It was a perfect day in June, in a luxurious private island in Fiji …finally after 10 years of waiting. I adore and caress the exquisitely designed bridal gown I’ve been eyeing for years. Now I know for sure I am not dreaming. For the second time around (after our trip to Paris where he held up that diamond ring) I was head over heels in love with my man. Magnificent white sand, turquoise water, finest wine, aisle lined with Casablanca lilies… I feel like a princess ready for the happy ever after with my prince charming. It was fairy-tale like. Exactly how I envisioned a perfect wedding.
A perfect day it is, if it didn’t cost a lasting marriage.
Ok ok, that’s not our story. I’m just trying to picture today’s typical girl dream wedding. But I guess I’m too crazy to be typical. Don’t get me wrong, I too have dream…a dream marriage, and I made sure that I end up with a man who have the same. So after my prince charming asked me if I will marry him(which have brought me tears like the girl in Paris scene, even it didn’t involve any sort of engagement ring as I made it clear to him before that I think it’s just a waste), we immediately start preparing, not for our wedding but our marriage.
Instead of making a guest list, we made a monthly list of our shared grocery expenses. This allowed us to get a feel of how we can handle money as a team even though we don’t live together yet. Being able to buy items in bulk at a cheaper price is just a bonus.
Instead of stressing ourselves looking for wedding venues, caterers, photographers, bridal gown, etc, we looked and discussed about our similarities and differences in family values and raising kids and how we can possibly deal with them. We also looked for ways to grow together. What I liked the most is our audio books and podcasts marathon along our road trips or flights. It allowed us to talk about things we cared about in deeper level, discover possibilities together and set new goals (like retiring before 40 goal).
So instead of spending $25,000 on our wedding (which is the average wedding cost in Canada plus stress, plus hassle), we spent less than $250 (you should know by now it’s not a typo on the title). This includes legal documents, pair of $36 gold tone tungsten ring, and a fancy $20 white dress that didn’t arrive on time. Our venue, his parents house, where the whole family happily prepared the food and everything, just like what we always do for Thanksgiving and Christmas, played poker and had some wine after. Did we have fun? You bet, specially me, because I didn’t need to stress out on preparation and spending thousands of dollars (I don’t know why but I get stress with spending for unnecessary things, even if its from someone else’s pocket). The guys thought it was the coolest wedding they’ve attended. Most of all, my husband was happy too.
And oh by the way, if your guy says he likes fairy tale wedding and wants to spend more than 50% of his or your combined income, watch out! Either he is lying, or so crazy in love with you (which is likely to fade when time comes that you start arguing about money or lack of it) to tolerate your impractical ‘princessy’ demands (unless he’s Prince Harry of course), has a big fat ego to feed, or actually dreaming of wearing that Swarovski embellished wedding dress himself(‘not that there’s anything wrong with that!’). On the other hand, if your man would like to set a practical budget for your wedding (which I define as less than 1% of couple’s combined net worth, that’s just me), I think it’s a good sign that he will be a great provider.
Despite the ‘oh so good feeling that love brings, 50% of marriage in North America ends up in divorce. One of most common source of marital stress is money(especially lack of it), good thing it’s curable. But since prevention is better than cure, setting time to work on your finances together before even walking down the aisle is far better experience than putting it off until sh*t hits the fan.
Now, why I consider our $250 wedding more precious those that cost ten or hundred times more? Aside from the awesome feeling of defying the norm, it is wiser to use that amount to further strengthen the relationship. But before you think I’m talking about putting it as down payment for a house, here are few less conventional ideas. You can set it aside to buy few months off so both of you can bond with your newborn when time comes. Or invested it and watch it grow. Wouldn’t it be more fun to do as a couple than watch(secretly) your debt grows? It will even feel better if you set a long term goal, say you can both fully retire at 40 and just do things you both love. Or maybe just rest for 5 years so you can spend precious time with your kids. Quit your job to start a business, Or travel the world together. Or both. Or…just splurge on a one day, fairy tale you can hang on the wall you’ll be paying the rest of your life. Again, this boils down to buying your freedom, this time as a couple, so you can truly live happily ever after.
Note: All photos with logo were taken by my brother while we all enjoy a nice island hop