When it comes to major life events—specifically having a baby and getting married (not necessarily in that order)—marketers know how to weasel, prod, and guilt consumers into spending money in all sorts of nonsensical, wholly unnecessary ways. The message sent not only by marketers, but also by colleagues, cranky mother-in-laws, and friends who apparently don’t want be the only ones who paid for things like professional engagement photos, grooms cakes, and personalized matches amounts to something like: How can you not go all out for your wedding? If you skimp in any way, what does that say about your marriage?
This is all B.S. of course. What “skimping” probably says about you is that you’re sensible, you realize a wedding is only one day, and you understand there are far more important things in life—like, for instance, the rest of your marriage.
I’m certainly not the only one to feel this way about weddings. Check out some recent posts aimed at cutting costs, eliminating wasteful expenditures, and avoiding getting snookered on your big day:
Why Are Weddings So Expensive? A WalletPop post and video provides answers during a tour of a wedding exhibition at the Chicago History Museum. The truth is that modern-day mainstays like gift registries, catered weddings, and even wearing white are new traditions, have nothing to do with religion, and became popularized largely due to the efforts of big department stores like Marshall Fields:
There was a time when most women wore dark-colored dresses to their weddings because it meant they could use the dress for the rest of their lives. There was a time when a bride wouldn’t think of wearing white lest she be seen as tacky. Those days are over, and you’re paying what you pay for your wedding now because capitalism — and not religion — convinced you that you should.
20 Ways to Avoid the Wedding Industrial Complex. Ask Coupon Sherpa advises frugal fiancés to skip or cut back on stuff like monogrammed cake server sets, professional makeup artists, over-the-top wedding favors, and fancy sign-in guestbooks (you’ll never read them, and half the guests won’t write anything).
Save Big on Rising Wedding Costs. Among other things, SmartMoney boldly suggests that you don’t have to pay for dance lessons—especially not for the whole wedding party.
Wedding Expenses That Aren’t Worth It. NY Times’ Bucks blog readers weigh in with thoughts that limos and wedding planners are unnecessary, and that there’s no need to overboard with the flowers. One woman wishes she had a simple wedding band rather than one with diamonds: “20 years later, I still don’t like my wedding ring much and find myself turning it so the diamonds don’t show. They annoy me.”
Wedding Ideas on a $700 Budget. Silicon Valley Blogger discusses her own wedding, including a limited budget that allowed for a $200 dress, a venue that cost $150, a free cake (baked by a friend), and no limo, DJ, flowers, invitations, food, or guests. (The couple eloped.)