Call me cold-hearted, but I don’t find anything enjoyable about having to put on a suit and tie in the middle of a heat wave in August while two people profess their undying love for one another outdoors. Meanwhile, I’m over here sweating bullets and swatting insects away from my face wishing they’d hurry up and put the sand in the damn bottle already. Afterward, I’m served a small meal thats totally not going to satisfy my hunger, before being forced to make a fool of myself while I Hully Gully on the dance floor.
And don’t even get me started on the bar. If it’s not open, I’m not coming to your stinkin’ ceremony.
When I got married, we skipped the pomp and circumstance and headed straight to the courthouse without anybody knowing. Better to ask forgiveness than permission, right? We both agreed that we didn’t need a lavish wedding for one mutual reason: We’re not stupid.
I’m not suggesting that you’re stupid — it’s just that, by forgoing the formalities, there are plenty of other things to do with the $32,000 that people spend on the average wedding. Take a look:
Put a Down Payment on a House
After purchasing a condo in Manhattan, making sure we could pay the mortgage was priority number one. Our finances would have been seriously compromised if we had funneled cash to an overpriced wedding reception. That logic applies if you haven’t bought a home yet too. Unless someone else is footing the bill for your wedding, chances are you can’t afford it — so why pretend you can? Rather, put that money where you really need it. Thirty-two thousand dollars will cover the down payment on a fairly nice home in most of the United States — or you could own a tiny home almost outright, since the average cost is around $40,000 all in.
Eliminate Existing Debt
I’m 35 years old and still paying off my student debt. If you are too, instead of saving for a wedding, use the cash to pay off your college loans early or eliminate credit card debt, especially if you’re racking up massive interest charges by making minimum payments.
Upgrade Your Honeymoon
Ask any couple and they’ll tell you that the best part of getting married is the honeymoon. Obviously you’re not going to go on a $32,000 honeymoon — it doesn’t have to equal the amount you would have spent on the wedding — but you can have an amazing getaway filled with romance and adventure for a fraction of that cost.
Start a Business
Are you and your partner thinking about going in to business together? If so, that’s good a reason as any to squash the wedding plans, elope or have a very small ceremony for family and close friends, and put that money toward a business. I’m an entrepreneur myself, and I encourage everyone to become their own boss by any means necessary. This is the perfect opportunity.
Purchase Undeveloped Land
I believe that real estate is the best investment you can make. There are many considerations that go into making a smart real estate move, my suggestions for which are better saved for another article. You can pick up an investment property that will bring in additional income each month, but that comes with a certain amount of overhead. If you don’t have the capital to pull that off, considering purchase a bare parcel of land with which you can do anything you want — I hear acres in places like West Virginia are dirt-cheap these days.
Make Home Improvements
If you bought a home before you got married, good on ya; you’ve got at least some of your ducks in a row. If that house needs improvements, now is a good time to remodel a bathroom or kitchen. For $32,000, you can do a decent amount of improvement.
Establish a College Fund
Tuition and fees in 2017 are $33,480 at private colleges. Public schools for out-of-state students come in a little lower at $24,930. So, instead of spending money on ice sculptures that will literally melt into a pile of nothing by the time your best man and bridesmaid start tearing each other’s clothes off during the last dance, get ahead of the game by starting a college fund for your future children.
What do you actually get from a wedding versus going to the courthouse to say your vows? OK, you get to satisfy your family because they’re witness to your commitment. Fine. But what else — besides a hangover and the bill? Bump that. Take that money and run. If you’re debt-free, buy an item or two that you really want — a Jet Ski, a backyard Jacuzzi, or whatever else your little hearts desire. It’s your money, after all.
Whatever you do, don’t let anybody guilt you into an expensive wedding you don’t want to have. Because I’m still not coming.
Photo Credit: MarriagePursuit