Social mores were changing long before gay marriage (otherwise known as marriage) became the law of the land in June 2015. In concert with the sluggish economy, ever-increasing wedding costs and gender equality, more couples were splitting wedding costs with each other, their parents or both. Traditions such as the giving away of the bride, single-gender wedding parties and even being physically present at the wedding were already becoming passé.
Now, gay and straight weddings with all the pomp and circumstance have increasingly less pomp. Both people often walk down the aisle together or neither walks down. As many wedding receptions happen in backyards and dining halls.
Since June 2015, many of our LGBT friends simply went to their local courthouse and handled their marriage administratively a la World War II weddings. But this proclivity may change for younger lesbian and gay couples and the LGBT community does have some unique considerations to take into account when tying the knot. Here are three questions we’re asking ourselves before taking the plunge.
1. We Never Planned on Having a Wedding. What Should We Do First?
Like many gays and lesbians, we grew up never thinking we’d get married and, therefore, never saved or planned for a wedding. The idea of getting married sprung up on us like … well, gay marriage. Therefore, we’ve decided to plan our wedding around our lives and not our lives around our wedding to avoid going into debt.
Gays and lesbian didn’t fight to go into hock for marriage, but to have the same rights, responsibilities and privileges that come with marriage as our straight peers. We plan on keeping costs down by focusing on having an experience and not on having things.
It’s important for us to be surrounded by loved ones on our special day, so our invite list will be short and meaningful, not long and impersonal. This day will be about us, but we’re not concerned about centerpieces, party favors and red carpet pageantry. The people present and how we’ll feel on our special day is what we’ll remember most. Here are some ways we are curbing costs:
- We’ll get married in the off-season, October through April.
- We’ll opt out of extra costs, such as delivery costs and insurance coverage. (Everything in life doesn’t need to be insured.)
- We’ll buy local and seasonal.
- We’ll use our hands when possible instead of paying for someone else’s.
- We’ll also use friends and family when possible for services, such as photography and DJ-ing. We have a friend who does both. He’ll be busy.
- We’ll negotiate contractor fees ruthlessly.
- We’ll consign and borrow certain items, like wedding attire and decorations.
2. How Will We Pay for Our Wedding if Mom & Dad Can’t or Won’t?
Neither of our parents planned on paying for their son’s wedding and they maybe can’t or won’t pay for some or any of our special day. Being the Debt Free Guys, it’s important to look to ourselves and not bankers for help. Loans for weddings, whether through credit cards or home equity loans, can be a a bad idea.
We are going to control costs by thinking small, focusing on what’s important and planning ahead.
Our plan is to calculate the absolute minimum cost of what we want, create a budget that projects 20% overage and establish a payment plan to fund an account dedicated just to our wedding. This payment plan, in turn, will help determine the length of our engagement, if you don’t consider the 12 years we’ve already been together.
Want help with creating a wedding budget? There are plenty of online tools (TheKnot.com has a great one) that may be helpful.
3. How Will a Wedding Affect Our Financial Stability?
This is our biggest concern. If we spend $10,000, $20,000 or $50,000 on a wedding, that’s $10,000, $20,000 or $50,000 that won’t go towards retirement investments. Once our wedding money is spent, we’ll never see that money again. Can we afford $10,000, $20,000 or $50,000 less in retirement?
Even with just a compounding 7% annual return, $10,000 will grow to $38,696 in 20 years with no additional contribution. Are we prepared give up $28,696 or a multiple of that? We are taking this into consideration as we establish our wedding budget. We’re going to determine what we want in our wedding and why, do a cost/benefit analysis of wedding expenses versus retirement savings and refrain from any rash wedding purchases that might jeopardize those savings.
While it’s progress for lesbian and gay couples to be equal in the eyes of the law, a civil right step forward shouldn’t equal a financial step backward. It’s a good idea to plan for your special day carefully. You don’t want to let it become a mixed blessing because of over exuberance, poor decisions and improper planning. We hope that sharing our considerations will help you with yours.
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