My Expensive Wedding Still Makes Me Feel Really Guilty

I wish I could stop thinking about it, but I can't

bride and groom standing together

I was never the little girl who dreamed of her wedding day. In fact, I was fairly certain I would never get married, but then I met Nate. He’s the partner I never knew could exist, and I thought, “Yeah, I could raise a family with this man.” I couldn’t wait to marry him, and in less than a year and a half, we were engaged. But as soon as we were engaged, it became very clear that although we were aligned on how we wanted to spend our lives together, we were not aligned on what we wanted for a wedding.

I had always assumed that the bride’s opinion had more sway when it came to planning a wedding, and it never occurred to me that my partner might have opinions that were equally (if not more) important than mine.

My Dream Wedding…

I started perusing wedding pictures, trying to imagine what the perfect wedding day would look like to me, but I couldn’t picture it. I had spent so much time watching my friends running about in a panic over a rogue wedding guest or late vendor that I had vowed never to put myself into such a stressful situation. I knew two things: I wanted a fun day that allowed my future husband and I to focus on each other, and it had to be stress-free and include no check writing. Then I found this post on APW, and it embodied everything I wanted in a wedding. That was it! I wanted a courthouse wedding.

Wait! His Dream Wedding?

Nate’s plans were a little different. He wanted a party. One that his parents and grandparents could enjoy. His motivations were so selfless that I couldn’t help but feel like he was onto something. We started planning a small wedding, but even a backyard wedding was ruled out as all options would have been too rural and hard to get to for our guests. A preference was expressed to hold the wedding in Philadelphia, where we met and still live together, and to hold the wedding outdoors. The options were growing very slim at this point.

It Costs How Much?!

After much difficulty, we settled on our venue, and I put together a budget that projected it would cost us about $45,000 for a one hundred-person wedding. I also made it very clear that I could not justify this expense and would not be paying for it, and Nate agreed. Our parents made some unsolicited contributions to our wedding fund that were very thoughtful and generous, and Nate picked up the rest of the tab. He never complained about it, never expressed regret, and I will admit that we really enjoyed our day together with so many of our loved ones. It was made even more special by Nate’s dad, who had fallen ill about a month before; even a week before, we weren’t sure if we would be having a wedding. We felt so grateful to have him there to enjoy the day with us. It seemed to validate the whole idea of having a wedding.

Balancing Guilt With Meaning

Now, nearly a year later, I look back at the pictures and am so glad to have it memorialized… but I still harbor a lingering sense of guilt over the cost of our wedding. I find myself rounding down whenever someone asks what it cost. I’ve spent years working as an accountant, and though I know we were in the financial position to afford it, I can’t help but think of how that money would have grown exponentially if invested. I think of all the people who can’t afford to feed their families or go to college, and of what that money would have meant to them. That is a game-changing amount of money for so many people, and I can’t help but feel shame for how we used it.

I try to remind myself how meaningful this wedding was for many members of our family. With several medical hurdles ahead of our family members now, I should be cherishing that day and the fact that we created memories and pictures that we will be an invaluable part of our family’s story. I hope someday I can let this guilt go and just appreciate that we were lucky enough to be able to afford a day that meant so much to so many people.

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