Thoughts on the Wedding Industry (and planning a wedding)

As you might have read in a previous blog post, I'm getting married! I've been getting questions about our plans, so I thought it might be interesting to share my thoughts on the wedding industry as a whole and what we are doing in regards to planning our own wedding.

When I was younger and basically until after I graduated from college, I wanted a big fat Indian wedding. Or at least the Malayalee Christian version of what that would be, lol. Inviting 500+ people, hosting multiple parties, wearing the fanciest clothes, the whole thing.

Then I'm not exactly sure what happened. I think with the rise of TikTok, the COVID-19 pandemic, the influx of weddings, I realized how naturally anxious of person I am and how anxious and stressed weddings made me, especially when it came to the money and planning side of things. And the pandemic did not help with the anxiety at all. I've been a bridesmaid 4 times (2 times pre-covid, 2 times post-covid), I've attended 6 bachelorette trips, and in the last 2 years I've attended 8 weddings. Plus I have more to attend this year that are not my own. And just scrolling on social media, I've probably seen about 50 weddings that are all basically the same kind of party being thrown over and over again. It's a lot.

Now I'm not saying there's anything necessarily wrong with these celebrations. Weddings are actually pretty fun. I love celebrating love. It is fun to see performances & dances at a wedding. It is fun getting dressed up. It is fun having all your family and friends in one place. It's fun catching up with people you haven't seen in a while. And there's really only a certain number of ways you can throw a wedding that includes everyone you have to invite. Especially in the Indian culture where it is super common to invite literally everyone you might have had an encounter with to your wedding.

But did you know how expensive it is to throw a wedding in the US? I knew being Indian and having more people to invite would be more expensive than most American weddings, but my jaw was on the floor when I realized to have my version of a "perfect" wedding, it would be at least $100k. And that's on the conservative side. With the number of guests we'd have to invite, we'd probably be over $150k. I really don't care if our parents have this money saved somewhere, but that's absolutely not worth it to me.

So why not get married in India? A question I have been asked a lot by family members. My parents and I had talked about getting married in India since we have a lot of family there, but then we'd have to factor in travel costs and plan it all from here. Plus not many of my friends would be able to attend since they are all here in the states. Weddings in India are not the same as weddings in the US and it's not even comparable to a destination wedding (in my opinion). And as someone who has to be involved in planning and has to see things in person, there was absolutely no way I would be able to trust someone else across the world to do the planning for me, nor could I make multiple trips to India between now and the wedding date. I just knew whatever vision I had for my "perfect" wedding, it would not happen in India.

So would it be worth the stress? Would it be worth spending all that money? Would it be worth the stress my family and I would have to go through? Would I actually enjoy my wedding day if I also did all this? 

These were questions I started asking myself. Because even as a guest, I was stressed out for all the weddings I attended. And I wasn't even the bride! I could not even imagine the stress level I would be at as a bride, especially when I am already a naturally stressed and anxious person. So even before I met my fiancé, I knew a traditional wedding wasn't in the cards for me. I wanted to elope. Whether at the courthouse, Vegas, in the mountains, wherever. I wanted the pretty dress and pictures, but I did not want me or anyone in my family spending what could be multiple down payments for a house on a wedding that would probably end up being like all the other weddings that I attended, and one that I would probably not enjoy. Absolutely not.

I think people thought I was kidding. But I wasn't. Unless I was gifted with $250k and was able to get the best wedding planner of all time who would do everything for me to a point where all I had to do was say "yes that looks good, go with that", pick out a dress, and show up on my wedding day, there was no way. And the fun part of being a bride is that, if you say no to something, there's really nothing that can be done because you can't have a wedding without the bride.

This is was something I told Thomas prior to even us talking about getting married. Both of us had somewhat of a similar view on this topic. He has a much bigger family than mine, so he knew throwing a wedding for hundreds of people would be a miserable and expensive experience.

So over dinner one night, Thomas brought up the idea of having a destination wedding. Not a wedding in India lol, but an actual destination wedding in Europe. He had studied in Italy for a year, so he was familiar with the country and the culture. And he said he could take over planning since he knew people there. Instead of having over 400 people at our wedding, we could cap it at 150 and just have our close family and friends there. 150 people sounds like a lot, but TRUST ME lol it's a tiny number, especially for an Indian wedding. I could still get my pretty pictures, wear the pretty dress, and still try to make everyone happy by at least having an actual wedding. And even though we're not there in person to plan out and see every detail, Italy is a popular country for destination weddings and based on what we've heard so far from the wedding planner, it should be less stressful to plan.

We traveled to Italy back in September to look at venues. While we did not lock in anything while we were there, we did learn a lot and had a better idea of what our needs our when it comes to having a wedding in Italy.

Our needs
Catholic Church - We are planning to have a Catholic ceremony and it has to be done in a Catholic Church. Some venues had a chapel attached, but unfortunately that wouldn't work unless it was a Catholic Church. Church also has to be close to hotel (ideally walking distance).
Reception Venue - has to accommodate around 150 people. As stated earlier, that is on the larger side when it comes to destination weddings. Reception venue has to be close to the church and hotel.
Lodging - Hotel has to be in close proximity to the church and reception venue and could host a welcome dinner the night before the wedding.
Transportation - We need a van/bus service to transport guests from the hotel, to the church, to the reception venue, then back to the hotel. Or from the church to the reception venue and then back to the hotel.

Ideal dream come true - Reception venue, church, lodging all in one so transportation would not be needed and would be an ease for the guests.

We did find a venue that had all that, but it cost an arm and a leg and after negotiating back and forth, we realized it wasn't worth it and went on to our #2 venue and locked that in. Now we're currently working with our wedding planner to figure out the hotel and church, so HOPEFULLY it gets easier from there. We're now less than a year out from our wedding day, so we're trying to get things locked in quickly. We are doing a weekday wedding in October, and wedding season usually ends in September and most people opt out of weekday weddings, so our planner said it shouldn't be an issue to lock in the rest of the vendors. But send prayers and good vibes, haha.

Things on our agenda -
- sending off Save the Dates
- locking in accommodations, church, and welcome dinner location (hopefully the same place as the hotel)
- getting our wedding website put together (this is crucial for us because since it's a destination wedding and most of our guests have not gone to Italy, we need it to be as informative as possible for our guests)
- getting wedding invites done
- look at wedding rings

And everything else, of course. But yeah, that's pretty much where we're at right now. Do I think it's worth it so far? Honestly... no, lol. It's still not going to be cheap. I am already thinking of where this money could be going towards besides an event that's for everyone else to enjoy. And as someone who doesn't like procrastinating, I also wish this was all figured out last year and it's not really my style to plan an entire destination wedding in under a year. But everyone has reassured me that everything will work out fine, so we'll see! Some girls have told me their wedding day was the best day of their lives and others have said they wish they eloped. I guess we'll see how I feel after the wedding, haha. But I'll try to post more planning updates here and on TikTok (linked below). I apologize for sounding negative, but I'm just being honest about my feelings so far. I'm really hoping I'm just being a pessimist and everything will turn out better than I expect. If you have any suggestions or anything, please comment below! Or holler at me on one of my socials.

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