Ruth's Two Cents: A Wedding on a Budget

As a seasoned money adventurer and financial blogger with the gift of the gab, who better to ask for money advice than Ruth The Happy Saver? Read the guidance she shares with our blog readers and beyond. No agony aunts here, just Ruth’s two cents.

Hi Ruth, 

Me and my partner are getting married! We’re thinking that we want something that’s a bit more low-key and pared back (much to the dismay of both our parents), so we have money to go traveling afterward. Is it possible to keep to a sensible wedding budget without skimping on too much? And how do we make our parents understand that an extravagant wedding isn’t a wanted or needed expense in our budget?

Congratulations! Marriage is fun; you will love it!

I’m pleased that PocketSmith has asked me to answer this particular question because while I’m a fan of marriage, unlike many, I’m not a big fan of weddings. If people put as much effort into the marriage itself as they do for the wedding ceremony, our divorce rate would probably be lower than it is.

A wedding doesn’t have to look like a wedding

Fun fact: Jonny and I are married but never had a traditional wedding. We have been married for 21 years and counting. Ours cost us $100.

My mother was furious to miss out on a wedding! She was happy with my choice of husband and less happy with how we tied the knot.

Like the, “I forbid you to get married”, kind of furious.

Here is how it played out.

Jonny and I met and fell crazy in love. The natural progression was that we get engaged, but we couldn’t see why this was worth a public announcement, and there was no ring. We had simply decided to commit to each other. Time passed, and we realized that the next logical step, according to society, was marriage. And a wedding. 

By now, we were in our late twenties, had attended many weddings, and decided that a public display of affection was not our thing. Travel was our thing, however, and our math was sound enough to realize that we could not do both. Or could we? The logical next step was our decision to get married while away on holiday.

We didn’t elope, we were not doing it in secret, and we told our families of our intentions, which is when my mother started to express her opinions about our lack of a wedding. Even though we were clearly in love, she wanted to witness us tying the knot and proving we were in love. Goddamnit, she wanted a good old wedding! White dress, wedding cake, and a big party!

Our expectations bumped firmly up against her expectations. And the fun began.

External expectations will change

This is the point that I realized that to make my mother happy, I would make myself unhappy. Ultimately we decided that given it was Jonny and I getting married, our happiness came first. The point I want you to take away is that your happiness comes first.

And happiness for Jonny and I came in the form of a month-long trip to America, during which we would get married if the moment felt right. Just in case, we took wedding rings with us. Lo and behold, the right moment did present itself, and we phoned home to tell our parents that we would be getting married at 5pm on that particular September day.

The rest of the family was excited for us, but it was at this point my mother, in no uncertain terms, forbade me from getting married. I’m not going to lie; she was pretty distraught. It was not easy to go against her wishes, but I’ve not regretted the fact I did.

Our wedding was brief, unique, and fabulous. I remember every moment of the experience. We took one photo. The entire month-long holiday was brilliant, and we created so many memories, one of which was tying the knot. 

Years later, when our daughter was four, we took her to the small town we were married in and to the spot where we took our wedding photo. We took one more picture with our precious daughter in it this time. 

It took a while, but my mother forgave us her lost wedding opportunity, and it’s now become a bit of a family joke… “Remember when you forbid me to get married? Hahaha”. I hold up my ring finger and point out that we are still married all these years later, proving that it’s not the size of the wedding that matters. It’s the love and commitment of the couple getting married that is most important.

It’s your day — make it match your needs, and your budget

Therefore, I advise you and your fiancee: You do you!

It’s you and your partner getting married; you are the main event, the only event, and you need to do what feels right to you. 

If a wedding is something you want to do, then do it on your terms and be unapologetic about that. If happiness and showing commitment to each other is a BBQ in the backyard and everyone brings a plate of food, that sounds grand. If you both agree on what you want to do, and how much that will cost, then go nuts.

It all boils down to your love for each other and how you want to express that. Standing our ground on what ‘getting married’ meant to us united us, and we’ve carried that team spirit into our marriage.

There are many milestones in life; marriage is just one of them. You want it to happen in harmony with your other plans for your life together, not to the detriment of those plans. Once you know what you, the happy couple, want, the rest will flow on your terms.

Congratulations to you both. I wish you a long and happy life together.

Got a burning money question for Ruth? Send them through to [email protected]!

Ruth blogs at all about how she and her family handle money. What’s the secret? Spend less than you earn, invest the difference, avoid debt and budget each dollar that flows through your hands. She firmly believes that if you can just get the basics right, life becomes easier from there on in.

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