Monday, June 7, 2010

A Gigantic Money Blowout

Yes, it's true. Lately, my wedding has consisted of a spectacular outpouring of money.


A few months back, I explained our wedding budget: $20-23,000, a combination of contributions by my parents, Mr. Octopus's parents and grandmother, and ourselves. That budget is now, um, how shall I say? Highly obsolete. I can sum up the main reason for the change in two words: Guest. List.

Mr. O and I started making our initial wedding plans last summer, around fourteen months out from our actual wedding day. We talked about things like the budget, the guest list, and our hopes and ideas with our families, and made some choices (big, spendy ones, like the reception venue, and the accompanying catering options) based on those conversations. The issue was that at fourteen months away, my parents were having a hard time wrapping their heads around the reality of the wedding. It all felt very real and very "happening" to me, but to them, it wasn't even close to the horizon. This is not by any means a knock on Mom and Dad Octopus; I totally understand why they felt that way. If someone approached me and asked me to sign off on plans for an event over a year away, I'd probably react like, "uhhh.....sure!" too.

The problem, though, was that they initially agreed to a guest list that, as the wedding got closer, they realized they weren't comfortable with. I have an enormous extended family, and they felt bad about leaving people out. There were other add-ons, too. Mr. Octo and I were invited to the weddings of a few old college friends, and then felt obligated to reciprocate the invitations. Mom and Dad Octopus were invited to a few weddings of their friends' kids, and felt obligated to reciprocate those invitations. End result? I think it's going to be highly unlikely that we hit our original targeted (and budgeted-for) number of attendees--120--with the 205-person guest list we've got now.

As we all know, extra people means extra money. Mom and Dad Octopus have been perfectly reasonable and accommodating about this, and since the large majority of the added guests are theirs, they agreed to contribute more money to the budget. This is fabulous and generous of them, but I'm still feeling a little sticker shock at the new anticipated price tag on the whole thing. I'm thinking that we can now expect our attendance number to be more like 150ish......which means, with the way costs are shaking out, I'll be pleasantly surprised if our wedding expenses clock in under $28,000. Gulp.

The actual, calculated "wedding budget" isn't the end of the money explosion, though. Actually, other than the added guests, my wedding budgeting has been pretty well on track. A little over here, a little under there, but really, no big deal. "This isn't so hard!" I thought to myself for a while. "I don't know why everyone says it all turns out to cost more than you think it will!"


HA HA HA! At three and a half months out, I get it now. There are SO MANY unforeseen expenses--some minor, some not minor--that, added up, make me feel like I'm shooting money out of a grenade launcher. Just all kinds of stuff......the checked bag fees for when we fly to and from Pittsburgh. The postage for all the thank-you notes that will be going out after my two upcoming bridal showers. The fact that we're going to Pittsburgh two days before the wedding and staying two days after, and all the food and drinks and random whatnot those days will include. If I added up the actual, total number of dollars that are spent on absolutely everything related to and surrounding the wedding, rather than the typical, spreadsheeted, budgeted-for "wedding expenses", it would completely blow my mind, and probably make me a little nauseous.

Don't get me wrong: I am really, really, really excited for our wedding. I get more excited about it every day. We made the choice to get married in this way, and I own that. I completely feel that having "the big wedding" was the right decision, and I can't wait for it. But, still, sometimes, I just have to stop and grapple with the sheer amount of money that is pouring out of our hands, and our families' hands. Sometimes I cannot quite come to terms with how effing expensive this all is.

Do you wrestle with the reality of how much your wedding truly costs? Am I the only one who is starting to feel like her budget is getting a liiiiiittle bit out of control?

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