Wedding budget, pre-engagement - $10,000: I am going to be the savviest budget bride ever. I am going to throw a giant party with an open bar for 100 people and it will be AMAZING. That national average of $28,000 is complete and utter foolishness. Only boneheads would pay that much for one day. I'd rather put that money towards a house or retirement or a vacation. Woo, a vacation. Yeah honeymoon. I'll buy a department store dress, do my own hair and makeup, and DIY my own cheap non-floral centerpieces, have an ipod wedding, and serve tacos and pie. All I want is an outdoor wedding with Jason and the people we love. That's all that matters. That and nice photography to capture it all. I'll find an up and comer who's still cheap. Yeah. That's what I'll do. I'm a budget superstar. Ha ha, $28,000 suckers.
Wedding budget, one month in - $15,000: So, apparently it's impossible to rent an empty room in Los Angeles for less than $5000 (and it's usually more like $10,000). And um, apparently we aren't entirely on the same page about this small and casual thing (I had no idea you had so many uncles and cousins. Wow.) And I really still want that outdoor wedding. And it turns out I like the idea of having a ring and ketubah and a rabbi in addition to everything else. And why the heck is it nearly impossible to find a nice dress for under $1000?!! Department stores and their flimsy chiffon and shiny sateen are FAILING ME. Crap. Crapitty crap crap. But we can find another $5,000 and start making some deep cuts to make this work. Yes. I am still a budget rockstar.
Wedding Budget, six months in - $20,000: Somehow, in all this planning, it has been brought to my attention that an ipod DJ is not exactly what my music-loving, music-industry-working partner had always dreamed of. And, for some strange reason, this is causing some tension. Sigh. Also, it turns out that I am utterly incapable of applying false eyelashes in a way that doesn't look like a caterpillar is nesting on my eyelid. This would be less terrible if I were capable of giving myself a sleek and stylish hairdo or applying camera-ready makeup in a way that doesn't look clown-like, but I'm not. And I'm not sure why budget superstar weddingbrain ever convinced me that I could, when I have enough difficulties dealing with the morning blow-dry and lipgloss routine. Also, why must all the dresses I like cost about $1500. Really dresses? Lame. Lame lame lame. I'm going back to Nordstom and Macy's again, in addition to trying on every bridesmaid dress in the city, and all I can say is LAME.
Tearful elopement budget - $1000: Sob. Chestwracking sob after sob. Waaaaaaaaaaaah. But. I. Never. Wanted. This. Expense. Or. Stress. Eff it. Eff it ALL. WAAAAAAAH. Oh, you mean if I elope I won't be able to share our celebration with our loved ones, WHICH WAS THE ENTIRE POINT OF THIS D*MN WEDDING IN THE FIRST PLACE?! Also, our mothers might disown us. But still. A simple, peaceful elopement...
Wedding budget, nine months in - $25,000 How in the @#*(^(@!#!@$%^*;)%;*)@!#!(%^*) do rentals cost this much money?! Sure, I got a $1000 steal on our beautiful outdoor venue that allows us to: nix ceremony decor, BYOB, bring whatever catering/self-catering options we want. But Dear. G-d. The RENTALS. Also, as my mother so helpfully pointed out, the venue is a bit remote. And at the top of a twisty windy multi-mile road. And we're serving alcohol to people who have been known to party. And unfortunately buses seem to cost about $2000. Also, I am now scouring ebay, craigslist, and every used wedding dress site in existence to try and find that mythical cheap dress. I am now bartering my soul for makeup and hair favors. And somehow, it's still not enough. It's never enough.
Wedding budget, one year in - I give up. With our guest list, I simply give up. I've got the department store dress, the taco truck catering, the Two Buck Chuck and the borrowed decor and the numbers still don't seem to be budging. I have this fantasy that we'll get back from our honeymoon and suddenly discover that the $100 savings here and the $100 savings there have suddenly added up to a substantial number like, oh say, $5,000. But the truth is that probably won't happen and I can no longer give a d*mn. We're getting married. And everyone gets food, everyone get drinks, we all get some joy, and it's going to cost a ton because a ton of you are probably coming. Which is wonderful and is the point.
I'm very uncomfortable with the amount of money we're spending, but I'm also entirely comfortable with how we're choosing to spend it. As I'm learning, there's not a lot of black-or-white clarity surrounding weddings, especially as we muddle through the real compromises and real challenges in planning a big-city, 150+ person wedding in a way that feels right to us. I just wish I could finally convince my pre-engagement $10K dreaming scheming self that it's all right. Because it really truly is.