Thursday, December 3, 2009

The B-Word

Budget, that is. I've said before that I am an unabashed wedding enthusiast, and I will admit that going on flights of fancy about having every single pretty thing Martha Stewart Wedding dangles in front of my eyes is something I have indulged in once or twice (a day). However, that is not the world I live in.

Right. That's more like it.

When Mr. Octopus and I seriously started talking about "wedding" as in "fall 2010" rather than "wedding" as in "someday," I decided to start doing a little casual research--and then promptly had to be revived with a pair of electric current paddles. I had no idea what those dreamy ideas that had been parading through my head actually cost. I'm sure I'm not alone in this. Wedding sticker shock is no joke! Because of that, though, I'd really like to help other brides avoid the shock and awe that I felt upon discovering the price tag on this stuff. So, I intend to be completely transparent about our budget.

There it is: twenty to twenty-three thousand dollars, depending on some wiggle room from his grandmother and from us.

Figuring out this part of it was actually quite painless. Both sets of parents offered us a flat sum of what was feasible for each of them to contribute, and he and I calculated what we could put in without going into major credit card debt. I did have a slight moment of bafflement as to how the logistics of it would actually work, but my mom came up with a clever and easy solution: I'm keeping track of all the expenses in a spreadsheet, and whenever a payment arises, I color-code who took care of it. Once each contributor (and their assigned color) reaches the number they offered, they're done paying for things.

Here's what we're trying to whip up with that budget: most of the major elements of a traditional wedding--a Saturday evening ceremony and reception with a full dinner, dancing, and drinking--for about one hundred and twenty people. It looks like it's going to be a pretty tight squeeze, but not impossible. In fact, I kind of enjoy the challenge of it. I wasn't kidding about really loving a good session of detailed planning ahead and organizing, which this definitely requires.

The hard part, for me, has been the emotions involved. If you let your head get too far into what's "normal" for the wedding industry at large, a wedding on my budget can sometimes start to seem really modest. But let's get real: twenty thousand dollars would pay off nearly all of my student loans. It would pay my rent for years. It would buy me a very solid car. In short: it is a substantial amount of cash. So sometimes I find myself panicking, thinking, "OMG what in the h-e-double-hockey-sticks were we thinking?! Are we crazy to spend this much money?" I have definitely, definitely had moments of self-doubt and guilt.

This is the first thing that comes up when you do a Google Image search for "feeling guilty."

But you know what? The money here is a significant expense for everyone involved, but (very thankfully) not a hardship. We are all doing what is affordable, reasonable, and possible for ourselves. I think that's really the key, because some people spend lots more than we do, and some people spend lots less. At the end of the day, everyone will be just as married as everyone else. As long as your wedding plans--whatever the price tag--work for you, and make you really happy, then it's a good choice.

So, I'm learning to not feel guilty about my wedding. It's something that both my groom and I really want, with our whole hearts. I want to invite our loved ones to our favorite city and have them witness us saying our vows and promising our lives to each other. And then I really want to treat them, and ourselves, to an awesome and memorable celebration (which it is TOTALLY going to be, and I can't wait!!).

I am having a twenty(ish) thousand dollar wedding, and it's okay.

What kinds of things did the whole budgeting process bring up for you? What's been easy, and what's been a struggle?

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