Read an Excerpt
Excerpt from Part 1: The Beautiful "Debt-Free" Wedding Philosophy
Every couple is going to have a wedding philosophya standard operating procedure that will inform how they prepare for the wedding, and how they save and spend to make the wedding a reality. Understanding and self-awareness are vital, but it is also important for couples to agree on their ultimate goal. Is the goal of the wedding to create a beautiful experience no matter what the financial cost?
Or is the goal of the wedding to create a beautiful experience on a budget the couple can afford?
These are key questions, and they strike at the heart of what this book is about. In the following section, we'll explore the philosophy behind a beautiful debt-free wedding. Once a couple understands where they are going, and why, it will be much easier to actually get there.
Chapter One: What's in a Wedding
No doubt, your ideas and concepts about weddings have been shaped by weddings you have seen on television, personally witnessed, or participated in. Perhaps you have dreams of a fairy-tale wedding like the televised spectacle of Princess Diana and Prince Charlesprobably the most celebrated and widely viewed wedding in history. Or perhaps you particularly loved a certain aspect of a family member's wedding. Or maybe you served as a bridesmaid, flower girl, or reception helperand these experiences have informed your questions, observations, and dreams for your own matrimony.
Weddings have a way of taking on a larger-than-life aura. But then, weddings are special and do contain elements of the human and divine, the highest callings of our passions and convictions, and also demanding the most of our commitment and love. Weddings are meant, by their very nature, to be one-of-a-kind occasions. And they should be. A wedding is not only an event, but also an opportunity to offer the best of yourself to the one you love, and to your guests!
Perhaps, as you have set out to plan your wedding, you have found yourself feeling at once excited and overwhelmed, both joyous and horrified. These feelings, however, are natural. Big events have a way of consuming our thoughts, our emotions, and our time. And because weddings have that special element of love and family involvednot to mention God, tradition, and societal expectationswe can easily feel taxed and overwhelmed by the demands. To many brides a wedding can seem like a mountaina gigantic object that looms in the horizon of every waking hour. But then, even mountains can be scaledas long as we are willing to take one step at a time.
Dollars and Sense
Think about how most couples plan their special day. They usually begin with a no-holds-barred philosophy, or (heaven forbid) a credit card approach to financing the wedding. Charge it! has become the latest fad in wedding planning, but couples who finance their weddings on plastic can quickly discover that their marriage is in bigger trouble than their bank account.
Banks have even gotten into the act and have parlayed the wedding craze into a billion-dollar industry. Now couples can sign up for specially designed "wedding loans" that can help them to finance the wedding of their dreams, only to discover later that they cannot afford a loan for a house, a car, or an education. In short, their wedding loan has upended their ability to create a life together.
We'll return to these concerns later in more detail, but suffice it to say that if a couple wants to go into wedding debt it's easy to do… and there are many people and institutions that are eager to help them do it!
When it comes to the dollars in your wedding, you're going to want to have some sense (not cents) about it. You'll want to have a tightly knit plan that can help you emerge on the other side of the ceremony without having to mortgage your life.
Over the years, I have counseled hundreds of couples on their way to the altar. I've seen the best and worst in weddings and marriages. But there are some observations that have held true over time.
I have noted that weddings, like most everything else in life, tend to have trends, fads, and changes that are not unlike the changes we see in clothing styles, cars, or the desire for the latest electronic gadgets. A hundred years ago, when our great-grandparents and grandparents were getting married, ceremonies were generally quaint, simple, and brief. There were no five-thousand-seat auditoriums, no large reception halls, no catering services eager to meet the demand for three-course meals and decadent desserts. Many weddings in this day took place in living rooms or on lawns.
In our parents' day, ceremonies had moved from the living room to the church, but it was not uncommon for couples to travel to an exotic location to get married or to elope. The large reception halls and banquet facilities had yet to come into being, and most weddings had a punch and cake reception.
Twenty-five years ago, when my wife and I got married (and all of our friends were also getting married it seemed) weddings tended to be quick, family-friendly affairs, still followed by a punch and cake reception. Some couples even opened their gifts at the reception and personally thanked their guests at that time. Larger weddings tended to include dancing and/or dinner, but those were rarer.