Yesterday, we (the boyfriend and I) were driving home from shooting a wedding in Worcester, the usual, since we are wedding photographers, when we heard a topic on the radio about weddings being too expensive for couples to tie the knot, which has resulted in putting it off and just ‘shacking up’, exactly what we are doing. This got me thinking, my job allows me to experience an array of weddings from low budget D.I.Y weddings with a small amount of close friends and family to extravagant shows entertaining up to 600+ guests.
Apparently the average cost of a wedding today is around the 18k mark, astonishing and not so astonishing at the same time, as I sit back and see where that money goes, the venue, the food, the photographer (of course), the dress, the bridesmaids dresses, the grooms outfit and his men, booze, flowers, music, hair & makeup, often the bride stays in a fancy hotel the night before, other entertainment (we’ve seen everything from belly dancers, magicians and caricatures), then there’s the honeymoon. And you’ll probably read this and think that’s pretty standard, all those things are necessary aren’t they for a wedding?
Let’s go back to the very basics here, a wedding is the holy matrimony, civil partnership, ceremony of 2 people deciding on forever, whatever you want to call it, it is the joining of 2 people that have simply made a decision that they want to spend the rest of their lives together, pro-create or not, either way, the future is the 2 of them bound by a legal document and a bunch of vows/promises. That is a very modern way of looking at it, in other cultures it varies in the sense that they are paired off with little say but that’s a whole new subject altogether!
Have weddings always been a great expense? A lot of people today really are putting off getting married because it is so expensive. Look at ‘Don’t tell the bride’, a fine example, a TV show will give a couple I think 12k to get married, but make the groom the wedding planner to get viewers, otherwise nobody would watch it.
I’m sat here writing this in my flat that I live in with my boyfriend of 4 years, unmarried. Why are we unmarried? We’ve pretty much decided that we like the way we’re trotting along in life together, we have similar views on things, similar outlook on life, we make each-other laugh, we celebrate yearly our anniversary, we travel, and he’s my work partner also, closer than close you could say. He knows everything little thing there is to know about me as do I of him. So why aren’t we married? Well of course we can’t afford it. We live nicely and would like that to continue and even improve. I’m heavily into styling, details, making my spaces look exactly how I want. We both have an eye for design so have always assumed that our wedding would be costly, especially when it comes to our photographer. There’s an area we wouldn’t scrimp on, as you can imagine we are going to be fussy here. Sometimes we’ve contemplated getting married in Italy with just our parents and siblings to keep costs to a minimum. However, we go through phases because ideally we want a lovely big industrial warehouse to hold our reception (designed by yours truly) and I really want to get married outside, no churches for me thank you. But again, it all comes down to price. Now and again I will email places and get quotes for my own research and the prices I get back are unbelievable! I have to hold back from replying ‘YOU WHAT!? For a dingy old warehouse?!’
As I said, we go through phases. Sometimes, we think we don’t need to spend so much money, I’ll most likely to be making a lot of things myself for table design, decoration etc Keep the big spend for the honeymoon! Since we already know just how much we love each-other and don’t feel that we need to prove anything on that one day. But on the other side of it, it’s not really about the ‘love’ is it? It’s about showing your family and friends what you can do, giving them a good time, you are after all, entertaining them, you yourself booked that magician. You chose the menu, you chose the DJ, you chose it all for THEM to enjoy really. So I suppose today it is a show rather than anything else.
There are many different aspects though, and I can completely see every side to a wedding and why people would want to spend so much money on one day. It’s a celebration of the both of you, your friends want to celebrate with you, they have probably watched your relationship grow into your now marriage, as will your families. So why shouldn’t you go all out, it’s only going to happen once (for some of us), so why not!!
Then there’s a circle of friends, slowly, each one gets married, everyone watches their friend having her moment, and the next friend probably wants to top that and have something bigger and better, and then the next friend, and the one ofter that and so on! Again, this goes back to it being a ‘show’.
I’m in two minds, having seen so very many weddings in the past few years, of all of them I can honestly say, only one wedding the bride and groom were absolutely not happy, and it was definitely all about showing off what they can afford to do, which was hard to witness.
My point here really is simply, is it worth all money? The money seems to have taken over the sentiment, like it does with everything eventually, christmas being a big one! The rest of your marriages fate isn’t going to be any different whether you had a giant ice sculpture and a tower of champagne glasses over-flowing with Moët as appose to a nice meal in a nice pub with your nearest and dearest.
Take my mum and dad, they had their ‘wedding’ if that’s what you could call it, in a registry office, with a few home made sandwiches, about 4 guests, no wedding cake and they will be celebrating their 32 year anniversary next year. If they had spent all that money, I’m guessing they would be in the same situation as they are now. It’s a tricky one, I will likely spend more money then I would like to on my wedding, luckily we don’t know many people which cuts the budget almost in half I would say.
To conclude… I’m being ironic. I totally believe in what I say, however, if people didn’t want to spend money on their weddings, I would certainly be struggling. Tough call Ju, very tough call. Let’s see what my wedding turns out to be, whenever the hell that’s going to happen!