Thursday 17 August 2017

It's none of your business how much my wedding costs

Close up of engagement ring on womans hand held by friends hand
Woman wedding dress shopping
Journalist Sarah Kiely

Sarah Kiely

Planning your wedding is a journey of fun, excitement and stress.

I've been engaged for five (really lovely) months and I’m nowhere near setting a date just yet. Call me naïve, but I just wanted to enjoy being engaged for a while, without having to plan anything.

I’m self-employed with a very busy food business with a freelance writing career and the last 12 months have been - well, interesting - so forgive me if my Pinterest is letting the side down.

The past few months have been so chill, apart from the incessant questions as to "when" and "why’" we haven't booked a bog-standard Irish wedding somewhere overpriced and underwhelming.

At this time, I usually explain "we’re just very busy right now", while my fiancé slips off leaving me to deal with the in-laws.

With all the wedding talk, it did strike me how some people discuss friends and family members’ weddings in terms of spend. I was having a coffee awhile back and my friend told me in great detail exactly how much this friend of a friend's wedding was costing. (€15k on a honeymoon is pretty outrageous, but still...).

I felt a little sad for everyone getting engaged and planning their wedding after that conversation.

The competitive need to bitch and benchmark is unnecessary and uncouth in my opinion.  Unfortunately it’s just one of a handful of conversations I’ve been privy to in the past few months.

We had my engagement ring made by a beautifully skilled Irish jeweller and I am so blown away and in love with it and what it symbolises every time I look down at my left hand.

It’s a really stunning and unique ring and with that, so naturally, there are a lot of questions.

I'm happy to discuss where it was made and even carat sizes to an extent, but I have been asked outright a number of times how much it cost. And during one particularly awkward exchange, had to  grimace through a gaggle of women trying to guess the price right in front of me.

So when did it become acceptable or even just sound to talk about how much someone did or didn’t shell out on their special day? I spoke to two Irish brides at different stages of their wedding journey to find out…

Close up of engagement ring on womans hand held by friends hand

Kellie*, 26, Dublin, is getting married in June 2018. After a romantic proposal from her long-time love, the couple were all set to go ring shopping when life got in the way. Their car kicked the bucket and Kellie happily put practicality before pretence, and made do with a temporary ring for the time being telling me: "When I got engaged I received a token ring from my fiancé and made plans to go ring shopping.

"People had no hesitation asking where my ring would be coming from and how much my fiancé was spending on it. I wouldn't disclose how much my ring is costing, we’ve paid the deposit and warranty and now the new question everyone asks is 'did you get your ring yet?’’.

The pressure from peers can be overwhelming and Kellie too, has found the disclosure of financial spend around wedding off-putting. She reveals people have asked her if she’ll be spending the same amount on things they did for their wedding, in an attempt to compare a ceremony that’s not even happened yet.

"The financial pressure really gets to me. So much so, that we were planning on having our wedding in Ireland and had settled on a venue. Eventually, after calculating how much we needed to be saving every month ( we have no back up savings) we realised we were putting too much pressure on ourselves and that the better option for us is to have the wedding abroad."

Woman wedding dress shopping

My next bemused bride is Sinead* who tied the knot in spring this year. While Sinead wasn’t asked outright how much her sparkler set them back - she was, bizarrely, the subject of close inspection from pseudo-diamond experts. "It was more people coming up to me and inspecting the ring in great detail, before giving me the confirmation it was nice," she explains. This came more form older women than her friends and left Sinead feeling it was quite bitchy, as she got engaged at 30 and had in her own words "a nice ring for someone her age’’.

The interest didn’t stop there. Immediately after her-now-husband popped the question, she was met with floods of inquests as to whether or not her father would be footing the bill for the wedding.

When it came to friends, the million dollar question was focused on her dress. "I’ve heard women pass remark on other people’s weddings saying things like ‘Jesus she spent €5k on her dress and it wasn’t even nice!’’’ So it comes as no surprise Sinead kept her dress spend to herself when prompted by her peers for an answer.

It's worth noting Sinead was okay to discuss with close friends and family on the cost per head for the hotel, as this could be helpful information for someone. She thinks that people should be more interested in the happiness of the couple and less consumed on the cost of their wedding.

*Names have been changed

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