I started out wedding planning with a well-developed budget in mind. But last week, I came a few mouse clicks away from buying a $600 hairclip to wear at my wedding. The headpiece in question was a bejeweled number from BHLDN, Anthropologie’s bridal spinoff brand. That’s right, my wedding has morphed me into the kind of person who wants to spend $600 on a single accessory.
I am usually a financially responsible person. I’ve owned my own home since I was 25, and I review my finances daily. In addition, my fiancé and I still have a roommate to offset the cost of our mortgage. Simply put, I’m not one to live beyond my means. Or at least I wasn’t, until I got engaged.
As someone who benefits from a left-wing feminist education, I understand weddings are probably the best friend of the capitalist system. In fact, their symbiotic relationship is perhaps more romantic than Casablanca. They really are perfect for one another: the capitalist system prefers it when people consume as much as possible, and if you listen to the bridal magazines they sell at Shoppers Drug Mart, your wedding requires both a band and a DJ, as well as a candy buffet.
Weddings are an excellent motivator to make people part with their money. While statistics tell us it isn’t always true, in theory, you only get married once. In my experience, that logic is what echoes through your brain every time you debate whether to opt for a slightly more expensive dress, or to splurge on that string quartet you really can’t afford.
Every year, the Wedding/Industrial Complex seems to make up more and more extravagant wedding must-haves. When my parents got married in 1983, they had a single photographer to snap pictures on the day. In 2016, some weddings I’ve attended had teams of three or four photographers, just to make sure every single moment got captured for posterity. When you add in the cost of open bars, professional hair and make up, and those photo booths that are all the rage, it’s a wonder more weddings don’t end in bankruptcy.
“But you only get married once!” is the most dangerous sentence my bank account has ever heard. For the first ten months of wedding planning, it was my mantra. And truth be told, it can be a comforting refrain when you’re trying to justify why you need to stay inside finalizing your wedding favours instead of going to the beach on a nice day. However, I’ve found the dangerous flipside of this aphorism is how it seductively justifies irresponsible spending.
The logic of “You only get married once” made me sorely tempted to host our rehearsal dinner at a fancy downtown Italian restaurant I rarely go to because I can’t afford it. (My partner talked me out of it, and we’re probably going to just order fried chicken from Popeye’s instead.) Next, the idea that I will never have another wedding made me flirt with the idea of buying exorbitantly priced bridal lingerie from Agent Provocateur. Thank God I’m so busty they don’t even carry my cup-size! And yes, last week, I hit rock bottom when I came within a breath of buying this overpriced hunk of costume jewelry. Why? Because it was pretty.
In my normal, non-wedding-related life, if someone approached me about buying a $600 glorified barrette, I’d laugh them out of the room. Bridal Sarah, however, doesn’t think that’s such a bad idea. I mean, how can you put a price on looking pretty at your wedding?
The truth is you can put a price on looking pretty at your wedding. When I was just about to input my credit card details, signing over money I shouldn’t be spending to BHLDN for a fancy hairclip I’d wear once, something stopped me. Luckily, Thrifty Sarah reared her smug, judgmental head to remind Bridal Sarah of the following: “You know, you could pay your cell phone bill for seven whole months for that price, you wedding-obsessed, ignorant fool!!!” I had to admit, she was right.
In the end, I found a way to get gorgeous bridal hair without breaking the bank. I went the way more affordable route of having the florist designing my bouquet make me a fascinator out of flowers, and I think the result will be both affordable and fantastic. You see, I have increased my resolve to resist the Wedding/Industrial Complex’s attempts to manipulate me into over-indulgence. I won’t be manipulated into going broke by internalizing the notion that we can’t put a price on our special day. I mean, is there really anything special about going into debt to throw a party?
Sure, our wedding will be a wonderful, memorable event for my fiancé and me, but the whole point of us getting married is to share a life together. That life will be decidedly more difficult if I spend all our savings on bling for my hair.