Expensive wedding madness
To put those big dollar amounts into perspective, here's some of the other things $28,000 will buy you in Australia $28,000:
- a 10% deposit on a one-bedroom apartment in the most desirable suburbs in Sydney
- a pretty nice car
- a year's backpacking alone, or a six-month honeymoon if you take your spouse
- some pretty serious artwork
The Bargain Queen understands exactly how this happens because from the day she got engaged, she started hearing what she ought to do. Considering she never wanted to get married before she met Mr Bargain Queen, she couldn't find the enthusiasm for $8-apiece invitation cards that she was supposed to feel. Every time she thought about planning a big white wedding she felt like handing the engagement ring back, even though she loved both it and the man. So she picked the sane solution: she opted out. She skipped the church, the bridesmaids, the flower girls, the reception and practically everything that defines a wedding today... and she's still happily married. It's not a choice that works for everyone, but if you haven't dreamed about your wedding gown since you were a little girl, is it really worth $5,000?
There are a lot of people who'll tell you that if you do what we did, you're cheap and nasty - and they're possibly right. The Bargain Queen shocked and offended a few people with her low-key wedding. Otherwise sane people have complex sets of rules about where the ceremony should be held, who must be invited, what you should provide for them and all the other details that go into a very big 'big day'. If you don't obey those rules - and they won't tell you until you've broken one - they get unhappy. But on the bright side, the few people who were really upset with The Bargain Queen's decision are very difficult to please. She'd much rather offend them for free than spend $100+ to them complain that they didn't like the food, the seating plan was wrong, the flowers gave them hayfever and her dress could've been prettier. (Yes, some of The Bargain Queen's relatives are really like this. Maybe some of yours are too.)
If you're planning a wedding, the best advice The Bargain Queen can give you is to skip the bridal magazines and ignore most of the advice you're given. The 'right' way to get married these days is expensive and stressful, so when you're told to do things that doesn't suit your personality or finances, remember that the world won't end if you don't. It takes guts to stand up to everyone's expectations and do what suits you instead, but it beats blowing your hard-earned savings on a wedding day that isn't 'you' - or worse, paying it off your credit card for the next few years.
To put it very bluntly, if you can't skip the trimmings, you shouldn't be getting married at all. It's not wrong to want them - if you do, good luck to you - but you really shouldn't need them. Your wedding day should be blissfully happy simply because you're marrying that person. If it could be spoiled by the wrong flowers, dress, catering or DJ, The Bargain Queen recommends you call it off now. Those are just the trimmings, not the reason for the day. Maybe having them makes the day even better (we don't know, we skipped them) but even a disaster like bad hair should be trivial compared to the joy of making a commitment to the right person.
When it comes to planning your wedding, if you're uncomfortable with a three-ring circus, consider something more basic. If you strip it down to bare essentials, all you need is to say your vows and sign some forms in front of a registered celebrant. If you do it in a registry office they'll insist you dress reasonably nicely; if not, you can get married in a bikini a la Pamela Anderson, or wear flip-flops (thongs for Aussies) like Sarah Michelle Gellar if it suits you. Legally, that's all there is to it; you can skip all the fanfare and your marriage is still 100% valid.
It's sad that some people are offended by a simple wedding, but look on the bright side: if you've ever been to a no-fun wedding, do you really want to inflict that on your friends (and pay $20,000+ to do it)? Spare your closest friends from your self-designed bridesmaid gowns. If you're not Vera Wang, they're probably hideous. Spare your guests the hours of standing around waiting; the champagne that runs out; the meal options only you like; the dreaded wedding DJ; and the awkward conversations with your deaf great-aunt or your husband's yokel mate from high school. But most importantly, save your fiance months of tears, tantrums and bridezilla-worthy conduct... at least until the wedding's over and you start renovating ;)
If you really break the rules, you could even turn what could be a mind-numbingly dull day into actual fun... we did!