More and more families are delaying marriage for lots of reasons. Some are education, work, and or financial. Whatever the reason(s) may be, it is becoming more obvious the traditional path to the altar has changed. As life evolves around us so do our ideas on what works for us. Luckily people adapt and thrive. So here are a few suggestions on how to break from tradition and save a little cash.
Let go of past expectations
A wedding to is for you and your spouse, not anyone else. Decide what you want to do to make your day special. While weddings vary wildly there is a basic formula most seem to fit into. A church or banquet hall, white dress, and a “fancy” meal. I’m overgeneralizing, but I think you get where I am coming from. Is this what you want or is this what you think others expect? If the answer in the latter then start over. Nuptials are a celebration of two people coming together not a people pleasing party. Wipe the slate clean and start with the things you enjoy.
One of the biggest expenses is the wedding ring. There are literally huge expectations here. Pop culture media splashes gaudy baubles in our faces on a daily basis. In these times engagement rings live in the realm of impracticality. Some of us love splashy bling and some of us don’t but there are ways to appease the appetites of everyone and not break the bank. Diamonds are the traditional stone of the betrothed, but why? Great marketing, seriously that’s the reason. Diamonds have an inflated value but little actual intrinsic value. Its based on the market which is essentially controlled by one company, DeBeers. What does this mean for intendeds? Let go of this idea and choose from the infinite options outside of the classic diamond.
Gemstones are an amazing option. They come in all shapes, colors and sizes. There is something for everyone and every budget. The best part about gemstones is that their value is real and in many cases appreciates. A lot of mines have a finite number of stones as well as government restrictions on retrieval. In other words what you get today may not be around tomorrow and that is an excellent investment. Tanzanite, Black Opal and Alexandrite are a few examples. And what’s really great is that you can get a beautiful ring or under $100 in some cases.
Not flashy? Looking to think outside the box? Companies are offering wedding bands in an assortment of materials. You can now buy Rubber, silicone, stainless steel, meteorite, and even dinosaur bone. These bands start at as little as $10. They are much more practical for people who work with their hands or some one who likes a more simplified look. And even with being practical and/or simple in style they have got personality and can be a great conversation piece.
Vintage is another option that has been trending as well. Not only is this a budget saver it can also be a more ethical choice. If you are concerned about mining practices and sustainability an estate piece checks off all the boxes. This was the route I chose. I purchased a loose gemstone from overseas(bonus savings) and had it set in a estate band from a local jeweler(support small business). I saved thousands. I got a top of the line high end platinum and 18k band with VVS diamonds to set my stone in for under $1000. A comparable setting in weight and quality would have been ten times that amount.
Believe it or not a destination wedding can often be cheaper than a full blown traditional affair. I know several couples who had a wedding and had no money left for a honeymoon. That did not appeal to me in the least. So we went away. We invited close friends and family with the caveat that there would be no hard feelings if they could not make it due to costs or ability to get away. It was by far one of the best choices we made. We chose the Cayman Islands which is considered the Vegas of the Caribbean because of their ease and access to quick nuptials. All we had to do was show up and the wedding coordinator had everything handled. For one tenth the price of a traditional wedding we received a beautiful beach ceremony with all the amenities and vacation.
The kids loved it. The beach-side fresh air ceremony was brief and engaging. How awesome is it to swim right after your parents get hitched. The picture perfect photos and memories will last a lifetime. As a young family we could have never afforded a full blown ceremony but by putting our needs first we were able to do something amazing that worked perfectly for us.
Travel still a little too steep for your budget? Try a theme wedding. A backyard bar b que, local winery or any of your favorite activities can be a great family friendly option for your ceremony. Why spend money on pomp circumstance and sub par overpriced food when you can do something that you really enjoy? Into the theater, have it at your local community playhouse and ham it up. The options are endless. Embrace what makes you family unique and celebrate it.
Pittsburgh has so many scenic parks and public places it wouldn’t be hard to find a low cost or even free space to say I do. Locals have been very creative in using local spots to start their lives together. Kennywood, City and State parks and Giant Eagle. And believe it or not a lot of these places have packages already available. Kennywood charges $300 and park ceremonies range for $25 to $125. Some churches also have banquet rooms that members can use for free or low cost. If you really want a church wedding and you don’t currently belong to a congregation think about joining a church before planning your wedding. Not only will you gain access to a venue but a whole new support system and church family.
Just do it
You don’t owe anyone a ceremony. Go to the courthouse and tell everyone after (or don’t). Getting married at a church have a small reception in the church hall or at your home. Spend and intimate evening with your spouse and children. This is a commitment between two partners and your children, that should be the focus. Unless you have a lot of friends willing and ready to shower you with money gifts there is no reason to take on the financial burden of a wedding if you don’t want to.
Final thoughts for the haters
This isn’t a doctrine. It’s just a few suggestions for those who may be on the fence as to what to do. If you take anything away from this, it should be as in the immortal words of Humpty Hump “doowutchyalik”. (That was a 90’s hip hop reference! Google it!)