Walking Down the Aisle With Your Wallet

Some tilework at museum's entrance

The advent of credit means that all kinds of goods and services can be bought and sold without cash in hand.  There are home loans, car loans, and now wedding loans to ensure that your special day is nothing short of a picture-perfect production.  Celebrating the union of two souls, lives, and families is a felicitous occasion but is it worth years of debt?  What makes a wedding unique is not the designer of the dress, elaborate rented hall, or mile-long guest list.  A special wedding communicates the unique culture and values of the families involved with authenticity and integrity.  This kind of occasion doesn’t need to be heavy in cost, but it does need to be weighty in thought.  Here are a few tips for making your wedding day one to remember without a bill that you’ll never forget.

Develop a Vision

There are many assumptions about what a wedding should entail.  Most are dictated by cultural and religious traditions while some are assumed from popular media.  For the two spouses-to-be, it’s important that they have a shared vision of what they want for their special day.  Family and societal pressure need to be balanced against the couple’s own expectations, wishes, and budget.  Your wedding introduces your union to the greater community and should reflect your individual and shared identity and values.

Prioritize Expenses

A budget-friendly wedding doesn’t need to be lackluster.  The goal is not to be cheap but to be frugal, meaning that you spend your money in a way that maximizes its value.  Making sound and sober financial decisions is a helpful skill in your marital life, and your wedding planning is the perfect time to get started.  Some people forfeit fancy diamond rings for extravagant honeymoons, professional photographers for eco-friendly dining ware, or a fancy five-course meal reception to accommodate more guests.  Even if your finances allow you to have it all, it doesn’t mean you need to spend it all for one day.

Invite Gifts of Service

Wedding registries are very popular but they are not the only way to receive useful guests.  Consider inviting gifts that will help realize your wedding day vision.  There are many relevant trades that can lower your wedding expenses and also give your circle of contacts a tangible way to contribute to your wedding ceremony.  When I married, I knew that I wanted to support my local community, so I reached out to my creative friends for my dress, invitations, decorations, wedding favors, cake, etc.  Friends of ours also offered their employee discounts and food cooperative memberships to purchase fruits, snacks, and refreshments for our guests.  If you know someone with a particularly large home or property, consider asking them to use their space but don’t forget to make arrangements for the set-up and clean-up.

Use Public Spaces

The use of public parks, recreation centers, and religious halls are an affordable way to secure space for your ceremony and reception.  Indoor public spaces give you the advantage of putting money into social and religious institutions that often function as non-profits.  Outdoor public spaces can give you more space to accommodate your guests and offer the backdrop of nature’s beauty for your wedding day.  The other advantage of public spaces is that they make your wedding day accessible to the broader scope of community.  A posh, invitation-only event doesn’t communicate “come as you are” but rather “come with a gift”.  This can deter loved ones who sincerely want to share in your special day without pretention.

Make the Day Sacred

At the heart of your ceremony, there should be a connection to something greater than that which is between you and your spouse, your families, or friends.  In the reverence of God, our righteous ancestors, our family and elders, and sacred values, we invite blessings that cannot be bought for not just our wedding day but our marital life as well.  Take time to consider how to communicate your sacred expression in a way that offers your guests meaning without dogma.  Your guests may not share your beliefs but give them room to understand your own tradition and values without feeling forced to accept it for themselves.

This article was originally published on Ethos International.

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