Couple Planning Wedding and HoneymoonSo . . . you’ve decided to get married. You might have a date in mind, and ideas about the kind of celebration you want are floating around inside your minds. Naturally, you start browsing magazines, websites, Pinterest and other sources for inspiration. As you research, you quickly discover that many people have a lot of opinions about what you should or shouldn’t do on your big day, and maybe all these recommendations clash with your preferences. What do you do? Perhaps a few useful suggestions might help as you forge ahead with your planning.

The “Wedding Industrial Complex”

Several writers are taking a critical look at what they term “the wedding industrial complex.” In a 2016 essay for The Guardian, contributor Daisy Buchanan opines that many couples are surrounded by “well-meaning, forceful, opinionated people who are convinced they have excellent taste” and attempt to influence the look and feel of each event, sometimes to rake up higher sales and commissions. A 2013 write-up in The Week discusses the aspirational aspect of middle-class weddings, revealing that these events began borrowing the trappings of upper-class extravagant nuptials in the 1920s. Businesses started catering to these desires, and over time this gave rise to the wedding industry.

While individual professionals may simply be looking at their bottom lines, other writers encourage people to look at deeper issues than just the cost of getting married. In a 2017 Everyday Feminism piece, writer Sian Ferguson expresses the idea that marriage is regarded as a “final achievement” that every adult should strive toward. Meanwhile, Ferguson mentions leftover patriarchal traditions, such as the father “giving away” the bride, and critiques the wedding industry on an adherence to gender roles and an erasure of nonbinary individuals.

Set a Budget and Stick to It

Amidst your own hopes and dreams, it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that planning and executing your event will require some money. Estimated costs run an average of $26,000 for heterosexual pairs and $18,000 for most same-sex couples, but you certainly don’t have to go for broke. For a legally sound ceremony you’re probably going to need a few basics:

  • A marriage license
  • A venue
  • An officiant qualified to perform marriages
  • The number of witnesses specified by your state

Beyond these essentials, it’s up to you and your sweetie to decide what elements to keep for your own affair. If you set a cap of $5,000, for example, you must remain resolute and avoid getting talked into a $4,000 photo and video package. A Practical Wedding offers sample budgets of $2,000, $5,000, $10,000 and up that can be adapted for your event.

Get Creative and Don’t Be Afraid to Say “No”

Medium writer Sarah Schacht also offers several pointers for crafting a low-budget event that aligns with your values, suggesting an “a la carte” approach to finding what you need and sidestepping vendors who explicitly specialize in weddings. Fast-casual eateries can be an excellent source for your reception food, and Schact also proposes taking charge of the planning aspect yourself, using apps and other technologies to organize, invite and source various elements.

Your Wedding, Your Priorities

In her Medium piece, Schacht also describes how she left a bridal show in tears after encountering vendors who “body-shamed and price-gouged.” Whether it’s money that seems to present a problem or you and your partner struggle with issues of self-determination and fighting undue influence during the planning stage, you’ve likely got some challenges on your hands. Yet at the end of the day, your wedding should reflect who you are as a couple. Taking charge of your budget, tuning into your own tastes, and enacting creative strategies will aid you in making your affair come together.

Category: Wedding Planning


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