Mr. Gingermermaid and I did not have a conventional wedding with the “save the date” magnets, and the flowers, and the bridal parties, and the chicken or fish, and the showers, and the church. We got married, somewhat in secret, in my childhood home with just our immediate family and one very close friend.
Our circumstances weren’t necessarily unique by today’s standards, but at 6 months pregnant, after finding out extremely late in the game, we chose to have a ceremony before, rather than after the birth of our son and decided that the money towards the wedding would go to something more practical, like a down payment on a house or our child’s future. So boring, I know.
We don’t regret it for one second. If we did it all over again, there would still be no chicken or fish.
With wedding season in full swing now, and at the verge of 30, many of our friends are sealing their relationship with that certificate of ownership. Faced with attending wedding after wedding, we are finding that the tradition and culture we reject, and our peers embrace, is incredibly irritating and costly.
Issue 1, Babysitters
My husband and I are the first among our friends to have a child, and as cliche as it may be, it’s the truest statement ever stated: you don’t get it until you have kids (hate me now, I would too).
When we get invited to weddings where there are no kids allowed, or where we have to travel far, it can be a logistical nightmare. It’s not like we can leave the kid at home with a stack of TV dinners and the Netflix password. We have to arrange for his coming or not coming.
- Travelling in a plane or car for any period of time with little people, not easy. Who wants to sit next to the baby on the plane? Not me, in fact, I would put my kid in the front and sit in the back if I could. Dear flight attendant and passenger in seat F3, your problem now.
- Packing for a child to go on a trip is almost like moving from a house to a studio apartment, too much stuff and not enough space.
- Not every family has grandparents or siblings on the ready who can take a child in for an evening let alone a weekend or more. And contrary to popular belief, mainly just my friends’ belief, babysitters don’t fall out of the sky and they certainly don’t do so cheaply.
Issue 2, Party Time
When a wedding is announced, about a half dozen other events are also announced: engagement party, wedding shower, bridal shower, bachelorette party, bachelor party, wedding. Because I have the pleasure of being friends with this person, I’m expected to work all these events into my schedule, taking my few but precious vacation days, and bring along a gift per event. If I don’t, betrothal drama!
My husband has been invited to countless bachelor parties in his days, but the most recent affair was a bit too much. It was a 5 to 6 hour drive away and 4 days long. The initial cost for the affair was $700 per person to cover the escapade.
$700 and 4 days! My husband and I would prefer to go on vacation together, put in a new water heater, cover day care costs, or pay the mortgage on our new house rather than spend it on a party. There is absolutely nothing a bachelor party offers that can’t be done locally or in one evening for a fraction of the cost. Bachelor/ette parties are excuses to get be college drunk and see strippers. The guise of “I’m getting married, one last hurrah!” does not need to exist for this to happen.
Mr. Gingermermaid made the trip to this particular bachelor shindig for one night. We had other plans that weekend to work around and leaving a parent alone for an extended period of time with a baby is not easy (props to you single parents). My hubby took a lot of flack for this.
Issue 3, Gifts!
While visiting friends, an early wedding gift arrived for them while we happened to be in their company. The gift was not what at the monetary level they expected from these particular guests. They mocked the gift and the cheapasaureses who purchased it (from the wedding registry).
Gifts at weddings were established as a way to give a married couple a start. There used to be a time when engaged couples all lived at home with their respective mom and dad. No cohabitation until the exchange of vows. Post-wedding, the newlyweds moved into a new home with nothing. Nothing. So gifts like plates, toasters, and towels were a way to give couples a base to establish their home and life together.
Nowadays, almost every couple lives together and has more than enough clutter. Gifts of money are becoming the norm. I recently wrote a check for $50 to newly wedded couple that are millionaires. I felt like I was throwing a cup of water into the ocean.
Gifts are not mandatory, contrary to popular culture, especially when the cost to attend the wedding is a financial burden in itself. Some invitations even state that presence is enough and presents are not necessary. I’m not sure if many newlyweds believe that.
The cost of attending/being a part of the wedding add up:
- engagement party gifts
- wedding shower gifts
- bridal shower gifts
- bachelor/ette party costs/gifts
- wedding gifts
- bridal/groom party rentals, purchases (I believe brides/grooms should cover most of these costs)
- hotel costs
- travel costs
- time costs
There’s also this concept of tit for tat. Many of the weddings we’ve attended and consecrated gifts for, we have never received a reciprocal consideration. No “congratulations” card let alone a check or gift ,and we didn’t even make them spend a dime on attending*.
*People criticized us for not having a wedding because we wouldn’t receive gifts/money. Husband and I thought the cost of having a wedding versus the possible “profit” of throwing a soiree were ridiculous. We never expected anything, and still don’t, but we don’t like having expectations thrown on us with an exceptional flair for the dramatic when the same consideration is not extended.
Issue 4, It’s all the same
Weddings are generic. There is this equation that hotels, wedding planners, and tradition mixed together. Weddings that attempt to be unique still follow the basic formula.
- Photographer takes staged photos of prep.
- More staged photography.
- Reception begins with snacks and drinks.
- Mr. and Mrs. (or Mr. and Mr. or Mrs. and Mrs.) enter.
- Awkward speeches.
- Father/daughter, Mother/son dances
- Awkward speeches.
- Dinner with linen covered seats and garish bows and tables with ugly flower displays.
- Cake smash!
For a grand total of $25k.
The real definer if the wedding is fun and worth all the hubbub? Open bar.
Issue 5, Divorce
It happens. We all go through the wedding hoopla and then a few years, or even months, down the way, the couple splits. It sucks for the couple and it sucks for the guests. Essentially the money and gifts given become collateral in the divorce proceedings.
Look, I venture to guess that most people who are getting married do not anticipate a divorce. Otherwise, why marry?
But in the cases that the relationships are rocky prior to any aisle trotting, it’s important to consider the whole picture. I knew of a couple that wasn’t sure if they should go through with the wedding or not. After all the planning and people RSVPing and making their plane/hotel reservations and blah blah blah, they figured they could work on their issues after the ceremony, right? So they married. Four months later? Seperated and well on the way to signing divorce papers.
Do the guests a favor, save their time and money and call it off. A teetering couple is going to lose out bigger if they go through with the wedding.
Issue 6, What we all want
The Gingermermaids are very happy with the way our wedding went down. We embraced a few cutsie traditions for our parents (and me too) but ultimately we didn’t want much more than that. We support that our friends do want the whole deal and we’ll participate in all the hoopla and spend the dollars to rent a tux and get our hair done like everyone else. It’s their day, after all, and they are our friends and we want to support them in their commitment to one another.
Some people take our perception of weddings as resentment that we didn’t get to do things the traditional way because of little Gingerguppy. When people tell me that I really want to have a wedding, a bachelorette party, a honeymoon, I want to tell them that what I really want to do is punch them in the face for not respecting my viewpoint. Not everyone wants what everyone else wants, like I’m sure that person doesn’t want me to punch them in the face even though I really, really want that, far more than a wedding.
One final note, weddings shouldn’t be the best day of anyone’s life, the future together should hold far better days. We don’t want to start our life at the climax of our time together, we want it to only get better.
Blogger’s Note: I embraced the following kitschy things: a dress that fit over Gingerguppy, sunflower bouquet, birdseed (which I hated and am still pulling little seeds from my hair), photographer, flower girls (because my nieces really wanted it), and cake smash! If you read my post about my own wedding, you may find some hypocritical statements to what I’ve made here. I’m not perfect 😉