How to Plan a $4,000 Wedding (If You Must)

Step 1: Get engaged surprisingly young (for people of your generation/education level/general background).

Make sure that you told your boyfriend/fiancé that you don’t even really understand engagement rings anyway, and that they cost way too much and are prime examples of conspicuous consumption and frivolity in a society obsessed with outward displays of female ownership and general wealth.

When he insists on an engagement ring, explain exactly how much he is allowed to spend on the ring ($400), and that if he spends more than that your marriage would be founded on financial lies and misery and probably end in divorce.

Step 2: Congratulations! Now you get to plan a wedding. Consider that you’ve never really thought about your wedding before, despite coming from an affluent background where many other young girls in your hometown had their wedding dresses picked out by age ten. Immediately suggest going to city hall as your preference.

Step 3: Remind your fiancé how much you hate spending money, and having feelings in public, and seeing other people have feelings in public, and did you mention spending money? And that really, city hall is preferable, though even then people still have to see you have feelings in public, so it’s not ideal.

Step 4: Realize that your fiancé’s family has certain expectations regarding seeing their son/grandson/nephew get married at a nice ceremony to a nice girl who isn’t emotionally dead on the inside, and agree to a moderately-sized wedding and a budget of $4,000 AND EVEN THAT IS WAY TOO MUCH BECAUSE WE HAVE GRADUATE SCHOOL TO PAY FOR.

Step 5: Begin calling venues to get a sense of what things cost. Laugh in disbelief when one person tells you that it will be $95 per person, and that doesn’t include alcohol or cake. You’re pretty sure you’ve had meals at Michelin Star-rated restaurants that didn’t cost $95 per person. Settle on a public park where you can bring in your own food and alcohol.

Step 6: Say no to everything everyone suggests, like flowers for the gazebo where your ceremony will take place, and paying someone to do your hair and makeup, and renting an antique car to get you from the ceremony to the reception. Does the car fly? Because there is no way you are paying money for something to take you a distance of 100 feet that isn’t a fancy helicopter or hovercraft.

Step 7: Pick the first and cheapest dress you can find in the bridal salon with your mother and sister, because it’s pretty enough and everything your mother is pulling out costs $2,000. When you mention gleefully that it’s the cheapest dress in the store ($750, still so much money, but not the cost of a used car), try to ignore your mother’s concerned look.

Step 8: Have an emotional breakdown in your car when your fiancé forgets to confirm the cake tasting, because that is the only thing you’ve cared about this entire process, and this baker was cheaper than the other one you tried. As your fiancé tries to calm your racking sobs in the overheating vehicle, consider whether someone who falls to pieces over cake should really be getting married.

Step 9: Hurray! Your wedding day is a week away. Continuously freak out over how far your friends have to travel for this thing that you didn’t even want anyway, and worry about whether they’re spending too much money on it. Stress-eat the cream cheese off of your bagel; re-apply cream cheese and repeat.

Step 10: It’s your rehearsal dinner! Try not to vomit out of anxiety in front of the family members taking pictures of you pretending to say your vows as the full realization of just how publicly you will be feeling things tomorrow hits you.

Step 11: Your wedding day is here! Realize that you’re actually happy to be marrying this person, and it’s not so hard to pretend that these people aren’t looking at you while you’re doing it. Be glad you kept the ceremony to ten minutes, and stayed under your original budget (try not to think these things as your sister is reading “i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)”). Eat your cake (your fiancé rearranged that cake tasting after all) and consider your overwhelming joy as a result of marrying this person, and especially at the prospect of never having to plan a wedding ever again.


Abby Dalton will always leave room for cake. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and her cat, and occasionally blogs about money. Photo credit: flickr/ewan and donabel


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