So you think your wedding is for you and your fiancé? Ha! Forget it. Here are some truths about weddings: Unfortunately, weddings often become less a celebration of marriage and more like a huge social torture test for the participants. Parents, and even some brides and grooms, are frequently guilty of turning weddings into spectacles to impress their friends or business associates. Money can become the sticking point since whoever pays for the wedding may feel a divine right to influence the proceedings with their own tastes.
Sometimes, parents or relatives try to make your wedding into the wedding they never had (yet always dreamed of). Your friends may be guilty of pressuring you to make your wedding fit some predetermined mold. Put another way, while you may be the stars of the show, you and your fiancé may not be the wedding’s directors, producers or choreographers.
Recognize this fact early and learn to negotiate without giving ultimatums. Yes, it is YOUR day, but remembering that others (parents, friends, relatives) are on the stage with you may prevent excessive bloodshed.
Truths About Weddings
Weddings always end up twice as large as originally planned. If only we had a dime for every couple we met who said, “All we wanted was a small, intimate wedding and what we got was a huge affair for 500 guests.” A wedding often takes on a life of its own, expanding into a hideous creature several times larger than you ever imagined.
This process usually begins with what we call Guest List Inflation. Here the guest list grows because each family simply must invite personal friends, close business associates and people whom they haven’t seen in 15 years. The main problem: adding to the guest list has a direct, negative impact on your budget.
Several weddings have nearly unraveled when families have insisted on inflating the guest list without offering to help pay for the additional cost. We suggest you and your families be allowed to invite a certain number of guests each. Any invites beyond those targets must be financed by the offending party. Careful negotiations are often necessary to avoid open warfare on this point.
Perfect weddings don’t exist in the free world.
No matter what anyone tells you, understand that the “perfect wedding” is an impossibility on planet Earth. That’s because weddings always involve human beings who, on the whole, tend to be less than perfect creatures.
Now, we know everyone tells you that you must have the perfect gown, perfect flowers, and perfect cake unless you want to catch the Bridal Plague and die an agonizingly painful death. Don’t listen to them. Instead, we suggest you aim for a “fantastic” or “wonderful” wedding. Or even just a fun wedding!
Since it’s impossible to perfectly script something as complex as a wedding, we say why try? Attendants will miss cues; things will go wrong—if you need any proof of this just watch any of those “outrageous and shocking home video” shows. Ever wonder why so many of those clips are of weddings? Hmmmmmm.
Aiming for a wonderful wedding will also give you another benefit—you will probably be able to maintain your sanity.
The “wedding industry” isn’t as innocent as it looks.
You might think the wedding industry is a collection of sweet old ladies whose only desire is to help young couples in love, but the reality is quite the opposite. Instead, think of the bridal biz as a group of cut-throat merchants who, in some cases, will do anything for a sale.
Newspaper columnist Dave Barry once wrote that the motto of the wedding industry is, “Money can’t buy you happiness. So you might as well give your money to us.” Quite true. Weddings are big bucks.
According to the latest research, over $20 billion dollars will be spent this year by couples tying the knot. That’s billion with a “b.” And that’s just the wedding and reception—add in another $19 billion spent on gifts and $8 billion on honeymoons and you’ve got a $47 billion bridal juggernaut. We like to call it the Wedding Industrial Complex.
The wedding industry dwarfs many other businesses, including the breakfast food biz (a paltry $16 billion in Fruit Loops and the like) or the record industry ($15 billion in CD sales.)
And you can bet your bridal veil that the industry knows EXACTLY how lucrative all these “I Do’s” can be. To illustrate this, check out what the publisher of Bride’s magazine told a trade journal about the wedding industry:
“Never before in a woman’s life, and never again, is she going to be worth this much money to a marketer. There is no price resistance and she is completely open to new brands,” Bride’s publisher cackled, adding that the internal tag line for Bride’s is “Where Love Meets Money.”
Of course, we’re not against folks trying to make a buck. Hey, sell a quality product or service at a fair price and make a profit — that’s America. Yet what makes wedding planning so crazy are bridal merchants who view brides and grooms as human ATM’s. Other wedding vendors seem at war with their customers, as odd as that seems. Take bridal dress retailers—please! These stores are incredibly inventive at separating brides from their money, generating a huge volume of complaints from consumers.
Why do some bridal merchants and vendors think engaged couples are an easy mark? That’s because weddings are a one-shot deal. There are no repeat customers (except if you are, say Elizabeth Taylor or Larry King). Unlike other industries that rely on repeat business, wedding merchants know you won’t be stopping by next month to buy another bridal gown, cake or ice sculpture. And with a fresh crop of new brides and grooms each year, some sleazy merchants can continue their rip-offs and scams with little fear of getting busted.
So, separate the good guys from the scamsters out there in wedding land. Yes, there are ethical and honest bridal professionals out there that charge a fair price. Just be aware the wedding business is just that—a business, where folks are trying to make a buck while you tie the knot.
Marriage Missions Editors Addition to this list:
A wedding is for a day, a marriage is to be for a lifetime. Why is it that we overlook that—or at least overlook the importance of that? It’s great to feel like a “princess for a day.” But don’t overlook the fact that the wedding is a one day celebration that initiates the beginning of a lifetime event. This is a lifetime event that matters very much to God! And for that reason, it should matter very much to us. That is why we should invest as much as we possibly can into making it successful.
Marriage is portrayed throughout the Bible as a living picture of Christ’s love for the church. It’s a picture that we aren’t to take lightly or tear apart. So as you prepare for your wedding, don’t forget to put all the preparation time into the marriage that it deserves. A good marriage takes a lot of work, commitment, and sacrifice to keep it strong. It’s not a one day event that you can slide through after the wedding day is done. You’re marrying each other in mind, body, and spirit. This is to be with God uniting you even stronger together as a team, as you allow Him to enter in and help you.
The question is:
What are you doing to prepare for this sacred union before the wedding? And what are you planning to do to after the wedding (and the honeymoon) to keep this sacred union going strong?
This article (minus the Marriage Missions Editor’s addition) was edited from the book Bridal Bargains: Secrets to Throwing A Fantastic Wedding On A Realistic Budget, which was written and compiled by Denise and Alan Fields, published by Windsor Peak Press. This is a fun, non-Christian book that gives a whole host of real life solutions and creative ideas to plan a wedding without going bankrupt. Most of the tips are such that they would pertain more to American or Canadian weddings. But we can see how it could truly save those who are getting married a lot of money plus give them a lot of tips they may never have thought of before. It’s practical and fun all at the same time!
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Filed under: Planning Your Wedding