I hate wedding planning and I hate the whole wedding industry in this country.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am absolutely ecstatic about being engaged and planning a future together with my fiance. But the wedding planning? Ugh. Gag me. I cannot stand it.
Both AJ and I are deeply invested in our Catholic faith. We’re excited to celebrate the sacrament of matrimony. But because we live in the year 2018, it is impossible to avoid the secular world of weddings, along with all of its astronomical costs and extravagance.
First stop: engagement ring
I love my sapphire, ethical engagement ring that is made out of recycled white gold helped to pay for the drilling of a well in Bihar, India. I am also excited that we ordered our wedding bands on Do Amore as well, so that we are contributing even further to the drilling of a well in India.
I don’t understand why more people won’t stand up against blood diamonds and support companies like Do Amore. But don’t get me started, I could go on forever.
Next stop: proposal
Everything in our society seems to be a competition of who can top everyone else. There are now ridiculous proposals involving flash mobs, helicopter rides, and camera crews. These poor men are spending thousands of dollars (the average cost of an engagement ring in 2017 was $7,000!!!…don’t worry, mine was not nearly that pricey) on engagement rings, and then thousands more on the proposal.
I guess now that promposals have become so ridiculous, the adult men feel the need to top the seventeen-year-old boys gifting Michael Kors watches to their girlfriends when doing their promposals.
Thankfully, my fiance knew that I wouldn’t have wanted a big to-do for my proposal. He proposed with printed pictures of us that were all over the floor of my apartment, each with a note on the back. It was simple and sweet and not at all flashy.
We skipped that part, but today it is typical to have someone throw the newly engaged couple an engagement party. I know the upcoming marriage is exciting, but we already have showers, bachelor/bachelorette parties, rehearsal dinners, the wedding, and the honeymoon. An extra party to celebrate the engagement seems to be a bit much.
Maybe a nice dinner out with parents or with the couple’s closest friends? Fine. But extravagant engagement parties? Come on, there’s more about the marriage than a gazillion parties.
For us, it went something like this: get engaged, call parents, walk on the beach, call more people, get sandwiches for dinner, go to adoration, call more people, the end.
I love the fact that we got engaged on a night when my church has Eucharistic adoration because we were able to start out engagement in prayer, thanking God for His blessings while praying for our future.
Choosing a venue.
We picked the venue based mainly on the cost. Gosh, is the pricing insane. I know that it doesn’t help that we live by the beach in New Jersey, but still.
Fortunately, we’re having a brunch wedding. I’ve always wanted a brunch wedding because A) people don’t usually get as drunk at noon as they would at night and B) breakfast is my favorite. Option A was the main factor for me since I despise drunkenness so much. I love a good steak or seafood dinner like anyone else, but I’d rather have a nice little brunch, have my wedding over by 5pm, and hopefully not have to witness the sloppy drunkenness that will probably take place once people go to after parties that evening.
But back to the venue choices…
I thought that brunch wedding options would be cheaper. Relative to the dinner options, they were, but gosh, I cannot believe how much people are spending on their weddings. All of the venues I researched, with the exception of three, offered brunch prices between $97 and $150 per head. At $97, I could invite just 150 people and already spend almost $15,000. That is insane.
I guess that’s why the average cost of a wedding in New Jersey is $47,000. That is more than I spent on two years of tuition at the college I attended. My wedding day is important, but how can I justify spending that kind of money on ONE day?
In the end, I spent hours of research on venues before finally making appointments with three locations. I went to the first one on my own. It was lovely, but I just felt blah about it. The next I went to with AJ and both of us loved it. The last was the most beautiful location since it was right on the water. If I was choosing based on aesthetics alone, that would have won hands down, but their brunch options were limited.
We went with the place we both loved. The location isn’t phenomenal, but that doesn’t really matter since a wedding reception is mainly indoors. There is an outdoor area if the weather is nice, so that can be used for the cocktail half hour. And the biggest benefit is that it’s a hotel, so many of our guests can stay right there, which makes everything easier, especially since we have lots of out-of-state guests.
The photographer is one of the most important parts of the wedding to me because I love looking back at old photographs. I still print photos and I have a whole bunch of photo albums in my home. I love looking through them when I have some spare time.
I understand that photography is an art, but the prices are simply unreal. A friend who was engaged before me warned me that if I wanted photography and videography, that it was going to cost about $6,000.
I initially hoped to find a photographer for $1000 to $1500, before realizing that was completely impossible. Fortunately, I found one who offered a discount if we didn’t get engagement photos, so that helped with the cost a bit. I just had no idea how expensive everything is.
Engagement photos? Save the dates?
AJ and I went back and forth on this one. Eventually, we decided to skip the engagement photos and I figured that I would just make a save the date with pictures we already had. In the end, AJ’s cousin offered to take engagement photos for us at no charge, so we were really blessed and thankful for that opportunity.
Now, some girls go buy new outfits and get their hair and makeup done before the engagement photos. I just got dressed in clothes that I’ve had forever. Actually, the sweater that I wore has a hole in it (but it’s behind my neck, so you can’t see it). None of my clothes had been purchased within even the last two years. I wore slightly more than what I use for my typical makeup routine (no foundation, contouring, highlighter, [insert other makeup guru term here]). Yet the pictures came out beautifully. Go figure.
Along those same lines, we also went back and forth between whether or not to send save the dates. I would have preferred to have just sent invitations out super early, but everything online suggested against doing that. We mainly chose to make save the dates so that people traveling long distances would have advance warning for the dates.
Black Friday had some amazing prices for Save the Dates, so it didn’t really end up being a significant amount of money. If they had been expensive, I think we would have just skipped save the sates and verbally told our closest friends and family members about the date.
Wedding dress squad?
I’m an introvert, so I know this is different for extroverts, but I did not care to have a big group of people providing me with their input on my wedding dress. I felt like that would make everything more stressful and that it possibly even cause me to choose something different from my own preferences if I let the opinions of others begin to dictate my own thoughts.
My mom came down from Connecticut for the weekend and I made appointments at David’s Bridal as well as a local bridal shop.
The first store, I liked nothing. The second store, I had two favorites that I couldn’t decide between. We were able to squeeze in an appointment at the third store, where I liked nothing, and then we went back to store #2 (just in a different location).
By that point, I wanted to go home to decide between my 2 favorite dresses.
I went back to store #2 on a random Tuesday afternoon after work. I tried on the two dresses that I loved and decided that I wanted to go with the one that just seemed more “Stephanie.” Both dresses had their positive qualities, but I felt much more like myself in the dress I chose.
I am happy that I made my decision by myself because although I did have some input from others (I texted the pictures to a few of my friends), it was ultimately my own choice and I didn’t pick my dress because of what anyone else preferred.
I still have to find a veil. Did you know they can cost $400!?!? I found that out last week. So I will definitely be shopping around trying to find one under $100…preferably under $50 if that’s possible.
My sister in Brazil is my matron of honor and my bridesmaids are from Texas, Virginia, and New Jersey. I wanted something that would not be too much of a hassle for them.
I figured that David’s Bridal would be the easiest choice since they’re located all over the country. I picked the color that was closest to what I wanted. Is it the exact shade I would have preferred? No. But it’s pretty close and that was good enough for me.
I decided the color and length of the dress and let the girls all choose the style they prefer. I think it often looks better when brides do this because everyone has a different body shape. I love how V-necks and halter tops look on me, while other girls hate those styles and prefer other shapes. I have a square-shaped body with virtually no waist or hips, so I prefer styles that give me the allusion of a waist. Other girls have to try their hardest to hide their wide hips.
I know that most girls hate their bridesmaid dresses, so hopefully since the girls at least got to pick the style of the dress, it will be flattering to each of their body types.
AJ went to the mall with his dad. They went to two stores and picked out the tuxes for AJ and his groomsmen. I met up with them since I happened to be in the mall that day because a friend of mine was visiting. AJ initially picked a gray tux and I just mentioned how I thought grooms usually wore black.
He switched to black and used gray for the groomsmen and just picked colors that would match my bridesmaid dresses. I actually don’t really know exactly how the tuxes look, but I just don’t care. That’s AJ’s job. He chose what would go well with the help of the person working at the bridal store and I’m sure it will all look great.
I’m not the type of bride who wants to control every tiny little detail of my wedding.
This part has not yet been figured out yet. I don’t want anything fancy. I’d prefer no limos, sports cars, trolleys, or party buses. But we do need to have transportation for our wedding party, so I’m hoping to maybe use a car rental place and order two or three SUVs.
That’s the plan right now. It seems way more affordable than other options, but we’re still figuring it all out.
This has not yet been finalized. I plan to wear makeup, but I’m not sure how much. I’ve never worn foundation, contouring powder, false eyelashes, etc, and I think I plan to keep it that way. I like the way I look more naturally.
People keep warning me that my pictures may look bad without full face makeup and that since it’s August, I may look shiny, but I have recently realized that if that were true, I would hate how I look in other pictures I have.
I like the way I do my makeup. Will I do a little bit extra for my wedding? Yes, but I don’t want to look different from me. I picked my dress because it felt more “Stephanie” and I think that has to be my ultimate goal with my hair and makeup as well. I want to look like myself. I’ll try to find something to remove the shine since it might be a hot day, but I don’t want my face to look fake.
I also have no idea how to do my hair because I have curly hair and sometimes it air dries perfectly while other times it gets frizzy. I don’t want ti to look really fake, though, so I’m still figuring out what to do there.
I’m not a flower person. I told AJ right from the start that he shouldn’t ever buy me flowers. I just don’t really appreciate them very much. They look pretty for a few days and then they die. I like potted plants or flowers growing outside, but bouquets aren’t my thing.
I looked into alternatives to flowers. They make bouquets out of lollipops now. Others are made out of feathers. But I felt like they were just a little too silly. I need the bouquet when I’m walking down the aisle, and it’s the Mass that is my main priority, so I feel that having a candy bouquet would just be silly and kind of make a mockery out of something that is so important.
So I do plan to have a bouquet, but hopefully just a small, simple one. I love bright colors, so I’d love either a bright blue/pink, or hot pink bouquet for me and a tiny bouquet or single flower for my bridesmaids. I’m leaning toward fake flowers since they cost a bit less.
This was very high on my list of important wedding plans. I could not wait to plan my honeymoon. I could write an entire post on this, but here’s the short version. We’re going to Bali!
Extravagant? People would assume so, but it’s actually surprisingly affordable. I was able to purchase flights that were cheaper than any international flight I’ve taken to Brazil, despite the fact that it’s significantly farther away.
The travel time will be long (11-hour flight followed by a short layover and another 11-hour flight), but I know that it will be worth it. AJ and I love mission trips, so I don’t think we will take fancy vacations once we’re married. We would probably prefer to volunteer. I know that this trip is truly a once in a lifetime experience.
In Bali, AJ and I can afford what in most other countries would be luxury accommodations. We will visit Ubud and Sanur. In Ubud, we can afford a private villa with a private swimming pool and in Sanur, we can afford a private bungalow that is pretty close to the beach! Yet it’s significantly cheaper than one night in a regular hotel in New Jersey on the same date.
Once there, we can have a nice meal for two people for under $10! So yes, Bali is very far away and traveling there will cut some time off of our trip (it’s technically a 10-day honeymoon, but only 8 days in Bali), and we may experience jet lag, but we will bet to experience all of the beauty of Bali without spending a huge amount of money. I can’t wait!
Apparently it’s now a thing for the bride and groom to give each other gifts. I didn’t know this, but have stumbled across the topic during my wedding planning.
I love gifts, but if we truly understand the purpose of a wedding, there should be no need for extra, tangible gifts. AJ is giving me the gift of himself and I am doing the same to him. We are becoming one union under God. What greater gift can there be than that?
I feel like giving him a tangible gift would almost undermine the beauty and significance of matrimony. Here is a nice watch/thermos/[insert man gift here] for you because giving myself to you isn’t enough. Spending thousands of dollars on this wedding isn’t enough. Traveling to Bali for our honeymoon isn’t enough. I think this watch will be what really proves my love.
I would like to write a letter to AJ for him to read on the morning of our wedding, but that’s it.
Maybe if couples would stop co-habitating and sleeping together before marriage, they wouldn’t feel the need for a separate wedding gift. For those couples, the wedding changes very little. I guess they need the diamond necklace to make their day complete. I’m truly sorry for those couples because they have no idea how life-changing marriage could be if they had put things in the proper order.
I know that there are many other aspects of wedding planning that I didn’t mention. DJs, favors, cake, room blocks, invitations, and on and on.
Honestly? Just writing about all of this is beginning to get to me. Maybe cathartic at the start, but now it’s getting old. You get the idea. I want the wedding because of the actual marriage. I don’t care about the extra extravagances. I don’t want to feel like a queen. I want to feel like myself.
I want to give myself to AJ fully through the sacrament of marriage, during which time we will become one flesh. I want God’s blessing for our marriage and I want to enjoy spending time with my closest family members and friends.
I am excited to leave for our honeymoon the following day and after the honeymoon, move in together as a couple for the first time. All of that is what is important; not the hair extensions, fake tans, and false eyelashes.