Undercutting Overspending

Think you're overspending as you plan your wedding?

It’s a third-person anecdote, so I know I can’t vouch for its accuracy.  But it seems quite possible.

And just what is this “it”?  The painful admission of one bride’s family to a friend of mine: The wedding they threw for their daughter totaled roughly as much as their yearly income.

With all the trimmings brides are taught to expect these days, it’s no wonder the costs add up quickly.  Fancy ballgowns,  gourmet dinners, alcohol charges and elaborate decorations can quickly spiral into a breathtaking final bill.

So if you’re going over the top for your big day, you’d better enjoy it!

Now, I’ve addressed the issues of smart spending, cutting costs, and finding cheaper alternatives before.  Something equally important, though, is something every single one of my married friends has stressed over, no matter her budget: How do you know when you’ve done enough for your wedding without going overboard on spending?

The answer is a simple “there is no simple answer.”  For every couple, it’ll be a different number.  Maybe it’s $15,000.  Maybe it’s $150,000.  More likely, it’s in the neighborhood of “Oh my goodness, this wedding is going to cost so much more than we budgeted!”

In truth, wedding costs run the gamut — from a six-day celebration culminating with a wedding at Versailles, thrown by the world 5th richest man (who was only the 8th richest at the time of the nuptials) to last weekend’s Huntington, West Virginia wedding held at Goodwill, where the happy couple work.

At the ages of 25 and 23, respectively, Amit Bhatia and Vanisha Mittal were the star couple in the world's most expensive wedding. Price tag: $55 million.

Obviously, the people involved in those two weddings had very, very different budgets.  But even Billionaire Lakshmi Mittal could have overspent on his daughter’s wedding.  Instead of renting out Versailles (yes, the Versailles of King Louis XIV), he could have rented all of Polynesia and ferried the guests from island to island, and that would have probably cost a few pretty pennies too much.

Seriously, though.  If you think you’re overspending but want to stick within a reasonable budget,  ask yourself these questions:

  • What percentage of the paying parties’ yearly income is going into the wedding?
  • How long will it take the paying parties to repay this wedding debt?
  • Will the projected total bill negatively impact the paying parties’ daily lifestyle?
  • Are all of these big expenses truly going to add to everyone’s enjoyment and fond memories of the day?
  • Which expenses can you easily envision your wedding without?

Scaling back when your wedding plans are already underway will be difficult — but not as difficult as coping with debt that grows exponentially or having to forgo purchasing a house for years to come.  Dare to dream, but also bring yourself back to reality every once in a while.  Your wedding is the biggest day of your life, yes, but it’s also the beginning of the rest of your life, so make sure you start it off by making wise decisions regarding your longterm future!

~ Laura

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