In the past weeks, we have had to make certain decisions which determined how much money our wedding ceremony and the arrangements around it (fireworks/no fireworks; chuppah designer/basic option) will cost eventually. Now, I must say that we certainly haven't skimped on anything and everything possible, but we tried to be reasonable, keeping in mind that we are a young couple moving into a new home - which is, apart from being a very, very joyous and thrilling occasion, in a certain part a financial stress as well.
We have heard the opinion that our wedding day will be special and once-in-a-lifetime, and therefore financial considerations shouldn't even cross our minds. However, I disagree. I know several couples that took loans for their wedding and started their married life in debt - or even worse, their parents did it for them. Should I say this isn't a perspective I find appealing?
For a basic wedding ceremony, we need a rabbi, a minyan, a chuppah, and a ring. And of course all the paperwork around the authorization to get married, which we (thank God!) already worked out. Everything else in my eyes is an extra. I don't "need" a wedding dress that costs more than all the clothes I ever owned. We don't "need" three photographers, live music and a fancy honeymoon. Sure, all those things are nice if you have extra money - but if you don't, why put strain on yourself in order to have them?
I feel that weddings have turned into an industry, and wedding planning is a very stressful - much too stressful - time for many young couples. In my opinion, the most important thing to do in the weeks prior to your wedding would be to study and prepare for marriage (together, or separately and then discuss what you've learned with your future husband). And pray, pray, pray. Instead, things often turn into a mad race of ticking things off a to-do list.
Another important thing for a young lady who is about to leave her parents' home would be to spend time with her family - sure, getting married doesn't mean you won't see your parents and siblings anymore, but things will be different, and your responsibilities will be different. So don't miss out on this tender and special time with your family.
To those of you who are married or planning their wedding: I would love to hear your input as well. How simple/fancy was your wedding ceremony and the additional expenses (dress, makeup, honeymoon)? How many guests did you have? Did you feel limited by financial considerations, or did you allow yourself to indulge in anything your heart desired at that special time? Would you do things differently if you had to go through it again?