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Weddings and Finances – Perspective Changes Everything

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.

Isle of Palms at Low Tide

Isle of Palms at Low Tide

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.

Kids had fun playing games outside.

Kids had fun playing games outside.

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.

So many tide pools, so little time.

So many tide pools, so little time.

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.

12 thoughts on “Weddings and Finances – Perspective Changes Everything

  1. Miss Mazuma

    I was just at a wedding a few weekends ago that had a great mix of fancy and reasonable. They had decided to get married the weekend before so it was basically just a big party and everyone had a great time. By contrast, I have been to weddings in super fancy hotels with luxuries settings and 5 star cuisine. It was so formal that nobody really danced for fear of ruining their outfits (I still kicked it on the dance floor :) ). Such a waste!!

    I can see the correlation between that and PF. I am for the most part frugal, but enjoy a few moments of luxury. If I were to flip that equation I would have to gear up for a higher cost of living in retirement. So far, I’m quite content and my life feels “normal”…until I am around other people. I am constantly asked by my coworkers why I don’t go out or eat, if I want coffee, or how it is I can travel so light (I only carry a small backpack and lunch box for my 3 day trips). I get it from corworkers, van drivers, and TSA – “Where are your bags?” Meanwhile, I think it’s strange that they bring so much and eat out so often!! Haha – I guess we are all weird in our own ways!

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Yeah, it’s all pretty relative based on what your “normal” is anchored to. In this case it was anchored around all of her friends, girldfriends, co-workers in San Ramon that had “California normal” weddings, lol. In that regard, this was a modest affair. Overall, I don’t think it was too lavish or extreme, but comparatively, our wedding was pretty frugal. I remember even with our wedding we were annoyed that we had to host a wedding and couldn’t just get married privately, lol. True story. Now as a dad with a daughter I think, “No way she could get married and not have me there!” Funny how perspectives change over time. :)

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Not too much partying here. Amazingly, Thursday I ran 6.2 miles, Friday I swam a mile and then Sunday I ran 3.1 miles. I figured it would be the last weekend to workout before starting to taper. Now the big decision is “if wetsuits aren’t legal because the Gulf is still so warm, do I still wear it because I’m not trying to qualify for anything or go pro?” Hahahaha But yeah, they already emailed saying they’re most likely not going to be allowed so, we’ll see…

  2. Mrs. COD

    What a great connection between the wedding and finances/FIRE planning! So true, labels like “expensive”, “luxurious”, and “cheap” are fairly relative. I know on the rare occasions when I’ve picked up a fashion magazine, I’m always taken aback by the sections where certain clothing or accessories are deemed “affordable”. Our wedding was certainly on the cheap end of the spectrum and we were perfectly happy with it. The only thing I would have changed is that the Travelodge was the only hotel available to block rooms because it was the weekend of a huge bike-a-thon. So we felt sorry for our guests who had to stay in that dump, but it wasn’t really within our control!

    It’s so important to anyone contemplating retirement that they consider their own personal spending levels and what they’ll be comfortable with. I cringe when experts recommend simply a set percentage of one’s income to save, without consideration of multiple factors that impact that. Personal finance is personal, after all!

    Sounds like a wonderful trip! The beach would be pretty fantastic right now…I can’t believe it’s October and I’m still experiencing 80s!

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      It was a wonderful trip for sure. :) The beach was nice, the setting was nice, hanging with family was awesome, but man was it exhausting.

      We were definitely on the cheap end of the spectrum – just a courtyard in the French Quarter of New Orleans and a “rehearsal’ish dinner”, wedding night covered dinner, and then hosted a football Sunday hangout where I made gumbo, we grilled out and just hung out with everyone around the house. Pretty laid back indeed.

      I’m also shocked sometimes when reading about celebrities spending and what they deem affordable. Like Tori Spelling, where she thinks you can’t have a birthday party for a grade school aged kid without spending $5-$10k… Aye yi yi.

  3. Mr.PIE

    Those slow lazy days of summer will soon become lazy days of life.!

    We often comment on folks who are spendy about cars they drive. I never understood why my ex boss had a Lexus SUV, big ass Ford pick up and Range Rover discovery for a family of three!! Still, he was a smart guy and his choices are none of my business or concern. Jeez in our baller days we would drop $400 or more on a fancy restaurant without blinking. We age, we change and the rear view mirror is a strange place to look!

    Will send you a Tweet message about FinCon and look forward to meeting you and chatting a lot more about finances, life changes and projections for the Saints and Pats this season.

    Cheers!

    1. Mr. SSC

      I bet that’s a nice feeling being so close. :) The rear view mirror is a strange place to look indeed! One of the better quotes I’ve read recently.

      I’m looking forward to getting to meet up at FInCon. I was going to suggest we could also discuss the Sox/Astro’s but that got sorted already. The Saints and Pats will be some good discussion too though. Both could be doing better, and Brady… I probably cursed him picking him up for one of my fantasy football teams.

  4. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life

    My friends hosted a catered (to me, lavish) milestone party and while I rarely want to spend that kind of money on entertaining, and chose not to for our turn with it, I’m not hating that they did. That was an amazing dinner and even more amazing desserts. :) It made them happy and we were happy to enjoy it with them. I DID tell them that they’ve ruined weddings for me, though. Wedding food is usually mediocre but theirs was out of this world!

    Expensive cars are an interesting money sink that I can’t muster much enthusiasm for, and I’m glad that PiC has grown past most of his love for them. I won’t begrudge him one of his dream cars if and when we hit our Massive Savings Goals.

    1. Mr. SSC

      I appreciated being part of the affair and celebration, and after I reminded myself to enjoy it and not keep thinking about cost, it was a blast! I still wouldn’t want to pick up the tab for it, but enjoyed all that they put out for us. :)

      I’ve gotten past my expensive car wants. I’ll occasionally look at a nice watch, but even now my version of nice watch compared to most people who have “nice watches” is still pretty low. :)

  5. the Budget Epicurean

    This is so timely, as we just attended 2 weddings this month! Both were quite “nice and luxurious” in my eyes, but both seemed to feel that this was a “budget-friendly” affair. They were both absolutely beautiful, crazy good food (BBQ and mouthwatering mac-n-cheese, and then a whole Maine lobster!), hours of dancing and laughter. I caught myself being a bit ‘judgy’ at several moments throughout. But both clearly were filled to the brim with love, and generosity. And ultimately, that’s what really matters. Sure, we chose to spend a fraction of the ‘average’ wedding price on our own, but the memories and time with friends and family is what matters in the end, and we had plenty of that! Thanks for the perspective, and reminder to live more ‘in the moment’.

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Whoa, lobster! Those both sounds like great weddings to attend, making great memories with friends, family and getting to share that day with them. You’re right, ultimately, that’s what matters. The day after the wedding was one of my fav’s because of those things you mentioned. Great memories and spending time with a lot of inlaws I don’t get to see very often. It was awesome.

      Glad you had a similar experience with your weddings, well not yours, but the ones you attended, lol. :)

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