How can I delay the planning of the wedding?
“I proposed to my girlfriend a couple of months ago and she has been dying to start the planning of the wedding, but i keep on delaying the planning because i really want to graduate college and get a job so I can afford a great wedding for us.
She understands but is extremely frustrated about it.
I was wondering if there is anything I could do that could do to make her feel any better about this?”
-The Plunge Reader
First off, congratulations. We’ll offer you 5 arguments (which she might or might not buy), then 5 specific things you can actually do.
Your 5 Arguments:
1. The longer you wait, the more money you’ll have squirreled away. The more money you have, the better wedding she’ll have. This is pretty straightforward.
2. Stress to her–even though, yes, this seems laughably obvious–that you want to marry her, that you’re looking forward to the wedding, and that you can’t wait until she’s your wife. (Lie. We kid, we kid! Mostly.) You’re not stalling. You’re not “dithering,” as Dick Cheney might say. You’re simply waiting until you can afford the wedding that she deserves. Obvious? Yep. But so’s “I love you,” and women seem to like hearing that more than once.
3. The only way to successfully budget a wedding–especially when you don’t have gobs to spend–is to go with a “top-down” approach. This means that you first figure out how much money you can spend, then you figure out how to allocate. If you first start looking at dream florists, dream cakes, dream venues, etc., this’ll add up to one ugly bar tab. And the only way you can figure out how much you can spend, of course, is to see how much you’ll have saved after college and after you have a job.
See also: Three Little Words – Sign the Prenup
4. Permit us to state the obvious… Dude, you’re in college, right? There is, in fact, a ceremony we recommend you attend. A big party with hundreds of your friends. You wear a black formal uniform, you smile at your parents, and you’re a changed man. This is called graduation. What’s the hot hurry to get your marriage license before you get your diploma?
5. Let her know that everyone understands. Again, this should be obvious, but it wouldn’t hurt to underscore. Imagine for a second that you’re both 30 years old. In that case, if you’re engaged for 2+ years and never plan a wedding, her friends and family might think that’s sorta weird, and, understandably, she’d be frustrated. In your case? Families get it. Friends get it. You guys are young and just starting out, and everyone knows that, so there’s nothing weird or socially awkward about waiting a while.
Bonus argument: Talk about the financial stability of your new family. Think about this. It’s actually pretty damn serious. Once the two of you are married, it’s not simply your money and her money. The two of you will be joint partners–forever–and your finances are eternally linked. It follows, therefore, that for the good of your family, when you start your new life together, you should do it on ground that’s rock-solid.
Stuff You Can Actually Do:
1. Actually set a date. Just set a concrete date way, way, waaaay in the future, which gives you ample time to graduage and secure employment. This isn’t simply practical. (But it’s very practical.) It reinforces that the engagement is real, the wedding is real, your commitment is real. Even if you don’t have the exact specific date picked out, you can say “August 2011” and stick to it. Yes, this is a long way off, but it reduces the uncertainty and gives you some breathing room.
See also: Uncomfortable Money Issues
2. Start brainstorming the honeymoon. This is fun, stress-free, and uncomplicated by family politics–it’s the dessert after the broccoli. And, again, it reminds her that you’re in this thing for real.
3. Encourage her to start budgeting, not planning. What you shouldn’t be doing now: booking venues, trying on dresses, tasting cakes. (In fact, you should never be trying on dresses.) What you could be doing now: getting a feel for wedding budgets so you can ballpark what’s reasonable. A great place to start (not that we’re biased) is right here, our article: The Disgusting Budget Basics.
And if all that shit fails, elope.