Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Wide Lawns Wedding Guide - Part 1

If you are planning a wedding here are the two single most important things you need to do, hands down. Nothing is more important to your wedding than these two things.

1. You must first ask yourself if you want a wedding more than a marriage. Answering this question honestly is very difficult and the level of introspection and objectivity about oneself required can be beyond many people's abilities. Just try. A lot of girls and women see the pretty covers on the wedding magazines (Martha Stewart Weddings still gets me every time in the grocery line) and become caught up in elaborate, unrealistic fantasies. Society puts a lot of pressure on women, from the time we are little girls, to find a husband and live like a princess and have this big, perfect, fancy wedding. This is all a giant load of crap. Don't fall for it. This fantasy will destroy your life.

Your wedding will last a day (three if you're Hindu) and your marriage should last for many, many years. The wedding is over before you know it and then you're stuck with a partner who farts and throws wet towels on the floor and poops with the bathroom door open and inevitably will have several habits that in five years will sometimes make you want to stick a fork in his or her eyeball. This is what marriage is. Sometimes it's great. Sometimes it sucks. It ebbs and flows. You need to understand that ahead of time.

If you spend more time planning your wedding than planning your marriage, this is a big red flag and you might want to reconsider getting married at this time.

If you find yourself in what I call a Need-Based Relationship do not get married. Use the wedding money and go to therapy instead. Need-Based Relationships never, ever work out. A Need-Based Relationship is one in which one or both partners are expected to fill a need or a void for the other that that person should fill themselves.

If you are getting married (or in a relationship period) because you need: money, a place to live, to get away from your parents or your ex or your idiot roommates, a car, a father or mother for your children from someone else, immigration status, a good looking partner to make you feel better about yourself, a personal slave, an accessory, revenge, a body in bed beside you to ease your loneliness, to prove something to someone else, to satisfy your parents, culture or whatever other entity is pressuring you, or to fill a prescribed role that you have created in your elaborate fantasies that no real human being could ever live up to - then DO NOT GET MARRIED. Please, I'm begging you.

The only reason you should get married to someone is because you love them and because you want to put in the hard work of creating a life together with them long after the wedding is over.

So let's say you've successfully made it past the first most important thing. You still have to overcome the second.

2. The second most important thing to do when planning a wedding is DO NOT SPEND MONEY THAT YOU OR SOMEONE ELSE DOESN'T HAVE.

Even modest weddings cost money. Far too many people go into needless, stupid debt just to have a wedding. This is possibly one of the most idiotic things a person can do. I've even seen couples put their parents in debt to fulfill their wedding fantasies and it's horrible, selfish and wrong. Don't do it. There are infinite ways to have beautiful, romantic, meaningful and memorable weddings on very small budgets. And I'm talking very small budgets. You may only have a hundred dollars to spend on your wedding without going into debt. You can still do it. Trust me. We'll get into that later though. The point here is not to take out loans, not to run up your credit cards and put any sort of financial stress on yourself, your partner or your families or anyone else who might give you money. Just simply do not do it.

But of course if you have lots of money at your disposal, no one will be financially strained or in debt over it, then have your wedding. At the same time, if you don't have lots of money, don't stress or freak out or feel cheated or like you "deserve" some elaborate, ridiculous wedding because you want to feel like a princess or because your prom date stood you up in high school or whatever nonsense you can come up with to try to justify your unrealistic desire for excess.

If you can one hundred percent say that you want a marriage more than a wedding, that you are not in a need-based relationship and that no perfectly photographed spread in a wedding magazine or anything else will ever tempt you to spend money that you or someone else doesn't have, then we can go on to Part 2, which is the fun stuff.


Melanie said...

Interesting subject! I know you will have lots of entertaining comments on this topic.

Rhea said...

I live in province of Quebec....where most couple (more than 50%) never get married. I watch many wedding shows from the US and I am floored at the amout of money they spend on one day....for one party. Money that could be a very nice down payment on a house. I find it indecent. All those women that want to prove something to someone....that want their dream wedding. I just do not understand.

Wide Lawns said...

I know Rhea, I don't understand it either.

Erica said...

My wedding had a whopping 20 people at it, including my husband and me. It was gorgeous, perfect, and we all had dinner after the ceremony around one big table. Oh did my mom and I have a fight over the guest list. But it turned out to be what I think a wedding should be - a celebration of two people and their commitment with the people who have supported you most in life. And all my friends and family who weren't invited? They got over it. No one really cared.

Small rant? Brides: Let your poor girls pick out something that fits them and makes them look pretty. You can micromanage the color coordination but don't put the women who are standing up for you into something they don't feel completely beautiful in.

Angela said...

This is such perfect timing for me. My fiance and I are getting married in September and we've waited until now to try to nail out some details because really, we don;'t care that much about how the wedding itself goes. We're simply having a wedding to get everyone we know together for a day to celebrate us making that lifelong commitment to each other.

I've seen friends turn into Bridezilla's, and honestly, it disgusts me. I would rather save the money we could spend on a big wedding and take a vacation, or save it for the down payment on a house, or a computer, or even some groceries for the fridge.

I think your #1 tip is the MOST important thing people can hear. Seriously. If your marrying someone you should damn well realize that sometimes your going to want to kill him, and that his annoying habits aren't going to go away. So make damn sure the person your going to marry has annoying habits you can live with, because we all have them.

Anonymous said...

So, so true. I knew someone in high school who somehow conned her living-on-disability dad to give her a crazy Cinderella wedding (complete with horse-and-carriage-engraved invitations), then started cheating on her husband three weeks after the wedding.

Aleta said...

I watched "hitched or ditched" for the first time last night. Your rule number 1 applied to them. Turns out that the man realized it wasn't a good situation and told her "no dice." Took guts on his part to do it, so they could both move on.

Totally agree with you on these points.

Rich said...

Too bad you're already married; you're right up my alley.

Jeannie said...

I've been married 30 years and have no intention of splitting but in today's world, I wouldn't have a "wedding" at all. Forget the legalities because only the lawyers win from it and only if you split. Have a party to celebrate moving in if you want - or the impending arrival of a child and your commitment to being parents.
However, one of the nicest weddings I've been to was very simple - they rented a nice spot in a quiet park with a picnic shelter and followed with a barbecue. They had a dance later in a cheaper hall but that could be omitted on a tight budget.

B T said...

I completely agree. However, we need to have an outlet for these women (and let's face it, it's usually only women). Without the big wedding-princess-barbie day, we leave a vaccuum that needs to be filled by *something.*

I propose, as a way to jump-start our failing economy AND prevent ridiculously mismatched pairs from breeding, we establish a new fake, made-for-marketing-only holiday. Look at the success of say, admin assistant appreciation day. Sales of African violets skyrockets!

This new holiday would be to celebrate the unwed, eligible females between 18 and 25-ish. It would be enacted much like a sweet sixteen party, or a quinceanera. You can only participate if you're NOT married. Your friends and family are to shower their princesses with gifts and spa treatments. We call it something sickening like "our little princesses day." The participants get a new sparkly dress, a tiara if they want it, a pedicure with her friends and a insanely twee party! Cards! Flowers! Baubles! Gewgaws! And then a stroll while everyone watches and takes pictures.

See? NO MAN NEEDED. Money infuses our economy. Win-Win-Win.

MtnMama said...

WL, I agree with your points completely. I am nauseated by the whole Wedding Business. The crazy expensive dresses, the thousands spent on "proving" something to all the mere acquaintences, the pretense and pretending about how Rich and Entitled some people think they should be.

The ceremony itself goes by in a blur if people were honest with themselves. The marriage is what they should be focusing on, and even great marriages are FAR from glamorous. Ordinary and normal gets a bad rap in our culture. We should all be so lucky as to have a nice, decent, hardworking spouse who might forget Hallmark Holidays but smiles at you across the dinner table.

Tamarillicent said...

So far I just want to say, 'word!' When my Beloved and I got married it was hard not to get swept up in the Big White Wedding frenzy that other people seemed to think was necessary. We kept reminding ourselvs that the whole reason for the gathering was to CELEBRATE! We concentrated our efforts on making sure our guests had fun moreso than making it all look pretty. It worked, too! Our friends and relitives all said they had a great time. I couldn't reccomend Karaoke at a wedding more highly!

kerry said...

Yes!!! Yes, yes, yes!!! 100% behind you!

I love the wedding stories!

I got married in Vegas for under $1000. I am continually astounded at the level of stress and freak-out-ness of brides on their wedding day. I made it through mine with only 24 hours of blind panic and one near homicide which my darling defused with charm. I joke, but I was quite upset with a hairdresser who told me they didn't have anybody on staff who knew how to braid hair.

The marriage is so much more important than the wedding.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting. I've always wished (and heard in a song)
''I wish that a marriage license
was just like a driver's license,
that expires every few years,
with an option to hold,(just in
case love ever grows old or goes
away or something like that).

After being a runaway bride more
times than I care to think of,
I am so interested in reading

Cathi :) who is also in Canada
and been to way too many elaborate
weddings up here, as well as worn
some bridesmaids? is that what they are still called ? - anyway,
I've worn some beauties over the years. It truly is AFTER the
wedding that counts, and so many
people lose that thought and spend
way too much on the wedding day,
and I originally spelled that
weeding day. (back to my garden)

kjl said...

You're so smart, WL, and so exactly right on this! People are often shocked when I tell them that our reception consisted of cake and nuts in the basement of our church. When asked why we didn't have a big reception, I always tell them I wasn't willing to put my parents into debt to have a huge party (we were only 21/22 when we got married). People are usually baffled by my answer, which I think is really sad! The point is, we're celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary next week and couldn't be happier. I hope everyone listens to your advice!!!

Anonymous said...

I spent less on my wedding than a lot of people spend on just the cake, and we could have halved that had we not decided to get married in another province, where our families live, since it was easier to coordinate moving us than our guests. There was a grand total of 20 people. We got married in the function room at my grandmother's building. We were done paying off the wedding as soon as we returned the rental car. People with enourmously expensive weddings can't say that.

xtine said...

Ohhh...#1 - the early part.

I eloped five weeks ago. My mother still isn't over it. She wanted a WEDDING. I kind of wanted one, but not at the cost (non-monetary: waiting another 1.5years, and of course, the monetary considerations). I keep having to remind her that the wedding wasn't the point. And hell, she LOVES my husband.

I don't regret eloping one bit. We'll see if I say that in 20 years. I think I will. I learned my from parent's wedding (which was also a small, quiet affair): take pictures. No matter what. They have only one snapshot, and it makes me so sad. So we got a semi-pro friend-of-a-friend photographer.

I wore a $30 dress from Kohls (that I will be wearing to a wedding in July, as a guest), no shoes, everyday makeup, and let my hair blow in the wind (because I ended up using my bobby pins to keep my flutter sleeves down!). By far, the most extravagant part of our wedding was traveling 4 hours to the Outer Banks. It was lovely.

The part of the wedding I was most looking forward to was crying as we said our vows, and seeing my husband cry. You don't need to spend a year's salary on that.
Unfortunately, I don't know that your guide will reach the people who really need it.

Erin B. said...

I spend $92 on my wedding, $40 for the judge, and $52 on the actual license. Best $92 I think I ever spent!

Student/Teacher said...

I got married in a courthouse wearing jeans and flip flops. I have never and (hopefully) will never regret it. Our dog was the only witness.

To appease the parents, we had a "reception" a few months later. We rented a room at a fancy hotel, got it catered, and bought a bunch of booze. Mission to get grandma drunk: accomplished! I think we (and by "we" I mean our parents) spent about two grand, which is actually very little in the wedding-scheme of things.

auronsgirl said...

I'll be married fifteen years this Halloween. Our wedding was a very small affair held at my parent's house in true "Redneck Fancy" style, but hey, it was their house. I did get to keep Nicodemus the Wedding Gargoyle™ in the ceremony, despite my mother's very passive-aggressive attempts at removing him. I also had a little girl dressed in her very best "Bride" costume standing at the fence line for the Section 8 apartments behind my parent's house screaming "ME NEXT!!!" at the preacher. She was going to shanghai one of her little boyfriends (I think one of them was dressed as a cowboy) into wedded bliss before he knew what hit him. The preacher officiating only had three teeth and blue inkpen stains on his short-sleeve dress shirt. He was the only person we could find to marry us on Halloween. He was an ordained Baptist preacher, marrying a Captist (Catholic and Baptist, long story there) and a Heathen in the October drizzle while Nicodemus smiled down from the top of the arch/wishing well backdrop. Quite a scene. Oh, and I had to pee really, really, REALLY bad right as I got up the "aisle" to my groom. That's not even mentioning the mad dash to get my slip, which I'd left at the house I shared with my husband-to-be. When I came into the family room before the wedding, my aunt took one look at me and said "I can see right through your dress." Sitcom-style wedding hilarity ensued, but I eventually got my slip.

My cake could have been a serious contender for Cake Wrecks. It had bits of icing stuck in the white buttercream, and the roses were melting off. My husband-to-be had some strong words with the bakery, got a partial refund and bought me booze with it, so he could spend his wedding night with a somewhat relaxed bride.

Honestly, if I had to do it over again, I would have gone to the courthouse and gotten it over with. It's not the five-or-so minutes of "Do you wanna? How about you? Oh, all right" that gets fancied up into whatever ceremony you have, like you said, it's what comes after. Luckily, my husband and I still giggle about all the mishaps and comedy of errors present in our very drizzly Halloween wedding and we love each other more now than we did then. That's the important part.

jennie said...

I like this. I just got divorced, and while my ex-husband and I had been together for 3 years before getting married, and had lived together for several months of that time, I was indeed getting married for the wrong reasons...which I only realized after the fact. I wasn't really a "wedding person"--I would happily have gone to the town hall, it was my mother who wanted us to have a real wedding--and we did ours on a fairly small budget. But frankly I don't really recommend getting married to anyone. I guess it works out great for some people, but for me personally, it kind of wrecked an otherwise pretty good relationship. That's just me. I never wanted to be married, one day decided I did, did it, and regretted it almost immediately. I guess that goes to say, maybe one should go with one's first instincts about it...I knew I shouldn't get married, I did it anyway, and it was a mistake. Interesting topic though.

JoeinVegas said...

Being in Vegas I told my daughter I would pay for her wedding, as long as Elvis was involved somehow. (hey, it's Vegas - Elvis is everywhere: driving the pink Cad, singing, we even have Elvis ministers) but she wanted something else and did it herself.
But money for a one day thing? wow, I see what some spend and wonder why.

kerry said...

@ joeinvegas

I'm still considering an Elvis renewal of the vows. :) My hubby told me he didn't want to get married unless it was an Elvis wedding. He changed his mind, it was a stalling technique until he was ready, but it was still kind of funny.

Bring on Elvis and the showgirls!

Whiskeymarie said...

I DID have the Elvis wedding in Vegas- if I had to go back in time & do it all over again I wouldn't change a thing. We spent about $600 on plane tickets- my sister made my (very short and sassy) dress & veil for under $40, the shoes were clearance for $14, and my Mr. spent about $50 total on his "suit". Family & friends came with, but it was totally their decision and they paid their own way.

We still wanted a reception, so we had one two weeks later back home at a restaurant in a small town near where I grew up. We got the ENTIRE restaurant, with a huge appetizer buffet and booze for 125 people for about $2500. I had a little old lady in town make the cake- it cost a whopping $150.

Sure, I could have maxed out the cards and had a fancypants wedding & reception. Things like meatballs and chicken wings aren't exactly my cup of tea, but both of our families love that kind of stuff and we just wanted everyone to have fun and be comfortable.

My best friend spent $26,000 on her gigantic, monstrous mess of a wedding. She turned into a total bridezilla and the two of us ended up having a screaming, crying fight over something so stupid- the invites to her shower. In the end, her wedding was totally bland and cookie-cutter anyways, and her marriage is kind of rocky.
The funniest thing is that, 12+ years later, people still tell My husband and I how much fun they had at our cheap, simple, and laid-back reception.
Money can't buy fun and it can't buy memories or a good marriage.

booda baby said...

That's the single best question anyone ever asked about weddings and I can think of some long married couples who could stand to revisit it. It's just not fucking joke and eventually, the truth will visit you.

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