Monday, April 12, 2010

What a wedding could really cost you (other than your sanity)

Before all the hoopla, A Los Angeles Love wrote an incredibly smart post about why this article, which spurred this article at Jezebel and ensuing  controversy, was a terrible article to begin with.  Specifically, the post focused on why the article was sexist and focused on attacking specifically the brides about the cost of their $2000 dress.

Becca is right.  There is always something that somebody could spend money on that doesn't accumulate more money and costs you in the long run (specifically cars, but also TVs, playstations, computers).  What bothers me about this controversy is that although I think Becca's (A Los Angeles Love) focus on the comments is genuinely valid, we're not really focusing that what is wrong with the fact that Jezebel didn't pick up on the initial sexism in the article - that there are lots of ways to save money, but the guy focuses on a wedding in particular and not buying a $5 sandwich for lunch every day. 

What bothered me the most, I think, about the original article, is the advice that the biggest cost saver is to invite fewer people.  Because even though we should remember, "Every dollar you save will be make you richer by $5, $10 or even more down the road", happiness comes from experience and relationships, not how much money you have.  And if not inviting somebody to my wedding makes me $500 richer in 40 years, but means I have fewer valuable people in my life, I don't really see that being worth it.  But this analysis is missing.

It also bothered me that nobody here is trashing the honeymoon, or other expensive trips which don't "net" you any gain.  Every $100 less you spend on your honeymoon could also make you richer by another $500 or $1000 down the road, but that advice isn't even suggested.  In fact, I haven't seen that suggestion anywhere among the supposed "budget" suggestions that are put forth in these articles.  But people tend to spend a LOT of money on their honeymoons, money they would never spend on their normal trips, on the excuse that it's their honeymoon, and it has to be special.  Yet nobody mocks dropping a lot of money on the honeymoon (or I have yet to seen it), possibly because the honeymoon is not viewed as a "chick thing" the way weddings are. 

How do you feel about the idea of "every dollar saved gets you more over a lifetime?"  Do you also think it's bupkus?  And if you wrote the blog post I'm thinking of, please let me know!


  1. That article is a waste of time - the author spent the first half talking about how parents are paying for more of the wedding costs today, but then the second half about the opportunity cost of that money for the young couple. Newsflash, that money doesn't necessarily flow unimpeded between bride/groom and parents. Just because parents spend $100 less does NOT mean that the bride/groom are going to have $500 more in the future.

  2. Another excellent point that I forgot to mention.

  3. Ellie, I think the post you're looking for might be this one:

    As my husband is fond of pointing out, *anything* you buy involves a calculation of savings vs. consumption. Last week I spent $2 on a slice of pizza for lunch. Should I have gone hungry instead, since in the long run, that piece of pizza could cost me $20?

    The point that extravagant spending early in one's life can have later repercussions is a good one. But I can't help feel that the intense focus on *weddings* as the phenomenon to blame for lost savings is fueled by at least a bit of sexism. Where is the criticism of sports cars, of rent on apartments you can't really afford, of dinners out and $15 martinis after work? Why should we be worried about weddings, specifically? No one has managed to answer that for me.

  4. I was thinking this same thing yesterday. What really gets to me is that isn't the whole point of saving money to eventually spend it on something or at least have money available to spend? What this article is implying is that a wedding is not worth spending (much) money on.

    And what about the flip side of this spend vs. save argument? Hypothetically, if you invested say $1K a while back and now it's $5K and you spend that money on your wedding, does your wedding cost you $1K or $5K? The article doesn't address people who have planned for their wedding by saving money at all.

  5. Ellie - I definitely ripped on the WSJ article and how it never accounts for our weddings as investments in love. I'm an experience-over-stuff girl myself, and I can't think of a more meaningful experience for us than a wedding with all our families and loved ones. And vacations. I haven't had enough of those lately and I can't WAIT for my honeymoon and our first "exotic" trip together ever. Heck yeah, it's worth the cost. What else would I spend it on? A fancy car? Psht. Not my bag, baby.

  6. They are ripping on weddings because they are easy targets and "women's" arena. Sexist and bullshit.

    Anyone who tries to tell me that investing in a good wedding is dumb is a moron who doesn't understand how to live in the moment. Yes, it's nice to save for the future. It's also nice to save up to have a nice wedding. Heck, why can't we do both?!

  7. How do I feel about the idea of "every dollar saved gets you more over a lifetime?" I think it will drive you nuts. You can't go through your life thinking about the money you might accumulate in such-and-such a time if you don't do this, that, or the other. Now I'd be the first to say that I'm a saver as opposed to a spender. But if you have the money and want to spend it on something that's important to you and to others around you - and by GOD, the whole wedding occasion is supposed to be a celebration, isn't it? At it's most basic level? - then by all means, do it. Let's try to be responsible with our money, and think about where it's going and what it's supporting, but saving it for the sake of what it might end up being years down the road, well . . . I think I can speak for myself and a few others when I say that I don't want to live like that.

  8. I am sick of this budget bashing. No wonder couples are so insecure when it comes to wedding planning (myself included). If someone wants to buy and wear a $2,000 dress for one day of her life, let her do it! Who cares? If she is able to look back at her day and remember how happy she was, how much she loved that dress, and how beautiful she felt. Let her. She deserves it. If I want to cut corners and get a $200 dress, let me do it. I make my money to spend it the way I want. If we are being intentional in our decisions and, at the end of the day, can be truly happy with them... why is it anyone else's business?