you mutter, “Oh, a $250 vintage dress….” and then feel embarassed, or little annoyed, or slightly uncomfortable.

But when you’re already married, and someone says, “I’m wearing Vera, what was your wedding dress like?” You throw your head back and say, “Oh, I wore this $250 vintage dress.”

And you feel like a total bad ass.


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  • Liana

    Mine is a vintage pink dress from the 60s…I have only shown one person to avoid the “you’re wearing pink?” questions…I love it, that’s all that matters.

  • Chelsea

    I used to feel that way about having my reception in the church hall. But now that the wedding is two months away, having it there has made the whole process so much easier that I have become a vocal church hall advocate.

    • Here, here, for church hall receptions! I had one and it was a blast!

  • Colleen

    I love my dress bought out of a basement. For about .2 seconds I was worried that it was “two seasons ago, OMG!” and went F*ck it…I look gorgeous in it and no one’s going to notice what season it came from. So as I wedding undergrad, I feel pretty bad-ass about talking about what an awesome deal I got on my dress. In relation to Meg’s post though, I feel this way when I talk about doing my own flowers…I’m sure I’ll feel better about it when they’re actually done and then I’ll brag about how I did my own flowers. In the meantime, there are still scary butterflies and people giving me the side-eye.

  • Rebecca

    I’m REALLY excited that you just posted this. Because I’ve been going back and forth on this issue for a few weeks (which has felt more like a year). After getting engaged in March, we decided to get married this August because I’m SO EXCITED. How do people wait a year plus? You must have nerves of steel!

    Anyway, I’ve been obsessed with getting something not totally traditional and accidentally wandered into a vintage store two weekends ago and fell in love with this: I bought it. It fits almost perfectly, and I’m thinking of getting it altered a little bit so that the collar maybe looks more like this ( and is a little sexier?

    There’s still that tiny (like 5%) nagging worry that I’ll regret not looking all BRIDAL. But it doesn’t seem like you felt that way at all, which helps.

    • Kate

      Rebecca – we’re engagement twins of some sort! We got engaged last month and – we, too – have just decided to put this bad boy in action and we’re throwing a Labor Day wedding. That’s right, – we’re staring down your 131 day count like it ain’t NOTHIN’.



      <3 k


  • thea

    I feel like this is still playing into the whole “wedding budget I spent so much/I spent so little” spiral that we’re trying to not get caught in. Why does it have to be “a $250 vintage dress”, why not just “a vintage dress”, or even better, “a vintage dress that I feel freaking fabulous in/love to death/makes me look hot”?
    I guess I’m just feeling really frustrated that most things in wedding world also have to have some sort of implication of price tied to them- either you splurged or you were crafty or thrifty or indie or whatever and which ever you did, there is some sort of accomplishment tied to it because you either were lucky enough to have the extra $ to spend, or you are just so good at working budgets that you had a fabulous so meaningful wedding for 150 people on $500 (not that you shouldn’t get a pat on the back for pulling off something like that, but seriously, its not all about the money or lack thereof). Its gotten to the point where while I am neither having the super expensive wedding nor the “budget” wedding I feel like because I’m in the middle and average and making somethings, hiring out others, that means in wedding land its all just mediocre.

    • liz

      i can see your point here. but when i read this, i felt meg was pointing out how inferior she felt because of her financial choices before- and how in retrospect, the inferiority is gone.

      i didn’t feel that she was boasting about how much she saved, or comparing it to the Evil Person who spent tons on vera (horror of horrors)- just that something embarrassing pre-wedding, can feel sort of unique and awesome post-wedding.

      (@meg: which i think is rooted in people questioning, “is that gonna work?” after the fact, you can be confident… “oh, hell yeah. it worked.”)

      (ps, thea- my dress was $800- neither thrifty nor high-end.)

      • thea

        Liz, I didn’t think that she was boasting (I would do the same thing!), and I totally understand reflecting on the post-wedding feeling of being completely happy with the success of the purchases that she was previously sort of embarrassed about. It just made me think about how often everything is ranked by how much or little it cost. And even if we don’t come right out and say the numbers, there are presumed assumptions about how much things cost/are worth. Like with Jenn feeling awkward because she has a Reem Acra dress and people thinking its not indie enough. She scored, and I assume loves the dress, but its sad she still feels funny about it. Its sad that there is all that awkward energy flying about around something that should be simple and happy as in “I found the dress I love. Nothing more to it.” It’s like once you get involved in planning your wedding or involved in other people’s weddings, we develop some sort of magic calculator in our brains that keeps a constant tally of what people are spending/ saving and all of a sudden a large portion of who they are as a bride or human being or whatever is judged upon that.

        • I got the same sense as Thea did. My fiance and I are also having a wedding that will probably cost around the average. We don’t discuss the costs with our friends when they ask how our planning is going, because we feel it’s very personal. Our budget is our own. We’ve worked hard and saved hard to be able to afford the vision that we have for our wedding, and to have a financial starting point for our lives together. So often in reading wedding planning blogs or in discussing your choices with others, there’s this need to justify what you’re planning with how much or how little you’re spending. I’ve reached the point where it’s simply impractical to justify our choices with dollars to meet someone else’s expectations. And truth be told, there’s a lot of judgment in statements like:

          “Evil Person who spent tons on vera (horror of horrors)”

          How does wearing Vera Wang make one impractical and evil? I don’t think it’s made me that way.

          • Liz

            the quoted statement was said to emphasize the ridiculosity of it- to point out that that is exactly NOT what was being said.

          • meg

            Did you miss the part where I linked to an APW wedding where the bride wore Vera? Or where I wrote about how your budget is your business? Chill, lady, no need to be defensive about your choices. As I said in the post, I have no problem with Vera. I, however, very much dislike conversations where the ASSUMPTION is that everyone will spend $10K on their wedding dress, and if they don’t, they are broken.

            For the record, I also feel weird when people justify their choices as ‘they could afford it’ or ‘they saved for it.’ It’s your CHOICE, just own it, don’t justify it, and don’t make other people feel like they can’t afford it and that’s the issue. I could afford Vera, but I didn’t choose to… but I did choose to spend a fortune on organic/ local/ seasonal catering. Better? No. Worse? No. Different? Yup. It is what it is, it doesn’t need justifying. Done.

            None of that is even close to what this post was about.

    • This comment resonated with me…I’ve been thinking about similar themes lately as I plan my wedding and watch several close friends plan theirs.

      I don’t think Meg was suggesting any particular moral, economic, or artistic superiority with the “$250 vintage dress” reference. I think that one of the big reasons we all feel at home on this blog is that the message is: “Take a big red editing pen to the ‘wedding script rules’ and don’t look back! Don’t apologize for your edits – OWN THEM!!” . Do you want to splurge on a dress and feel like a queen? SPLURGE! (whoo hoo) Do you want to wear a pink, flowered sundress and sandals? DO IT! (whoo hoo) ….. and so on.

      Sometimes that’s easier said than done though. I can identify with Thea’s comment. Right now I’m an undergrad and possibly the most stressful thing in planning the wedding is negotiating all of the opinions and value judgments coming my way. Everyone has an opinion, from the subtle “hummm”s and concerned looks, to the questions like, “FIVE bridesmaids? Wowww!” Add them all up over a couple weeks and it can be pretty exhausting.

      The other day I was trying to understand why everybody has an opinion when it comes to weddings. I think that, especially for people who’ve already planned a wedding, it’s hard not to comment on people’s decisions when they’re so different from the ones you made. Because if their decisions are good…does it make yours bad? Or frivolous? Or stingy? Or cliche? The irony there is that, when we edit the wedding script in our own way, we have to make sure we let others edit it in THEIR own way too.

      Older friends like to tell me that if I don’t like the judgments coming my way now, “JUST WAIT till you raise KIDS.” Sigh. I think they mean that as a comfort…hahah Maybe it will feel comforting when the wedding planning is over!

      • Another Thea

        Katie S.,

        “Everyone has an opinion, from the subtle “hummm”s and concerned looks, to the questions like, “FIVE bridesmaids? Wowww!” Add them all up over a couple weeks and it can be pretty exhausting.”

        There’s a great line in a Miss Manners book somewhere when she tells a young mother that “babies are community property” to explain why no-one will keep their hands off her child. I think that for a lot of people, weddings are the same kind of thing. You can look on the bright side, and say that weddings are wonderful joyful things, and they usually *are* community events, and everyone wants to be a part of it somehow–or at least they’re all interested and want to show they care, and the ‘society blather’ is the only way they know how to show that. But the fact remains that like that cute baby that everyone wants to hold and play with, they’re not keeping their hands off your wedding.

        Taking this analogy a leetle too far, maybe it would be best to treat those people like well-meaning but spoiling grandparents? :D

    • meg

      You guys: in case I haven’t clued you in (I think long time readers know this) we spent what I would call a lot of money on our wedding. I’d go so far as to geuss that I spent more than you are spending ;) Add to that the fact that I could have spent more. Our budget was not determined by what we were ‘lucky enough to afford,’ but by what we chose to spend. That said, when I say big money wedding conversations, I mean big money wedding conversations. Where I work, it is assumed you will spend between $100K and $200K on your wedding.

      And yeah, Liz, you’re totally right. It is about ‘fuck yeah it worked.’

    • Nina

      I think it is interesting that for myself at least, I’ve never really made budgets in my entire life – I just do things I figure I can afford but don’t bother to actually write it out. But with the wedding, I’m suddenly tracking everything I spend and trying so hard to adhere to what is really a pretty abstract final number we picked. So I think this might be why money ends up more front and centre in our wedding discussions – because suddenly we’re thinking about it so much more. And mentioning money or how much something cost isn’t (on apw at least) about showing off one way or the other, it’s just a part of the wedding process and each of us thinking through how we’re going to split up the pie that is our budget.

      • liz

        true that. AND even those of us who normally DO budget, aren’t used to budgeting for the things we need to in a wedding… so it’s nice to hear what someone is paying for, say, invitations or whatever- just to clue you in about where you fall in the spectrum (and if you’re getting a deal, or being scammed)

      • Tamara

        I totally don’t budget either, and now freak out because we’re near “the number;” a number which I pulled out of the air and based upon how much I would be sick with dropping in one sitting. Only one problem; I tend to buy things in dribs and drabs, so $20 here and $20 there doesn’t matter to the bottom line in my head…until I see the number at the bottom of the spreadsheet.

        As an undergrad, my circumstances put me in the midst of wedding/marriage “haters” (I’m a grad student, and it’s so hip to hate on “patriarchy”) or my family, who lives far away and never needed a wedding, marriage, or even cohabitation to legitimate or demean a relationship, and so they can’t get down with spending “a lot,” but they want everyone included, don’t want to (or can’t) contribute, and never did it, so their perceptions are just completely off- they have no idea what it costs to feed 200 people, and no idea that 200 people is an easy number to get to.

        I agree that in the end it’s about throwing out the rule book and doing the You book. In the end, to be legal, all that’s required is two consenting parties (unfortunately two, and mostly opposite-sexed, but I hold onto hope) and a signed license (and not everyone cares about being legal- how about that!?). Other than that, we ALL (undergrads, grads, and bystanders) have to be willing to let couples create this ritual to suit them, not tradition, the government, or Aunt Susie’s* sensibilities.
        *No actual Aunt Susie was harmed in writing this comment.

  • Good god, I look forward to that laugh-it-off feeling so bad. I’m usually pretty confident, and I really love what we’re doing, but… Sometimes it’s just frustrating. I was talking with one of my fiance’s friends’ fiancee (oh, wow, confusing– my boyfriend’s guy friend is engaged, and I was talking to HIS girlfriend), and when we started talking, she was laughing about how she had a breakdown over chargers. I was laughing, talking about the chairs at our venue (they’re GORGEOUS, and I have no idea why people freak out and rent chiavari or whatever), and we kept talking, it became clear she didn’t have a budget. 200 people, in Washington DC…. no budget. She wasn’t even sure of the food minimums for her venue, but they were “over $20,000”. And that’s where I started to kind of sink into the cushions.

    I don’t mind talking about my wedding; I love what we’re planning. But when two people planning similar events on totally different budgets start talking, it just gets… awkward.

    Tangentially, I was talking with my fiance last night, and while we’re both excited for the wedding, and looking forward to it, most of all, we just want it to be OVER. Planning is stressful, it’s costing a LOT of money, and can we just be married, please? Sighhhh.

  • Jessie Decker

    I think early on in our planning we knew we couldn’t afford to have the big money/big wedding conversation – and even if we could afford to, we wouldn’t feel comfortable using money to be able to. I just really want our wedding to be representative of us – and it will be. Low budget & all :)

  • Vanessa

    or a $250 ebay dress!! :) I got asked that question last week and got an awesome high five from the girl asking the question. Felt so good! Whereas before I was married I felt a little “unworthy” when the bride I was talking to was ecstatic about her $1k dress and gave me an “oh thats nice” look..

    • Dude, I found my (normally $300) dress on eBay, new with tags, for $65 and was like, “Score!” And when people ask about it I say, “Oh, it’s gorgeous, [describe style], it fits me perfectly without alterations, AND I got it for $65!” And because I’m all kinds of triumphant when I say that, I think people don’t have time to pity me for “having” (choosing!) to buy an inexpensive dress on eBay, and that’s nice. But maybe I just haven’t run into the kind of people who judge others based on their budgets? If that’s the case, I hope it stays that way! :)

  • Jenn

    Funny, I feel mumbly when asked about my dress for the opposite reason. I tried on and bought a dress that I loved at the Filene’s Basement sale last year. Only realized later that it was a big fancy $$$ designer (Reem Acra) that is considered pretty desirable among people who care about such things. I hadn’t heard of her when I bought the dress. So when I talk to my more indie, I-would-never-buy-a-designer-dress friends, I feel embarrassed that my dress isn’t something from a vintage shop and has a fancy designer label.

    • It’s interesting how we feel so pulled by WIC and BIC.

    • liz

      dude, girl- be proud of your shopping prowess.

      • C

        I agree with Liz! You got a deal; nothing to feel bad about.

    • My dress is also from the Running of the Brides, and I think it’s great – because with the BIC girls, I can be all, “I got my dress from Running of the Brides and it was great because there was no headache/hassle and I got a great deal.” And then with the snooty WIC people, I can just say that my dress is “by Mikaella” and mention that it’s a private label gown (which is true, because it’s not on their website.)

    • Chelsea

      I got my dress at the Running of the Brides, too! One top of the fantastic deal, it’s still one of my favorite wedding-planning memories, because we all had such a good time. And don’t let your friends make you feel weird; disliking a designer dress just because it’s a designer dress is every bit as silly as liking a designer dress just because it’s a designer dress. If you love it, it fits your style, and you spent an amount you’re happy with, what else is there to worry about?

    • meg

      Dude, what’s wrong with Reem Acra? Besides, you should come hang out in my life, you’d be ashamed you bought something on sale.

      • Jenn

        Meg– I definitely didn’t mean to say there was anything wrong with Reem Acra, or that I’m not totally proud of the deal that I scored (even if I didn’t realize what a score it was until after purchasing it!). I was just pointing out that this feeling gets generated from the other side as well. I work in the non-profit, enviro world, and there’s a lot of one-upmanship about how green, indie, not bought-into-the-system you are. And I totally recognize that a lot of my insecurity about these things is self-inflicted because I even feel this way when I read blogs about strangers’ totally handmade, everything made-from-scratch weddings. I keep trying to tell myself that it’s okay that I’m not crafty (never have been) and that my fiance and I are representing OUR values in other ways (event being held on an organic farm, hiring a caterer who does local, organic ingredients, etc.).

        And yeah, the dress is freaking gorgeous and I can’t wait to wear it. So NYAH NYAH negative voices in my head!

        p.s. I went to Filene’s by myself at lunch and bought the dress. So I didn’t have the fun friends bonding experience out of it. But speaking of insecurity… I went up the escalator thinking, “Omigod… what did I just do?!” quickly followed by, “Dude, I can totally sell this and at least break even if I find something I like better.” :)

  • ddayporter

    ahhh totally!! we have this friend couple who recently got engaged and the rock on her finger is like KAPOWWWWW and the number they talk about when they mention how much the wedding is going to cost… blows my mind. so definitely before the wedding I was always thinking the same thing “oh man please do not bring up weddings, do not ask me about mine, do not ask me–!”

    honestly this site is the only place I’ve ever felt comfortable talking about our wedding because I feel like it’s a judgment-free zone. I don’t feel like APW people will feel defensive when I talk about our details and I don’t get defensive when other people talk about theirs. everywhere else I was always really on edge talking about it with other engaged or recently married types, because it does feel like a competition of some kind even when you Absolutely Do Not feel that way about it.

    but now that it’s over? all I have to say is “we had a great time.” nobody asks about your colors after the wedding! that’s a relief. haven’t got the dress question post-wedding yet but if I did, I would just smile and say “oh some little-known designer, got it as a sample, no big deal.” rock it.

  • My fiance got caught in a conversation with another guy who is planning his wedding with his fiance. First, it was really weird to listen to two men who were both so involved with planning a wedding. Second, you could tell they both have two TOTALLY different ideas of what a wedding should look like. This guy was asking my fiance about tuxes, limos, themes, first dances… and my fiance felt really embarrassed. We’re not doing any of that, not only because we can’t afford it, but we have a completely different vision. We still have some wedding insecurities that cause us to be embarrassed, but we’re doing our best not to feel so burdened by them. Although, I can’t wait to be on the other side with you and some of these other ladies, throwing our heads back and flicking our wrists at our clever purchases and ideas.

  • Sarah Beth

    Ugh…. we’ve been fortunate enough to avoid those sorts of questions. There’s still a lot of “it’s your day” talk, but heinously expensive attire/food/entertainment just isn’t expected. What is expected is that you follow tradition to a tee, and that’s driving me crazy.

    Take the honeymoon. Every one wants to know where we’re going, and, as it stands now, we aren’t taking a honeymoon. I doubt we could even afford to take a week off from work, much less pay for a trip. Even a long weekend is out of the question.
    When I told my cousin a few months ago, “Oh, I don’t know. I’m not sure we’re having a honeymoon,” the car descended into an uncomfortable silence. I was deeply embarrassed.Then I told my mom the same thing not long ago and she had a fit.

    She and my step-dad are paying for the wedding, because we are slap broke, and would not be able to afford a wedding for another five or ten years. (We’ll graduate from undergrad with roughly $50k in student debt between us, then he’s off to medical school.)

    When I said.”Well, the honeymoon is up to us, and we just can’t swing it,” she flipped. “NO, it’s not ‘us’! It’s the groom’s responsibility to pay for the honeymoon!…I can’t believe he’s not taking you on a honeymoon! He owes you a honeymoon…You’re getting married, you need to take one. ” Blah, blah…..
    Finally, I told her that if it bothered her so much, she was welcome to pay for it. Otherwise, she needed to butt out.

    Apart from that, it’s the down-the-aisle escort/giving away that seems to be the biggest deal.

    • liz

      i think even on apw you’ll get the (probably much more gentle) nudges to have a “honeymoon.” quotes, though, are meant to emphasize the fact that it doesn’t have to be 2 weeks all-inclusive in tahiti. i would suggest you still try to have (even just a weekend, if taking off of work really isn’t an option) time holed up in your house, or at a hotel down the street.

      not because it’s tradition.

      not because the grooom owes you.

      because you need some alone time to recoup from the stress of all these crazies trying to run your life.

      • Yeah, what Liz said (“you need alone time to recoup from the stress of all these crazies trying to run your life”).

        (By the way, Meg (and other SF people), we’ll be coming to San Francisco for 4-ish days for our honeymoon at the end of July, both to escape and be alone and to see if we want to live there (we live in Europe now, but I’d like to be closer to my family in the US), so I may be emailing you and asking for recommendations (and/or coffee dates!), and I hope you don’t mind!)

    • ddayporter

      WOW yeah. the groom owes you???? that is a new one to me. what is this, 1957? +1 on what Liz said.

    • meg

      What Liz said. I know, I know, I know, but the honeymoon is the only part of the wedding that I’m an evangelist for. And I don’t mean “take an expensive trip.” I mean, take a staycation and unplug the phones, or go to that cheap motel at the edge of town.

      Pre-wedding I thought Honeymoons were so much wedding blather/ an excuse to take a nice trip. Post wedding it is the ONE price of advice I try to impart to friends. Because here is the thing – you are in an altered state. You are not ready to go back to the real world. You need at least a few days alone to soak in the enormity of what just happened. It’s so rare that you have these huge lifetime moments of pure bliss, so give yourself a handful of days to soak it in, with the phones unplugged.

      And I know, I know, I know. I normally don’t say things like this, but I think all of the wedding grads will back me up (it’s usually their #1 piece of advice too, whether they had a honeymoon or not). So, anyway, feel free to shrug me off, because I’m being an asshole and giving you advice you don’t want to hear ;) I would deserve that.

      • Sarah Beth

        No, Meg, I don’t think you’re being a jerk. Our “honeymoon” will probably be spending the rest of the weekend (and maybe Monday, too) in *our* home, with no phones or internet. Possibly unpacking things, breaking in any shiny new presents, writing thank you notes, cooking together, and just generally basking in the glow of our new life.

        But in our paradigm, it’s not a honeymoon unless you go somewhere. And in Southern Baptist Land especially, it assumed that both the bride & groom are virgins (reality & statistics need not apply.) Therefore, the honeymoon is a very weighty thing. Blowing it off like it’s nothing special is basically sacrilege.

        Do I want a “real” honeymoon? Yes! Did I make my fiance pinky-promise to take me to Europe on our tenth anniversary? You better believe it. But life happens, and I want to married WAY more than I want a fancy trip. ;)

        • meg

          The fancy trip is just gravy. You have a lifetime of trips together…. this is just about they OH MY GOD WE DID WHAT???? It’s going to be awesome.

        • Lauren

          Sarah Beth, I am totally with you here. We COMPLETELY lucked out and are being offered a stay on the beach at my fiancé’s great-aunt’s time-share condo for free, and I’m still worried about how on earth are we going to take that time off work and pay for gas to get there and food while we’re there, and all the incidentals that come up when you go on vacation– but it’s such a nice gift we just can’t turn it down, and I’m crossing my fingers that come June we won’t regret taking it. I’m sure we won’t– I’m determined to love every minute of my honeymoon because I feel like we do need that time away from everyone.

          Also, I’m from Southern Baptist Land too, and I know what people would say and think if we didn’t go on a honeymoon. I don’t blame you for being frustrated with that– it crossed my mind too, back before we knew we were going for sure. And it’s nervewracking! But you totally handled it well, and I admire you for it. A conversation like that with my mother would have ended with us both in tears, most likely. I was honestly relieved to avoid it!

          • Sarah Beth

            Lauren- don’t be fooled! There were plenty of tearful wedding-related conversations!
            Actually starting with the day we got engaged! (Horrible memories! :\) But we’ve been engaged for a LONG time, and after almost three years, I just don’t have the strength or inclination to have those fights any more. I only wish I had been this grounded from the beginning.

        • Sarah Beth- I am going to link to my own wedding graduate post where I said that we went on a honeymoon (close by, for four days, but still away) and I wished we had just STAYED HOME. Enjoy every second :)

    • I am on the “honeymoon” bandwagon, too. For our wedding, we’re doing a destination trip that involves us staying in a house with my entire family (mom, dad, brothers, sisters-in-law, our two kids and my niece and nephews) for five days. You can bet that the morning after the wedding (last day of the destination wedding thing), T and I are hopping on a plane alone. We will be unavailable except in the direst of emergencies — the kind of emergency that would require us to schedule an emergency helicopter trip landing on the roof of a hospital. We’re going to spend days lollygagging in British Columbia, traveling around the islands on a ferry and snacking on tea and scones in the afternoons. We’re going to have a lot of sex, which modesty prevents while bunked with the entire clan. We’re going to crawl out of bed around lunch time and complain because all of the restaurants have stopped serving breakfast. At the end of our trip, we will get back onto the plane refreshed and ready to talk to people again.

      This is not some expensive European grand adventure. It’s 6 days, 5 nights of rest in a pretty B&B on Victoria Island and a lot of lollygagging and smelling of flowers. I will be one with Ferdinand the Bull, and I can hardly wait.

      • Liz

        Sarah, where in Victoria are you going? Ideally, we’d like to go there either for the legal wedding or for a honeymoon. When we were there last (ok, the ONE time we were there :)) was for work and we stayed at this place called Brentwood Bay Lodge…which was great, but a little far from Victoria proper (and I’m not sure how much we want to spend, since work is obviously not paying for it this time :)).

        • We’re a year out still, so haven’t picked our hotels just yet. We’ve got 6 nights, so we’re planning on three nights in Victoria and 3 nights in Vancouver. We’re planning to get the ferry passes that allow island hopping, but we don’t want to switch hotels at night so we’ll just pick one hotel/b&b in Victoria and one in Vancouver and call it done.

    • I totally agree with the honeymoon. I don’t think you need to go anywhere, but I do personally feel you need to be away from “normal” for multiple days. I didn’t think this before and we thought of staying home for the honeymoon, but instead we took 2 nights in a hotel in town. That was wonderful, but both my husband and I agreed after we returned home, that two nights was not enough. We ended up being pulled into regular life way too quickly; my husband had a couple work things come up and we found ourselves doing laundry and stuff, and we were just SO not in a place where we were ready to return to all that. We both could have used another day or two to just BE and enjoy us…and sleep…away from somewhere where people can find us. Of course I realize this isn’t always possible, and it wasn’t for us, but….I just wanted to say that I think some sort of multiple day get away (camping or whatever!) is ideal if at all possible…

      • Maybe if you didn’t answers the phone and acted like you were away, and were really, really careful about this, it could work at home…. We just didn’t guard our time and privacy in those days after the two nights in the hotel…

    • We were deciding between two places for a trip a month and a half after our wedding when I was on a school break (for the weekend after the wedding we stayed at a hotel and went to the zoo!!). It seemed like no matter which option I said we were leaning towards, people always told us the other option sounded better. So I stopped telling people where we were going and just said we hadn’t decided yet.

      And then I started wondering why they were asking. Did they want to crash it? Did they want to be invited? Did they just want to talk about how awesome their honeymoon was?

      I decided it was really the last reason. They just wanted an opening to talk about themselves. So saying we hadn’t decided yet gave them that opening and meant they couldn’t criticize our ideas.

  • Kim

    I’m super stoked about my dress: I got it at a Brides Against Breast Cancer event, where the dresses are either samples donated from designers and bridal salons or once-worn dresses from individual brides. Instead of paying an inflated price to a salon, I *donated* to a great cause – helping make women (and men) with terminal breast cancer’s last wishes come true.

    But as for the overall cost of the wedding, since most of the costs are falling on our (my) shoulders at this point, I have a really hard time talking to anyone (even my fiance) without drilling down to every line item cost in my head. Apparently, I say no to frills a lot. Why do people question that? I’m cost-conscious and have always been very eco-protective.

    All I can say is that I can’t wait to have someone ask me about our wedding so I can fire back – everything in our wedding is either reused or can be repurposed. No waste, no how.

    • Jennifer

      I have a Brides Against Breast Cancer dress, too! I’m not actually super-stoked about the dress (I do like it, just not as much as I was hoping to like my dress, and even though it’s a screaming deal compared to what the dress would have retailed for, it was still more than I was hoping to spend on my dress) but the fact that the money I spent goes to a good cause goes a long way towards helping me make peace with what was kind of an expensive impulse/desperation purchase on the days I wish I’d kept looking.

      • Camille

        Can I latch on to this here for a second?

        “I’m not actually super-stoked about the dress (I do like it, just not as much as I was hoping to like my dress…)”

        I too am not OMG THIS IS THE ONE about my dress. I like it. Alot. But there’s a large part of me that says, “oh no! I should have sown it. I should have found it at goodwill or a vintage shop or something more interesting!” It’s not indie. It’s not really practical. Its not reputable (hello chinese factory C173-1). I’ve christened it “The Mullet Dress” and happily that distracts people from asking who made it and where I bought it.

        But to be honest, it takes more than one OMG moment to fall in love, whether its with is a dress, a location, or (most understandably) a person. So sometimes, when I feel slightly insecure about my dress (oh, look at that one! It’s so pretty/indie/neato [I’vemadeabigmistake]) I visualize my off-the-“made-in-china”-rack dress in all its mullet-y goodness and we sit together. We get to know each other. We feel comfortable together. And eventually I feel confident that I’ve really adopted this dress in love.

        haha…and then I laugh at myself for saying “adopted this dress in love”.

        okay, my piece is done. :D Just a comment on the actual conversation:

        When we Practical People can look at a top notch, dressed-to-the-nines, awesome pah-ty right next to a laid back happy backyard shindig and be **thrilled** for both, why does the cold cold number change our feelings?

        I’m just going to say I don’t have a budget. We have some money AND we are somewhat broke, but we’ve made the decisions we need and we will make it happen.

        Yay us!

        • Erin

          “…and be totally thrilled for both…”

          That’s why I stick around, Team Practical!

        • Tamara

          Business in the front, party in the back?! I’d love to call my dress the “mullet dress.” Fabs!

  • I am very squirmy when talking to friends about money. I’m from Nebraska but currently live near and am getting married in Boston. There were a lot of good reasons for this decision but I squirm every time my friends mention how they are upset to be paying $$ for something and I can only find things that are twice that amount. It was a huge relief when I was at a conference and a prof who just recently moved from Boston found out I was getting married. He excitedly told me how proud he was that they kept their budget “Boston sane” and quoted an amount that I was aiming for.

    Disclaimer: Yes, I realize you can have a reasonable wedding (in terms of Midwestern numbers) in the Boston vicinity. Most of those places require everyone to rent a car and so on and so forth or didn’t fit all of our family. I’ve also learned when you’re in a city you only sorta know, wedding planning is hard compared to the place you called home for many years.

    • Kristen

      YES!!! Which is actually why I hired a wedding planner. They can help you find good, reputable vendors in your budget. I felt silly and frivilous at first getting one but the more I think about it, the more reasonable and smart it really sounds. I’m actually really thrilled about it now (before I was a little embarrassed). I would love to talk about it if you’re interested. Is it okay to include email addresses on here? I hope so. kdodd33 at gmail.

  • robin

    Meg, I think APW is so much the reason that I *didn’t* feel bad at all when planning. If anything, I think I was so buoyed by you and the rest of Team Practical that it was a source of pride/amusement to tell people all of things I wasn’t doing or having. Then wait for their confused/disappointed/judgmental faces or comments, and giggle inside. All of the “what do you mean you’re not having bridesmaids/dancing/a veil…” It didn’t upset me before the wedding, and it certainly doesn’t matter afterwards.

    After your wedding, you’re *married,* and I promise that you won’t care about anything else.

    • Nina

      I totally understand what you mean in being “buoyed” by Team Practical. I feel the same way. It’s like you guys have immunized me from the negativity and made me proud to stand up for what we’re doing and how we’re going about it. And yet not in a boastful way at all… the opposite in fact. I’m less likely now to comment on anything wedding related, unless it is to defend someone’s choices, because I realize now how much more complicated and individual it all is.

      • ddayporter


      • Julianna

        yes! THIS. I am so grateful for the “sanity bubble” I now carry around and surround myself with before, during, and after wedding-planning discussions.

    • Lauren

      I feel the exact same way! I think the key is to be excited about your decisions when you tell people: “Our venue? The local community center has a really beautiful room that’ll be great for the reception. The best part is, tables and chairs are included, and they have an outdoor space available for the ceremony, AND it’s all less than $500 for the day. Isn’t that AWESOME! We’re so happy to be able to support the center by having our wedding there.” I think it’s hard for people to second-guess you when you obviously know what you want (and why you want it – not just because “it was cheap” or “it was designer”).

  • I’m proud of my dress, not because of how much I paid or didn’t pay for it, and not because of the label (it was cut out, I don’t even know who the designer is). I’m proud because I bought it at a local consignment shop already worn. Some of the money went back to the first owner, and I don’t have the guilt of buying a dress that will only be used once.

    I see other commenters sharing that their dresses benefited nonprofits or were vintage or somehow non-WIC. I don’t think we’re going to the other extreme of indie/BIC bragging. I think we just made decisions we’re proud of and want to share.

    • Liz

      ” I think we just made decisions we’re proud of and want to share.”


      • I’ll second that “yes”!

  • Ky

    I’ve felt awkward about a lot of wedding related things (both my $232 on-sale Betsey Johnson dress that wasn’t really a wedding dress but that I looooved and my hotel reception, which wasn’t different enough or cheap enough– for me!– but I went along with because it was easier).

    The thing is, I found it incredibly hard during my wedding planning when people DIDN’T talk exact numbers. Because I would see something online that I loooooved and I would search high and low for a way to replicate it and I would throw my hands up and say, “Well, there goes THAT idea– way too much money.” I had a really hard time trying to put together the wedding I wanted on my budget because so many of the beautiful DIY/indie weddings I adored were not actually all that budget friendly. So, when I was told, “If you have your wedding here, we will make sure the extra is covered” I sighed and said, “Ok.”

    • meg

      I know. That’s the crappy part of not finding a way to talk about numbers on APW (because no matter what I say, someone always feels pressure to be more indie/ cheaper, and someone else is always shocked at how much I spent, and it’s just no win). I’m pondering ways that we could talk about money that would be constructive.

      Because just like Sarahdipity says above, it’s so effing relative. Our wedding was probably on par with the ‘national average’ (whatever that means really) but was HALF of the San Francisco average. Plus, as I mention above (achem) I spend my days in a world where the average is a six figure wedding…. so that also influences your head space. If I’d been working in an environment where everyone went to the courthouse, I would have felt like a high roller instead of a cheapskate.

      • Katelyn

        Gotta love us math majors- the second I read your post I got to thinking about how you could use the national average vs. the SF average to adjust your costs… and then I realized it doesn’t matter. What you spent was what you spent, and while talking about budgets is important, it really is too personalized to discuss them on less than vague terms (it’s about priorities and whatnot).

        That being said, I have a lot of ideas spinning around that would help put dollar amounts on individual items based on personal budget, budget priorities, the WIC budget % allotments and a relativity of the national average vs. local average that I would love to put together if anyone is interested :)

        • I’m definitely interested. DEFINITELY. Because I too am trying top plan some sort of sane wedding in a major metropolitan area, where the local costs can be as much as 10x the national average. So figuring out what’s really possible would be SUPER SUPER HELPFUL.

          email me.

          eav 2 AT georgetown DOT edu

        • meg

          I wanna see that!

        • ddayporter

          I don’t even understand what you just said but I would love to see that, if it would be comprehensible to math dummies! :)

      • Liz

        that’s one of the weird things about weddings. it’s nearly impossible to say, “i did this” without a bunch of people reading it as, “you should do this.”

  • I love that bad ass feeling. I love telling people I bought my dress on Craigslist and sold it for the same amount I paid, minus cleaning. I have great pictures, felt gorgeous as myself and passed it on to someone else. Bad ass.

  • TrailTart

    @KIM, I say no to frills a lot too. Just not my thing, in most cases. Wedding costs add up SO fast. We’re in the Bay Area, and even with zero frills, no flowers, cake from friends, up-and-coming (read: cheap and talented) photographer, etc., we are going to end up spending more than we’d like. I don’t know where people find room for even DIY frills in low-budget weddings.

    As for the dress, I love telling my story, even as an unconventional undergrad. I had admired my too-expensive dress online and finally googled it to find a place to try it on. A craigslist ad pops up — my dress is local, gently used, and deeply discounted. I go to try it on — the first wedding gown I ever tried on in my life. It fits perfectly, right down to the hem. I buy it. Magic. To me it’s not a story about the money, but about not overthinking and letting wedding-planning magic happen. Buying the first and only dress I tried on is clearly the most rock-and-roll thing I’ve ever done, but it is where I want to be with the wedding: open to letting rightness happen easily.

    • Nina

      LOVE that story! that is magic, and when that happens, there is no looking back!

    • Amanda

      my dress story is EXACTLY the same as yours! googled it and saw it on local craigslist, got it for waaay less. was the only dress i tried on, too :)

      • Tamara

        I am so into this thread today…sorry!

        Maybe that’s the deal- to not just talk about the costs, and the geography, but also talk about the magic…because I have never heard wedding magic stories until I came here to APW. It was either “Mommy and Daddy let me have it!” or “I am so indie/talented/crafty (and so are my friends) that it all came together, while only spending $100!” OK, and now I feel like crap because neither of those are my reality.

        The other thing this reminds me of, is that especially when we flinch at hearing someone else’s story, we read value judgments where there may be none because we are ashamed of what we want (whether that’s Vera or vintage or sweats), or of not being able to “be the princess” because of race, gender, class, time of year, but really wanting it all the same…so hearing that someone else had what we wanted makes us jealous. Nice girls aren’t jealous, so we make the story fit judgments we have about people who, lets face it, figured out how to do it. It’s not about them; this is all about is anyway. Hence my motto: weddings bring up all your s*&t. (TM)

        • TrailTart

          I agree completely that there is a different way of thinking about money that rarely gets mentioned. And for me it’s the what am I happy spending on this and what is this worth to me question. Because for me, limits on wedding spending are entirely self-enforced. So, we try to make the decisions that feel right at each step, and pay what that costs. But that’s hard. It requires constant gut checks, not bank-account checks. Because I’m just not willing to spend all our money on the wedding. Not even close. I think this is why I love the wedding magic moments — when I feel so good and right about my choice and the cost (though intrinsically a factor in the rightness) is secondary.

  • I can’t believe I hadn’t found this site earlier.
    With 2 months to go, your dose of reality takes a load off of my shoulders–and gives me something to point to when my friends think I’m wacky for wanting to DIY stuff.

  • robin

    Meg, if it helps, I think you DO talk about money in constructive ways. And I think it’s a shame that some of the comments earlier today don’t recognize that. Any one who reads this site regularly knows that you only ever say the same thing– your budget is your budget. PERIOD. You don’t get points for saving money, and lose them for spending. **Or vice versa.** You want to have a big, fancy wedding? You want to have hot dogs after a trip to the courthouse? Super. Rock it out. Whatever IT is for you and your partner.

    Frankly, I don’t know how anyone could take away any other message from APW. If people are looking for a fight I wish they would look somewhere else. We are nice here.

    • Thank you, Robin, for this:
      “If people are looking for a fight I wish they would look somewhere else. We are nice here.”

      • robin

        My pleasure. :)

  • Kristen

    Speaking of Vera… I heard an ad on the radio the other day for – wait for it – a Vera Wang MATTRESS. WTF? The lady makes some really pretty things but what? Paying big money for a Vera Wang mattress? First, she’s busy making pretty things, not researching what would help you sleep better (and therefore get your beauty rest and therefore be an extra pretty thing yourself). So really it is just a matter of her name being slapped on something – that you’re going to cover up! Gah. Drives me nuts.

    On a related to weddings note… Really? Most of the people you work with will spend $100-200,000 on weddings??? Somebody find my eyeballs. They just popped out of my head. I thought that those were the extreme exception to the rule! Holy crap! Ah, the times I’m reminded how small town I am. Thanks for telling us that. It really helps me with perspective. Frreal.

    • liz

      cities are a bizarre netherworld when it comes to weddings. we went to one place that wanted to charge us $20,000 for a wedding for 25 people. ummm. yeah. crazy time.

  • fleda

    Money conversations make me feel regionality and also make me aware of the little subcultures we all live in.

    I come from wealthy Boston (to put it bluntly). Within the circles I grew up in, to disdain someone for spending less money is seen as a shameful sin. That’s like disdaining people because they’re poorer than you, right? What the heck kind of ethical basis could you possibly have for that?

    Ostentation is the faux pas in my set. As is assuming the worthiness of an event is determined by its high price tag. As is talking crassly about the size of a diamond in order to surreptitiously discuss the relative wealth of the groom… etc etc.

    Reading about some of the crap other women have had to put up with makes me grateful for some of the features of life within this northeastern urban bubble. Of course, this bubble has its drawbacks too.

    Since most of us have to deal with disapproval from multiple sides–WIC, BIC, my vegan, Communist friends, my steak-loving, Republican friends–it’s particularly nice to have this blog as a rock to hang on to. That’s a good thing, because I definitely want both my Communist and my Republican friends (I’m not exaggerating) at the wedding, and this is one way to deal with the occasional difficulties of keeping the tent large.

  • Yay Running of the Brides people! Jenn- I just went with my mom and we walked in AFTER the actual running part, so it took me an hour to even get my hands on something, but I found a dress that I liked a lot and then altered to something I loved (by adding straps).

    And Meg, these comments about you not bragging that you only spent $250 crack me up. I am sure that’s true, but I will own that I TOTALLY brag about spending $250 on my dress. I brag hard. In the exact same way that when someone last week said they liked my necklace, I said “Thanks! It’s Vera Wang for Kohls. It was $16!” I don’t know a single woman who hasn’t bragged about how little she spent on a great piece of clothing– why should your wedding dress be any different?

    • meg

      True dat.

      I guess I just want to be clear about how I’m super braggy about great deals, I’m hardly the worlds cheapest person always. I’m totally about the high/low of fashion and everything. IE, cheap bad ass dress, expensive bad ass food. And I don’t think a good deal makes you a better person… well… though I do like the savvy shopping gene ;)

      Though in the context of that conversation, my food would have been cheap as hell too.

  • Becca

    Six weeks in to my life as a ‘graduate’ this remains one of the few weddingy blogs I visit (except for a few personal blogs – I can’t resist seeing how those big days go, even though they’ll be a few months after mine, and even though I never have or will in all likelihood meet these amazing women).

    I’m not sure at all that this post was meant to go down the budget path – but my two cents anyway… A few months back when I found APW, I found a comment Meg made (I think…) about how it’s not how much, but how you spend it that counts – and so we set out on a bit of a mission to spend our (a bit smaller than New Zealand’s national average) budget on things we felt were in line with our values. And even though I feel like it was a helluva lot of money to spend on 9 hours of my life, I feel good about where that money went – to a local dress designer who sources fabrics from companies/individuals whose ethic she likes, to a small locally owned winery/venue (where I washed dishes at high school), to a florist just starting out for herself who used locally grown, in season flowers, to the same hairdresser who used to cut my hair when I lived in my hometown before going to uni… I made a few detaily things myself, as a creative outlet I think cos doing a PhD in plant genetics is awesome but you don’t get to make pretties, and in most cases it was a bit cheaper too. And in the end it was probably a bit WIC, a bit crafty, a bit ‘grad student + carpenter = not super rich’ but we had 75 of the people we love the most there, and although I’m sure there was the ineveitable judgement, people at least kept it behind our backs, mostly =)

    I’m not even sure what point I was making anymore – maybe just a weird need to justify all that money spent in a public but anonymous forum – but I think the point was (like the smart lady said a while back) spend whatever, but spend in a way you feel good about.

    • I was talking to a recently married friend today Becca, and she was told by a local craft shop that does specialty wedding invites that an “Average” Kiwi wedding is about $35k. We were wondering whether he was just telling her that to guilt her into spending more on her stationery (total cost for wedding of 100 people was about $100!)
      We reckon a sane “average” cost would be about 20-25k at most, and she has pulled in well under that, while my better half and I expect to do the same…

      Budget wise, the best advice I have ever heard was that you should spend what you have and are willing to part with for the day, but its not worth getting into loads of debt for – if you have to do that, perhaps you should change your plans or put things off for a little while longer! (advice my Brother in law could have done with listening to, but he is very Christian and they desperately just wanted to be allowed to sleep together and hold hands in church!)

  • Anna

    I spent beans on my dress, but I loved it. Now as I am putting together the photos I think “damn, I was beautiful on that night!” and smile. Who cares if it was actually a white bridesmaid dress (gasp!). I’m still in love with it.

  • caitlin

    I’m throwing my head back for my off-the-rack dress already… and I haven’t even worn it “for real” yet. I just love it.

    ps. the comments on this post are delightful!

  • Kim

    I haven’t had too many of these types of discussions for various reasons, but when I do end up in the midst of a Big Wedding conversation, I find myself silently willing people to ask me questions. Go on, let’s talk about Thing A, which I’m not having, or Thing B, which we’re doing ourselves, or Thing C, which is more expensive but more socially/environmentally responsible. Go on, ask me. I want to see the look on your* face, and then I might explain my choice — not because I have to prove anything to you, but to feel that bit of pride, that bit of freedom, that bit of bad ass-ness that comes with knowing you don’t have to do things a certain way for them to work out great for you.

    (Don’t get me wrong; usually I’m pretty passive-aggressive. But man, that feeling of bad ass-ness is fantastic.)

    *you = whomever I happen to be spiting in these conversations.

  • peanut

    Meg, thank you for this post. It reminded me that after the wedding, all the things that I am stressing out about and then feeling stupid and guilty about stressing out about will no longer be there, and all I’ll have is fond memories and a slightly smug attitude towards brides-to-be :)

    • meg

      And that, of course, was exactly why I wrote it. Afterward all the worry melts to – my wedding could go toe to toe with ANY wedding. F*cking bring it! And that’s a great place to be.

      • Suzanne

        See, this is the kind of language–my wedding can go toe-to-toe with yours!–that makes me uncomfortable because it evokes the idea of weddings in competition with one another. I say this out of all respect for you, Meg; I love this site because it never stands for that kind of thing. As a wedding graduate, all my worry has melted into, “My wedding was a blessing and beautiful in ways I couldn’t ever have expected. I’m sure yours was/will be, too.”

        • C

          Suzanne, I think you’re being a little sensitive and taking what Meg’s saying wayyy too seriously. It’s classic tongue in cheek Meg sass.

          The thing is, I suspect that the world that Meg operates in (and Meg you’re making me wonder, what the heck you do in “real” life) is probably a highly competitive one (you don’t have $200,000 for a wedding, if you don’t have big money, and you don’t get into a board room by sitting on your butt).

          So I say F*ing bring it! As in, I’m not ashamed and my wedding was just as rad as yours. So there :)

        • Tamara

          I think it’s a style thing…we would never berate a bride who claimed she was as pretty as any other bride…but when we make the weddings go toe-to-toe, we’re stepping out of the nice girl box, and brides are supposed to be dulcet swan-like figures with soothing words and…fuggedahboudit!

          I’m a black, plus-size, grad student bride doing an interracial, non-feminist, budget, patchwork, DIY, clueless-in-girl-land destination wedding, and it’s gonna be on par in greatness to Ivanka Trump’s, as well as the cool punk-rock burlesque letterpress printshop owner who has 10 professional photog friends, a dressmaking mother, and a taco-truck catering father! What, son?!

  • Meg-
    I love all your responses almost as much as the actual post. I’m especially in love with your reiteration that every decision we make for our wedding is a CHOICE. Who cares how much or how little was spent or if you could afford it- you made the choice. So own it. Enjoy it. And love it! :) Thanks!

  • I admit I did this yesterday with my fiances brother.

    He was skiting about how he had this new low-interest credit card where they had transferred the balance of the money they owed. I turned to him and told him we paid off our credit cards in full.
    He got snooty and reminded us he “had just had a wedding”. So I got a touch snotty back… “well, we will STILL do that, the month of the wedding. Nothing for ours is going on our credit cards”.
    And I admit, I felt good about the fact that our wedding is obviously so much better within our budget than theirs was, since they are looking to spend the next 12-18 months paying theirs off, and we finish the day debt free. But at the same time, I feel a tad guilty about feeling superior.
    BUT, that said, I am a HUGE fan of the idea that you shouldnt put yourself into (much) extra debt just for a wedding. Why start your married life with all that extra financial stress?

    • way to be honest here. i think the most interesting thing about people’s reactions to this post is the immediate flare-up of emotion. everybody reacts differently, and i think it’s fascinating to stop and think, wait, why do i feel so strongly about this? it’s impressive when somebody can stop and recognize their response to something and how it affects their brother-in-law or whoever. bravo.

  • Ehhhhhh, this whole post & comments makes me think that money just shouldn’t be mentioned! Which is totally unlike me, but damn.

    $250 is a lot for a dress for some people. $1000 is not, for others. If you want to get into privilege and economics of WHY, ok, sure – but that’s not really about weddings, it’s about life.

    But judgment on every level is crazy. Why does anyone care if anyone else spends too much, or too little, or gets into debt? It’s their choice and it’s none of anyone’s business. Everyone comes from a different point financially – period. Maybe it’s important enough for someone to go into debt for it, and they thought it out. Maybe it isn’t, but they’re able to come up with the cash. Maybe someone’s grandparents left them money specifically for a wedding. Maybe they don’t want to spend any money on a wedding. Maybe they don’t have any. Endless variance.

    We don’t rag on other people (mostly) for other purchases – I mean, you could argue that say, grad school is worthless, but no one is telling someone not to go into debt or spend money on that. (Example. Maybe you are. Who knows.)

    The point is, everyone here is an adult, I hope, and we make our decisions ourselves from our own places and points in life, everyone is different, and while people may ask for advice, for the most part our finances are too vast and varied to EVER compare to each other. Period!

    • meg

      I told you money and weddings can’t be talked about online ;)

      Yeah, it’s interesting. I posted this because I found it very fascinating, seeing how I emotionally reacted on an internal level pre and post wedding in a situation that was (and is) tough. With my particular background, suddenly being thrust into a situation and a social transition that’s so public, where people assume that OF COURSE $5K or $10K is the minimum you would spend for a dress was… tough. Of people assume, if you are not spending six figures on your wedding, it will FAIL, and they know that an you don’t. All this while, in the world of Meg $250 for a dress was big. The women around me could afford to spend six figures and not worry… I spent a tiny fraction of that and did worry.

      So it was weird to see the shame and tension of a particular social situation transition to pride. Weird and profoundly hopeful, as well. And part of that pride was the fact that yes, our wedding worked, and yes it was beutiful, and no, it didn’t fail. And while people have freaked out when I said it, our wedding could go toe to toe with the six figure weddings. Not because it was better, but because it was just as wonderful.

      Add to that the fact that A) I really like the girl wearing Vera and B) Kind of think she’s a bad ass… and I’m willing to write about it. If I hated Vera and all that went with it, and the people who wore it, this post would have never been written. I won’t do that online.

      But yes. I was totally totally aware that the comments would turn into a swirl of madness, because every time the subject of money is broached, that is what happens. Without fail. Which is sad, because there are some really constructive conversations about money that could be had among such a smart group of women, in theory, but can’t be had in practice.

      And jokes about money? Eek!

      • I believe you now! I believe you! Ha!

        There is definitely something to be said for feeling pride at your budgetary accomplishments. I don’t know any of the 100K people (though I have gone, as as date, to a few) so I don’t feel any pressure there, but if I won the lottery tomorrow, I bet I WOULD spend a hell of a lot more on a wedding – as wasteful as it may seem. I want everyone to be able to come, and stay in a nice hotel, and have a relaxing, stress free time.

        I was just trying to think of other situations (houses, school, shopping, food?) people feel so comfortable butting into finances, and I couldn’t really. I mean, where else are people telling you you’re spending too much, too little, wasting money on something stupid, doing it wrong? Is it because weddings are one hugely visible place where women are the ones managing the budgets? Is this my Mills education coming out here? If men were primarily managing the planning, would this constant questioning and judgment still happen?

        • meg

          I actually have a theory that the *reason* the work of planning a wedding is so de-valued is that it’s women’s work. I think if men planned weddings, every one would take wedding planning stress/ budget issues/ whatever REALLY seriously.

          So there is my feminism coming out.

          • ahhhhhh, yes! Can you write a post about that? there’s a lot of meaty thoughts around that topic and I’d love to hear your take more in depth about it!

          • Sarah Beth

            That’s an interesting perspective. I don’t think it would have occurred to me because all the comments/snark/butting in we get is from other women. Maybe I’d buy it if the men in my life were the more vocal critics. *shrug* Unless all of the nay-saying women are so deeply anti-feminist that they doubt their own judgment, which might be true, this doesn’t seem to play out.

          • How come I can’t reply to the comments below?

            I actually sat down and talked about this with S for a half hour, and HE brought up that he thinks women are socialized to judge and doubt both themselves and other women.

            I know I have this problem at work – I’m in an upper management position, hired to make decisions, have done this work for 15 years, and yet, my decisions are questioned or undermined. This is one of the only places it’s happened, though, but it makes me crazy! Is it because I’m female? I look younger than I am? Who knows.

          • I do believe that a lot of the snark comes from women. I work in a very male-oriented field. The few women in positions of power with whom I have worked have always ALWAYS been much, much harder to work with/for than the men. Granted, we’ve come a long way to reduce the harassing behaviors of yore, but I continue to be disappointed in how very hard and critical women can be with one another.

        • liz

          YES- i was going to say that women are trained to be competitive and critical of one another.

      • liz

        “there are really some constructive conversations”

        definitely. which is why i think the naysayers should be ignored.

        easier to say than do, of course- i have the an inexcusably “budget bride” type blog. there’s no way around it. “cheap” is in the title. yet, 6 months after the wedding, i still haven’t attempted to talk about what we spent or why.

        …but i’m still in awe of how a blog post that’s not about money, turned into a dissertation on economics.

        • peanut

          I think it’s very interesting that, for some reason, people focus on how much money is spent for/on a WEDDING to pass judgements/freak out, as opposed to the million other things that each individual person/family can spend money on. I bet that less tongues would wag if we decided to buy a $40,000 car vs a $5000 car, compared to a 40K vs 5K wedding, you know? Something about weddings just makes people way sensitive, and things are taken much more personally.

    • Yes, as a Wedding Graduate I feel it necessary to urge any Undergraduate to TAKE A HONEYMOON. Like Meg says, it turly does not matter where. You will need a break. We took a couple of days and did not do squat. You have the rest of your life for trips. We took a big one a few months after the wedding and it was fun to have something exciting to look forward to (becuase let’s face it the obsessive planning and internet searching does not end the day you get married.)

      And like Verhext, I agree that the monry stuff is crazy and judgy and weird. Spend what you feel comfortable spending and break that down however you see fit. Period.

  • Erin

    I sense that the original sentiment in the post had a little something to do with responding to people whose motivation IS to have the Big Bankroll Competition. No matter how much you love your Craigslist dress or home-spun, thrifted tablecloths, sometimes they don’t show up with as much sparkle when they face off against the abstract designer dress or the rented fine china and silver… Pre-wedding, that is.

    Post-wedding, we’re all armed with the joy of the experience, the intimacy of the day spent with the well-loved dress, the ownership of living the celebratory feast/bbq/cupcake party. And the joy and purpose and wonder and significance of the wedding itself imbues all these things with a little more power, a little more sass.

    And that added bit of sass makes the Big Bankroll Competition a bit more fun… “Oh, you’re thinking about $$$______$$$? My aunt made my dress. Did you see the photos?”

    Did you see the smiles? Priceless.

    • My favorite of all of these 102 (and counting) comments was this:
      “Did you see the smiles? Priceless.”
      because that’s what it’s about.

  • Mollie

    Saw this on today, thought of this post:

    “Happiness is in the taste, and not in the things themselves; we are happy from possessing what we like, not from possessing what others like.”
    –La Rochefoucauld

  • Listening to my friends talk about their wedding attire can be frustrating. Everyone’s got more money to spend on the wedding that I will have (someday), so it’s good to know that those conversations can someday go my way. :)