This magic moment.
T minus 8 months to the (dun dun dunnnn) USA Wedding Day and things are starting to get real.
Like REAL real.
I have sent out the majority of my save-the-dates at this point - except to certain people who have yet to give me their addresses (you know who you are, let's get a move-on). The venue is set, entertainment is booked, decor is piling up, bridesmaids dresses are narrowed down, and photography is looking promising, thanks to a plethora of suggestions made by some really fantastic people who had absolutely no reason to do anything other than completely ignore my desperate plea for help.
You all are incredible.
Things are definitely getting more exciting. I am finally starting to see a faint outline of a plan, which is truly a relief, considering that the concept for this event started out as barely a whisper of a feeling. Nothing solid. Nothing tangible. But now, finally, I can touch it.
Yes, things are getting more exciting, and yet with each step, there is still a struggle. Still a sense of inner conflict, that seems to take way too much discussion and thought to resolve. Some of this has resulted from the difficulty that I have had in defining my vision for our day. But, even more of it has had to do with my own conflicting feelings about the purpose of a 'wedding' and about the modern-day wedding industry.
The one side to what I am feeling is this: I want the big day. I live a life that is simple and conscientious and I try my best to make daily choices that are (for the most part) necessary, ethical, and purposeful. But...I want the big day. I want the dress - one that is fancier than anything else I have ever worn, and for my dad to walk me down the aisle, accompanied by a song that is meaningful and evocative. I want photos that capture both the tiniest of moments and the overall emotion of the day. We don't usually put ourselves at the center of attention, but for one day I want our story to be front-and-center, and I want the venue, and the music, and the decorations, and (hell) even the cake to be a perfect representation of us.
I would be lying if I said that I didn't want all of that, because I do, but I don't want it at the cost of a year's salary. According to The Knot - a popular wedding resource - the average wedding in 2013 cost $30,000. That is....for some people....a year's salary. And some people spend more. A lot more.
Let me be clear. I am not here to judge anyone who chooses to have a blow-out wedding. I think that everyone deserves to feel special and to have the day of their dreams, and if that means spending a fortune to put on the wedding of the decade then that is your business, and also, I had better be invited, I promise, I will get you a nice gift :) The problem is that the constantly rising cost of wedding services makes couples feel as if they HAVE to spend a fortune just to have that magical day, and THAT is not okay.
It is also my general (personal) goal not to place a value on things that cost inordinate amounts of money. Not just because I can't afford it (because I can't, let's be honest), but mostly because I want to live a life that involves good people, amazing experiences, and providing support and assistance to others, so that they can also have this life, and there is no surround-sound system on this planet that will ever by worth sacrificing that for.
Obviously, I don't claim to have perfected the expression of this lifestyle philosophy, but the contrast between 'do' and 'don't' on this occasion is made all the more clear by the sheer magnitude of the monetary amounts that I am currently working with. Cost effectiveness is also made extremely difficult by the fact that there seems to be some sort of unspoken rule that says that anything that has the word 'wedding' attached to it is allowed to be two to ten times more than what it would be otherwise.
The result is that, while this whole bridal experience is supposed to be "magical" and something that I will "remember forever", every decision actually ends up being slightly tortuous. If I don't spend the money, I worry that I will be settling and that I will regret it on the day or after. If I do spend the money, I end up feeling as if I am letting myself down, as if I am giving in and supporting something that a huge part of me is morally opposed to.
So, the compromise is......what? I don't know. This post doesn't have a well-argued conclusion. I haven't really gotten to that part yet. It is just that this has all been weighing on my mind for some time now and I have been waiting for the right moment to write about it.
The fact is that I have spent some money. And some of it, I am really happy about. I am happy to support local artists and to create connections with people who I might never have met otherwise. I am happy to create something for others to experience and enjoy, to show my appreciation for a lifetime of love and support. But there is still a long way to go, and I am predicting an uphill struggle. At least for a while.
Any suggestions would be welcome at this point.
Otherwise watch this space.