Should You Wait to Get Married Until You Can Have the Wedding of Your Dreams?

by TTMK on December 11, 2013 · 4 comments

save for weddingThe following post is from Staff Writer Melissa Batai

Having a wedding can be an expensive affair.  With weddings in 2012 on average costing $28,427 (CNN Money), more and more couples are waiting to get married.

An Extended Engagement

Take Jake and Rachael (not their real names).  Jake and Rachael have dated for nearly 5 years now and have lived together for a year.  Jake recently popped the question, and they were initially looking at a 17 month engagement.

However, they are saddled with a fair amount of student loan debt and won’t be getting much in the way of parental support to help pay for the wedding.  Now, they are talking about pushing the wedding back and having a 29 month engagement so they can pay for the type of wedding they’d like.  All told, they will be together 8 years before they tie the knot.  They are both in their early 30s.

My Experience

My husband and I had a 10 month engagement.  We, too, were flat broke.  My husband was still a college student and couldn’t work because he was on an international visa.  I had just finished my masters, had a fair amount of student loan debt, and was teaching several part-time college jobs that didn’t pay squat.  Simply put, we couldn’t afford a wedding.

Luckily, my mom had saved $5,000 for my wedding, and that was what we used.  My mom’s only request was that we have a large wedding and invite our large family and some of her friends.  We had 175 guests, which meant we needed to stretch our dollars.  We did so by making all the food ourselves the night before the reception, making most of the items for our wedding from scratch, and having my aunt make the cake.  My dress only cost $175, which came to $250 total with alterations.

But what if that $5,000 hadn’t been there?  Would we have waited several years to get married until we had saved enough money?

Honestly, if we had waited, we would have likely had a 5 year engagement because that’s about how long it took me to earn a decent salary when I finally got a full-time teaching job.  If I’d wanted a wedding that cost the same as the average 2012 wedding, we’d have likely had a 10 year engagement!

If my mom hadn’t offered us the $5,000, I think I would have preferred to have a very simple, small wedding.  I wanted a wedding because I wanted to be married to my husband more than I wanted a fancy wedding.  I don’t think I would have wanted to wait 5 years to officially begin our lives together.

There seems to be too much pressure now to spend copious amounts of money to have a lavish wedding.  My mom recently told me about a couple that spend $50,000 on their wedding and were divorced in less than a year.

My Questions for You

If you’re married, did you delay getting married until you could have the wedding of your dreams?  Or did you have a simple wedding because that’s all you could afford?

Would you prefer that your children delay their marriage until they can afford a lavish wedding, or would you prefer they spend less and get married earlier?  How important is age as a factor in each scenario?

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Emily @ evolvingPF December 11, 2013 at 4:08 pm

It really depends on your view of marriage. My marriage was far too weighty in my life to be delayed by finances. We just assessed the resources available to us after we got engaged and planned our wedding on those resources – no more time for saving, no debt.

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krantcents December 11, 2013 at 6:59 pm

My wife and I were very fortunate that her parents paid for the wedding. It was 45+ years ago when it was considerably less expensive. If you are hooked on a large wedding, you will generally pay for it. Although it is a personal decision, I think you should always focus on what is important. I remember my cousin who told us he got married when he was broke and made up for it when he was wealthy. He was a multi-millionaire when it meant something.

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Michelle December 12, 2013 at 10:02 am

We had a 21 month engagement more out of competition. We both went in to the engagement knowing how much it would cost us to get married and have a dream wedding so we saved before he actually gave me the ring.

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Michelle T December 12, 2013 at 11:08 pm

For us, the main thing was getting married. Twenty eight years later I still value the status of “little or no debt”. So the priority would still be “pay off loans and debt as best you can before bringing that pressure into the marriage”. That is a great feeling. Besides with so many couples already living together, what’s a little more time in order to have a cleaner slate?

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