I've been to many weddings. I've been IN many weddings. However, I've only been close to the planning on a select few, and currently I'm learning all about it again since one of my best friends is getting married next year.
Only recently has it come to my attention that weddings are RIDICULOUSLY STUPIDLY EXPENSIVE. I'm not even talking about the ones where you rent out Disneyland or have E! film it from a helicopter - I'm talking about normal, not overly fancy regular people weddings.
In my naïve little single-person mind, I think "Oh, I'm just going to get married on the beach and then we'll go to some place close and eat some shit off a buffet, drink cheap booze and dance to old school hip hop." Apparently there's a little more to it than that.
Not obvious thing #1: Renting random things. My friend is having an outdoor wedding (which should really mean "yay free we all own the earth!" but somehow does not) at a place that doesn't provide anything but the ground you stand on. She not only has to rent tables and chairs, but also DISHES AND SILVERWARE.
Well, sorry people, it's looking more and more like my wedding will BYOB - bring your own blanket, since we'll be sitting on the ground like a picnic to avoid paying an obscene amount of money for tables. And renting dinnerware? Like hell I am. They make some nicely patterned paper plates, thank you. We'll pick up a few packages of those and then drive through KFC to hoard copious amounts of sporks because, well, we can't afford multiple utensils here, people.
Another bombshell dropped about the rental game - she has to rent TOILETS because, well, nature doesn't have plumbing. First of all, NO. Just no. We're not in fucking China here, people, it is assumed that there are American-friendly restrooms at any possible place a group might gather for events, like perhaps a WEDDING... meaning no porto-potties and most CERTAINLY no squat toilets. But that's another expense that might have to take a backseat, so get ready to shit in the woods.
Semi-obvious thing #2: Flowers. First off, let me begin by saying that spending money on flowers is fucking stupid. I have never been to a wedding where I so much as noticed the flowers, let alone have them make any lasting effect on me (positive or negative). Why would you pay someone thousands of dollars to put something perishable that you cannot eat or drink into 7-foot-tall centerpieces that you wish weren't there because you can't see across the table? Maybe this is the part of me that's not girly, but seriously, flowers are worthless. I've had guys get me flowers before, rarely, but it's the gesture and not the actual gift. I appreciate the gesture, I just would prefer it to be something I can use, eat, or keep forever.
Case in point - when I was sick and alone shortly after I started my first job, my grandma sent me a potted plant. This was in 2008. Guess what? That same potted plant is sitting on a table in my living room because POTTED PLANTS LAST. This one is upwards of 6 years now. Do I have any of the flowers ex-boyfriends got me? Nope, they all wilted within 5 days and had to be tossed.
So assuming I get a windfall before I find my husband and actually spring for the tables and chairs (big spenda), you'll be enjoying something akin to a $10 bamboo plant from Chinatown as your centerpiece, and you can even take it home with you and keep it alive!
Other expenses #3: Music, other decorative items to help people forget you may or may not be in a Red Lobster, lights (since sometimes, at night, the sun stops providing free light). Obviously on my budget I'll likely borrow someone's fancy stereo equipment and plug in my ipod or likely just turn the damn thing to KDAY and not worry about that random Paula Abdul song that might show up in a shuffle if I don't keep an eye on things. Now the lights and the decorations thing might be able to go hand in hand... if I don't have good lighting, no one can see whether or not I actually decorated at all. New plan - have ceremony at sunset, hand out glow sticks, necklaces, bracelets - anything to help you identify that you are a person and not a tree. And don't hate on the glow necklace idea, I have actually been to a wedding that incorporated those into the ceremony (and was even more awesome for its to-scale exact replica R2D2 cake).
Speaking of cake... a giant awesome pretty wedding cake? Thousands of dollars. What? But you EAT it. You can't keep it in your home like a statue you commissioned. Cupcakes, on the other hand, don't require extra plates (see above) and are already in a serving size that doesn't require cutting. Just open the floodgates and let people at them. And don't expect Sprinkles, Ralph's day-old bakery leftovers in random, unrelated colors will be what you're eating. But you can't see them, so it doesn't matter! Another problem solved by not spending money on lighting.
Well, now that I've successfully turned 90% of people off of coming to my wedding, I can actually have a nice one for the 5 of you who show up! It'll still have glowsticks though.