This past weekend we attended my brother-in-law’s wedding at the Isle of Palms in South Carolina. All the planning had been done by “Jill” (now his wife) so that she could cut costs where necessary and still keep the wedding affordable. We got our flights booked early enough that they weren’t exorbitant. We also split a house with Mrs. SSC’s parents and Aunt to defray those costs. As a bonus, on the weekend of the wedding I found out that the father-in-law offered to cover the housing cost. That news was a nice surprise indeed! While I was expecting a nice, modest sort of ceremony, reception, etc… because of so much talk of “keeping the wedding affordable” man, was I surprised how this “affordable wedding” fit my version of a really nice wedding. It reminded me that you see the same differences in perspective of affordable and extravagant, whether you’re talking about planning a wedding or planning for retirement and financial independence.
Affordable is in the Eyes of the Beholder
The “affordable wedding” talk started up immediately after the engagement announcement. Trying to find the right venue that wasn’t going to cost an arm and a leg to book was the first task. She settled on Isle of Palms, SC for the destination however, due to the exorbitant cost of hosting the wedding ceremony there, it was held at a nearby Country Club. Then came the accoutrements to wedding planning, like finding a wedding planner, booking the rehearsal dinner, flowers, cake, music, transportation, and more. Between the welcome bags for everyone attending, free alcohol at every event that was hosted, and excellent food at every turn, it seemed to get really big, really fast.
Rehearsal Dinner Gifts
At the rehearsal dinner I was pleasantly surprised when they handed out gifts to all 50 people there. The groomsmen each received an engraved bottle of Patron, while the remainder of the guys got an engraved bottle of Gentleman Jack. However, the father of the groom got a nice bottle of Johnny Walker Blue Label! The ladies all received jewelry of some sort (bracelet, necklace) with similar engraving. It was a nice gesture for sure.
The whole 4 day extravaganza was fun to be a part of. didn’t fit into my version of an affordable wedding, but that’s okay, because this wasn’t my wedding. I don’t have to worry about it because I wasn’t paying for it.
It’s All About YOUR Perspective
This contrast in her version of an “affordable wedding” and my version made me think about people and their finances and how different they can be. Even in the Personal Finance (PF) blogosphere there are so many contrasts as to what different people deem necessary. Some budget to live off of $30k/year, while others want to budget for $100k/yr. There’s nothing wrong with either approach, one version just takes longer to save for. If that’s what you want to live a comfortable life and experience it as you see fit, then that’s what you should plan for.
Personally, I don’t want to live on a $30k/yr budget, I don’t even want to live on a $40k/yr budget. Does that make me a PF snob? Hardly… There are always people that will have more money than me and there will always be people that will be happy with less. I don’t need to compare my PF dreams and plans with others’ plans. We all have different priorities in life, and I know my weirdo priorities will never line up with someone else’s. I’m okay with that, but it took a while to get there.
Sort of like the wedding this weekend. Initially I caught myself looking at everything and thinking, “Whoa, this is pretty fancy. How is this planning a wedding on the cheap?” Then I realized I need to be more in the moment and enjoy the experience and appreciate the nice gestures and arrangements that have been made to make my wedding experience more enjoyable. That changed the whole weekend perspective for me.
Fun in the Sun with Family
The experience of the wedding and rehearsal dinner, along with all the other events was very nice and I was honored to be a part of it and not just a guest. However, my favorite part of the weekend was Sunday after the wedding. We hosted a brunch for Mrs. SSC’s family that came in for the wedding and it turned into an all-day affair. It was great getting to hang out, catch up, and watch them get to play with the kids. It was one of the best Sunday’s I’ve had in a while. Most of that side of the family I hadn’t seen in years, and some hadn’t met both of the kids yet because our youngest wasn’t around the last time we visited them.
Being so close to the beach we got to spend a lot of time there with the kids playing in tide pools, collecting shells, chasing baitfish, and just watching the waves crash on the beach.
Have you experienced something lately that you caught yourself thinking, “I’d never want to pay for that”? Do you have an experience where something you prioritize doesn’t fit into the general PF “good advice” column – like buying a new car – Gasp!
I’d love to know it’s not just me that can fall into these comparison traps.