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“I Don’t Want to Blow All Our Money On Our Wedding!”

It’s time again for Shortcuts. For every question, I’ll give my advice in three sentences or less, because sometimes the answer to a person’s question is so obvious and the need to hear it so great, being as clear and frank as possible is simply the best way to go. Today we discuss the cost of weddings, ending a marriage, and labeling a relationship.

My boyfriend and I got engaged a month ago after dating a year. His proposing was the happiest day, but ever since then I have been stressing over the idea of money. I am terrified to share with him how little money I have actually saved over the years, scared of him running away or looking down on me that I cannot contribute so much to our wedding and future. I have taken on a second job in hopes to add some more to my bank accounts, but he keeps telling me I don’t have to work another job. How do I tell my fiancé I am scared to get married for fear of spending all this money on one day? — Expensive Bride

 
A wedding doesn’t have to cost more than a few hundred bucks if you’re on a budget. And if you can’t talk to your fiancé about money, you aren’t ready to marry him, end of story. Postpone your nuptials until you’re mature enough to communicate like a grownup and live within your means.

My husband and I have been married for two years, together for 12. The relationship started out great, as most do, but then got rocky. Marriage hasn’t changed it much. We argue often and don’t spend quality time together. When we argue, he resorts to saying he wants a divorce. After we calm down, I talk to him and ask if he thinks we should try to work on things. He doesn’t seem to be interested in actually “working” on things because he goes back to his video games and other extra-curricular activities.

Last month we had a very bad argument and we were both very angry. He told me that he didn’t love me and wanted a divorce. I told him to file the papers. The next morning he apologized and said that he only said those things out of anger. In my opinion, you never tell someone that you don’t love them “out of anger.” That cut deep and I have not had the desire to make it work. I feel, more now than I ever have, that maybe this relationship was never meant to be, but I feel the need to hear another person’s opinion that it’s over. — 12 Year Itch

 
Quit being so incredibly lazy and create the life you want rather than passively waiting for it to happen to you. If you want to work on your marriage, plan some dates and spend some quality time with your husband. If you’re over it and don’t even want to try, then YOU file the divorce papers and MOA.

“Josh” and I have been seeing each other for almost a year now. In the beginning neither of us wanted to rush into a relationship. After a few months we made it clear that we wouldn’t see other people, therefore, in my eyes, making us official. I’ve met some of his family members and they know me pretty well, but he introduced me as his ‘friend.’ But one time he introduced to me to one of them as his “girl.” He even mentioned our 6-month anniversary, but my question is, “anniversary of what?” As far as I’m concerned, he hasn’t made it clear that he’s my boyfriend. We act and do things any couple would do, just without a title. After dating him for a year, I am ready to be in a relationship. He has even said that he loves me. — Untitled

 
You’ve been dating a year, met friends and family, “do things any couple would do,” and have even expressed love for each other? Congrats, you’re in a relationship. If you want your boyfriend to call you his girlfriend, just tell him so already, geez.

***************

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

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{ 121 comments… add one }

  • katie katie August 31, 2012, 9:10 am

    LW1, wendy is right, but i do emphathize about how much a wedding costs.. it scares me too. i often think that i’d rather just go elope and not do the wedding part just because the cost is so daunting.. i mean average cost is like 25,000 now right? something like that.. its just crazy.

    LW2, WWS.

    LW3, i wonder why you havent asked him about it. just ask him. “are we together-together?”/”am i your girlfriend?”/”are you my boyfriend?”. pick any of those, and just ask him.

    • avatar Addie Pray August 31, 2012, 9:18 am

      I support you eloping. I will even drive you two to the Little Chapel of Lurve. They should build a Little Chapel of Lurve. I’d invest in that.

    • avatar iseeshiny August 31, 2012, 10:21 am

      We eloped and bought a house instead (okay, actually we bought the house and then eloped). Best decision ever.

      • avatar Sue Jones August 31, 2012, 11:39 pm

        We did too! Agreed.

    • landygirl landygirl August 31, 2012, 10:51 am

      Our wedding was less than $10,000 but if I had to do it over I’d elope to Vegas and get married by an Elivs impersonator.

      • avatar Addie Pray August 31, 2012, 11:06 am

        You just described my dream wedding!

    • avatar camorzilla August 31, 2012, 11:07 am

      You can do a wedding for a WAY less than $25K. Ours will cost about $5K. It’s important to do your research and think of non typical places. Or getting married during the week. I’m getting married on a Monday and it’s saving us almost $2K.

      • avatar GatorGirl August 31, 2012, 11:44 am

        Although a Monday can be really innconvenient for your guests. Not saying you shouldn’t do it on a weekday, just a thought to consider. A lot of venues I have seen do Friday and Sunday discounts too. The “off season” is a big money saver too. January is a really slow month in the wedding world.

        • avatar camorzilla September 10, 2012, 10:37 am

          None of the venues in my area do discounts on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday because those are the days everyone wants to get married. Trust me- I checked EVERYWHERE.

      • JK JK August 31, 2012, 12:21 pm

        Yay for during the week weddings! I got married (in a very low key ceremony and lunch) on a thursday. :)
        I think you mentioned somewhere that your wedding is soon?

        • avatar camorzilla September 10, 2012, 10:35 am

          Yes! It’s in 42 days!

          • JK JK September 10, 2012, 10:41 am

            Congratulations!!! And good luck! :)

        • avatar Addie Pray September 10, 2012, 10:45 am

          Married on a Thursday, JK? That’s a bit selfish of you and inconsiderate of your guests, no? (I kid, I kid.)

          • JK JK September 10, 2012, 10:48 am

            IKR? It´s OK though, I didn´t ask them to bring a plate. Or register. Or insist any of them put in their teeth. Or throw a fit about the clothes they were wearing. Or ask anyone why we didn´t get presents. Or expect 20 different parties before the actual wedding.

      • avatar LT August 31, 2012, 12:53 pm

        Another tip: If you’re not at a formal location (which are expensive right there), do take-out and lots of appetizers instead of caterers. You just have to call ahead, usually. That saved us a TON of money, and we had Barbeque, Indian food, and Italian food, with lots of fresh bread, and everyone loved it! I had to recruit cousins to pick everything up in between the ceremony and the reception, but they were game and it worked perfectly. We ate right when the food arrived so everything was hot, and Aunts just threw some napkins over the food when we were done so it didn’t look ugly. (note: having an awesome family is kind of key for this strategy)

    • avatar Clementine August 31, 2012, 12:01 pm

      LW1, I was in your shoes. When we started talking wedding dates, my now-husband had his heart set on a relatively short engagement that allowed me absolutely no opportunity to save for a wedding. He was also determined to have a big wedding that would accomodate 60+ members of his family. I wanted to have a tiny ceremony, maybe just in our pastor’s office.

      So I laid it out: I make 60% of what he does and support two children on my own. At that point in time, I had no wiggle room to begin to save. So if he was set on this particular wedding date, he would have to front the costs. Once we moved in together (after the wedding) and I wasn’t paying a mortgage on my own, I’d make every contribution possible towards paying off the wedding.

      It worked well. We had a beautiful and frugal wedding for about $7K. He paid the majority of our wedding costs from his HELOC. Now that we’re married and in a better financial position, I can make effective contributions toward paying it off. Talk to him; be loving and honest.

      Good luck!

      • avatar KiwiBird September 1, 2012, 12:36 pm

        Never pay for your wedding with a loan. With the tough economy, the job market is not stable. You don’t want to lose your house over a wedding you couldn’t afford.

    • EscapeHatches EscapeHatches August 31, 2012, 12:11 pm

      We got married on a Friday afternoon. No formal bridal party. No showers ’cause we didn’t need more shiz. Immediate family at the ceremony, everyone else at the reception site. 145 guests. BTW, if you can do the split ceremony/reception you’ll save a bundle AND you will only have those people who truly love you present. It also makes family pictures a breeze after the ceremony.

      -Venue for ceremony: Municipal art museum, including setup, tear down and chairs, $250
      -Officiant: Friend of a friend of a friend who is a judge, $75
      -My Dress: Was a wedding gift from my sister, $300
      -Shoes/Jewelry: Used things I already had, borrowed from aunt, $0
      -His Suit: Only needed the coat as he had nice black pants, $100
      -Flowers: Only my bouquet, and 3 rose arrangements for 20 tables, $500
      -Day of salon stuff: Waited till a luxe salon put their giftcards on sale, took best friend, my sister and myself got hair and makeup and massages, $200
      -Cake: Went to a friendly local bakery, $200
      -Rings: Repurposed his grandfather’s wedding ring only needed cleaning and resize, $45
      -Rings (mine): Silver band with a 6ct. clouded ruby, no wedding band, $400
      -Alcohol: Found a venue that let us supply our own beer/wine, they served, skipped the hard stuff: $500
      -Reception Venue + Food: Found a restaurant that had an adjacent hall, Indian food buffet, apps, mains and dessert: $2500
      -Centerpieces: Used red/gold puff paint to decorate plain glass vases that were given to the florist, plus simple colored glass candle holders, $200
      -Entertainment: DJ was a friend in the “real” DJ business, two musicians and a belly dancer, $1000
      -Invitations: Made a Google website, sent emails. Bought a packet of formal invites for family members that are abroad/not tech savvy, $30
      -Photographer: 5 hours of pictures, plus full media rights and 2 printed albums, $500.
      -Marriage License: $75

      Total outlay for 145 guests, unlimited food drink, etc. was ~$6900.

      We splurged on the music/entertainment and trimmed everywhere else. Technically only $6600 since my sister gifted the dress. Afterwards my parents paid us for everything we spent, we didn’t know that would happen, because that was their gift to us. They were so proud we threw a totally amazing, fun wedding and you wouldn’t have known it was cheap. One guest asked how we could have afforded the $20k he thought we spent. It was a blast.

  • avatar bethany August 31, 2012, 9:12 am

    WWS.

    LW1- If you can’t talk to your fiance about money, you really shouldn’t get married yet.
    LW2- If you want your marriage to work, take steps to try to make it work. If you’re over it, then MOA.
    LW3- Why don’t you just ASK HIM?!?!

  • avatar Sheryl August 31, 2012, 9:13 am

    LW1 – Learn to make a budget and take control of your finances. See how much you would be willing & able to spend on a wedding, and then stick to it. If your fiance does make more money than you, and is willing to share, that’s OK (afterall, what’s yours is his, too, right?). As long as its clear and agreed by both parties. Know how to do that? TALK ABOUT IT!

    LW2 – GO TO COUPLES COUNSELING. Things clearly aren’t working with just the two of you and need to work out your differences in constructive, not hurtful ways. Threatening divorce every time a fight is going on is toe-ing, if not crossing the line, for emotional abuse.

    LW3 – Yes, you are a couple. For some reason, you BF doesn’t seem to like the word ‘girlfriend’. You are exclusive though, and that’s the most important part to commit to. If this is really a ‘where is this going’ question in disguise, that’s a whole other animal you still need to talk to him directly about.

  • JK JK August 31, 2012, 9:13 am

    WWS x 3
    And like we´ve said a million times before TALK TO YOUR SO!!!! This goes for all 3 LWs.

    • katie katie August 31, 2012, 9:34 am

      we need a phrase for that…. TTT? talk to them.

      i like it.

      • avatar sarolabelle August 31, 2012, 11:18 am

        I like TTH – Talk to Him/Her. Them is not proper English because it singles that you are going to talk to two people. It’s the wrong use of the pronoun.

  • avatar SpaceySteph August 31, 2012, 9:16 am

    Really, I’d say at least half of the letters boil down to “I don’t know how X feels about Y.” and the answer is “Talk to X like a grownup dammit!”
    What is wrong with our society that we need a complete stranger on the internet to remind us how to talk to people about things?

    • katie katie August 31, 2012, 11:04 am

      preach.

  • avatar GatorGirl August 31, 2012, 9:19 am

    LW1 – Wendy wrote a great column a few months ago about what to discuss before getting married. Money, specifially how little you have, is her number one point. If you can’t talk about your financially situation you are not ready to get married. You can find her wonderful article here- http://dearwendy.com/15-things-every-couple-must-discuss-before-getting-married/

    Also, weddings can cost as little or as much as you can afford. I’ll say it again- AS MUCH AS YOU CAN AFFORD. Do not go into debt for a wedding. After you and your fiance discuss Wendy’s list and evaluate if your still a good match for marraige. Sit down and lay out how much money you have/can save/family wants to contribute (don’t ask them for it, only take their money if it’s offered) and host the wedding you can afford. It might be city hall, it might be in a park, it might be the Ritz Carelton but please please do not go into debt for a wedding.

    LW2 – If you want a divorce get off your lazy bum and file for one. If you want to work on fixing your relationship get off your lazy bum and do it. Also- “then got rocky. Marriage hasn’t changed it much” so you married someone who you had a rocky relationship with? Wasn’t that a red flag?

    LW3 – Why don’t you ask him?

    ugh these hurt my head.

    • avatar bethany August 31, 2012, 9:26 am

      I sooo agree with you about having a wedding you can afford. I was very lucky, in that my parents paid for my wedding. However, I had a budget, and I stuck with it. You CAN have a wedding on any budget. Maybe it’s a small, backyard wedding. Maybe it’s an intimate, family only ceremony, followed by a great dinner out at a restaurant. There are TONS of options, and if you want to have a huge party, there’s no rule that says it has to be for your wedding. Save your money and throw yourselves a killer 1 year anniversary party!

      • avatar camorzilla August 31, 2012, 11:12 am

        I totally agree! My fiance and I are making monthly payments on our catering and venue. This helps because it means that we don’t have come up with a big chunk of money all at once. Also every month we buy a different thing- last month it was his wedding clothes, this month it’s the ties and socks for the groomsmen. One of the things we most agreed on was not starting our married life off with a mountain of debt (other than stuff from before we got together like my student loans, le sigh). On the day of our wedding, all we’ll have left to pay is the gratuity for the bartender which will be based on sales that night.

  • avatar Anna August 31, 2012, 9:23 am

    LW1: If you really think your fiance will leave you because you don’t have enough money, there’s something wrong. It says right in the wedding vows “for richer or for poorer.” If you aren’t both ready to commit to that, don’t get married. Talk to him about this ASAP and get on the same page. Guess what’s even more expensive than weddings? Divorces.

    If you do go ahead with a wedding, it doesn’t have to be expensive. You can have a small backyard ceremony and wear a cute white dress off the prom or homecoming sale racks at JCPenney. My friend did that and spent a whopping $40 on her beautiful wedding gown. You can make your own flower arrangements and centerpieces with a quick trip to the craft store and enlist family/friends to help cook the food. Be creative! But first make sure getting married is the right thing to do at this point in your life.

    LW2 + LW3 – For the love of God, communicate with him already or nothing is going to get better.

  • FireStar FireStar August 31, 2012, 9:26 am

    I wonder why so many letter writers seem to have lost the concept of self-determination. If you want something for yourself – go and make it happen. At least try, fail, learn something and try again. Your life is the one thing you should not be passive about.
    LW1 – You ned to download all sorts of lists about the types of conversations you should have with your partner before you marry. And then have all of them – finances, kids, where to live, values, in-laws – have ALL of them – repeatedly.
    LW2 – do You want to be married? Then you work on your marriage -couples counselling seems like a good first step for both of you.
    LW3 – seriously? “hey honey – I noticed sometimes you introduce me as your girl and some times as your friend. You seem confused – slap the two together and call me your grilfriend from now on.”

  • avatar Addie Pray August 31, 2012, 9:28 am

    WWS, plus:

    LW1 – Elope!

    LW2 – It’s hard to give an opinion without knowing what you’re fighting about and what you want. But I don’t think your fights are healthy. “I want a divorce” and “I don’t love you” are cruel things to say! I hope to have a marriage one day where we fight like this: “But I *want* to make you breakfast in bed!” “No, dummy, it’ll get the bed messy; we are going out.” “You are bossy.” “I want 4 mimosas.” “I’m having a bloody mary.” “Fine!” “Fine!”

    LW3 – Showoff.

    • avatar shanshantastic August 31, 2012, 9:50 am

      I want to have a fight like that, Addie!

      LW2, my husband told me once when we were dating that he “wasn’t sure” if he loved me. It broke my heart, and it broke up our relationship. It took a lot of time and a LOT of communication to get to the root of that statement and move on. But you both have to be invested. If he doesn’t want to try, and you’re done trying, cut the ties and move on.

    • Roxy_84 Roxy_84 August 31, 2012, 11:07 am

      @AP – About LW 3: right?? “Oh, I’ve met his family, he remembered our 6 month anniversary, and he told me he loves me. NBD.”

      • avatar Addie Pray August 31, 2012, 11:18 am

        “Oh, he loves me more than life itself and thinks I poop stars and rainbows, waa waa waaaa.”

        Seriously.

        • avatar Addie Pray August 31, 2012, 11:21 am

          (Ok, maybe LW’s guy is not in love with her poop. I just like talking about poop.)

          • avatar Addie Pray August 31, 2012, 11:22 am

            (Besides, pooping a star would really hurt. And not in a good way, I wouldn’t think.)

            • avatar Addie Pray August 31, 2012, 11:23 am

              (Depending on what you ate you *could* poop a rainbow of sorts. I’m stopping now.)

              • Roxy_84 Roxy_84 August 31, 2012, 11:29 am

                According to Dr. Oz there is a rainbow of colours. I’m considering this my long weekend experiment, since I’ll be confining myself to my place unpacking so the boxes will stop judging me.

                • Roxy_84 Roxy_84 August 31, 2012, 11:30 am

                  Like I’m kind of nervous I’ll wake up, and they’ll be in a different arrangement closer to me. And then the next morning closer still.

              • bagge72 bagge72 August 31, 2012, 2:18 pm

                I know if you have something with blue die in it (so anything purple or blue) you poop is going to be green as… shit.

                • bagge72 bagge72 August 31, 2012, 2:27 pm

                  dye don’t die

                • Roxy_84 Roxy84 August 31, 2012, 3:48 pm

                  Awesome. I’ll add that one to the list

                • CatsMeow CatsMeow August 31, 2012, 5:37 pm

                  Boo Berry cereal turns my poop green.

                  • avatar Addie Pray August 31, 2012, 7:48 pm

                    What color green? If it’s poopy green I will be less impressed. If it’s Kelly green, I am heading to the store RIGHT NOW to buy some Boo Berry cereal! That would be so cool to poop Kelly green. (Is “Kelly” green capitalized like it’s a name?)

  • avatar SpaceySteph August 31, 2012, 9:28 am

    As for LW1, my goodness. I honestly think if you ever think “I’m scared to talk to my fiance about this” then you probably aren’t ready to get married, at least not to that person.

    My fiance and I are doing premarital counseling through the Catholic Church (He’s Catholic, I’m not) and I was really wary of it at first because I was worried it would be all preachy, but its honestly been pretty awesome. You take this little bubble-in test and then they compare your answers. Then you talk through places where you didn’t agree. (Full disclosure: some questions are about the place for Jesus/the Church in your life and we have to go to a natural family planning seminar… so it might be a tad bit preachy, but not overly so.)

    Last week we talked through the money questions. It wasn’t that either of us were afraid of talking about money, but we realized there were a TON of questions related to money that we hadn’t thought to ask each other, some we hadn’t thought about ourselves. And planning our wedding has been basically a non-stop exercise in talking about money; but that’s about money now, not so much about our retirement money and whatnot. You marry someone for life, you better start thinking about how long that actually is and how expensive it’s gonna get.

    Anyways, I would encourage LW1 to try some premarital counseling if she really does want to make it work with this dude. Even if it’s through a religious place, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s preachy. Also, in my state you can get a discount you marriage license if you go to a counseling program- maybe in your state too?

    • avatar iseeshiny August 31, 2012, 10:36 am

      I wish we’d done premarital counseling. We lived together for four years before we got married and so we both kind of figured that everything that was going to come up, had. And then you realize, no, not really. It’s been pure luck that nothing that’s come up since has been a dealbreaker, but I’m big on studying for tests and sometimes I wish I’d been better prepared.

  • avatar ktfran August 31, 2012, 9:38 am

    LW3′s letter really annoyed me and this is why. She said after a few months they decided to not see other people, which she said made their relationship official for her. Now, after meeting his family and acting like a couple, she doesn’t know. Are you serious? If you want to know, effing ask him. But I don’t think you even need to. You’re together. And maybe he doesn’t believe in labels.

  • Copa copacabananut August 31, 2012, 10:08 am

    LW1 – Not that I’m married (or even engaged), but you said “yes” to someone when you haven’t even discussed big things like finances? Wow. Wow, wow, wow. Not that either of you ought to put all the emphasis on who makes what, who has saved how much, etc., but these are things I’d DEFINITELY discuss before accepting a proposal. Weddings don’t have to cost a fortune, either; a girl I used to be in school with had a beautiful, decent-sized wedding for somewhere in the neighborhood of $8K. (I realize this still isn’t cheap by any means for some people, but if it’s true that the average wedding is $25K, then it is comparable cheap.) I guess my point is that there are options, not all of which cost of fortune. I happen to think that there’s something really romantic about small, intimate weddings that take place, say, at a nearby beach or in a lovely outdoors setting or in a backyard.

    LW3 – Um. Seriously?

  • avatar Temperance August 31, 2012, 10:08 am

    LW1: I am getting married and we are saving up for it now. We’re doing a destination wedding to Puerto Rico and throwing a party back here later for all the assholes who are whining that we’re not throwing a bigger wedding but aren’t giving us the cash to make that happen (as in, our families). Honestly, it has been hard because my FBIL decided to get engaged only 3 weeks after I did (which is a story for another day, ugh) and my future FSIL’s family is giving them thousands of dollars for it, but you just have to make it work, you know? My family would offer us a tiny amount of money, but the amount of strings on it, it might as well have been that house from UP with all those helium balloons.

    So, TALK TO HIM. See what he thinks, what he wants to do, what he’s expecting. I’m sure he doesn’t expect you to fund the whole wedding!

    LW2: Honestly, he has so little regard for your feelings, does it even matter if he “means” it?

  • avatar Michelle.Lea August 31, 2012, 10:17 am

    LW2 – If you were together for 10 years already, marriage shouldnt have changed anything! if it did, something is wrong.

    Mini rant, but I HATE when people get married with the idea that it will ‘change’ or ‘fix’ things. (not that this LW was thinking that specifically, just reminded me of it)

  • avatar jlyfsh August 31, 2012, 10:30 am

    LW1 look at LW2 as your example. This is what will happen if you don’t learn to communicate with your fiance now. Weddings don’t have to cost an arm and a leg to have them be a special day for the both of you. You won’t know how much he has saved, or what his ideas are for a wedding, until you talk to him. And not just in general, sit down and ask him what he thinks an acceptable budget is for the wedding and go from there.

    LW2, why would you get married if things weren’t going well? Because it was easier than breaking up? You were too comfortable in your situation? Have you thought about getting counseling for yourself or as a couple? Because it sounds like you need someone else to mediate at this point. Though, until you realize that you’re both equally responsible for making it work, it won’t.

    LW3, WWS.

  • iwannatalktosampson iwannatalktosampson August 31, 2012, 10:34 am

    LW2 – wouldn’t it be fun if we could control other people’s actions? It would be really nice if you could make him want to work on things. Shit or get off the pot. But you can’t. The amazing thing is that you are 100% in control of your actions. So what do YOU want? Are you in what you consider a happy marriage? Does he make you a better person? Do you wake up happy that he’s next to you? Are you excited to spend time with him occasionally? If the answer to all these questions is no – and you don’t see therapy helping – or you don’t want to go to therapy – then you have your answer.

    You owe it to yourself to be happy. You have one life to live – why waste it with someone who continually hurts you? The only thing worse than divorce is living an unhappy life. You’re not “winning” by staying married to someone that isn’t making your life a better place.

  • Fabelle Fabelle August 31, 2012, 10:34 am

    LW1: Talk to your fiancè. Right now. Finances shouldn’t be a secret.

    LW2: You signed your letter (I’m assuming Wendy didn’t make this one?) as “12-year itch.” Time to move on. For the record, I don’t feel like anyone should threaten divorce or say they don’t love you anymore during a fight either. It seems like you guys are only hanging on out of comfort & due to the longevity.

    LW3: WWS. Ask the dude if he has some issue with the word “girlfriend”.

    • avatar GatorGirl August 31, 2012, 10:49 am

      When we got engaged, my fiance’s parents gave us three peices of advice, the number one peice of advice being “Don’t let the word divorce be part of your vocabulary”. They said don’t joke about, don’t threaten it, don’t discuss it as a remote possibility one day. I really liked that advice.

      • iwannatalktosampson iwannatalktosampson August 31, 2012, 10:54 am

        I completely agree. I think it sets a really negative tone. I think it’s easier to have a “team” attitude if you both just know you have to get through it.

      • avatar Christy August 31, 2012, 11:04 am

        What were the other two pieces of advice? I love the first one!

        • avatar GatorGirl August 31, 2012, 11:41 am

          #2 was no tv in the bedroom ever; it’s for sleeping and sexy time only. I happen to be a huge fan of this one but some disagree.
          #3 was when you do argue (since it will happen) sit next to each other rather than across from each other. I personally don’t like this one because I find it annoyingto talk to someone when I can’t propoerly see them but the theory is facing each other head to head is a more agressive stance and could lead to a more agressive agruement.

          • avatar ktfran August 31, 2012, 11:59 am

            #1 and #2 are awesome. I like both of those. I don’t know how I feel about #3 either. It might feel unnatural? But maybe that’s the point.

          • Fabelle Fabelle August 31, 2012, 12:10 pm

            Actually, I like all three of those– #1 and #2 are sort of rules I have in my own head, but the third one is something I just do subconsciously. If I’m in heated argument with my S/O, I find I’m always trying to get him to sit down next to me, or even lie down & cuddle while we discuss or argue. I know it sounds weird, & some people don’t like being touched if they’re angry, but the whole “less aggressive stance=less aggressive argument” makes sense & seems to work!

          • avatar Temperance August 31, 2012, 4:17 pm

            I disagree with #2, but I have pretty bad nightmares and I *need* TV in the bedroom to get me back to reality sometimes, lol. Also, we watch TV in bed, That’s bonding … right??

      • theattack theattack September 1, 2012, 3:31 am

        I think it’s good to leave divorce out of your own options and to never joke about getting one, but I think it’s healthy to recognize that divorce is a reality and prepare your marriage to hold up against that instead of trying to cover your ears and hope that you end up where you want to.

        My fiance and I don’t have the luxury of avoiding the divorce discussion. He’s a divorce attorney, so it comes up every single day. When we first realized we were headed toward marriage we had a lot of discussions about divorce, and as his experience at work continues to grow, he brings home more and more discussions about what people do wrong in their marriages and how we can avoid that. Since we’ve had such honest discussions about it, both of us feel very confident and more prepared for marriage. It’s always best to be open about stuff with your future spouse.

  • avatar cporoski August 31, 2012, 10:56 am

    LW1 – Have the finances talk. It is the best thing my husband and I did. It isn’t how little you saved but also what he is bringing to the table. He might have alot of debt. you just don’t know. I know a couple who lived together 5 years and they had no idea about each other’s debts. When you are ready to talk about it, pull your credit reports, look at credit cards, loans, savings, 401ks the works. It will feel so great to get this all out in the open. Trust me, it will be much easier than you think.

    Now, for weddings. They can be as big or as small as you want. I have been to great backyard weddings with drinks out of coolers that are just as fun as 100k affairs. When you have the money talk, talk about weddings, The first thing you should bring up is money and that will start you down the venue route. Make spreadsheets and compare things. Once you get organized, you will be so much more calm about your future.

    • avatar cporoski August 31, 2012, 10:58 am

      one example: Here is a blog that I follow and love. They planned a fun wedding for under $4k. http://www.younghouselove.com/wedding-album/

      There is so much online about budget weddings that you will have no problem doing this.

      • avatar bethany August 31, 2012, 11:23 am

        OOh! I read their blog, too! :)

      • avatar GatorGirl August 31, 2012, 11:45 am

        Good to know I’m not the only one obsessed with that blog! It’s so good!

  • avatar Elle Marie August 31, 2012, 11:15 am

    Ugh, wedding costs. I am still cringing over what my actual budget currently looks like… The largest single expense is food/alcohol, followed by our rings (I have metal allergies and so my engagement ring is in platinum, and we’re doing platinum bands… talk about sticker shock!), then photographer, my dress, and then all of the other miscellany. But a lot of those things were things we CHOSE, and there were ways where we could have done things very simply/much, much cheaper. Our families are very graciously helping pay for the food (my parents) and alcohol (his parents), and we’re covering everything else.

    I had a HUGE freak-out when I started to get an idea of what our wedding would cost (which, at that time, was like $15k. It is much more than that now, but still below “average” for our pricey area). My fiance and I sat down with our paystubs and the numbers of our debts (monthly mortgage/car payments, my student loan payments, any outstanding debts), as well as figures for our monthly expenses – what we spend on groceries, eating out, money for ongoing house renovation projects, etc. It was a tough thing to do, but we ironed out a combined budget and worked out ways to save money in other areas so that we could afford our wedding. I still cringe over the actual numbers, but I know that we can afford what we’re spending, that we’ve budgeted for it, and that we’re doing what we really want on our wedding day. I’m still in disbelief over the fact that I spent $1000 (after luxury tax, a fee for extra length on the dress because I am taller than average, another fee for ordering a plus-size, because I am tall and not-thin, etc.) on my wedding dress, but I budgeted for it by sacrificing some evenings out and bringing my lunch to work most of the time… Over the course of the year leading up to the wedding, smaller changes in my everyday spending have allowed me to make some of the larger expenses for the wedding possible.

    Budgeting can seem really overwhelming at first, and sometimes it SUCKS to sit down and face the music, when you’ve been spending a lot of money without an actual budget for a while. Buying coffee or lunch during the work day, every day, adds up over time. My biggest challenge has been reigning in my grocery spending – making meal plans for the week, and taking time to go to a cheaper grocery store on the weekend and getting the entire week’s shopping out of the way at once, has really helped in that regard. Also, if I have a planned meal and the ingredients already purchased, I’m less tempted to order take-out or buy extra groceries at the pricier grocery store that’s on my way home from work.

    Both my fiance and I have used Mint to help us track our spending, and I used it to successfully pay down some credit card debt that I had accumulated while I had a lower-paying job. It has some nice tools that let you see where your money is actually going, and to make a budget to keep your money going to the things you need/want it to.

    I also wanted to mention – there is NOTHING wrong with having a longer engagement, and taking more time to save money, especially if you are paying for the entire cost of the wedding yourselves. My family was gracious enough to help cover the biggest cost (food), but if they couldn’t help, I worked out a cheap “worst case scenario” (which was not even bad, at all, just less fancy that I ideally wanted) that could happen for under $3,000. Read APW (http://www.apracticalwedding.com) and take a look on their posts about planning/budgeting. They really helped me get perspective on costs, and figure out where I wanted our money to go when making wedding choices.

  • avatar MarkD August 31, 2012, 11:21 am

    LW1. How much money you have doesn’t matter. How you (plural) want to handle your money does. I never had this discussion before marriage. I lucked out. We’re both savers, but not misers. We’re saving for retirement, put the kids through college, live in a decent-but-not-pretentious neighborhood and drive reliable but ordinary cars. Call it balance.

    We’ve also had some great vacations (Japan, Germany, Hawaii, Las Vegas, Washington…), and go out to eat a couple times a month. That’s a long way from splitting a six-pack of cheap beer or MacDonalds, and watching TV at home when we were starting out. It worked, because we were both OK with not living beyond our means and saving toward that first house…

    If “we” isn’t more important than “me”, you might be headed for trouble.

  • bittergaymark bittergaymark August 31, 2012, 12:13 pm

    LW1) Wendy is right, but I get it. Who wants a cheapo three hundred dollar wedding. People are gossipy little bitches and many would talk. “Oh. My. God! Talk about not taking a wedding seriously! I mean — why even bother!” “Did you SEE that cake?” “Oh, and THAT dress!” Yeah, it’s a legitimate fear. One can always elope, you know. But Wendy’s other point here is the real biggie… Just come clean with your fiance about your lack of savings already. Honestly, I can’t believe that hasn’t already come up in your relationship. What else DON’T you talk about? Do you even know if you both want kids?

    LW2) I’d love to know WHO starts all of these fights. I have my suspicions it’s you, LW. Simply because if it was Your Husband, I would think you would have pointed that out already. (I know I would if I was penning a letter to Dear Wendy.) The fact that you are cagey here, makes me think maybe you should look at your own behavior. Are you a nag? Seriously, are you? If there is one horrible stereotype I’ve found (sadly) to be often true it’s that far too many of my good friends relentlessly nag their husbands — and yet constantly wonder aloud to me why the romance is dead…

    LW3) It must be wonderful to be so deep and not like so many others that are insecure and hopelessly hung up on labels… Oh, wait…

  • avatar Laura Hope August 31, 2012, 12:16 pm

    We spent $20,000 on our wedding and received $20,000 in gifts. We broke even. And that was many years ago. Today the average gift for a wedding is at least $300. You should actually make money on your wedding.

    • avatar jlyfsh August 31, 2012, 12:18 pm

      ugh i don’t know where you’re going to weddings at but i have never given a gift that cost $300, even to my best friend.

      and you should not go in to your wedding hoping to recoup your wedding or ‘make’ money on it. it’s a party you’re throwing for people to come and celebrate with you. if you look at it as a money making venture, you’re having the wedding for the wrong reasons.

    • bittergaymark bittergaymark August 31, 2012, 12:20 pm

      Um, I honestly don’t think that that is the AVERAGE gift. I’d love to know where you got that statistic… I know of VERY few people who have spent that much on a wedding gift…

      • avatar ele4phant August 31, 2012, 12:54 pm

        Maybe its the mean average you know? Like a few people (maybe parents or super wealthy and close family members) will give really big ticket items, while everybody else will give the standard $50-100 gift. I don’t know, its crazy and unnecessary to me.

        • avatar bethany August 31, 2012, 1:01 pm

          I could see that. I got 4 figure checks from my grandmother and my parents, so that might skew the mean big time!

          • avatar Temperance August 31, 2012, 4:19 pm

            I think my family must really suck ass or something, because I would be lucky to get a cracked blender from Wal-mart. lol.

            BRB, sitting in a corner, wishing I had a nice family like most of DW does. Apparently. LOL

            • avatar iseeshiny August 31, 2012, 4:23 pm

              Right? My family are sweethearts, but generous with money they are not.

              • avatar Sue Jones August 31, 2012, 11:52 pm

                My wedding cost about $50. Then we had a kick ass party 3 months later that cost about $2000. 17 years later we are still married. Many of my friends with the $20k weddings are now divorced. Save your money and elope and get a house. BGM, I really didn’t care what anyone else thought when I got married, but that’s me. It was my marriage after all.

        • othy Othy September 4, 2012, 10:26 am

          Mean, maybe, median, no. Most of my gifts were in the $20-$30 range. We did get one check for $8. That one greatly amused me. How does one decide on an $8 check? “Well, honey, $5 would simply be too small of an amount, we don’t want to seem cheap.” “Yes dear, but $10 would absolutely break the bank.”

    • avatar ele4phant August 31, 2012, 12:39 pm

      $300?! That’s terrible. I think wedding gifts (well, and everything about weddings) are getting a little out of control these days. The whole reason people started giving gifts was because a young couple was just starting out in the world, and legitimately NEEDED items to set-up a household.

      These days, at least in my circles, engaged couples have been living out of their parents houses a long time and already have most everything they need for a household. My BF and I just moved in, and we need LESS stuff, not more. We’re essentially combining two households, so the last thing we need are enough things to outfit a third.

      If anything, what is helpful to young couples is money; money to put towards a downpayment on a home, a car, or to pay down some debt. But asking for money is “tacky”, so instead couples get saddled with more crap. Maybe its nicer stuff than they already have, but they don’t NEED it.

      Today, I think a nice small gift to celebrate the marriage is fine, but expecting people to shell out 300 dollars for something they don’t really need is insane.

      I guess what I’m saying is, the needs of young couples have changed, so should the etiquette and expectations for gift giving.

    • avatar GatorGirl August 31, 2012, 1:06 pm

      This is the worst mindset EVER. If I had been a guest to your wedding and heard you say how you “broke even” or “made money” off of my gift to you I would be seriously offended. Ugh.

      • avatar Mandy August 31, 2012, 5:50 pm

        I’ve never seen a $300 average for wedding gifts. An article from 2010 on fabandfru (google average wedding gift and you’ll track it down – don’t want to stick URLs everywhere and come across as all spam-y) indicates that the actual average is $50-100, with $100 being more likely in particularly wealthy places. So…$300? Talk about 6 times the national average! I don’t think so.

        As far as cheap, my wedding-to-be is going to cost approximately $300. I will have one family member there, as will my fiancee, plus the officiant and her wife. That’s 6 people who we will then take out for food, so…probably around $300 for the meal, considering it will be breakfast. I mean, come on, people – get creative! I’ve seen gorgeous backyard weddings, incredible intimate ceremonies with just family, and amazing 300+ guest extravaganzas. The wedding should fit the people involved (we both detest parties, and can’t justify the idea of spending thousands of dollars on anything that’s not an investment in the actual, physical future – like a house or a car or a relocation-for-a-job. For a one-day party? No thanks.) We’ll still celebrate with our friends as we encounter them, but as we live nearly 3000 miles from most friends/family who we grew up with, we don’t want to make them feel inconvenienced or pressured into spending thousands of dollars to come see us for 30 seconds (I myself have skipped 5 weddings this past year due to the literally thousands of dollars of investment it would have taken for me to go there, get a hotel room, miss work…not possible in this economy). My fiancee and I would much rather celebrate individually with our friends as we encounter them in our various travels (and as they come to our city over the course of the next few years). Offbeatbride is a great place to visit as well, if you’re looking for non-traditional ideas that might help cut certain costs. I’ve known folks who spent their entire budget on location/food, but mitigated the cost by having bridesmaids and wedding guests help create an iPod playlist rather than hiring a DJ. I’ve also known folks who eloped/got married with just family and waited until they had saved enough to throw a larger celebration a year or two down the road. Separating the ceremony and the reception can be a great way to reduce cost up front.

    • Red_Lady Red_Lady August 31, 2012, 11:15 pm

      $300?!?! I think we got that from my grandma, but most gifts were in the $50-$100 range. I was actually floored by the amount of $100 checks we received – I felt people were being so generous!

  • avatar Laura Hope August 31, 2012, 12:28 pm

    I’m surprised to hear this. No one I know would give less than $300 today. Maybe it’s a New York thing. Okay, Plan B. 12 years after our first wedding, my husband converted to Judaism and we had to get married again. 4 men held up a chupah on the sidewalk on a snowy night and all 10 of our guests held candles. Then we had dinner in a small shul. Most romantic wedding ever. Cost a few hundred dollars.

    • avatar jlyfsh August 31, 2012, 12:37 pm

      i don’t know but $300 is pretty ridiculous to me. if i was expected to give a $300 gift to every wedding i attended i just wouldn’t go to any of them.

      and there is something in between spending a few hundred and $20000. there’s doing what you can afford and being happy that people came to spend the time with you and celebrate your love and appreciate the gifts that people do give.

      • avatar Eagle Eye August 31, 2012, 1:00 pm

        Haha, yep, I live in a pretty expensive area, but we’re all grad students so our budget is like 70 bucks max, $50 ideally, we love our friends but $300 would mean eating ramen for a month without any electricity!

        As a result, all of our gifts are in the small but thoughtful category, its not really enough money to be writing a check for, but they’re things that are pretty and useful but not anything anyone would think to get for themselves…

    • Budj Budj August 31, 2012, 12:49 pm

      I have given $300 to my brothers/wives, $200 if I am really close with a friend or it is a cousin, and typically $50-100 for other friends depending on the closeness – mind you if I had more than one wedding a year to attend those figures would change…but I always felt that I was on the higher-end with gifts to family? Especially for a far from rich individual as myself. You do live near the city though and I know expectations are higher in and around that area.

      • CatsMeow CatsMeow August 31, 2012, 1:16 pm

        Seriously?! Oh man I feel like such a cheapass now.

      • Fabelle Fabelle August 31, 2012, 2:20 pm

        Yeah, typically I’ll give $200 for close family and friends. My idea is sort of like it’s a hundred for each person in the couple– for weddings where I’m not close to the couple, I’ll give $100. $300 does seem like a lot, but not totally unreasonable.

        • avatar MMcG August 31, 2012, 2:42 pm

          I have to admit that I sometimes factor in travel costs, etc. Like if I ended up spending $500 just to attend with flight, car, hotel then I might not be able to give as much as I would if it was near my home, or vice versa. I think I also overcompensate/am overly generous in this manner when I can’t attend, especially if I am close to the person.

          Re: LW1 – I’m 22 days away and wanting to kill myself (hyperbole!! not serious) so once you get around to actually getting to know your fiance and are comfy speaking to him about a range of important issues, elope. I could write a novella entitled “i fought the wedding industrial complex (and my FILs ;)) and I lost.

    • avatar MMcG August 31, 2012, 2:49 pm

      BTW – perhaps not just a NYC thing, but a pricey cost of living thing. Anywhere that the cost of living is high or the shopping/entertainment is really expensive… $300 wouldn’t seem that off.
      If I lived in Manhattan and was used to paying over $20 for a cocktail, or billions of dollars for a 50 square foot apartment, my perspective would be different than say someone living in a different area.

  • avatar Laura Hope August 31, 2012, 12:39 pm

    By the way, I wasn’t suggesting that a wedding should be a money-making venture. Just that the gifts will off-set the cost (at least somewhat)

    • avatar ele4phant August 31, 2012, 1:36 pm

      Do they really off-set the cost if they’re things you don’t need though? Like how is that sterling silver gravy boat going to help you out, if you have no need for it?

      I mean if I were to get married tomorrow, there’s nothing my boyfriend and I NEED. Some of our stuff may not be top of the line (although, bit by bit we’ve been getting nice things that we want, so some its not like its all cheapo stuff from Ikea), but we everything we do have works great and doesn’t need to be replaced, so there are very few “things” that would be valuable for us to get.

      I guess you could sell off all the gifts you won’t use or don’t like, but their value will be deappreciated just virtue of being owned by someone once already, and that means the young couple has to put in the effort to resell all their gifts. Which kinda sucks.

      Why not just give cash, if you really want to help them out? Or just get rid of the idea that a young couple should be showered with gifts to start their new life?

      • avatar jlyfsh August 31, 2012, 1:44 pm

        every time i think about giving people things they don’t ‘need’ i think of this site: http://www.storyofstuff.org/about/about-the-project/. i agree that gifts are nice to give to a newly married couple but, it’s important to think about what you’re getting and why. obviously some couples don’t have everything they need and then getting them the knife set and cutting boards is great. but, a lot of people just don’t need more stuff.

      • LadyinPurpleNotRed LadyinPurpleNotRed August 31, 2012, 1:48 pm

        I agree with you, but to be fair, a lot of times people are just buying off of the registry that the couple put together so it’s on the couple to put stuff they need/would like to upgrade on the list. And you said that you are getting the nicer things you want…if you got them at the wedding you wouldn’t have to purchase them yourselves and the money you didn’t spend could be saved, used to add something you want to make your house closer to your dream house, etc so in a way, you still would be helped by those gifts. I’m not saying that spending an average of $300 makes senes to me…it doesn’t, but there are different ways to look at the usefulness of the gifts.

        • avatar ele4phant August 31, 2012, 2:03 pm

          These are good points.

          Its been my observation though that a lot of couples set up the registry just because its expected, and to ask for what they really want (money for a big purchase like a home or to help pay for the honeymoon) is seen as tacky; not because they necessarily want that stuff right now.

          For instance, a Kitchen Aid mixer sounds great, I’d love to have one, buuuttt, my little Sunbeam works great and I don’t plan on replacing it until it breaks – maybe years down the line. For someone to buy me one, well that’s nice and all, but really, I wasn’t about to go get one myself any time soon, so no, its not saving me money. At least not in regards to my immediate goals (buying a house, paying off my student loans, ect).

          I don’t know, I just hate weddings and everything they entail. There just seems to be so many unnecessary rules and expecations that stresses everyone out. Which shouldn’t be the goal, right? Celebrating the beginning of your marriage should be more about celebrating, not making sure you hit every point in Emily Post’s etiquette guide correctly and blowing a ton of money in the process.

          • LadyinPurpleNotRed LadyinPurpleNotRed August 31, 2012, 2:07 pm

            I agree, but that’s on the couple. If they feel more comfortable giving into what they are being pressured to do, then so be it. If they really feel passionate about it, make a stand. It’s their wedding.

          • Red_Lady Red_Lady August 31, 2012, 11:24 pm

            ele4phant, a wedding is whatever you want it to be! If you and your boyfriend do decide to get married, I strongly recommend reading “Offbeat Bride” by Ariel Meadow Stallings. I came across that book in my early stages of wedding planning, and am so thankful I did! It really opened my eyes to the fact that weddings don’t have to be like “Modern Bride” or “The Knot” say they should. It should be a day that you and your lover enjoy, and reflects who you are as a couple. And I gotta say, we had a pretty kick-ass wedding!

            • katie katie September 1, 2012, 10:30 am

              offbeatbride is also a website!!! its amazing!!

  • bagge72 bagge72 August 31, 2012, 2:02 pm

    All hilarious! Love the short cuts, and the advice!

  • avatar Laura Hope August 31, 2012, 4:53 pm

    So I did some some research to find out what people give in other states (including people who aren’t well-off) and it was unanimous. $300 per couple is the bare bone minimum amount for a wedding. Why? Because you are expected to cover the cost of the plate. Sorry,folks.

    • avatar ele4phant August 31, 2012, 5:14 pm

      Oh, great, so if someone invites you to a celebration *they’re* throwing to celebrate a milestone in *their* life, its only fair that you pay for yourself (and the time out of your life and any travel expenditures don’t factor in, of course). Makes sense.

      I don’t dispute that this is the convention, I just don’t think it should be.

      Weddings have become colossally expensive, both for those having them and for those expected to attend. And its ridiculous. It just seems like guests are putting all kinds of demands on the couple, and in turn, it sounds like the couple is shaking down their guests to cover the cost of such an elaborate party. Is symbolic of what marriage is about? I demand unreasonable things from you, and in turn I pay out the nose to make you happy? I sure hope not.

      Just go to the courthouse and get it over with. If you really want to include loved ones, just do something simple with no expectations and few frills, and don’t make your guests “cover” their part of it. Its your dang party, you pay for what you can afford and if they give you a gift, well, that’s very lovely and kind of them.

      Done and done.

      • avatar ele4phant August 31, 2012, 5:50 pm

        Bottom-line, if you are depending on your attendees to offset the cost of your wedding, you are spending too much.

        At the end of the day, this is your wedding, your celebration, and you are inviting people to celebrate with you. We shouldn’t feel entitled to our dream wedding just because we want it anymore than we’re entitled to anything else nice in life just because we want it.

        I want a waterfront home, but I can’t afford it on my income. Too bad for me, but that’s life. You want a big wedding that costs $300 a head but your income can’t support that? Well, that should be too bad for you. You shouldn’t get it.

        Wedding guests should be treated like guests, as in you shouldn’t be charging them to come to a party you’ve decided to have. Can you imagine any other sort of celebration where that happened? If I called up my friends and said “Hey its my 30th, and I’m having a huge blow-out! Come celebrate with me. BTW, my party is costing me $300 per person, so make sure you’re gift for me is at least that.” Pretty sure I’d get a lot of declines. Why is this expectation okay if its a wedding?

      • avatar jlyfsh August 31, 2012, 5:54 pm

        yeah i’ll never understand this thought process. i’m getting married and i want to have a crazy expensive wedding but i can’t afford it, but i heard that people are supposed to give me gifts that cover the cost of their plate, yay. let’s have an even more expensive wedding and then we’ll get even better gifts.

        ugh, the thought process behind that just makes me plain sad. i go to weddings and get gifts for people because i love them and the gift i buy is either something that i know they need or means something to me/them. i never think before picking it out, i wonder just how much my chicken and potatoes cost, and i guess i should factor in drinks. i don’t know apparently i have no etiquette but i’d rather get something as a gift that the person cared about rather than reaching a certain price point. makes me very glad i don’t have any friends who think that i should pay for my plate when going to their wedding!

        • avatar ele4phant August 31, 2012, 6:11 pm

          I agree. The proper etiquette may be to bring a gift that covers the cost of your plate, but I don’t understand *why*. Etiquette was first developed to serve a purpose, to help everybody know what to do and to fufill some sort of function (for instance, buying a wedding gift to help that 22 year old couple set up their first ever household. That served a purpose).

          If I don’t see what purpose being fulfilled anymore, I fail to see why we still practice such etiquette anymore, and I’m certainly going to be hard pressed to follow it just for the sake of following it. Times change, so should etiquette. If anything, I think hyjacking outdated etiquette in order to make your guests subsidize your grossly expensive wedding is pretty darn rude.

          But that’s just me…

          • katie katie August 31, 2012, 8:27 pm

            THANK YOU!!!

            yep. throw the “rules” out the window. they arent needed, or, quite frankly, wanted anymore.

      • avatar Mandy August 31, 2012, 5:56 pm

        In 2012, The Knot suggests:
        “The Knot, a site that specializes in all things nuptial. Their rule of thumb — no matter what, don’t drop less than $50 on a gift. It’s bad form. If the person is a coworker or relative you aren’t close to, aim for $50 to $75. For a friend or relative, prepare to spend between $75 and $100. And for a close relative or close friend, shoot for $100 to $150.”

        • avatar jlyfsh August 31, 2012, 6:55 pm

          the prices are much more reasonable but at the same time it should be able what you’re getting the person and not the price tag. i also think it’s only going to end with the bride/groom disappointed if they go in to planning thinking that they are going to ‘recoup’ the price per plate for everyone at their wedding. a wedding shouldn’t be about the gifts! it should be about celebrating and sharing the love.

        • theattack theattack August 31, 2012, 8:05 pm

          Those prices might be common practice, but I would certainly hope that someone wouldn’t decline my wedding invitation because they couldn’t afford that. My social worker friends who make $9/hour before tax at their part time jobs would be blowing their whole week’s budget on a gift for me if they followed that. When they come to my wedding, they’ll probably bring me something small, inexpensive, and meaningful, and that will mean just as much to me as the rich family friends buying me something expensive. I think people should bring gifts to weddings if they can, but it should be no more than what they can easily afford. If they can afford a beer coozie thing from the gas station, that’s fine! I just can’t stand the thought of someone skipping our celebration because they felt they couldn’t afford a proper gift. If you’re having a wedding, the purpose should be to get married and celebrate with the people around you!

        • bittergaymark bittergaymark September 1, 2012, 12:06 am

          See, those numbers make more sense. $300 = bare bones minimum, my ass! I’d LOVE to see that source, Laura Hope.

          • theattack theattack September 1, 2012, 12:21 am

            I just can’t understand how that’s a bare minimum. All of the jobs that I’m applying for right now (which is all of the open positions I’m qualified for) barely pay $300 a week, and I’m sure as hell not about to spend a fourth of my monthly income on a wedding gift.

            • bittergaymark bittergaymark September 1, 2012, 12:26 am

              What? 300 a week? Where do you live? That’s like CRAZY low…

              • theattack theattack September 1, 2012, 12:35 am

                Tennessee. Our price of living is SO much lower than yours is in California, but that salary is insanely low for someone here too. My degree is in Social Work, which a year or two ago was rated as the absolute lowest paying college major. Even lower than theatre, art, education, and all of those other stereotypically low-paying fields. People talk about teachers not making any money, but social workers deal with much crazier shit than teachers (no offense, guys, I really love you all), and they barely make enough money to stay off of the welfare that they help their clients with. Not regretting the degree yet, but I’m sure I will very soon.

    • theattack theattack August 31, 2012, 8:14 pm

      I’m convinced that those numbers are made up by the wedding industry to encourage the hiking up of their already ridiculous prices. Several people on DW have said $300 is absurd, so who are these people spending that much? If I had that to spare then I would have spent that much on my best friend’s wedding, but I didn’t. Not very many people in America do have that money to spend right now, and as weddings get bigger and bigger, people are invited to more and more, and they’re even less likely to be able to spend that much on every wedding they go to. Sorry, but I’m not buying your info.

    • avatar GatorGirl August 31, 2012, 8:15 pm

      Where oh where did you do your research? I’d love to see some sources.

      Generally speaking the “cover your plate” rule is considered to be an outdated tradition. (I have mentioned it here before as a suggestion- I know) These days, in this economy it is widely accepted that you give a gift you can afford. I would much prefer a guest to come to the wedding with no gift at all then go into debt to buy me a lavish gift.

      Your smug attitude isn’t appreciated.

      • Red_Lady Red_Lady August 31, 2012, 11:30 pm

        And how do you even know how much your plate cost?!? Call up the bride, “hey, sooooooo, how much are you spending on your wedding? I want to make sure I write the correct amount on this check.”

        • theattack theattack August 31, 2012, 11:44 pm

          Excellent point. Honestly, I don’t understand how people have $300 plates either. My wedding food is going to cost about $12 per person, which I feel like we’re majorly splurging on. Unless that number is counting the cost of tables, chairs, linens, etc, I just don’t understand how it can add up to $300.

    • avatar Sue Jones August 31, 2012, 11:59 pm

      I guess I have missed that mark, then. But seriously, I never went for all of that Bridezilla stuff anyway. I think some wedding planner magazine has inflated the cost as a money making scheme. It sounds like most people give something in the $50-$100 range and nobody squawks about it. I wouldn’t want to hang with people who get totally offended because someone gave them less than a $300 gift. I think the yiddish word for that type of person is “Schnorrer”.

  • avatar ele4phant August 31, 2012, 9:41 pm

    You know LW1, when my grandmother got married, most people didn’t have weddings like they do today. Only the rich got to haveinvited hundreds of people to watch the ceremony, bought a fancy dress that they only wore once, and then had a huge catered reception. Most people had a wedding like she did.

    When she got married, the pastor married her quietly in one of the church offices in between services with just a handful of people watching (basically, just my great-grandparents and great-aunts and uncles). She wore the nicest dress she already had. After the ceremony, they went back to my great-grandparents and ate a meal that she and my great-grandmother had made earlier in the day. That was it.

    You can still do that. That option hasn’t been taken away. While having even a small, budget version wedding in the white-dress, full church sense may still be very expensive, you can opt out. If what’s important you is getting married to the man you love and not getting to dress up in a floofy white dress, then it should be just as wonderful.

  • theattack theattack August 31, 2012, 9:53 pm

    “How do I tell my fiancé I am scared to get married for fear of spending all this money on one day?”

    I’m very confused by this. Is he insisting on having a big white wedding or something? If your fiance is a reasonable person, he will understand the need to cut corners. My fiance wanted a huge fancy wedding too. Then I did the research for what a moderate size wedding would cost, showed it to him, and he immediately realized that even that was way too much to spend on a few hours. Looking at the prices of stuff usually shocks people into lower expectations.

    But on a MUCH more important note: If you can’t talk to your fiance about money, you might not be ready for marriage. Even if you don’t plan on combining finances, you will still have to know about the money situation. Avoiding that conversation won’t do you any good, because you’ll have to have it sooner or later anyway. Marriage is about sharing stuff with each other, and you need to start practicing marriage during your engagement. Sorry to be blunt, but you’ll just have to suck it up and do it.

  • Cassie CassieB September 6, 2012, 10:11 pm

    I got married for about $3K… so it can be done. We kept our guest list reasonable, had the reception and ceremony both at the church, and did a bunch of things DIY. You just have to get creative. I really did luck out, though, as I have some talented friends. One did the photography for our wedding at a very inexpensive price and another did the flowers as a wedding gift, and was able to order them through the floral shop she works at.

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