July 27, 2022

Wedding Confessions: Budget, Who Paid, and Biggest Learnings

Wedding Confessions: Budget, Who Paid, and Biggest Learnings

A look into the wedding industrial complex.

Ah, the long-awaited deep dive is finally here! As someone who got married in a courthouse and in a big, traditional ceremony (to the same person, don’t worry), I feel I’m now qualified to do a thorough compare-and-contrast analysis of the two—and share the granular details of how much our ceremony cost.

I’m diving into the budget ($25,000), the actual spend (...a lot more than $25,000), who paid, the things that shocked me, and the stuff I thought was worthwhile. I also do a deep-dive into the Wedding Industrial Complex with our guest, Anna Braff, founder of the award-winning vendor service Provenance Rentals.

Originally, I wasn’t planning on doing any sort of deep dive about my nuptials—but ultimately decided it was incredibly off-brand not to talk about one of the largest expenses a young couple faces.

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Katie: Welcome back to The Money with Katie Show, #RichGirls and Boys. I'm your host, Katie Gatti Tassin. And today we're talking all things wedding. A wedding confessional. Side note to those of you who follow along on Instagram @MoneywithKatie (shameless plug): Thank you for all the well wishes and love around my wedding. It was very heartwarming. But anyway, back to business. Wedding confessional. For those of you who are new around here, I got married in June 2021, in a courthouse in Dallas, Texas, but I had a larger ceremony and reception this past June, June, 2022.

So I guess it's safe to say now that I've seen both sides of that wedding decision binary, from the tiny elopement-style situation to the big traditional party side, and the financials associated with both. Uh, spoiler alert: The first one was a lot less expensive. So today we're going to dig into the story a little bit about why we decided to have a bigger ceremony, the expenses associated with the bigger event, and the juicy part, which is who paid for it. This is stuff that I feel like no one really talks about openly. And I was initially not really planning to talk about it. I don't know why, since I talk about everything else that's financially vulnerable, but I decided ultimately that it would be very off-brand of me not to do a deep dive. And so here we are. 

So when I was debating if I should do this episode, I had a friend tell me like, Hey, you're going to get shit for this either way. If you spend a lot, people are going to accuse you of being out of touch and privileged. But if you do it super cheaply, they're going to say that it's not realistic and you just don't get it. So I give all of you more credit than that. I think by and large, this community is very open-minded, very supportive, and sure, there are going to be a few bad apples out there who find enjoyment in being unnecessarily rude. But at the end of the day, I do think the gains from sharing openly and trying to make this type of stuff less taboo are worth the potential downsides of people maybe not necessarily liking what I have to say about it. And that's on being a financial content creator. 

Anyway, let's dive into it. So first the backstory. Despite admittedly loving being the center of attention and loving romance, I, for some reason, have never really been super into the whole wedding thing. Like I love attending other people's weddings, and frequenting their open bars. And I think they're really fun, but the idea of planning my own always felt really, really stressful to me. For one thing, I didn't really have a vision, so to speak, and I am forever haunted by the meme I saw a few years ago that said there are only two themes of weddings: It's Mumford and Sons, and money. As in, you either have a boho chic wedding with the un-iced cake and the eucalyptus leaves in your hair, or your theme is “I'm really rich,” and the decor communicates that fact to your guests. So I wasn't super into the idea of having to plan one. And obviously I've never planned one before. So I didn't really even know where to start, to put it lightly. It was a bit of a mental block for me, and I knew it was going to be an expensive mental block. So I would joke that if I could just hand someone $20 grand and then show up the day of, with everything done and all the decisions made, I would've been thrilled, but there's no way to get full-service wedding planning and all of the vendors associated with it for anywhere near $20,000 all in, at least where we live.

So getting married to Thomas, my husband—who conspiracy theorists on Money with Katie were always like, “Is your husband real? We've never seen him.” He's real, but it was important to me. The wedding itself, though, was not. And since he is active-duty military, he's an Air Force JAG, there were a number of benefits that I would receive if I were his spouse, including not having to pay state income taxes in Colorado, because we were able to retain our Texas residency, since we moved to Colorado for the military. So we got married in 2021 for tax benefits, and that might be the most on-brand thing I've ever done. I didn't want to rush planning a wedding, but I did want to be Thomas's wife. Aww. 

So we wanted to get married in Dallas where we met. So we booked the date of the courthouse, flew in on our way to a points-funded trip to the Dominican Republic. Please let the record state that we called it “Points Honeymoon,” because I'm nothing if not consistent. And because he's military, they actually waived the waiting period on the marriage license. So typically you have to wait 72 hours. We were able to pick it up same day after we landed in Dallas. And then we went straight to the courthouse. So I wore a little white dress. He wore a suit. My best friend and her partner came. And one of Thomas's older brothers and his wife came; same with my manager at the time, and one of my coworkers. So it was honestly so special, so exciting. And there was something kind of weirdly romantic and fun about rushing around downtown Dallas together to get married with only this small handful of people standing in the back of the courtroom watching. And we had to say the vows and stuff to one another in front of the judge. I still cried. The entire thing was less than a hundred bucks. 

I didn't really have any immediate or concrete plans at the time for a larger ceremony at that point. But a few weeks before we left, when we were devising our little plan for Points Honeymoon, and also get married, I called my parents to tell them that that's what we were going to do. They were fine with it…until after they saw the pictures of everything and the videos of us saying our vows all dressed up. And then I think they felt differently. Like they were upset that they weren't there. If I could do it all over again, I probably would have insisted that they come and said, Hey, you know what? I know you don't think you're going to care, but just in case, you should probably be there. So all of that ended up netting like, okay, fine. We will do a real ceremony. And that's kind of what kicked things off. More about that after the break. 

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Katie: So after we decided that it was in our whole family's best interests to have a real ceremony and party, my parents told me that they would give us $25,000 for it. That's the amount that they were willing to contribute. And it's no small sum of money. And I'm very fortunate to have parents who are already retired and had lived frugally enough and had kind of planned for it that they could afford to give me so much money for something like a wedding. But I think that part is very crucial to highlight, because the reality is, I am not sure how the majority of people my age could pay for a traditional wedding by themselves without parental support, especially now that I know how quickly things add up. TL;DR: I was okay with spending someone else's money on it, but I really don't think I would have even started down this path if it was all coming from me—and joke’s on me though, because we did end up paying with a lot of our own money.

But once I started planning, the next phase could only be described as not knowing what to do. And I cannot emphasize this enough. I did not know where to start. And I felt this incredible amount of resistance and resentment to the entire planning process pretty much from day one, because subconsciously I think it was like, oh, great. Another sexist, unpaid labor that falls on me as the woman to figure out in the hours outside of my full-time day job. And I know I sound like a brat, but it is truly a lot of work. And my first learning, if I had to do it all over again, is that the venue almost always has to come first, usually. Initially we were going to have the ceremony in Dallas, but the beautiful venues in Dallas were extremely expensive, and the ones that needed some work and weren't just gorgeous on their own would have required so much in the way of decor that it probably would have ended up being just as expensive and time-consuming.

So there was a point where I was like, wait a second. Why are we planning this wedding in Dallas? We don't live in Dallas anymore. We live in one of the most beautiful states in the country. Why don't we just get married in Colorado instead? And I'm so glad we did. Short of the destination weddings in Mexico that I think are actually pretty cost-effective, I do think it would have been tough to plan an out-of-state wedding without banking additional time and money for travel back and forth. So that's something to keep in mind if you are thinking about doing a destination wedding, that you're probably going to have to go there a few times before the ceremony and that's probably going to cost money. 

So I literally Googled “top Colorado wedding venues” and found a list that put a place in Aspen at the top. And it looked gorgeous. You get married on the top of this mountain. It's 14,000 feet in the air. Your guests take the ski lift to the top. Super cool. I'm super naive, so I'm like, oh, let's see how much this costs. After we went through the price quoting process, the venue, the food and the alcohol, that would have been around $35,000 alone, to say nothing of photographers, flowers, my dress, music. So we scrapped that idea. I went back to the list—and by the way, that was for a Thursday night wedding. Saturdays at that location were over $50,000 just for the venue. 

So one of the other highly ranked places was the Garden of the Gods Resort in Colorado Springs, which had a beautiful backdrop that rivaled the first one, in my opinion. So I went through that same price quoting situation with them, and the food, alcohol, venue price was around $18,000. So I was like, all right, well that's under $25,000, I guess let's just send it. This was for a Friday night wedding. I think Saturday would have been more than $30,000, but that's my best hot tip probably, is get married on a Thursday or Friday or a Sunday, if you can swing it, because Saturdays are extremely expensive. So now please note that this $18,000 estimate was for the least expensive food packages, did not include service charges or tips, and the least expensive bar package. When we actually made our selections about six months later, it did not occur to me that the entire estimate was going to change. And not that it was anyone's fault, but no one was really in a rush to point that out to me either, when we were picking what we wanted for food. So we will get to the actual final cost soon, but put a pin in that one, mentally. 

My whole goal, though, after going through the Dallas venues, was finding a venue that was beautiful enough on its own that it did not need a ton of decoration or flowers or additives. And if you Google “Garden of the Gods wedding,” you'll see what I mean. The natural beauty of the place is really incredible. And I knew that it would need minimal zhuzhing. I also felt like getting food, the bar package, the venue, all from one vendor—we ended up getting the cake from them too—made it really simple because it's all in-house. So we didn't have to coordinate with all these separate entities for that stuff. You know, working with a caterer and working with bartenders and, you know, finding things from different places. So yes, the $18,000 supposedly included bar, food, venue for 65 people. And knocking that out in one fell swoop made me feel quite a bit of relief. And then from there, the venue actually sent me a list of preferred vendors for everything else. So I blasted every vendor on that list with the same call for pricing and date availability requests. And I ended up getting my photographer, videographer, florist, DJ, and day-of coordinator from that same list. As a side note, a more cost-effective way probably would have been to identify those individual vendors for those things: caterer, bartender, alcohol from Costco, whatever, and to DIY it.

But as I mentioned, I was already pretty resentful of the amount of time and mental energy that was required to plan this big ginormous party. So I was accepting the shortcuts at every turn, and more willing to pay for convenience. Now, this is the part where we get into the weeds. I didn't want to spend more than the initial $25,000 that my parents had told me that they would give us. So I was very conscious of price at this point. And I had to pick like a color scheme and was like, okay, let's just do white and black and let's not do any decorations. It'll be super classic, I won't regret that. I only had one maid of honor. I didn't have other bridesmaids. We didn't do a bridal shower. We didn't do a bachelorette party. None of that. And I basically told her, “Wear a long black dress. I don't care what it looks like.” And then we told my husband's brothers who were there to, you know, just wear suits to be the best men, you know, blue, if you've got them, whatever. So there wasn't a ton of time, energy or money put into the extraneous pomp and circumstance. But I did end up talking to a couple of vendors in each category to try to find the least expensive ones that would still do a good job based on what I could tell from their websites. 

And the cost breakdown for everything is as follows: Flowers ended up costing about $4,500. That one was eye-opening, especially because we really didn't do all that much. They were gorgeous, but I was surprised that even basic flowers cost nearly 5,000 bucks. And I didn't really budget accordingly for that. Photographer ended up being around $3,000; videographer was another $3,800. This felt like the only extra splurgy thing. But I knew I really wanted a wedding video, because as mentioned before, I am sappy as hell. DJ was around $2,000. And then our day-of coordinator was around $2,500. I think my dress was $2,500 as well. And my shoes were $800, because frankly, I'm a slut for Louboutins, and I figured this was my best excuse to buy a pair. Hair and makeup for me, my mom, and my maid of honor was about a thousand dollars. And you also have to tip everybody. So we had roughly a thousand dollars or so in cash for tips that we took out at the last minute, literally on the way to the venue. My dad was furious about this, even though it wasn't his money, which is just really funny, I guess being cheap runs in our family, I guess. But the big surprise and where things totally went off the rails—when the final estimate for the venue, food, alcohol, and service came, it was $24,000, not $18,000. The $3,000 of service charges for the waitstaff, for example, wasn't included in the estimate, and the meals that we chose were $185 per person, not $155 per person as originally estimated, and our drink package, which was I think supposed to be unlimited—but TBD, if we ended up getting charged more, I don't really know, I haven't gotten the final final invoice yet—was around $62 per person, even though 15% of our guests were sober adults or kids. 

We will be right back after a quick word from our sponsors. 

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It feels like because you're paying for everything little by little, over the course of 12 months, it's really easy to lose track of how much you've spent until you're already six feet deep in invoices. I'm a pretty organized person. And I had a hard time keeping it all straight, between the invoices and deposits. So some of you listening to this are probably gagging at how expensive that was, and others might be like, holy shit, that's the cheapest florist I've ever seen. I honestly don't know. I cannot stress this enough. I did not want to spend a ton of time researching and doing DIY projects for this. I really just wanted to nail it down and get it done. So we used digital save-the-dates and then spent like $200 on wedding invitations from The Knot, and then had people RSVP online to save on paper, also via The Knot, which was actually super slick. So I would recommend them for that kind of thing. We invited 110, knowing that a lot of people wouldn't come. And I think our final guest count was around 62, which was pretty good for Friday and a location that's hard to get to, I think, and was right in line with how many we planned on, pricing-wise. So all in, the estimated total cost that I had was around $38,000. I thought we would be spending about $13,000 over the budget that I had set for us. And the $13,000 would come out of our pockets, which I think if you had told me that in the beginning, I would have just said, you know what, we're not doing this. I probably would not have consciously made the decision at the time, if you had told me at the time how much it was going to end up costing. But it just escalated quickly. And it felt like at every turn there was another vendor or another something that I needed to pay for. That's the fun part. 

The true total was around $48,000. We didn't do any decorations outside of flowers, no photo booth, no party favors, no guest book. Like nothing. We didn't really do a lot of the extra stuff. It was very bare bones by modern wedding standards. And it still almost cost $50,000. I think that's partially because Colorado and the mountains are quite trendy, but now I have a totally different perspective on the weddings that I see on Instagram that are miles ahead of ours luxury-wise, like the Pinterest-looking weddings are easily $100,000 plus. Easily. It's an industry just like anything else. And if you attach the word “wedding” to something, the price jumps 250%. 

So now I wanted to zoom out a little bit and talk about the wedding industrial complex with my guest today, Anna Braff. Anna is the founder and creative director of Provenance Rentals, a boutique specialty event rentals company located in LA, a firm that has received awards and recognition such as “best of weddings” by The Knot (fancy!), “best rental company in LA” by several pubs, and more. So Anna, welcome to The Money with Katie Show. I'm really excited that you're here. 

Anna Braff: Oh my goodness. Thank you so much for having me. I'm really excited to be here.

Katie: Absolutely. So you've been a part of more than 800 weddings over the last five to six years, which is 799 more weddings than I've been a part of. 

Anna Braff: Hey, if you've had one, you're an expert, believe me. 

Katie: Exactly. What are the biggest trends in spending and budgets that you've seen, especially as the pandemic made millions of people cancel or postpone celebrations? 

Anna Braff: It's kind of gone in two directions. Some people stuck with the smaller, more intimate micro wedding slash elopement. Sometimes it's just, that's all you can afford, especially after the pandemic where people have lost jobs, but then other people have swung the pendulum in the other direction where it's bigger, go for broke, we're going to really enjoy this because we have been held back for two years from doing anything fun. 

Katie: Oh, totally. We weren't a Covid marriage in the standpoint of like, we didn't plan a wedding that had to be moved, but we did get married in a courthouse during the pandemic. And it was interesting to me because when we were first starting to talk about like, okay, well, we're going to do something small, because we don't want to spend a bunch of money on a ceremony. And then it's like, the guest list keeps getting bigger, and you kind of get that like, “financial creep” is how I'm referencing it, which is just that you start to pay for one thing, and then it's like, oh, but we also need this. Oh, and also you should probably have this. Oh, and we didn't account for that. It's like, you can start with the best of intentions and then look up $30,000 later and be like, how did I get here? So on that note, what are some of the more hidden or unexpected fees that you think people kind of forget to include in the wedding planning process? For me specifically, it was like cash tips, which ended up being thousands of dollars at the last minute, as well as the fact that the estimate that we had for the venue, food, and alcohol ended up being several thousand more than was originally estimated and contracted for. 

Anna Braff: Oh, absolutely. I think every consumer has to be really wise where their money's going and who they're working with. There's a lot of lack of transparency, you know, and just any vendor, you know—I mean, I was once a bride too, so I mean, I've been through it on both ends, so I know. And that's why I also try to treat my couples with respect too, because I do know what it's like on the other end. But then I also know what it's like on the end of a business owner, too, where you're like, well, I have lots of costs of labor, and you know, I have a store I have to pay for rent no matter what. And there's internet and payroll costs, all sorts of things that people don't even see. Cash tips are definitely a big thing. And, you know, even when I got married, like over 10 years ago, I remember I read a Martha Stewart article and it was like, don't forget to tip your vendors. And I was like, oh my god, that's something I didn't think of. And they're like, don't forget to, you know, account for vendor meals. So, you know, this also goes back to, you have to read your contract too…you really need to read it, like what you're on the hook for.

So for instance, there could be late fees. There could be overnight…we had like late-night pickups. So, you know, if your venue’s like, well, you have to have everything out from 11 to 12, you may have a tighter timeline for your vendors to come pick up your stuff, make sure everything's clean. And that's the other thing too. Like if you don't have something protecting you, even in your contract with your venue, what if you're going to be on the hook for some damages to the venue or cleaning the property? Like there's all sorts of things that you have to think about. And so even when you're budgeting, I think it's always good to over-budget, like even by 10%, 20%, just so you have a little cushion. But you know, there's always service fees when it comes to catering. 

Katie: I didn't know that. I was like, why is my bill $3,000 more than you said it was going to be? They're like, oh, the waiters. I was like, we didn't know in the beginning there were going to be waiters? We couldn't have, like, baked that into the estimate? 

Anna Braff: No, it's crazy. Well, and that's the thing is, there could always be things you're on the hook for after the fact, which is why you need to read the contract thoroughly or ask questions. But it's also like, the vendor has to be very up-front about that too. And it's always good to like get quotes from a few different people, meet people in person, do tastings. I know it's very time-consuming, and who really…it's like a full-time job planning a wedding, while you're also working a full-time job. Like, what are you supposed to do? And forget if you have any other responsibilities. But yeah, so tipping, I think service charges are good to look for. Any, you know, damages that you could be on the hook for. I know like sometimes like our florist friends, like, you know, they rent out the vases that are going to be on the centerpieces on the tables or like, you know, little vignettes, but maybe those vases have to go back to them. Or sometimes like guests they'll just walk off. So you need to tell your DJ to make an announcement, like, please don't take the vases, 'cause you might be charged for it. 

Katie: Oh my god. 

Anna Braff: There's all sorts of things. Like you always have to think about like the personal property you're renting from someone else or some other vendor, or if they're going to need additional staff, maybe you added people last minute. Sometimes people will decide, oh, I'm actually coming to your wedding. We need to add these chairs. And we need to add these meals, which means you might need additional servers, or say, even last minute you decide, oh, we want to add another bar. Well, that's all going to cost money. But vendors aren't going to be like, out of the goodness of their heart doing things for free, especially last minute. That's the other thing: You're going to be paying rush rates too sometimes, like, if it's like, well, we have to fit this in or add this in it's going to cost more, because booking staff or going out and buying additional food or beverage or getting additional rentals, like it usually is going to cost more towards the end. Never less. Sometimes our customers think, oh, well I need to rent this, and is it cheaper? And I'm like, we actually have a policy that things would cost double. But I don't always enforce it, you know? But it just depends on how busy we are, because it's going to impact every other client I have. And every other thing in my life, you know. Tax. That's another one too. Like we, by law, have to add tax to like pretty much most of our rentals and some of our services. 

Katie: Yeah. It kind of reminds me of I've never bought or built a home before, but I have heard from those who have that you're always going to spend more than you think you are. Like, there's going to be stuff at the last minute. Or, you know, the construction costs are always going to be estimated lower than what they end up being, because something is going to happen. And like, if you go into it planning for that and planning to spend less than you actually can, I think that probably is the same mentality that works well here. 

The other thing that happened last minute for us, we didn't—aside from some of the venue stuff happening last minute—we didn't really have anything crazy except for the fact that several of our vendors got Covid the day or two before the wedding, and were like tapping in alternates and trying to get people up to speed. And so that's another thing that I think we're contending with right now, is just kind of being aware that we're living in a little bit of a different time post-pandemic, and that you have to be flexible. And you know, if you're going to go pay $10,000 because you want this particular photographer and you need that individual there that day, it's like, is there anything in the contract about what happens if they get sick and have to bring in an alternate? Like, are you getting money back? How does that work? I think those were things that like didn't even cross my mind when we were signing contracts. 

Anna Braff: No, you're so smart to even talk about that and think about that, because you should always find out what a cancellation policy is, what can happen if they have to substitute any kind of equivalent, whether it's an associate photographer or whether it's a rental or food. And like, if someone gets sick—it may not be even their staff. It might be like someone they know in the world. 'Cause that's where a lot of these other vendors work, they freelance for each other. So it may not be like the person's portfolio you approved. It might be well, “I have Covid, what do you want me to do? I can't go. I don't want to get everyone sick, but I do have this other good photographer.” It might already say, like, you don't even have a choice. We put in a substitute in the event something like that happens. So it is so important. Just goes back to like, you have to read everything because you never know about those unknowns. That's the thing. It's almost like, predictable that it's going to be unpredictable. Katie: Yeah. There was an interesting…I was talking about this on Instagram, how there were two venues at my venue. Like there was like two spots where you could get married. One that was like, kind of in a terrace. And then another one that was out by this pool, like not covered. And so when we were there for the tasting, they were like, do you want to see the pool instead, and like, see if you'd rather do that. So we go out there and I'm like, okay, how much more does this cost? This is $8,000 more to get married next to the pool. And I go, well, what happens if it rains? They're like, oh, we just move you back under the terrace. I said, oh, do you get your $8,000 back? No, the $8,000 is to reserve it. And so we did the terrace on a Friday to save some money. And then we were still all at the resort on Saturday, the day after. And the wedding that was happening on Saturday that weekend was out by the pool, and it rained. And I was like, those poor people are probably so pissed right now that it's raining. And like all of their guests are getting sprinkled on. But I think those are like the risks that it…even if you feel stupid asking the question, ask the question. And I would say so many times to vendors like, Hey, this is my first and hopefully only wedding; sorry if these questions are stupid, but I just want to try to understand how costs are being calculated and what happens in the event something doesn't go as planned. So I'm curious if you have any tips for folks that are really trying to stick to a strict limit.

Anna Braff: Oh yeah, absolutely. I mean, it's so hard to stick to budget and it's almost like a fantasy, you know, because especially now with inflation and like rising costs and labor, everything is so expensive for the vendors too. I mean, and the venues too, like everything, they lost money for years. So they're going to probably charge even more because they have to make up for the lost money. You know, I think setting a budget is like one of the first things you can do. Like, you know, I have this universe of money to work in and I'm going to hopefully give myself another 10% or 20% extra just in case if something goes wrong. 

And then I think obviously one of the biggest ones is you have to trim your guest list. You may have lots of friends and family, but I mean, I think if you explain to them, it's just a cost thing. It has nothing to do with, you know, our relationship or how we feel about you. But you know, this is what we can afford in this day and age. And as everyone can understand, you know, we're having to keep it really intimate. And now maybe you could even just have like a celebratory dinner, you know, after you're done getting married, or even, you know, maybe invite a lot of people to a rehearsal dinner. It could be like, just a way to like, you know, you still feel like you're including people, but it's not the whole wedding that they're going to be a part of. You're just going to have to keep it small. So that's one thing. 

I mean, I think researching who your vendors are is another. And your venue, obviously you have to go visit things in person. You might have to have phone calls. You might have to like really read reviews and actually see like what's the best fit. Like really see the pricing, really get the quotes and compare them. Even if it's just like, I'm picking two or three of like each of these people that I like, you know, and you don't have to go crazy. 'Cause you're going to then be overwhelmed with too many options. You know, it's just, you just kind of look at your universe, narrow it, and then be like, okay, these are the three I’ve narrowed it down to, these are the three I really like; kind of do your cost comparison. And it's not always like, I look for the cheapest. It's like also, you want people to be reliable. You want people to show up. You don't want to have stress that day. So, you know, sometimes it may not be the cheapest. Maybe it's the middle. Sometimes it might be the more expensive of the three, but it is worth it. I think it comes down to also prioritizing what's important to you. 

It's interesting. I saw an article about a girl who is some TikToker and she's really into thrifting. And so she's like, well, I didn't have the friends and family to go look at a bridal salon and try on all the dresses. And she thrifted her dress. She found like a cute little dress that was, you know, perfect for a wedding. It wasn't like, you know, the big, expensive, like Monique Lhuillier, Vera Wang kind of thing, but it's her style. And she said she paid, I think, a hundred dollars or maybe even less. And then went the alterations. It was like another $110. So it's like, she didn't even have to go off the rack and buy something like in the store for a few hundred. Like she literally spent like $200 with cleaning and alterations and everything. And she said she thrifted her shoes for eight bucks. You know? So there's options out there. You just have to be willing to do the work. 

Another thing too, even with dresses, is like, I got my dress at a sample sale and I think I paid at least a few hundred. So, but I found a dress that I really liked. Like I got there early. I waited in line, you know, so you don't have to…and it was a Monique Lhuillier dress. It wasn't like I had to go get the one in season that was brand new. And it was like a few thousand dollars. It's like, I paid a few hundred. So it's and it was still beautiful and I felt confident in it. So that's all that really matters. Do you feel beautiful? Are you going to feel good? 

I think in terms of other costs, back when I was getting married too, there was like, well, you know, you get the calligrapher to write out the envelopes. It was like $3 an envelope. I'm like, this is crazy, you know, but there's now these beautiful things, like Basic Invite. It's like anything but basic, like you can customize so many things and it's not very expensive. You can do invitations that way. You can do certain things digitally. And especially if you're into, like I've had brides and couples that were into like reducing waste, right? So they composted a bunch after their wedding. Like they paid to get things composted to cut down on their waste. 'Cause we're very like socially conscious. And I love that. That's another good trend too, to think about. If you are a socially conscious person, like maybe just the digital route for invitations is the way to go. Like some people may think, oh, it's tacky. But honestly, I don't think one person remembers my invitations at all. What you can do is you make a calligrapher create some kind of suite for you. Like, oh, this looks like what the invitation looks like for your photos. But that doesn't mean that's what everyone has to receive. 

Katie: Oh, I see. We didn't even bring an invitation. Like we did digital save-the-dates and then did printed invites. But the photographer on the day of was like, “Where's your invitation?” I was like, “Our what?” I was like, I don't know. I didn't know I had to bring that. Like, there's so many things…like where's this handbook that other brides are using to make sure they're doing all of this correctly? Because there were so many moments like that, day before, where they're like, okay, where's the basket for the flower girl? I'm like, “I'm sorry? The what?” Like, oh, that doesn't, you don't have one? Oh, okay. So we're like trying to hunt one down on the property, but just stuff that you wouldn't even think of. 

Anna Braff: I know, it's all the little things. Well, you know, that's the thing is, I hope your photographer sent you a checklist, but they may not have, but it's always good if you find a photographer that does, 'cause you want to have certain shots that you're like, oh, first looks and you know, invitation. 'Cause you want to tell the story of your wedding from start to finish. You know, it has to be like unique and about the two of you. So, you know, you want to make sure you have those certain key moments that are remembered. Maybe you're just going to print a few photos in your house and that's, it's okay if you miss a few too on some of the things like that. But you know, and that's another thing too, like there's the debate, like, do you get a wedding planner? Do you not get a wedding planner? Because they are expensive, but sometimes they are really worth it. And I don't think as the bride you want to be doing all of it, like on the day of, like review a little binder and checklist, you know? 

Katie: We did hire a day-of coordinator, because I was told that that is a great investment. And it was. Like, it made such a difference to have, and she ended up getting Covid. So then someone else stepped in. 

Anna Braff: Oh no, you poor thing.

Katie: It was really wonderful to have somebody there the day of that could be like, okay, you're in your room right now. Here's the schedule that I have made. This is the itinerary. This is where everyone needs to be at these times. And I, in retrospect, can't really imagine trying to do all of that myself that day, because I would have had truly no idea, like, oh, it's 7:05, which means it's time for us to go outside for the sunset and take 20 minutes of family photos. Then when we go back in, this is going to happen. So I would echo that, that I think at least the day-of coordinator was well worth the money for us. 

Anna Braff: I think so too. And they, you know, are usually good about vetting some vendors for you too, right. Or they can kind of help you if you're like, well, I want to have like a wedding where there's like a barn and it's like rustic and pretty, or, you know, I want to be…

Katie: The Mumford and Sons wedding.

Anna Braff: You know, you kind of want to find the planner that's going to help guide you too, so you're not in this endless loop trying to find people. You could go on Google and pull up a million vendors or The Knot or Yelp or whatever, you know, search engines you use. But that doesn't mean they're always good. But a lot of times these like wedding planners, they've worked with these people at least once or more times, they know them. They can like recommend them. 

Katie: So I guess I have a money blogger question for you. And that is, do you have a sense with the folks that you work with on an ongoing basis, how often people are getting financial support from parents or family members, or how often people are paying for it themselves? Like, do you kind of have a feel for that? 

Anna Braff: Yeah. I mean, I deal a lot with parents. A lot of times couples will go in, but a lot of times it's the parents paying. I mean, even here it's like we have, the family trust is paying. Like not even just the parents. Yeah. Los Angeles is a little… 

Katie: Must be nice. 

Anna Braff: I'm like, that is so foreign to me, you know? 

Katie: The stork skipped me when he was passing out the family trust accounts. He was like, not for you, Glen Coco. 

Anna Braff: It's like, my mom did not marry well, you know. It's okay. A lot of times it is parents. There are a few times too when we have just the couple financing it completely. And sometimes people use like wedding loans, credit cards, things like that.

Katie: Oh, no.

Anna Braff: Yeah, yeah, yeah, so. 

Katie: Oof. That's painful. 

Anna Braff: It's hard. It's hard. You know, a lot of times people do go into debt, you know. But I think it's like, it's not the end of the world if it's only a little, and you have a plan to pay it off. But if it's in the thousands, then you gotta start looking at ways to trim your costs. 

Katie: Yeah. It's allocating scarce resources, right? Like that's what money management is. And it's no different for a wedding. It's just that when you get into wedding land, it's like “no expense spared.” There's almost like, no, I'm going to say common sense around like how much something should cost. Like you'll hear those examples of people calling a venue and saying, you know, how much would it cost to have a business dinner at your venue? Oh, that'll be whatever for 50 people. Well, what if it's a wedding? Oh, well now it's twice as much…like, there's just more pomp and circumstance around it. And so I think it's easy to get swept up in that. And it really doesn't surprise me that people go into debt paying for weddings, because like, there's just so much stuff that you're, I don't want to say pressured into doing, but kind of.

Anna Braff: There kind of is a lot of pressure. 

Katie: I even felt some like self-consciousness around like some of the things that we skipped out on. I'm like, oh, are people gonna think we're cheap…and it ended up costing $50 grand anyway! So I was like, well… 

Anna Braff: Well, that's the thing is, I think like with the pressure of like Instagram and TikTok and Pinterest…first of all, like half those pictures, like you never know what someone's spent. And it was probably a fortune. 'Cause even like in our wedding world, there's a lot of styled shoots, which is like inspiration. Like, if you want to have a wedding look like this…but if every vendor added up their costs, even that little thing of just like what would look like a table for six and like, you know, the bride in this gorgeous gown and this like beautiful arch, that's like, you know, unique and different, or these customized cocktails and you know, the nice catering and all the music, like it would cost well more than what someone is probably normally planning. 

All the Instagram, Pinterest stuff, like, it's so deceiving and it's kind of heartbreaking, 'cause it's like, that's like ideal, but that doesn't mean it's realistic. And it doesn't mean it's necessarily within reach either. I think social media can be so toxic. It's just like, you have to kind of only go on incrementally. Like you can't take it all personally. 'Cause it's like, when you do, it's like, it is the whole like “comparison is the thief of joy,” because it really, really can be. And it's like, you know, if you have like a big friend group too, and you're all going to these weddings, like, you know, this friend gets married, then that one and that one, it's like, you're all going to take, compare notes and be like, oh, she did this at her wedding. I wanna do this at my wedding, or I gotta do mine better. Like it does become this competitive sport. It's a little crazy. 

Katie: But that aspect of it is another huge cost associated with weddings, for people that are just the guests flying to a different city. What you wear, buying a gift, getting lodging. Like I had this grand vision before we planned ours that, oh, when I have a wedding, anyone that's coming in from out of state, I want to allocate budget to pay for their travel. That way they're not having to bear the brunt of that. And we'll just keep it really small and pay for their travel. And then I started planning it. I was like, screw that, they can pay for their own flights. Like your, you know, your meal’s 200 bucks, you can book your own hotel room. Yeah. And so I think I had all these, you know, grand designs and all these altruistic aspirations. And then when it came down to it, I was like, oh, never mind. 

Anna Braff: I think it's like, you just have to try your best. And if you can't do it, you can't do it. You know, it's just not the end of the world. And people know they're going to have to pay for their own travel. You know, sometimes there's the like, yeah, you pay for their shuttle service, say, like, if there's like a block of hotels you've arranged and the venue’s a little far and you have to pay for like a shuttle service. So that's another cost you have to think about, or not. Or you say, like, hey, maybe I can get like an Uber code or something. 

Katie: We did none of that. Sorry to my guests who were on their own. 

Anna Braff: No, it's fine. I mean, you have to kind of do what you can. I mean, when I grew up, no one was like millionaires and billionaires at like age 25. The average person just isn't you know, able to do things that like these crazy outliers are. 

Katie: That's the flashing light, right? Like that's the message that I want people to take from this is, even though those types of weddings are made to look so common online and on Pinterest and on your Instagram feed, like that right there, those are the outliers, and your average person cannot throw a six-figure wedding or a multi-six-figure wedding. And that's typically what those types of just like breathtaking weddings that pull out all the stops, like that's what people are paying for them. And it's not normal. So it's like, don't even hold yourself up to that standard. 

Anna Braff: It is hard. Weddings are completely different now. I mean, the pressures are more, I mean, I feel like, oh my god, when my kids get married, which will be like, you know, many years from now, what's it going to be like, you know what I mean? I don’t even know…

Katie: It's like weddings and college: the parabolic rise in price. Oh my god. That’s too funny. Anna, thank you so much for being here. Thank you for joining us. It was a joy. 

Anna Braff: Oh, it was so lovely talking to you. Thank you so much.

Katie: All right, everybody. I hope you enjoyed the Marriage with Katie Confessional. Before we go…let’s hit this week’s Rich Girl Roundup. This segment is brought to you by Betterment, giving you the tools, inspiration, and support you need to become a better investor. This week's question comes from Ted. 

Ted: Hi Katie, I'm Ted. I'm calling into the Rich Girl and Guy Nation from Pennsylvania. I have two children and I'd love to get your thoughts on where to start teaching them about personal finance. It's never too early, but I want to make sure the information is digestible and approachable for a six-year-old and a three-year-old. Any recommendations you have would be appreciated. Thanks so much. 

Katie: Ah, yes. Another opportunity to give parenting advice as someone that has no children. All right. Strap in, because I do actually have some thoughts here, but it might be a little all over the place. So to start, one of the popular rallying cries in the personal finance world is that they should teach this stuff in school. And while I guess I agree to an extent, I also think most kids and teenagers are selective listeners and it likely wouldn't stick into adulthood. Like, do you remember how to calculate the area of a triangle? Do you remember all the parts of a cell besides the powerhouse, the mitochondria? We forget so much of what we learn in school and only really internalize the things that make a lasting impression on us in our daily lives.

And I think that's the key thing that I want to emphasize. A lot of what you teach a kid about money is done implicitly. Like, they learn by watching you. They learn by mirroring you; it's just like anything else. So if you are someone who is outwardly stressed about money or using terms like “We can't afford that,” I think that instills a certain narrative in a kid, even if you're using it colloquially. I think our language around money impacts children way more than anything that they would learn in school. It's the difference between “We aren't making buying that thing a priority” and “We can't afford that thing,” even if the latter is true. I think kids have class consciousness after a while. They notice if their friends live in giant houses or have tons of expensive toys. And I think it's good to acknowledge why you may or may not be spending money on stuff like that. Like, oh, we don't prioritize having a really nice car because we prefer to spend our money on taking trips together as a family. Like, when you have money someday, you'll get to prioritize what matters most to you. And we don't live beyond our means because we're saving for the future. Like, I also think kids learn about those types of trade-offs, which is a big aspect of managing money. And I think we can help kids understand it early by involving them in certain decisions and discussions, even if it's just peripherally, like “We're going on vacation next week. Isn't that exciting? That's why we're not going out to eat this week, because we're going to prioritize our vacation.” 

So much of money management is about allocating scarce resources. And when we involve kids in those decisions in a thoughtful and positive and proactive way, I think they pick up on more than we think they do. If every time you're talking about money, you seem agitated and angry and stressed, they will probably start to associate those emotions with money. And anyone that's listening to this as an adult that had that experience as a kid, you might be like, “Wait a second. That's exactly why I feel stressed about money all the time. 'Cause I was always around, you know, when money came up in the home, it was a fight.” So for better or worse, I think so much of what they learn comes down to our own behavior. Like, “Hey, I got paid today for doing my job, but I'm going to save some of my money so I can buy things that I want later.” And then you can reinforce the habit with them through allowances and helping them save for things they want to buy. Delayed gratification, right? The earlier we can associate proactive prioritization and delayed gratification with money management, I think, the better. So thank you for the question, Ted. And you are an excellent father for even considering this question thoughtfully and being intentional about how you are talking to and educating your children about money. And I hope that I can actually do it well when I have my own kids.

All right, folks, that's it for this week's episode of The Money with Katie Show. I will see you next week, same time, same place. Our show is a production of Morning Brew and is produced by Nick Torres and me, Katie Gatti Tassin. Sarah Singer is our VP of multimedia, and additional content editing comes from our fabulous senior editor, Henah Velez. Sam Cat is our vice president of chaos, who turns recording a podcast into an obstacle course. And Jojo Beans is our chief of woof. Especially if we are recording while the mailman is out making deliveries.