What’s wrong with a wedding you can afford?

On Sunday, my friend and colleague, Elizabeth Oakes, wrote an article in examiner.com which decried soliciting donations for a wedding. It described wedding couples who are getting deals from vendors in exchange for notices on the tables or in the program. huh?

It’s no surprise to anyone here that I charge, and quite handsomely, for my services in crafting and performing wedding ceremonies and helping you create the promises you will keep. It’s also true that I offer DIY options in the forms of books and products. (Please visit my shop for products that can help you craft the wedding ceremony of your dreams!) I have a good track record and my clients tend to have higher rates of marital success because they’ve carefully thought through their promises. I would argue that the one thing you need at a wedding ceremony is a celebrant. It’s my opinion that the right celebrant can make a difference not only in your wedding but also in your relationship going forward.

But favors? You don’t need favors to be married. If you can’t afford to feed 350 people you need either to feed them cake only or to invite fewer people. People are not entitled to expensive weddings, nor do they need them. Most of us aren’t celebrities, we don’t have to have a celebrity wedding.

We will all prosper from having supportive friends at our wedding. But we shouldn’t be buying them nor should they be buying us.

Am I a hypocrite because I had a pot-luck wedding? I don’t think so. Pot-luck weddings are a family tradition. Our community was looking for a party and happy to play wedding. Incredible bonds were created by that wedding among all sorts of unlikely parties. While Steve and I had a wedding we really wanted, our community participated in a community event that was also our wedding. Somehow I’m always happy to make a gift of love and food as part of a celebration, but I’m drawing the line at cold cash. I hope you’ll think about how you want your community to participate in your celebration and what you want to offer them, rather than what they can offer you.

I don’t know, Elizabeth, am I wrong? Is there a difference between pot-luck and cash?

Tip: If you’re not following Elizabeth’s column, you should be. Sign up when you go read her article.

3 thoughts on “What’s wrong with a wedding you can afford?

  1. Three cheers!

    We had a wedding we could afford. Contrast this to colleagues of mine who took out a second mortgage to pay for their daughter’s wedding. (???)

    We, too, had a potluck reception, because that’s what our spiritual community does. I think there’s a big difference between potluck and cash (not to mention advertising – !). Food is sacred in a way money is not. Bringing food is bringing something of yourself. And it’s a way for folks to participate.

    Also, if potlucks, or potluck receptions, are part of a family tradition, or cultural, faith, or spiritual tradition, having a potluck adds meaning to the reception.

    What I wanted on our wedding day was a spiritually meaningful experience and a good party. I did not want a spectator event.

    When I work with other couples, I try to help them discern what’s meaningful for them.

    (And I regularly give your book as an engagement present to friends.)

    Cheers,
    Stasa

  2. Hey Ann:

    Of course you’re absolutely right: There’s a considerable difference between a pot-luck and cash, and it’s the entitlement issues around wedding gifts that irk me too.

    That being said, there are communities where cash gifting is perfectly okay and reasonable–heartwarming even–but it’s the expectation that one will receive such gifts and the sense of entitlement to a wedding beyond one’s means that makes it toxic in my book. Did it not occur to Caldwell and Parker that if THEY’RE having cash-flow problems, so might their friends and family? and that’s all the more reason NOT to solicit cash from them?

    However, this cognitive leap to a corporate investment model for a wedding isn’t entirely their fault. I believe this kind of thinking is the result of the Wedding Industry campaigns during the last hundred years, which have persuaded couples to shift the focus of their events from love/family/community to vanity, conspicuous consumption, and product trends like candy buffets. It’s sad, but that’s why people like you and me keep yelling into the American Cultural Void to say there is another way.

    For what it’s worth to your blog readers, I marry a lot of second-timers who come to me for something intimate and affordable, and they all tell me almost to a man (and woman); “This time around I wanted something smaller and more meaningful, because I did the big crazy wedding the first time and I don’t remember it, didn’t enjoy it, and clearly it wasn’t a magical guarantee for a long-lasting marriage.” Words to consider from those who know.

    Thanks for your great words Ann, and I look forward to enjoying our next potluck of ideas soon.

  3. Three cheers!

    We had a wedding we could afford. Contrast this to colleagues of mine who <i>took out a second mortgage</i> to pay for their daughter’s wedding. (???)

    We, too, had a potluck reception, because that’s what our spiritual community does. I think there’s a big difference between potluck and cash (not to mention advertising – !). Food is sacred in a way money is not. Bringing food is bringing something of yourself. And it’s a way for folks to participate.

    Also, if potlucks, or potluck receptions, are part of a family tradition, or cultural, faith, or spiritual tradition, having a potluck adds meaning to the reception.

    What I wanted on our wedding day was a spiritually meaningful experience and a good party. I did not want a spectator event.

    When I work with other couples, I try to help them discern what’s meaningful for them.

    (And I regularly give your book as an engagement present to friends.)

    Cheers,
    Stasa

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