Emily's I Do Update

Let’s Talk About Money

4 years ago by

Let’s Talk About Money

So you’re getting married.

Great! Congratulations!! You have so much to look forward to. Including being totally broke!

Yeah, so it’s time we talk about how much weddings cost. Some of you warned me in the comments after the first mini I wrote, and I believed you! I knew weddings could be crazy expensive and we were determined to keep ours reasonable.

And then I started quoting things out and my sticker shock had me going through the 7 stages of grief. (Ok first, let me preface this with the fact that I have a HUGE family and that we’re extremely close. I can’t really picture my wedding without my aunts and uncles and cousins, it just so happens that there’s 72 of us…)

So first there was shock. A $10,000 quote for a band to play for four hours. WHAT?!

Then there was denial. No no no, we can totally do this on the cheap. There’s no way catering is $150 a head and we’ll probably have 150 people so that’s $22,500 but there’s no way that’s right…I was never that good at math.

To anger. Which consisted of me yelling at Josh about needing to make decisions about whether or not we were really doing this. Yes, I went totally nuts and he still wants to marry me.

Then bargaining. So if we do the wedding at this resort we don’t really like at least we can get the flowers we want!

Oh and then the guilt. Like how could I spend so much on a wedding when there’s so much to be done in the world. I’m so selfish, how could I even dream of something like this?
To depression. Which is the hardest. Because you realize the wedding of your dreams (for me at least) would probably cost $150,000 or more and so having the wedding of your dreams is impossible.

Then there’s acceptance. Which is where we’re at right now.

I’ve accepted that the fairy tale I’ve had in my head for years is not going to happen. No, like I said, I didn’t want a big poofy dress and to arrive to Josh on a horse with fireworks when we kiss. But I did want to have flowers dripping from the top of a big tent set up on the beach in Cape Cod, surrounded in candles, with a big dance floor and a big band, and multiple courses of delicious food… Yeah, it doesn’t sound that crazy but let me tell you, it is.

But I can say that Josh and I both feel confident that the wedding we do pull off, at a budget we both feel comfortable with (even thought it’s more than what I was expecting), will be totally worth it because it’s important to us to be surrounded by friends and family for that day in a place that means the world to us (yes, we’re still doing the wedding in Cape Cod). We did decide to put a hold on buying an apartment though. Because you can’t always do it all. But we have a long life ahead of us, and I’ve finally accepted we don’t have to do everything all at once.

Image via Time


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  • Congrats! I am sure it will be amazing! Hope you will share some pictures ;) I have to say I am super curious of the dress!!!! Always curious of the dress :) and decoration, although the landscapes/scenery seems already great in Cape Cod.

  • Hi Marie,
    Thank you so much! I will definitely share photos. Still figuring out the dress, excited to share my experience with that!
    x Emily

  • Save the money for the honeymoon! ;)
    Likely By Sea

  • Definitely a plan! Would love to know if you have any destination recommendations? We are still trying to figure out where we’d like to go!
    x Emily

  • Hi. I live in Massachusetts and have spent many summers on the Cape in different towns. I want this Cape wedding to happen for you! Check out the Lighthouse Inn in West Dennis. Its on the water, really old, and old school(from the 50’s) but it could be a blast for your huge family. The inn has many small cottage rooms on the large property, My cousin was married at the SeaCrest in Falmouth 2016 – very nice, on the water, great for huge families and newly renovated. The Dennis Inn is off the beaten path but steps from the bay. What about renting a major house in Welfleet, ceremony at the public beach at sunset and have a clam bake back at the house with a DJ and stocked bar? And celebrate late night at the Beachcomber! PS. Clambakes, etc does a great job. Good luck with your plans and do what feels right to you on your budget.

  • Thank you so much Marianne! We are dedicated to keeping the wedding in Wellfleet/Truro and are thinking we will probably do beach or the Holden Inn! And clambake is definitely the plan! Sounds like we’re on the same (Cape Cod) page!
    x Emily

  • Buy the apartment. Still marry on Cape Cod but perhaps on borrowed land (a friend’s property). One who’d love to throw you a phenomenal after party (a sort of reception but not)

    Key word in marriage: Build. Build a future, build a life, build equity; the true celebration is the existence of love, your love.

  • The cost of a wedding is inversely proportional to the longevity of the marriage. Cheaper wedding = longer marriage.
    Buy the apartment. It’s worth more than a fancy party.
    But most of all, be happy and have a lifetime of love together.

  • Congrats again and good luck with the wedding preparation ! This is something I’m looking forward to but it seems like such a hard/stressful time.. I can’t wait to read more about yours and maybe learn and take tips from you :)


  • Thanks Emily! I’m in this exact same situation. These words are so right! Good luck with your future wedding decisions but just enjoy ;).

  • Good luck to you too Sophie! Please share your experience with us too–always helpful to hear from people in the same boat. xEmily

  • save the money for a house instead.

  • Hi! I totally hear you, here in Mexico weddings are a HUGE deal. I recently got engaged and went through the same stages you mention- it’s ironic to argue with your (very patient) partner about planning the ultimate love celebration, but it is what is and… gues what? Now you get to enjoy the planning process, I swear the worst is over (:

    I think it would be neat to hear about the different wedding traditions/troubles/lessons from your readers around the world.


  • Real estate is the more sound investment. Elope and use the cash towards your down payment! Don’t fall for the hype!

    Best wishes in your nuptials and married life. That’s when the fun really happens.

  • same situation here, Florence, Italy, May 6th.
    We begun thinking “c’mon, we don’t want nothing fancy, how could other people spend sooo much in wedding?”, and then end up saving on some veeery small things, but in the end, food costs, places cost, dresses cost…I think at a certain point we just accepted it (of course my boyfriend did it before me). and we started enjoy this crazy ride.
    in bocca al lupo!

  • Congratulations on your upcoming wedding Maria!
    I think that’s how things are going with us too. At some point we just set a budget, and even though it was more than we wanted, we’ve just come to terms with it. And we’re having a longer engagement so we have more time to save with less stress.
    x Emily

  • Mariée en 10 min à la mairie entre deux témoins, avec bon repas ensuite. Le résultat est le même, sauf que pas de dettes, pas de stress et pas de prises de têtes dans le couple!
    Mais il est vrai que je n’ai jamais eu de rêves de grand mariage et que j’ai une toute petite famille, alors pour nous c’était la solution qui nous convenait le mieux.

  • I can totally relate. My fiance is French and I’m South African and we both live in South Africa at the moment. We got engaged last year and had our engagement party on new years eve at home. The day before though, thanks to family demands and tradition, we were talked into having a traditional wedding that honored my culture, which of course we did, after all we are getting married in France so it only seemed fair for all my family members who can’t make the wedding in France to have a wedding in South Africa. At the engagement party though, exhausted and completely broke, (and possibly in the guilt phase) I retreated to our room to watch a movie at midnight whilst our guests, family and friends partied the new year away.

    Now after some talking, and realizing I couldn’t do another big wedding in July this year (when our wedding was supposed to be) we postponed and decided to do it next year. Hopefully when we have saved more and had more time to just breath because we just bought a house and we have to furnish all three bedrooms, and two bathrooms of it because we have been living in a fully furnished rental.

    Also I would be A-OK to just nix the whole wedding thing, but he really is into it so now its lots of DIY, (his mom is an artist and shes making the invites), his dad just retired and he’s making long country tables for the reception by hand and I’m just trying not to do the conversion from Rands (The South African currency) and Euros because otherwise I think I might just pass out.

    That being said, the postponed wedding is also giving me time to buy a second hand wedding dress, because I just cannot justify spending so much money on a new one. And I’d rather feed my home decor obsession than my fashion one. But do not fear, you are not alone. My suggestion, pool everyones creative resources together. We’ve already managed to save a ton because we have asked people to create something like the tables, invites, floral arrangements, be photographers etc instead of getting us gifts and its been sooooooo worth it.

    Maybe Erik can be your photographer along with another friend who enjoys that sort of thing, Garance could illustrate your wedding invites and you could ask everyone else to help in other ways?

    Good Luck

  • Having recently had my dream wedding that also was planned while I was a broke student and we paid for the entire thing ourselves, I am here to tell you that you might have to make some hard decisions, but it CAN be done. I also have a large family, but guess what? They weren’t there. We kept it small, 30 people on a rooftop, at sunset, heavy appetizers and we curated a five hour long playlist ourselves. Saved a fortune on not having a formal sit down dinner or band or dj and people LOVED the music. Even the song we walked down the aisle to was just a string arrangement of one of our fave indie songs played on Spotify. We had multiple people tell us it was the most beautiful wedding they’d ever been to. Keep it simple. Meaningful. And then focus on creating a marriage even more beautiful than your wedding.
    Oh, and we honeymooned in Iceland. Highly recommend. Hot springs = sexy. Or the Basque Country. That was kind of a second honeymoon for us, and it was amazing and life changing. Be different, original. It’ll save you a bundle. Congrats and keep us posted!!

  • marie madrid February, 15 2017, 10:32 / Reply

    On avait fait un fichier Excel avec toutes les dépenses pour ce fameux jour J.
    Comment réduire les frais? Faire beaucoup soi-mêmes. Et en plus? Ca sera plus intime, plus personnel et plus original.
    J’ai dessiné ma robe et choisi les tissus avec ma maman qui l’a faite.
    On a choisi un très bel endroit mais un peu retiré donc c’était moins cher.
    On a trié les invités sur le volet (si pas de news depuis plus d’1 an, on zappe l’invit…)
    Petits cadeaux pour les invités fait soi-mêmes
    Et un long etc…
    Bonne chance.
    C’est un merveilleux moment.
    J’ai tout organicé en 6 mois et sans l’ombre d’un stress!

  • Emily, a friend of mine wanted to do a wedding party with all her family but couldnt afford the catering, so she did a pot luck lunch. She got the drinks and every family member and friend brought a part of the meal. People loved participating and everybody had a good time! Have fun, Joana

  • Oh, so many memories and so many thoughts to share! First, congratulations – you’re marrying the person you love! Whoop!
    Now, on to the advice I can share from my experience… It seemed to me that the moment you mention to any vendor that you’re requesting their services for a wedding, suddenly the price increased by 50%.
    I can assure you that, unless you’re friends with only event coordinators, nearly no one will take notice of several of the small things that required so much time, effort, and money on your part. I only realized this after we got married and I attended other friends’ weddings and made a point to tell the bride/groom how much I liked their seating chart/signage/artisinal flower arrangements. The truth is that most guests are oblivious to that sort of thing unless they’ve recently planned a wedding.
    We decided to keep most things on a tight budget but dedicate one or two items to a splurge, like the photographer, the food, the venue, the flowers…. In hindsight, I wish we’d gone for the more expensive photographer (we didn’t). After all, the one takeaway from that day (besides your betrothed and gifts from friends and loved ones) is the photographs.
    I’d say the majority of guests are there purely to see the vows and for the open bar/party. As long as everyone has a good time, everything else is the icing on the proverbial $1,000+ wedding cake. Just have fun with it! ;)

  • Merci pour ce post! Je me marie dans trois mois et tes posts et ceux de Garance sur le mariage me font beaucoup de bien! Je frôle les crises d’hysterie (mmmmh frôle….. Bon d’accord je suis complètement hystérique) et ça me rassure de voir que je ne suis pas la seule future mariée à passer des caps moins drôles (ok super durs) à propos des disputes ou de l’argent pour le jour J…
    Alors encore une fois merci !!!!

  • Congratulations, Emily! Try to remember the end goal (you’re marrying the love of your life) when things get crazy (they will). I’ve been married for 3 years (together 10 years) and I still remember every moment of my wedding. It was the best day ever. It seems like having a wedding surrounded by your loved ones is really important to you. The money stuff is definitely crazy, and I echo others’ sentiments that details that seem so important to you go nearly unnoticed by most guests. May I suggest, focus on 3 priorities and spend the most money there. For us it was food, drinks, and music. Everything else was as minimal as possible.
    I was also recommended whilst engaged to only plan 1 life event at a time (ie don’t buy a home and get married in the same year). Everyone is different, of course, but that was very sound advice for me at the time.
    Wishing you the very best!

  • Congratulations! We ended up doing a fairly big wedding because our parents were very excited and helping us financially, which we’re so grateful for. My husband and I made a list before we even planned one thing about what was important to us for the wedding. It was more about energy and feelings and I can tell you, when I was getting stressed about silly details (hello, like a perfect wedding website that no one reads??), it was so helpful to refer back to that list and remember our priorities. It’s also helpful when you feel yourself slipping into financial aspects that might not actually align with your dream wedding but you’ve been told you “need”. Just be true to what you guys wants and it will be magical.

    We did a honeymoon registry and it was awesome! We did a week in Cuba of exploring and drinking mojitos and then two weeks in Tulum on the beach. We got to really splurge more than we normally would because all of our loved ones helped make the trip happen. I’ve also seen people do a house registry where people can contribute to your down payment. I know the opinions differ here, but I find the idea of your community of friends and family helping you build your home is romantic and beautiful.

  • Kayron March, 5 2017, 7:37 / Reply

    Don’t believe the hype and go overboard —you don’t want the first year of your married life to be spent paying off your wedding. Being married is already a surprisingly stressful adjustment (yes, even when you’ve been living together), don’t add that financial burden to the mix. I stuck to a $5000 budget that even included a week in a gorgeous cabin for the honeymoon, didn’t stress nonsense like napkin colors and whatnot, had a blast with 40 of my nearest & dearest, and 10 years later still have friends, totally unprompted, tell me it was the most fun wedding they’ve ever attended. No regrets, no debt, still in love.

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