According to CNN, the average cost of a wedding has hit the 30-thousand-dollar mark. Someone, please, please tell me …
Expensive weddings make me cringe. I understand the desire to gather one’s family and friends, wear a pretty dress, and commemorate the day with quality photos. But this does not require $30,000, or even half that, or even half that.
Kenny has told people that he and I had a “glorified elopement.” I realize we were a little extreme in our money-saving methods, but maybe our story will inspire you to save at least a few thousand dollars: We bought simple wedding bands at Kay Jewelers, a new cotton shirt for Kenny, and a $68-dollar white dress for me from a great little boutique called Scarlett Begonia on West End Avenue. Because I have a habit of kicking my shoes off during holy moments, e.g. prayer or worship experiences, I knew I’d get married barefoot, so shoes weren’t an issue.
We gathered four or five people and our pastor one evening and walked over to a beautiful little garden outside the Upper Room headquarters on Grand Avenue. (No, we did not have permission, and no, I don’t recommend this, but we’d already discovered that typical outdoor wedding places charge roughly ten zillion dollars even if you ask to stand on their property for ten minutes with fewer than half a dozen people—so we decided it was easier to get forgiveness than permission.)
Aside from the fact that our pastor was so convinced we were going to get kicked out of the garden that he kept taking sidelong glances toward the Upper Room windows (where a few people did, in fact, gather to watch the festivities), the ceremony was perfect. As a symbol of our commitment to protect rather than harm one another, we exchanged swords (yes, real ones, which we’d received at a worship conference). And as a sign of our vow to serve each other, we washed one another’s feet. Afterward, we joined a few dozen friends at our favorite local sushi joint, which had opened after hours specifically for us.
Total wedding cost: $148.
I could list fifty reasons that it’s a bad idea to spend lots of money on a wedding, but I’m going to touch briefly on just three:
- An expensive wedding buries a new marriage under the burden of debt. To anyone who overspends on a wedding, may I say, “Congratulations, you just guaranteed that your first several years of marriage will be fraught with stress and arguments focused on money … so that you could spend one day in extravagance.”
- Spending the money on the wedding versus the marriage is bass-akwards. A wedding is over in a few hours and doesn’t merit plunging into debt. A marriage deserves all you have to give. (Do you know what you could do with 30 or 20 or 10 thousand dollars that would build up rather than tear down your marriage? For example, if you break $10,000 into 500-dollar weekend trips, you end up with four mini-honeymoons per year for five years.)
- A couple that begins their life together by spending lavishly is going to have one heck of a time living simply. Let me explain: A couple that’s unattached to their possessions is a couple that knows the joy of freedom. I know, I know—someone can have a lot of stuff and still be emotionally unattached to it, but how much better to have minimal stuff in the first place? A couple that finds happiness apart from luxury is free to pull up stakes and relocate to the mission field, or give their second car to a single mom whose only car kicks the bucket, or forfeit a well-paying job in favor of one that pays less but allows a person to live out his or her God-given passion. It’s much easier for a couple to drop everything and go where the Lord leads them if they have little to drop.
A few related verses (NIV):
“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have.”
“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it?”
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
“Sell your possessions and give to the poor.”
“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.”