In April 2016, the love of my life asked me to marry him. I was thrilled and we couldn’t wait to jump headfirst into planning our wedding. I wanted to become his wife as soon as possible. I was quickly knocked back a peg or two as I entered the crazy world of wedding planning.
I fell for the traditions like a total sucker. I was in full big white wedding mode. I joined a wedding group on Facebook, started pinning ideas on Pinterest, booked a gorgeous historical venue with in-house catering, stunning gardens, capacity for 100 guests, and even a personal wedding planner. I looked up wedding favors so I could give my guests a tiny trinket to remember our day, booked a photographer, wrote up my guest list, planned invitations, got my dress and then suddenly it dawned on me that the day I was planning wasn’t what I wanted.. I’m a terribly shy person and this is going to be the most intimate day of my life – I want privacy and above all else, practicality.
Wedding planning for those of you that haven’t experienced it, can be a fucking nightmare. People will try to dictate your day, your invite list grows out of control because there are people who you must invite (like a family member that has never met your partner nor seen you for 6 years but because they share blood with you they have to come – WTF?). The cost is nuts too. If I said to you that I was planning to spend $18,000 on my party next Saturday, you would probably think I was a fucking insane, however if I tell you my wedding is only going to cost $18,000 – you’ll probably think “oh, that’s not bad”. For some reason, we as a society accept that the cost of a wedding should be in the realms of a house deposit.
We’d paid a few of our vendors and told our friends and family that we were doing the big white wedding. We had a tough decision to make – we were going to backtrack everything we had shared with our loved ones about our plans. After many long conversations with my partner, we agreed to cancel the planned day because we just didn’t envision ourselves in it. It dawned on us that we were following the normal standards for a wedding because we didn’t know any better. We have been exposed to over the top, expensive, flashy weddings in movies, people we know spend an average of $30,000 on their day and we were just conforming. It wasn’t true to us in the slightest.
We’re now eloping, and I couldn’t be happier.
Here are my few pieces of advice for the newly engaged:
1. Identify what is truly important to you and your partner
What matters the most to you and what are your nonnegotiables? Do you guys have strong bonds with family therefore need to invite everyone? Do you want to do it on the cheap because you’re saving for a house deposit? Do you want to take out a loan so you can afford the wedding of your dreams or do you want to be debt free on the other side? A clear understanding of both of your expectations will make the planning process much easier and it will save you from changing your mind and feeling like a bit of a dick later on.
2. Skip the bullshit
You only need a celebrant and 2 witnesses to be legally wed in NZ. Anything else is just an extra. You literally do not need to have a colour theme, photo booth, 3 course meal, bar tab, heck – you don’t even need to have bridesmaids if you don’t want to. There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting all of those things, but don’t feel pressured into having your wedding a certain way just because everyone else does. Your wedding, your way.
3. Create a detailed (and realistic) budget
You already know this one. Weddings aren’t cheap. But creating a robust budget and sticking to it will help you stay on track, and keep you grounded. Regardless of how much money you want to spend, identify clear goals and have a plan of how you will reach them. Saving $100 a week quickly adds up to $5200 a year, so work out what you can afford to save and stick to it. This savings calculator is a great tool to see the realistic outcome of what you need to save each week to hit your goal.
4. No matter what I, or anyone else says, do what is best for you and your partner
If you can afford the next Kim K wedding, fucking go for it. That’s sick. If you want to run away to Vegas, or the courthouse – go for it. At the end of the day you are marrying your best friend and that is all that matters. The rest is just a nice extra.
How is your wedding planning going? Or if you’re married, what was your experience like? I’d love to hear the thoughts of other couples.