One of my friends spent $25,000 on his wedding right out of high school. I remember trying to talk him out of spending so much, but there was no getting through to him.
“It’s such a special day. A wedding is once in a lifetime. If we don’t do it this way the relatives will be disappointed.” He went on and on reciting advertising slogans written and propagated by the wedding industry.
About three months after the wedding, he complained to me about how he and his wife were subsisting on Ramen noodles.
“Sometimes we don’t have enough to eat,” he said.
“That’s because you spent too much on your stupid wedding.”
Comments like that made him angry. Why is it that when people do something irresponsible and you call them out on it, they’re always angry rather than embarrassed?
$25,000 isn’t a lot compared to some weddings, but we live in Northern Wisconsin and the amount represented enough to live on for more than a year.
He was also angry that I wouldn’t give him any money. “Why should I give you money just because you squandered everything you had on a lavish wedding?”
“But we’re hungry.”
“If you’d have listened to me you wouldn’t be hungry right now.”
We haven’t been on speaking terms in a long time.
To make things even worse, within about another year the two of them got divorced.
I saw their wedding up close, in fact, I was in their wedding. To be honest, despite the huge bill, I never thought it was all that nice.
I don’t know what it costs to rent a church, but most churches are just buildings. Quite a few of them, at least the ones in Wisconsin, have the same style of cheap faux wood siding that was popular in the ‘70s.
When it came time for me to get married, I was living in Lima, Peru. One of the advantages of getting married in a foreign country is that the deadbeats in your family aren’t going to spring for a plane ticket.
My wife is a sound financial thinker, and if she wasn’t we probably wouldn’t have married each other. I set a budget at $1,000.
“Think of it as throwing a party,” I said. “That’s all a wedding is. The thing that makes a wedding memorable isn’t the flowers or the church or the food. You remember it because it’s the day you make a public commitment to the person you love.”
The other thing to remember about a wedding is that it’s your day. What other people think doesn’t matter. If other people don’t like the way you’re doing it, then those people can sit at home all by themselves.
We had our wedding outdoors. I had zero interest in going to a church. $1,000 in Peru goes a long way. We rented out a little resort on the outskirts of Lima so that everyone could spend the night. When we were dating, my wife and I went to that resort almost every weekend, so they knew us there. I asked the manager to perform the ceremony.
“Why me?” he said.
“Because we like you and it’s our wedding and we can do whatever we want.”
The guy took the job very seriously and he was excellent. He said exactly what we told him to say with no embellishments. My objective was to get to the food, drinking, and dancing as quickly as possible, the wedding was over in about 10 minutes.
One of my wife’s relatives started to mutter, “That was the shortest ceremony I’ve ever seen…”
My wife went up to her and said, “You can shut your mouth right now or you can go home and sit by yourself forever.”
The relative shut up. You have to make an example out of one of them right away.
Like I said, the wedding was our party and the relatives we invited needed to behave themselves. We were going to have a good time, and if those people wanted to rain on our parade they were going to get a swift kick in the butt.
Speaking of that, your marriage belongs to you as well. You might as well get used to doing things the way you want to as soon as possible.
Every idiot in your family that’s been divorced six times is going to give you unsolicited relationship advice. You have my permission to tell them, “You’re personal life is a train wreck so you need to shut up.”
All biting your tongue gets you is a mouthful of blood.
Any complaints the guests had at my wedding disappeared when they realized I’d ordered three times more beer than the restaurant suggested. It took until 6 in the morning for the guests to drink it all.
“That was the best wedding ever!” The young people said.
“You’re welcome!” I replied.
Some people have suggested that my attitude will change when the day comes for my daughters to get married.
But no wedding dress exists that can make my daughters more beautiful. There’s no church in which to hold the ceremony that is more vibrant than their dazzling smiles.
When my daughters find partners that make them happy, you could hand me a cold fish stick to gnaw on and I’ll be delighted.
A wedding is a party. There’s no need to stress yourself out or worry about if everything will be perfect. Just stop and recognize that you’re in love. Live in the moment and don’t succumb to the pressure of irrelevant distractions.
Simple weddings put the focus on love. If love isn’t present, no amount of money you spend is going to change that. If love is present, no amount of spending can make the moment any more beautiful
Have a reasonable wedding and give yourself the best chance at a rich life.
This post was previously published on Hello, Love.
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