Girlfriend S. and I have started doing our homework necessary to plan our wedding. I've decided that the process of planning weddings is insane. When did weddings get so complicated? More importantly, when did they get so EXPENSIVE?
Just to give you the dimensions of the financial fiasco that will be our wedding, let me lay out a few basic figures. Girlfriend S. has a HUGE family, being from Irish Catholic stock that took the Biblical mandate to "go forth and multiply" seriously. She has almost 20 first cousins, and since she's the youngest of her generation in her family, nearly all of them are older, married, and have kids. So, it is not very surprising that our combined guest list of people to send invitations is up over 250 (once you factor in aunts, uncles, some 2nd cousins, and friends of the family), with the number of people we reasonably expect to show up to hover around 200.
If that isn't daunting enough, Girlfriend S. and I live in an expensive metropolitan area. We've started looking at clubs, hotels, etc... to host the reception, and discovered that catering costs fall into the range of restaurant meals. The cheapest package deal we've found that covers the hall, the booze, the meal, the setup, and the cleanup so far is about $75 a person (without tax or a 20% gratuity). By doing some basic multiplication, we find that creates a reception bill of $15K alone, before we figure in transportation, music, and floral costs. Girlfriend S.'s cousin K. used to be in the catering business. She estimates the total bill on our wedding to be around $30K when all is said and done.
Me, I feel like a worthless capitalist pig to have Girlfriend S.'s family spend $30K on our wedding. At the same time, a wedding is a time when a family is supposed to be hospitable to others, and some of the other alternatives seem unattractive because of hospitality:
Skip the fancy catering and get Mickey D's to cater the wedding... or something like it. It seems a shame to have family (hers and mine) fly in and then be very cheap on the food.
Move the wedding to the land of my birth where things aren't as expensive. This adds to the wedding madness by forcing us to plan a wedding across a long intervening distance and forces the bulk of her family to take on the added cost of flying there. On a more basic level, my life and Girlfriend S.'s life are both located here, not there.
Gut the guest list. I know that is going to cause some enmity within both families... especially hers. That cannot be good long term.
So, I don't know exactly what we'll do. We need to make some hard choices and cut down the guest list, I think. They say that the average wedding with 125 people attending costs $20K these days. I now understand why. How did it get to be this way?
Maybe it's time to start buying a few lottery tickets, and hope lightening will strike... or run off to Vegas. Yeah, get married by Elvis is white jump suit. Will the Catholic Church recognize such a union? One can only hope.
on 2003-06-09 at 11:25 a.m.
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