Wedding Bell Blues

at 12:35 AM

It's June again. And June means weddings. More couples tie the knot in June than any other month. The month itself is named after Juno, Roman Goddess of Marriage. And June brides might want to do a little praying to that goddess after consulting the wedding planner.

Because weddings are expensive. The average cost of a wedding is about $30,000. Unless you're a millionaire, it doesn't make sense to throw one party that costs as much as a BMW.

If the couple is funding their own wedding in this day and age, when about one out of every two marriages ends in divorce, the happiest day of your life doesn't need to be the most expensive day of your life. Something borrowed shouldn't mean an equity loan just to finance flower arrangements.

The quaint idea of the bride's family paying doesn't cut it in the era of marriage equality. And I feel awful when friends shell out for a party they can't afford. Happily ever after was not referring to the credit card bills. I've known people who spent so much, they were still paying off the wedding after filing for the divorce.

And, for richer or poorer, this June I've been thinking about weddings simply as a guest, since a study concluded the average wedding guest ends up spending about $600 to attend.

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At a certain point an invitation becomes an imposition. My friends Michael and Michael are planning a "destination wedding," which means take time off work, put out for airfare and hotel to watch the couple exchange rings in a castle in France. I've already RSVP'd my regrets.

In 2014, "I now pronounce you man and wife" and "til death do you part" both sound dated. Like those old-fashioned vows, once-in-lifetime weddings reflect obsolete values and life expectancies. And as our definition of marriage gets bigger, weddings should get smaller. Big weddings, like big, gas-guzzling cars, seem woefully out of touch with today's world.

With so many weddings this June, I've realized I'm pro-marriage, just anti-wedding. Use that small fortune you would have spent to invest in your future. Save money, not the date.

I'm happy for those couples, and congratulations. But to those planning June weddings, do I recommend eloping? I do.

With a Perspective, I'm Richard Swerdlow.

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Richard Swerdlow is a teacher for the San Francisco Unified School District.

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