Many of my friends are married or about to get married. I have been very lucky to go to a slew of weddings in the past few years that have been elegant, tasteful and a hell of a good time. (My big brother’s wedding and subsequent reception and after party a little more than a year ago is and will probably remain one of the best, most fun days of my life.)
Every time I walk into one, I think, “Damn. This must have been expensive as f**k to put on.” Considering the amount of coin that goes into keeping a large group of people sufficiently plied with alcohol for the duration of an evening is enough to make my head spin. (I have a tendency to equate money spent on things with what I charge — after tax — for an hour’s work. I invariably end up thinking that if I were to have a lavish wedding that I had to pay for, it would take me months of steady work just to get my friends and family and some stragglers I really don’t even know drunk one time. That’s mind-boggling.)
And people I know who get married often express awe and/or fear about how much they are paying for one day. According to a website called weddingcost.com,* Sure, it’s going to be one of the most important days of your life, but does that mean that you should ask the bride’s dad to shell out a ton of money to celebrate the fact that, among a few other things, you are DEFINITELY going to be banging his daughter that very night? Again: mind-boggling.
I’m sure that if the time ever comes for me to get married, I’ll want to have a big blowout too. But being a single guy who is in a financial situation where “saving for the future” means eating ramen noodles for dinner three consecutive days, I haven’t yet donned my rose-colored glasses. And I think a lot about what the money spent on a lavish wedding could be better used for.** (Especially since more than half of them end in divorce these days, and you can’t split a wedding ceremony and reception 50/50 after the fact, guys.)
Things such as:
- A down-payment on a house. How are you going to wake up the morning after your wedding and not be like, “We threw a great party to celebrate our union. But in what universe did I think that was more important than our getting a place that we can really call our own and live in maybe for the rest of our lives?”
- Liposuction for the both of you, and a breast augmentation for both of hers. Weddings are kind of superficial and, if you take it too far, narcissistic. Why not take what you spend on one day and use it for superficial things that will last the better part of a lifetime? I never took economics classes but I bet Kenneth Arrow would probably back my logic up.
- Purchasing property in some forest on the edge of a suburb that will definitely be bought as the over-populated world pushes itself out further from the epicenters where everyone works. My paternal grandma recently sold a large chunk of her family’s farm property to developers who are turning it into a cookie-cutter housing plan. She got millions. If given the specific choice, hypothetically, of whether she’d rather have had a nice wedding, or have had the money to purchase that property, she would probably say the wedding. Who wouldn’t? But she would be lying. What’s more important? That you have a nice day celebrating that you somehow fell in love (something that should be enough to be celebrated by you and your partner in and of itself), or that you will be able to hand down to your family a very gigantic legacy when you go?
- An absurdly long and indulgent honeymoon. Why not drop all that cash on a trip all over the world where you can be alone and bang each other freely without having to pay to get everyone in your life hammered?
- Funding that start-up you always knew would be a success if only you were able to acquire the seed money.
- A brand new car! You could get, like, a Volvo or something, so that you would have a safe car for if and when you ever decide to bring children into this world.
- Speaking of babies, you could get baby stuff. Calm down! I’m not saying you should have babies immediately, unless you’re Catholic. I’m saying it’d be nice to have a boatload of money when you find out that you’re going to have to start incorporating a tiny and extremely dependent human being into your monthly budget.
- A pet! You can get a purebred and years of vet checkups and supplies and then some out of what it takes to pay for your average wedding. And if you get a dog, you’re going to get something that is going to love you unconditionally until its last breath. Plus, pets are really good training for having babies!
- A human child! Adoptions are expensive. Your future father-in-law can help. That’s a campaign idea right there. I’m a copywriter. Please hire me. Please!
- A down-payment on a vacation home. You can spend decades slogging through work with one goal in mind: making your vacation house dope as f**k while still being able to put your kids through mortuary school. You’ll be way ahead of your generation’s retiree second-home remodeling curve.
NOTE: Plenty of my friends have had beautiful weddings, while others have gone down to City Hall and put it all to rest. In both camps, there are thriving relationships where people are starting families. Inversely, however, there have also been divorces in both camps.
*That’s a legitimate site and link. You probably think I’m about to Rick Roll you or something, but no — a website dedicated to crunching the numbers on wedding cost really exists.
**I must say that I am glad my brother and sister-in-law had a big, pricey wedding, though, because I’ve been told that if they had decided not to, his father-in-law would’ve spent the money it would’ve cost giving campaign funds to Republicans.