We are at the time in our lives when our friends invite us to their (increasingly overpriced) weddings. It is not uncommon to see weddings that are £30,000 or £40,000 – two twenty-somethings without a house but will spend that kind of money. Sometimes, it’s even more than that – like the viral article from the BBC a few weeks ago – “I regret spending £50,000 on my wedding”
When you saying “wedding” the prices mysteriously go up
Mrs YFG and I originally approached our wedding assuming we would have the “traditional wedding”; white dress, ceremony, reception, all that shizz. A couple of weeks into the planning, once we started adding up the costs and getting back the outrageous quotes, we said “balls” – we went back to the drawing board.
As a mathematician/economist (geek) I went back to first principles:
- Why are you making a decision on something for your wedding? – why are you spending the money? Is it because you genuinely believe that item will make you happier or add to your day, or is it because people expect it?
- What makes a good wedding? What were the best weddings we had been to?
- What is most important to you? What is the thing you want to remember about the day?
Thinking these things through with Mrs YFG-to-be we realised we had been putting the (wedding) cart before the horse. We thought we’d have to do all the wedding planning a certain way, forgetting that we don’t live in communist Russia, we could decide exactly how our day and what we wanted.
The things we realised were:
- Wedding ceremonies are boring for us (and I think 99% people) – there’s only so many times you can hear the same Corinthians bible verse (“Love is patient. Love is…blah blah blah”).
- The best weddings were where there was great food, free drink and fun (good music, dancing, good crowd).
- The worst weddings were stuffy, where you’re trapped at a table next to Great Aunt Dorothy talking about her thimbles for 3 hours, and the food sucks.
- The most important thing for us was that we had fun and enjoyed the day.
Our wedding day(s)
So we did things a bit unconventional. We got married at a registry office, in a beautiful old town-hall, in a beautiful oak panelled room with huge comfy leather chairs. If you want a fancy outfit, spend money on a dress/suit you really like and want to wear again. Mrs YFG refused to wear a white dress. She bought an evening dress from a high street shop and checked it fit, then wore it. She’s worn it since as it’s one of her nicest dresses and has a special meaning to her. Mrs YFG bought me a new work suit, which I continue to wear (occasionally). I refused to wear a tie as I hate ties.
For the ceremony itself, we had no vows – in fact we asked for the shortest ceremony possible (we wanted to go drink and celebrate as soon as possible). We invited only the people who really wanted to be there (close family) – a wedding party of 8. We then went and had a private dinner at one of our favourite venues in Central London – where we had unlimited wine and a beautiful room (I can’t even remember how good the food was though…)
Later that evening, being quite drunk and tired, we then had a house party in the evening where we invited about 30 friends over for a celebration. Mrs YFG wore her pyjamas and drank a lot of wine (her favourite type of evening). We decided to split our wedding day over two – that way we got to have more parties and also not be utterly exhausted after cramming everything into one long day.
Our wedding reception was the next day, so we had time to rest and recover. We booked a restaurant out for the reception in the evening and set up a tab, ordering food and drink on the tab – everyone drank and ate for free. We didn’t pay for set meals which were overpriced and pre-prepared. No hire fees just a minimum spend. We bought a nice pre-made wedding cake from a supermarket and decorated it with some flowers. The flowers we got from a friend of a friend who is an amateur florist, who did this stuff in her spare time. We reused the wedding bouquets as the table centrepieces. We didn’t buy any fancy decorations and other paraphernalia – we picked up half a dozen disposable polaroid cameras for people to take pictures and got those huge sweet shop jars of penny sweets. Mrs YFG got one of her professional DJ friends to do the music and he did a great job for a decent price.
We didn’t go on a honeymoon after – we spent the time together doing up our house. And enjoyed our first Christmas together.
We aren’t cheapskates, I swear!
Don’t get me wrong – we could have spent much more on our wedding. And maybe we might have had a (marginally) “better” time (or maybe not…) But we spent the money we saved on our house, which we get to enjoy every day. The concept of the ‘perfect day’ is particularly troubling – when is anything in life perfect? Demanding perfection is only likely to leave you disappointed. We had a great time – and to be honest, much of it is hazy blur lost in a whirlwind of drink and talking to hundreds of people and being pulled from place to place.
A final tip – wear comfortable shoes.