Dec 21, 2009

Say Yes to the Dress -- Why I'm Going to Try to Say No...

My reality TV obsession as of late is TLC's "Say Yes to the Dress." Now that I'm 26, I'm like (almost) every other girl in the world who (isn't married yet) is thinking about being a bride and all that goes with it. Hey, I've been with my bf 3.5 years, so it's not like marriage is so far off I shouldn't be thinking about such things. (Right... right?)

Watching the show has me fiscally horrified, especially the episodes featuring women who have no budget and can buy a dress that costs $6k or more. As a kid, I would have been certain that my wedding dress would be on par with the dresses shown on SYTTD, and that I'd have money flowing from every possible bank account to fund my dream wedding. Nowadays, I'm a lot smarter than that. And thinking about the cost of my one-day wedding makes me almost violently ill.


When I was 12, my family threw a huge Bat Mitzvah party for me. It was ridiculous. I don't know how much it cost but I think it was around $13k. For a Bat Mitzvah. It was the fault of my parents as much as it was mine. My party was probably on the higher end of what my peers spent in my temple, but certainly not the highest. I wanted to have the reception at one venue that my parents deemed too expensive. Where'd all the money go? The venue and food, the DJ / band (yes I had a DJ AND Band at my Bat Mitzvah), the professional photographer, professional videographer, the outfit (though my dress wasn't really that expensive compared to anything else), the party favors (I needed three colors on the custom t-shirts so that cost extra), the party planner, and who knows what else. With such a big family on both sides, a lot of people were invited, and many came. I didn't know half the people at my party, but it was a party, and I enjoyed it (as much as an atheist girl can when she is celebrating the end of years of religious study.)

Looking forward to my wedding day (even though I'm not even engaged yet), I know that I want to be frugal when it comes to the big day. But I'm also the type of girl that believes in going all out or not going at all. And I'm tempted not to go. At least when I was a kid at my Bat Mitzvah I was so ignorant. While that was awful for my parent's finances, at least I could ENJOY the celebration, for what that's worth. Knowing how much my wedding costs will make it tough for me to enjoy any of it. I'd elope except my mom would shoot me, so it looks like I'll be forced to have a wedding.

According to I Will Teach You to Be Rich and the Wall Street Journal, the average wedding cost is $28,000. That's the AVERAGE, people. I'm not surprised knowing how much parties cost, but I can't imagine how so many people spend this much, especially when the majority of them are in debt.

When I watch Say Yes to the Dress, I'm amazed by how the lower-end buyers are looking for dresses that cost around $3,000. First of all, if I ever spend $3,000 on a dress it will NOT be white because God knows a white dress won't be able to be worn twice (and a bridal gown can't be worn twice anyway, unless you manage to have the Project Runway contestants makeover your dress into a modern frock.)

How can anyone spend $3,000 or more on a dress to be worn one day? I dream of finding a used designer gown that's still in perfect condition so at least I'll get a decent price on a nice gown, but really, I know designer gowns still cost more than what I'd like to spend on a dress. The most I've ever spent on a garment is $460, which was my $600 leather jacket on sale. And I wear that basically every day.

I've been eying the designer Maggie Sottero who has some lovely dresses that I could see wearing on my wedding day. I'm short and pear-apple shaped, so finding a dress that is flattering will be beyond difficult (I can't pull off strapless unless I go on a serious diet)... I wish I could pull off a dress like this but with my waist that would just not look good. From what I can tell, this designer's gowns run more like $1k - $2k, which is still more than I'd like to spend. Honestly, do I even need a wedding gown? Can't I just get a nice prom dress and call it a day?

How much did you spend (or expect to spend) on your wedding dress (or wife's wedding dress)? Was it in your budget, or did you spend more (or less) than you wanted to? Did you get your dress on sale, or full price? Were you happy with your purchase?



8 comments:

Jason@LiveRealnow said...

We got married young and we cut every corner we could, without ruining the wedding.

We went to David's Bridal, found a sales-woman and explained our financial situation. She found us a beautiful dress and told us about the big sale they were have a week later.

We got a beatiful dress for $100. It was close to 80% off regular list. It didn't have hoops, or 30 pounds of sequins, or an 50 foot train, but it was wonderful.

eking out said...

My Bat-Mitzvah was a low-key affair. Family and a few family friends all came over to my house for a cookout after the service. No music, no fuss. I still have some of my savings bonds, and they STILL haven't matured.

Meanwhile, I'm engaged and dress shopping ATM. I've been avoiding dress envy by staying away from shows like SYTTD. I found a dress at David's Bridal for $750 that I really liked, but WTF $750 for a dress?!?! I'm still not sure what I'll do, but I'd prefer to spend a close to $0 as possible. A co-worker of mine confessed to me that she spent $75,000 on her wedding!!! :DHGSLDGLK!!!!!!

eemusings said...

The most I've ever spent on one item was less than $200 for my first ever winter coat.

No idea how realistic it is, but I'd like my future dress to be under $500! I don't want anything fussy - I want something simple, no frills, train, lace etc.

me in millions said...

Guilty of SYTTD envy! And I'm NOT in a 3.5 year relationship.

And yay for another Jewish blogger. I take it you don't really practice though?

her every cent counts said...

@Jason $100 for a wedding dress is seriously a good deal, especially if your wife loved the dress. Good for you guys!

@eking out $750 sounds like a decent "expensive" wedding dress... as opposed to what other people think of expensive dresses. It also depends what you spend on the rest of the wedding. I figure come up with a budget and then stick to it, if you can spend a little more on your dress and still come in budget, go for it. But make sure your budget is realistic.

@eemusings good that you know that you'll spend under $500. I have expensive taste (seriously, I can go to a store with a rack full of clothes under $100 and I'll pick the one out that is $1000 without knowing in advance). I'm going to be careful, though, when the time comes to pick out my wedding dress.

@me in millions right, I don't really practice being Jewish. :) I celebrate Hanukah and the like, and even went to Israel with birthright, but I don't believe in God so I tend to avoid religion in general.

investingnewbie said...

I feel bad thinking about spending more than $300 on a wedding dress. Realistically though, there are very few NICE wedding dresses that you can get for under that price. So I may have to shell out and just keep mum. Maybe I'll sob in a corner on my wedding day. Haha.

Ann said...

Thanks for commenting on my blog! Since I'm in full fledged wedding mode right now I had to comment on this entry!

I am HUGE into the wedding shows on TLC including SYTTD. I'm balled over by the amount that women will spend even on the "low" end. I don't expect to spend more than $800 AT MOST. I don't care much about designer labels but I definitely have a vision for how I want to look. I'm hoping I can pull that off for much less! I have a dear friend that wore a beautiful light pink BCBG dress to her wedding that she got off the rack for about a hundred or two. So I definitely think that these days anything goes and it's crazy not to at least look at the alternatives to the big expensive dresses!

:)

Anonymous said...

I actually can't watch SYTTD -- my wedding in june has a $5k total budget. It's not that I'm envious, more that I just don't get why all that hoo-hah is appealing. My dress is the most expensive piece of clothing I ever bought, and I bought it used on preowned wedding dresses.com for $400. It's the low end line of a decent designer.

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