The Union’s View on Marriage
In some contracts the union has negotiated domestic partner benefits for things like healthcare and life insurance. Even if you aren’t married yet, check the contract to see what sorts of protections and benefits may exist for your relationship. Once you get married, your spouse may be eligible for new benefits through your company—make sure you talk to your shop steward and check your collective bargaining contract to see.
Planning a Wedding
The average wedding in the United States costs $28,000; not a sum to cough at. Most of us don’t have that kind of money saved specifically for a wedding—so if we let the spending approach that level (or even get close), the debt can follow us for years, maybe even decades. But with a cool head and the right kind of planning, it’s possible to have a beautiful, joyous, memorable wedding on any budget.
A Wonderful Wedding Within Your Means
- Have a frank conversation with the people paying for the wedding and get a realistic idea of what they anticipate to spend. Never shy away from money conversations out of politeness; budgeting requires frank talk. Always be sure everyone’s comfortable with the price.
- Whenever you face a decision, ask the question: Will this make our day better?
- Whenever possible, spend lavishly on things that facilitate the day’s happiness and be relentlessly thrifty on things that don’t.
- Always negotiate, and don’t be shy. It’s not rude to try and save your money. Most vendors, caterers, locations and other wedding industry folks will offer you a lower price just because you asked.
- Sometimes if you mention that a purchase is for a wedding, the seller could charge you more automatically, knowing your emotional involvement in the decision. If you can manage it, ask for price quotes before divulging the event in question is a wedding.
- Rather than gifts, ask specific friends/relatives to help out in various ways. For instance: ask your uncle, the landscaper, for his help bringing together floral centerpieces. A family’s involvement can bring everyone close.
Be Careful with Professionals
There is an entire industry devoted to profiting from your joy. That isn’t necessarily bad. The conflict occurs when businesses manipulate your emotions to increase their profits.
The easiest way to avoid such manipulation is to avoid conventional wedding professionals. Some are terrific, but many aren’t. Typically they have spent years learning their trade and are well-versed in a constant, ongoing up-sell. They have much more practice at weddings, possibly in the hundreds. This is probably your first, possibly second, definitely not your 253rd.
From the photographer who wants you to spend an extra $1,000 for some fancy doodad that will “help you remember this day forever” to the wedding dress boutique salesperson who is paid on commission and says “don’t you think your curves look better in the other dress” (rather than “this similar dress is $500 more for not a lot more bang”), you should know they are very clever and have had lots of practice.
Some wedding professionals will use self-consciousness to profit and build up expectations to unreasonable levels. You can find folks who will help you have a terrific wedding and will work within your budget. Don’t do business with people who make you nervous, seem manipulative (even if it’s just a bit), or are not on board with your ideas.
A lot of great work has been written on keeping a day happy while staying on budget. Here’s a short article with practical ideas that you might find very useful.