Weddings are the worst and even worse, they are a waste. I have been a bridesmaid 17 times and a bride myself. What I learned is that no one is ever happy at a wedding, except for those swindling the future Mr. and Mrs. out of their joint life savings. Let’s go through all the different categories of misery you’ll find at a wedding.
Brides-to-be choose their best friends to be their minions on the big day. I do not know why you would want to subject anyone you truly like to this thankless chore. It is expensive being a bridesmaid. You have to buy a disposable dress, because no one wears their bridesmaids dress again. Most people don’t want to wear them in the first place. Depending on the popularity of the girl getting married, the bridal party can be anywhere from one to a dozen women. No dress on Earth looks good on twelve different body shapes, ages, and races. I allowed my seven brideminions to choose their own dress. There was only one rule. It had to be black, because weddings are worse than funerals so I thought it was fitting. I saw no benefit in dressing them alike. Inevitably someone would look awful and ruin my wedding pictures. This also made my less fortunate bridesmaids happy. Almost everyone has a black dress in their closet. The average bridesmaid’s gown costs $150 to $500. Three of my bridesmaids spent absolutely nothing on their outfits. They just opened their closets and were ready to party.
The dress is the least of the expenses. As a bridesmaid, you are also responsible to chip in for the bridal shower, the bachelorette party and the rehearsal dinner. Even though you’re paying for the festivities, you also have to buy engagement gifts, wedding gifts, and gifts to throw down a wishing well at the bridal shower. I’ve known folks who had to get a second job and sell plasma just to be able to afford attending their best friend’s wedding. As a bridesminion the best that you can hope for is that the marriage fails or that one of the newlyweds is infertile so that you don’t have to spend money on baby showers in the near future. IVF takes much longer. So there’s a better chance they’ll be divorced before you have to buy again. The bridesmaids aren’t the only ones who suffer. The parents of the bride are often stuck footing the bill for their little princess’s dream wedding which will never live up to her expectations and is bound to end up a nightmare.
The idea of spending thousands of dollars for one night of dinner and dancing is obscene to me. When I got married, I decided that instead of having a wedding I would buy a $2,500 ad in the New York Times announcing my nuptials. I would request that, in lieu of gifts, friends, family, and absolute strangers who felt moved to gift me, send donations to Maysoon’s Kids, my charity for disabled and wounded refugee children. I thought it was the perfect plan. I would save $48,000, spare my family and friends the financial burden, and publicize the plight of Palestinian refugees with disabilities. I also don’t look good in white and in my society page wedding picture I was going to be donning disco-ball silver gown. I had the perfect picture. Chefugee even looked taller than me. I would have gotten away with it, too if it wasn’t for my meddling mother. She pointed out to me that some of the more backwards beings from our village in Palestine would assume that I wasn’t having a wedding because I have a disability and therefore was being treated differently than my three older sisters who had huge shindigs. I had no choice but to play along for the sake of all disabled brides and grooms who would come after me.
The final guest list was 400 people. I cut costs at all costs. If you insist on having a party to celebrate the end of your independence, I suggest you follow my lead to save your sanity and your savings.
Cut the fresh flowers. One of the biggest wastes at weddings is live floral arrangements. Most weddings serve food and it’s hard to enjoy your penne vodka when the hall you are sitting in smells like a funeral home. Also, we live in a world full of allergies and your guests won’t be forced to pop a Zyrtec in order to enjoy the evening. Flowers are also extremely expensive and you don’t get to keep them because they die. Why would you want something so strongly associated with death present on the supposed happiest day of your life? Instead of flowers, I opted for fake peacock feathers and jewel-toned votives from The Dollar Store. What would have run me 25 Grand if I had gone with gardenias cost me $85 instead and it looked lovely.
It’s important when planning your wedding budget to keep in mind that no one cares. Half of the guests are taking bets on when you’ll get divorced, while the other half is simply wishing they weren’t there. They can’t tell the difference between live flowers and fake flowers especially if you have invested in an open bar. All they want is good food, a great DJ, and to get their car back from the valet without having to wait ‘til sunrise. Forego the light shows, the personalized favors, and the horse drawn carriage unless you have a disposable income and nothing better to invest in.
Marriage is stressful, but starting off in debt because you burned your money on one forgettable evening instead of putting a down payment on a house makes it even more daunting. Weddings often bring out the worst in people. They seem to awaken the ugly green monster known as jealousy in many souls. My stepmonster had always assumed no one would marry me, because in her eyes I was an old washed-up cripple. When I got engaged, the ugly green monster consumed her. She was so worried my wedding would outshine her not-yet-engaged son’s future wedding that she set out to sabotage it as if she was a Beastie Boy. Her nefarious plan was to remove the RSVP cards from the invites I had given my father to hand out to his people. In our family, this is how it is done. Mom gets a stack of cards, Dad gets a stack of cards and whatever invites are left over go to the bride and groom. Each of my parents invited 150 people to my wedding. I was left with 100 invites since Chefugee knew absolutely no one in America at the time of our nuptials. 250 people RSVP’d “yes” and 404 people showed up. The catering hall was thrilled. Weeks later I questioned my cousin as to why she hadn’t bothered to RSVP. She looked at me confused and said, “How? There were no RSVP cards and no number to call.” Now either the Elf on the Shelf had come early this year or my Disney-like evil stepmonster had a hand in disappearing them. Either way, my wedding ended up being a zoo with half of the guests not knowing where to go and the wait staff not knowing what to do.
I gave my bridesmaids fashion freedom, but I should have given my family a dress code. My dad looked dapper in a suit and traditional Palestinian headdress. His sons however chose to wear tuxedos and looked identical to the wait staff, because no one else at the festivities was sporting them other than the servers, and my dad’s three sons. My mom wore white, which was perfect since this party was obviously for her and not for me. I also wore white, a color I loathe that makes me look much like the Michelin Man.
One thing you should invest in is a photographer. The only thing anyone cares about is the wedding picture. I decided to save money by using a friend. I have some extremely lovely wedding pictures and I barely spent a dime. It wasn’t really worth it though, because the photographer forgot to photograph the groom and I together. We have absolutely no wedding photos on our own as a couple. I attempted to crop the other people out of several pictures just to get one I could use as us for the Thank You cards. I finally gave up and did not send any Thank Yous.
When all was said and done, the half of my family that didn’t already hate me now did. They thought that I only made seating cards for the white people and didn’t realize that theirs were missing because of the mysteriously missing RSVP cards. Chefugee and I broke even. The cash in the wedding envelopes covered the catering and The Dollar Store decorations, but we went home empty-handed. With the money spent on the reception we could have put a hefty deposit on a house. Instead, we remain homeless burning money on rent that still doesn’t equal what we wasted on that one wonderful wedding day, the unhappiest day of our lives.
As a bonus, I broke my finger at my wedding. Having lived with Cerebral Palsy I have been known to fall down on occasion but I had miraculously made it to my 33rd birthday without breaking a bone in my body. Right before my wedding reception that had cost me a shaking arm and a leg, my friend Mike shook my hand to congratulate me, and broke my ring finger in three places. I spent the entire wedding wearing a splint made out of chopsticks and my wedding night that I had patiently waited three decades for in the Emergency Room. Since I had waited so long to go get it set, my finger remains mangled to this day and is my fondest memory from my wonderful wedding.
If you insist on investing in your wedding and it really is your dream to have a big day, keeping the following in mind will help lessen the stress. Remember that family members who always behave badly are not suddenly going to wake up and be good people for your special day. Either don’t invite them because they hate you anyway so who cares if they get mad, or invite them and realize that they will be themselves. Don’t let it ruin your day. If you decide to have a destination wedding know in your heart of hearts that everyone you are dragging with you, hates you but have agreed to go because at all other times they love you. Make the trip as easy as possible on everyone. Don’t drag a hundred people to Paradise Island and leave them with nothing to do during the ten hours you are in hair and makeup, or trying to figure out how to tie your bowtie.
Crying all the time in the weeks leading up to your wedding will guarantee that you will look like Hell in your wedding pictures. No makeup in the world can cover up that kind of puffy. So get a hold of yourself and stop crying because all the tears in the world will not make your day perfect. There is no such thing as perfect, so let it go, and at least look great doing so. Finally, never forget you always have the option of going down to the local Justice of the Peace wearing whatever floats your boat and ending up just as wedded as the next couple and just as likely to get divorced.