The Supreme Court decision of June 26th this year rocked the nation. You know the one. The decision that promised both wedding bells and the wrath of God. Now a person can marry whomever they love regardless of gender. While we’ve most certainly heard the bells, we are still waiting on the wrath. Meanwhile, the wedding business has never been brighter, as long as the business providing the services doesn’t discriminate.
But when did it become the norm to spend tens of thousands of dollars on one day? The average cost of a wedding in my home state of Colorado is $31,500. Some people would argue that you can’t put a price on memories for the biggest day of your life and I agree. But you can still have great memories and not spend what you would on a brand new sedan.
Before full marriage equality came to Colorado, my wife and I were joined in a civil union as soon as that option was available to us. We didn’t know if or when we would have full marriage rights, so we chose that occasion to be our ceremony. We had a choice to make; spend a lot of money to have a large affair with family and friends, or ‘elope’ with our daughter and have a private ceremony.
There was lots to consider. My family is supportive, my wife’s is not. If we included her family, the day would likely end up being about them and not us, so that was not an option. While we could have had a fulfilling day with my family and our friends, we thought about the price tag. We agreed that the money would be much better spent on something that could help us in our life together as a family, like a down payment on a home.
But the biggest deciding factor was simple. We wanted to get married to spend our lives together in a committed union. We couldn’t care less about ice sculptures or open bars. Why would we want to start out as a family by incurring a huge debt? So we took our time finding the right clothes, the perfect rings, and our one splurge, a small but elegant cake. We paid thirty-five dollars for the license, and forty dollars for the magistrate to perform the ceremony. We made reservations for three at nice restaurant and toasted our happiness with a fine bottle of Barolo. The evening was magical.
Marriage equality came to Colorado one year ago. We exchanged vows once again, this time for a full-rights marriage license. It was another quick and private affair. It was perfect, with our focus on the marriage, not the wedding.
Maybe when we celebrate our 50th anniversary, we’ll have a grand celebration. After many rich memories and enduring the great peaks and vast valleys that a long life together provides.