Thursday, March 4, 2010

Pardonnez-moi

I spent my junior year of college studying abroad in Paris, France and Geneva, Switzerland.  For the first month I lived with a family in Paris while I was working on my French and getting immersed in the culture, and then moved on to Geneva (which is is the French-speaking part of Switzerland and right on the French border) to take classes at the University for the year.  In France, it is tres gauche to talk about money, and it is a widespread stereotype that Americans just l.o.v.e love talking about cold, hard cash.  I don't know whether I agree with this stereotype or not, but that's not the point.


The point is that I'm about to seriously offend some Frenchmen.


That's right, it's time to talk budget.  In all the wedding blogs I read, I've noticed two lines of budget talk.  It's either a) we don't have a lot of money and are on a tight budget, or b) I have a big* budget and make no apologies for it.  Well, the Mister and I fall into neither of these categories, and my gut tells me that we are not the only ones.  We are blessed to have great jobs that pay us well.  We have made conscious decisions in our lives to make sure that we live well within our means, and this principle also applies to how we approach our wedding budget.  When we created our wedding budget, the question we asked ourselves was "how much do we feel comfortable spending?", not "what can we afford?".  With this in mind, we came up with a budget range of $12,000 to $15,000.  $12,000 is the target, but we'd feel comfortable spending up to $15,000, give or take some, of course.  This does not include the cost of rings or our honeymoon.  We already have more than enough money in our savings to cover this, but really plan on paying as we go as much as possible so we don't put too much of a dent in our savings.


We're still trying to stick to our budget as much as possible, but as time has gone on and wedding planning has progressed, our attitude toward the costs of our wedding has changed slightly.  We are both comfortable with going over budget, so long as it is for something that we really, truly want.  For example, I could care less about having a videographer at our wedding, but people keep nudging me toward getting one.  If I cave and it sends me over budget, well that's not going to make me happy.  I hate paying for things I don't want!  But, on the other hand, the Mister and I really want to take the portion of our reception area closest to the dance floor and make it a lounge area so people who don't enjoy dancing that much (which includes the two of us) have a place to hang out that's not their dining table.  If the cost of renting or buying patio furniture for this lounge area sends us over budget, we're fine with it because it's something we both want and will enjoy.  This is all within reason, of course.  The issue with this new attitude is that it will be easy to consistently go over budget a little bit for things we want, and then end up WAY over budget.


Though how much the Mister and I spend on our wedding is nobody's business but ours, I decided to share because I think that it will give you readers much needed perspective.  I know that there have been many times when I've found a wedding on the blogs and wished I knew how much they spent.  If I absolutely adore the wedding, but know that they spent $50,000, that tempers my love for the wedding and gives me a dose of reality.  I too could have a wedding like that if I wanted to spend that much money, but I don't want to spend that much money so I'm okay with not having a wedding like that.  What's frustrating is finding a wedding that the blogs label as "budget" or "DIY"** and give you the impression that it was done on the cheap, when in fact it wasn't.  So I'm letting y'all know our budget up front.  It's only fair, in my book.


* There is obviously no bright line between what constitutes a "big" budget and a "medium" or "little" budget.  But for the purposes of this conversation, it doesn't really matter.  So long as the bride and groom think their budget is big, it is big.  


** This is another pet peeve of mine.  What is a "budget" wedding?  If you have a budget of $100K, you're still on a budget, so is that a "budget" wedding?  And exactly how many DIY projects do you have to do to have a "DIY" wedding?  Is there a craftiness threshold that has to be met?  Ugg.

1 comment:

Tamar said...

I'm really happy that you posted this. (And as someone who lives in So Cal (and have been working in the IE) I'm like - sweet! mountains! about your blog.) I have been trying to find the words to talk about money on my blog. Our budget is hovering in the US median, but most of it is being paid for by my savings from sacking away cash while in grad school (by taking on too many jobs at once) and then not buying stuff while working the past 2 years. I sometimes feel like I don't fit into the "sky's the limit" or "DIY alterna-bride" labels and don't know if I have a niche in the wedding world. The DIY project I take on are done because they're practical and save money and are fun. The stuff I bought I researched and made frugal decisions on. Ultimately, some of our decisions cost more than others (i.e. city venue, open bar, 100 person guest list, good photog) but the "splurges" were ones we thought enhanced our event. I really like the perspective that you have in your posts and it's refreshing to see another bride who made their budget about what they felt comfortable with and doesn't necessarily identify with either of the two extremes.

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