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There must be something really wrong with me. Whenever I hear people say that they “can’t afford to get married,” I am left scratching my head and dumbfounded  — admittedly not my best look.

Getting married is not expensive, but a wedding can be.

The first time I married, our wedding — an admittedly hippie thing in the Rocky Mountains with me in my Frye boots and an off-the-rack faux suede dress with feathers and beads, he in his overalls I’d embroidered, daisies for my bouquet and for his top hat, gold bands from the local jeweler, and a backyard reception with cake and assorted food stuff from local purveyors for about a dozen friends — cost about $500 (OK, it was 1976). We were poor, food-stamps poor, but happy. And, married. My second wedding, in 1988, by a judge under a balboa tree in San Diego’s Balboa Park, cost about double because we stayed at a B&B the night before the ceremony, lunched at the Coronado Hotel with our two witnesses, and had a long honeymoon weekend in Mexico. Can't afford to get marriedWe both had jobs but we weren’t well-to-do.

Never one to want to be the center of attention, I never look back and wish I’d had a more traditional wedding, although I do regret not inviting my parents (although I’m sure they were happy not to foot the bill!).

I married on the cheap so I don’t understand this whole “can’t afford to marry” thing if at one or both have a job. If both are unemployed, well, that’s a different story.

Are people confusing weddings with marriage?

Because it’s a lot more expensive to live as a singleton than as a couple (assuming they make a certain income).

Do you really need to go into debt to get married — especially if you already have student debt, as many young people do? Probably not. So then why are people shelling out nearly $20,000 (median cost) to tie the knot? I’m not the only one who thinks we spend too much on weddings, but I understand the idea of celebrating a major life event, which marriage is, of course. (Some say they’re going into debt to attend a wedding, which is just as crazy).

“For most people in the world,” writes Debt: The First 5000 Years author David Graeber, “the most significant life expenses were weddings and funerals.” So why not splurge (when you’re alive and can enjoy it)?

No matter how alt, low-key and thrifty your wedding is — as mine were — the end result is the same, writes Phoebe Maltz Bovy in the Atlantic’s An Ironic, Low-Key, Unconventional Wedding Is Still a Wedding:

Whether you’re a hipster or an accountant, straight or gay, chances are you will at some point want a spouse, and your desire for one will echo that of every other human being to be in that situation. Every relationship is unique, but a wedding is a way of momentarily setting aside that uniqueness and accepting that what you’re experiencing the public sanctioning of an intimate relationship — has been felt countless times before. That even if you do not own a North Face or a pair of Uggs, you have not invented some radical new way for two human beings to relate to each other.

I’m confused by her “chances are you will at some point want a spouse” statement — many of us are just fine living solo, thank you very much! But OK, you found someone and you want to marry him or her:

  • How important is a wedding?
  • Will only the wedding of your dreams make you happy?
  • How did you wed?
  • Would you do it the same way if you had to do it over again?

 

Photo © Gina Smith/Fotolia.com

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