Thursday, February 2, 2012

The topic of money comes up and everybody starts feeling bad about themselves for one reason or another

I fear this post is going to come across as pure, unadulterated whining--the type of whining that I promise you I've already slapped my face in the mirror about in order to attempt to snap out of it. If that's what it sounds like, I want you, Interested Party, to know that I don't mean it to be. I'm confused, I'm conflicted, and yes, I'm a little jealous and sullen, and quite frankly, I don't like any of it.

Yes, this is going to be a post about wedding planning. Or at least, wedding contemplating. Feel free to skip merrily to the end where I will attempt to have a less-bitter sign-off.

From what I recall of my studies, the bitterness, frustration, jealousy, and subsequent guilt about the antecedent feelings are fairly typical of one from a middle class upbringing. I've been sitting here in the pants I bought on sale, eating the food I got at the grocery store using coupons, surfing the Internet on the computer my dad and I built from salvaged parts several years ago, and staring at other couples sitting pretty in their Ivory Towers of Wedding Privilege (and please, I know how ridiculous that sounds, considering my ability to even be able to legally get married is privilege enough. Remember the guilt I'm feeling?). On my left side, I have the Wedding Industrial Complex shoving champagne toasts and chair covers in my face and my WIC-influenced friends ever so excitedly chatting me up about the open bar we're obviously going to have and all the hijinks they're going to get into as we party into the night. On my right side, I have a family history of modest church hall receptions of punch and cake, and a vast blogosphere of people (yes, even on my beloved APW) who had the resources and mental fortitude to throw awesome parties on "tight" budgets (say, under $15K).

From APW, probably from elsewhere

And here we are, caught in the middle. On the one hand, I'm so, so proud of my parents for raising me to be self-reliant, thrifty, and forward-thinking so that the concept of spending even $5,000 on one day (even, especially!, if it was other peoples' money and not my own) makes me want to throw up in my Payless shoes. On the other hand, I'm beginning to wonder if I'll really regret it if we don't have some sort of reception/party that involves drinking and other people dancing. Then, on the other hand that I've grown out of sheer frustration, I wonder if I will then regret THAT decision in two years when we realize we have to postpone buying a house because we need another two years to re-save up for a decent down payment (or, hell, later this year when I look at my savings and go "hey, where'd my Jetta Money go???").

What it's all boiled down to is me windmilling my arms around in an attempt to stab anything and everything in sight out of frustration with myself and the universe when I read discussions about budgets. I'm jealous of the couples who are shy and private and were over the moon to have a 10-person wedding where they met at the courthouse and then went to dinner at their favorite restaurant afterwards. I'm jealous of the couples who are paying for everything themselves and who seemingly have no qualms about dropping so much money on one event. I'm jealous of the couples who have parents in a position to insist on paying for most things or everything.

I wish we were the type of people who could look at our collective savings and go "Yes. We can afford a baller party that people will have an awesome time at, and not regret not having this money afterwards in the slightest." I wish we were the type of people who, if my mom announced she was liquidating her 401k because it was useless to her, could go "Awesome. Thank you so much, we are forever in your gratitude, and will put you in a very nice home when you're senile." I wish we were the type of people who didn't value social ritual, and could say "Let's get church-married and go home and watch Netflix while drinking 2-buck-Chuck." To say any of these things, however, would be a betrayal of who we are. Realistically, the responses I and The "why would we stop at Burger King when we can just eat trail mix for 14 hours on this road trip" Boy would have would be "This is House Money and also parties are stupid", "omg mom, no, thank you but please no", and "but SB shrieked and danced outside of a restaurant in 40* weather when we told her we were engaged, we can't not invite her or then not feed her!" respectively.

My mom told us to just elope, and if how crazy I'm feeling already is a portent for what's to come, she might be right.

F* this,


  1. If you do decide to elope, I insist that it's "Lorelai and Luke speculating about eloping but including people like Rory" rather than "Lorelai and Chris being all spontaneous."

    In this scenario, I'm Rory, by which I mean, I better be invited.

  2. 1. Yes, I think you should be Luke.
    2. Shrieking. But of course! Would you expect any lower level of excitement/high pitch from me?
    3. I'll provide large quantities of chex mix for everyone. It's not a liquid, so it's airplane safe! Maybe I can even charm my way up into first class with it.
    4. I'm happy your post let me make a list today, I've gone a few days without one.

  3. I realize you posted this a while ago, but I must say I definitely share your wedding-planning angst. I am so excited and want to include all loved ones (which means the somewhat giant family plus friends that I'm actually closer to than many family members); but gosh where is the money going to come from? At the beginning, we were (unrealistically) thinking we could have a budget of $3000 and even that sounded like a lot. Then we realized that just the venues were going to require about half of that. I got my dress for a decent price ($300), but we have to feed people and venues have a list of approved caterers--all of whom cost more than double that $3000 budget we thought we could stick to. The photographer is a friend so we're getting that for a steal, but we decided we want a professional DJ from a company that's reliable and has a library that matches our musical tastes, so there goes another $1200.

    In the end, I think it will be worth it to have a great day that we and our guests will remember fondly. Much as I am a feminist and a progressively liberal human, I also grew up dreaming of weddings. I think I would regret it if I cut the guest list for the sake of saving money. I don't want my family saddled with all the work of the ultimate DIY reception because I want them to be enjoying the day with me.

    I've been trying to find a second (temporary) job to help cover the big costs so we don't have to put everything on credit cards; but so far the job search has been less than successful. I know it will work out in the end, but I do sometimes wonder why everything associated with weddings is so expensive. I mean, I know the answer to that. But still.

    At the same time, I guess it's good practice that you are called upon to start making big joint decisions about money. There will be much more of that in your future so you might as well learn how to communicate about it now.

    In closing, congrats again and good luck with the budgeting madness!