Simplicity Challenge #3: Weddings

Before I go into my opinion about extravagant weddings, let’s start with this thought: What is the purpose of a wedding?

In order to answer that question, we probably need to take it back one step further. What is the purpose of marriage?

There are probably dozens, if not hundreds, of ways to answer this question, depending on your culture, religion, family background, and personal preferences. So, to avoid offending, let me say that the following thoughts are solely my own personal opinion, and just a point for discussion.

For me, a marriage is more than just a legal contract… it’s a spiritual union. And it’s not all romance and soul mates… it’s a partnership through the ups and downs of life… a chance for two people to grow, together.
So for me, a wedding is a chance to honor that union and partnership.

For me, I’ve always envisioned a wedding as a celebration, a happy occasion.

However, for me (and this is where I my opinion differs from the popular vision of many cultures) a wedding is NOT about the day… it’s about the many days that come next.

In other words, I don’t picture my wedding being some sort of fantasy "my special day," with all eyes on me… the beautiful bride, the center of attention, right in the middle of a fairy tale.

For me, the day is more of a gateway - it’s the beginning of something new.

So, while I believe that transition and union should be celebrated… I also believe it’s important to keep in mind why we feel obligated to spend so much money...

The average cost of a US wedding this year is over $25,000 (and I read some articles that stated $35,000). What exactly is the purpose of spending so much?

What is the purpose of a dress worth a few hundred (or even a few thousand) dollars?

I understand the purpose of having friends and family gathered together to share the moment (I've had many very happy memories meeting up with friends at weddings!)… but how does an open bar relate to the start of a prosperous new life?

For me, having experienced the emotional weight of student loan debt… I don’t want any other debt in my life unless absolutely necessary!

If you can afford $25,000 easily, then more power to you… But for those of us who can't, wouldn’t it be better to take that money and instead put a down payment on a new house… a place to begin a new life and family?

Or even to put the money away for a rainy day… to begin this new life with peace of mind, rather than with the burden and stress of financial debt (keeping in mind that the number one cause of divorce is financial disagreements)?

Or, maybe even spending a small portion of it on a nice trip together – to learn about the world, rather than focusing on some obligatory customs and expenses?

Besides the financial considerations… here’s something else I always notice…

I’ve never been married myself, but based on watching plenty of friends and associates get married, there’s one thing I know for certain…

Apparently, wedding planning is incredibly stressful!

Even the calmest, roll-with-the-punches types of brides seem to be stressed out for several weeks or months leading up to their wedding day…

And often, completely frazzled and exhausted on the actual day!

To me, that doesn’t seem like a good way to celebrate or begin a new life – it seems like a wedding should be easier and happier… a true celebration, that you actually get to enjoy, well-rested and stress-free... Wouldn’t that be amazing?

Also, as someone who would like to be married, but has not yet found a partner… I have to say that I’ve started to get sick of hearing people complain about how stressful wedding planning is…

I’m sorry to say it… and maybe this is a selfish view on my part… but I wish more brides (on average, it’s the brides who are stressed with all the planning, not the grooms) would take a step back, see the big picture, and just enjoy the process…

If you’ve found someone to share your life with, pause for a moment… take a deep breath, and remember to feel grateful and happy… 

I think that, as a whole, our society needs to take the stress and debt out of weddings…

To make these occasions simple… less about show and entertainment, and more about what really matters.