Getting Married While Facing a "Mount Everest" of Debt
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  1. #1
    Registered User From Debt to Set's Avatar
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    Default Getting Married While Facing a "Mount Everest" of Debt

    Hello!

    My girlfriend and I have been dating for 8 years, going on 9 this coming February. We have waited this long to even consider marriage because 1) we didn't have the money to while in school, and 2) we did not want to distract from the happiness of a wedding with the stress of school and stuff. We wanted clear minds when we got married, and right now---despite our focus on debt---we certainly feel this way.

    The only thing is that since we are in so much debt, I worry when the right time will be. We love being together, but at some point we have to take that next step. I know we both want this more than anything, but since we started our "debt snowball", we are nervous how long we will have to wait. We have a long way to go, so do we focus for a few more years and then think about getting married, or try to do so within the next year? We have plenty of time since we plan on being together anyway, but we're tired of playing house and want to make this official.

    We aren't looking for a big wedding, so rest assured I am not looking at making another huge mistake by blowing like $20k-$30k on it with money we don't have, or want to waste. We also don't want to get married at a court house. We would almost like to do something on our own. We want to have different guests attend, but have seen from her sister's wedding firsthand how crazy stuff gets with the pressure from all fronts about guest lists. Her sister ended up inviting like 350 people---most of the people her and her husband don't even talk to---and her father feeling guilt for not being able to do as much as he wanted because of his financial situation, decided to take out $20k from a Home Equity Line of Credit. Bad idea, and they are paying dearly for it now. In all, her sister's wedding cost around $50k and all they got back in gifts was $10k. We are not looking to go into the hole $40k just to say we had a nice wedding. Last time I checked, whether a person has a $1k wedding or a $100k "Bridezilla" wedding, the couple is typically married at the end of the ceremony.

    For all you out there who are in a similar circumstance or who have already experienced this situation, what is your take? I know that Dave Ramsey says---or at least I thought I heard him say---that a couple should never delay getting married or having children for the sake of the "debt snowball", but there are certainly limits on what can be spent. I am pretty sure his philosophy is to spend no more than 1 month's salary on an engagement ring and to keep the wedding short, sweet, and within a tight budget. I remember him saying that he only spent approximately $1,100 on his wife's engagement ring back in the 70s. But, even with inflation, that isn't more than $3k or so these days.

    I definitely have some thinking to do. I love her very much. I know she will be happy with whatever we decide to do, but I am ready to take that next step within the next few years. After 8 years of dating, most people would say it's time to "shhhhh or get off the pot." I love her, so I think I'll stay on the pot for many years to come regardless of how we proceed.

    In the process of going from debt to set,

    -Steven
    Last edited by From Debt to Set; 07-18-2011 at 10:43 PM. Reason: Added quotes to the title.

  2. #2
    Registered User Syn D's Avatar
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    Our daughter is planning on getting married in April and plans to still work on their debt until and after they get married...

    She is not a big wedding person, but also doesn't want to do courthouse, so their going to Vegas to get married (like me and hubby did).. She is inviting a small amount of people that are paying their own way..

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    Registered User wanderlusting's Avatar
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    DH and I had a decent sized wedding and looking back, I wish we would have done something simple- we're just not the type of people that like a lot of fuss.

    You could have it in a small church and then have the reception there- lots of churches have common areas where you can have some tables and a buffet.

    Do a destination wedding- like Syn D suggested in Vegas or maybe Hawaii.

    Not sure if you're ok with this, but you could find a nice engagement ring at a pawn shop or off of Craigslists.
    Wife to Air Force DH for 7 years.
    SAHM to twin boys, Samuel and David!

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    Registered User JoeV's Avatar
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    Musings from the 60 year old new kid on the block...

    You are 28 years old, and should know by now the dangers of debt. I suggest that both of you set a goal that for the next year you will work on paying off credit card debt, and learn to live within your means by buying ONLY things that you can pay for with CASH. If you eat out more than once a week (including lunches), there is a huge savings by making your own meals and brown-bagging a lunch each day. Don't get sucked in by peer pressure to go bar hopping and buying elaborate meals (that you cannot afford), because you will only end up with more debt. Invite friends to come to your place for a nice evening and have them bring a steak and their own beverage of choice. If anyone says anything condescending, just tell them you are making a better life for yourselves, and if they are true friends, they will support you. Do either of you have a financial cushion of at least 6 months pay in savings in case either one or both of you lose your jobs? If not, how would you handle a job loss if you were married? Most married couple NEED both incomes because they want to have it all right now, and consequently end up in credit card hell because of it.

    If you can discipline yourself to do this you will create new habits to carry into a marriage, and may even find that you are accumulating savings in the process. If not, you don't want to know what my prediction for your marriage will be. Keep in mind that the number one argument in marriages today is MONEY, and it's usually the lack of it. Get a handle on your finances now to have a happy marriage down the road. Your love for each other will still be there in a year, then you can talk about getting married.

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    Rude and Vile Master Greebo's Avatar
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    Ceashels and I married in a local Methodist chapel about 200 years old with a Navajoes Medicine Woman presiding. We had about 15 guests all told, and had a lovely quiet dinner at a local steak house. Cea made her own gown and I wore a nice suit. We spent all told about $2,500 and most of that was on dinner.

    The wedding is a show. The marriage is your life. Don't get hung up on the show, that's not the important bit.
    If you could kick in the pants the person responsible for your problems, you wouldn't be able to sit for a month.

    Did you know that a 4 year student paying $20,000/year who finances their education graduates with over $103,000 in debt to start? But a student who works and pays cash and takes 6 years to graduate ends with $6,300 in their pocket! So much for "getting a head start by financing!"


    Greebo
    (Nerd Spender): Loving and extremely patiently tolerated husband of ceashels.
    WARNING: Y Chromosome behind the keyboard. Adjust your listening filters appropriately!

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    Two mortgages, two one no car loans, one no credit cards, and a partridge in pear tree!

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    Look. Just go to the Courthouse. get a licence and get married there.It's legally binding justas much as a church wedding.I don't see the problem. Why do people want to waste so much money on getting married? I have NEVER understood that. It's just brainwashing from folks who have nothing better to do with their money and from the wedding businesses.
    Get married NOW at the courthouse if you absolutely MUST be married, then LATER when you can afford a nice service have a wedding or Vow renewal with the bells and whistles.

    Geesh people, this is not brain surgery. THINK!

  7. #7
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    My ex and I eloped and then each of our families threw us a reception. The reception, for us, was what mattered. We have pictures of the wedding and pictures of the reception just like everyone else except that family are in the reception pictures. We did separate receptions because of the distance between families, we didn't want to force either side to have to travel when it was cheaper for us as a couple to go to them. Neither reception was a huge cost, both of our families are very frugal so it consisted of favorite restaurants, not big reception halls. We didn't have open bars or anything like that, it was all very frugal, relaxed, and fun! I dressed in my wedding dress to both events so I got to wear my dress (which I scored for only $125 by the way) three times instead of just once. I have no regrets on the wedding and receptions, it was really nice! We were married on Valentine's day, had a horse & carriage ride around a lake with the carriage all decorated, "Just Married", cans tied to it, TOO CUTE. Very fond memories of it all.

    My current bf and I plan to do this for our wedding as well. He had the "big blow out wedding" with his ex and was relieved I didn't want to go through that. We are long distance, so once again the reception will be us traveling to each side of the family.

    Hope this helps. Its a day to be celebrated, don't go cheap, but don't dig yourselves a financial grave either.
    "If you can't see the light at the end of the tunnel, march down there and light it yourself."

    Car loan (ugh, again!)
    Husband's debt to work on, mine is gone except car loan. w00t!

    Yah, I suck at this money stuff, I know. That's why I'm here.

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    i had the huge wedding against my will and it was a colossal waste of money.

    all you need to get married:
    officiant at church or temple or courthouse
    the pretty "side chapel" of the church
    a few family and friends as guests
    wedding bands from walmart
    license
    and go out to lunch after.

    i would not do the courthouse/do-over weddding because those don't go over well with guests, besides, what's the point?

    i strongly recommend church/temple wedding if you are a church/temple going person. you will not be happy if you don't.

    you can get her a diamond ring after you are done with the debt repayment program

    i would be proud to wear these

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...STRK:MEWAX:VRI
    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...984.m159.l1634
    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...=STRK:MEWAX:IT
    baby step 2- see blog for actual amounts

    "stop being a victim, you are a perpetrator, taking things without paying for them is stealing, you are not a victim, you are a perpetrator. PAY THE PEOPLE YOU OWE, pray for the people you owe, and make it right. " hard nosed AA person, thumping his big book, addressed to me in AA meeting 7/30/2013

  9. #9
    Registered User greekislandgirl's Avatar
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    I was in your exact situation (well sort of; instead of "debt", replace with "low income").

    My husband and I got married at the Greek equivalent of the courthouse. It cost €250, most of that was paperwork (there was a lot because I am a foreigner) although we also spent €35 on a dress and €25 on shoes for me. We had 2 witnesses plus another 4 "guests" (people who happened to be there at the same time). That's it.

    My only regret is that I spent so much time worrying about how we would eventually afford our "real wedding" with 80 guests and all that stuff. If we can afford it (for real afford it) some day, we might do it, but for now, we're just enjoying being married.

    Honestly, just do it. The wedding isn't the good part; the good part is the marriage after the wedding. Putting it off forever is just delaying the good part! No point to that that I can see. You'll always be able to do a "vow renewal" at some future time if you want a big party.

    As far as engagement rings go... my husband designed mine, and it's a ruby solitaire instead of a diamond. It was probably much less expensive, it's very beautiful, and I much prefer it aesthetically over the large diamond solitaire that I am in line to inherit that I think looks ridiculous. Many women don't even want a diamond - I sure didn't. When I see them, I can't help but think sarcastically "wow, she sure has an imaginative husband." LOL! One of my closest friends has a blue sapphire solitaire engagement ring and it's gorgeous too.

    But you don't need to do a ring at all if that's not a big deal to you. We did it because it was a big deal to us - that's the only reason. We also did it before we our finances went in the toilet for events beyond our control - if we had to do it all over again, I'm 99% sure I wouldn't have the ring, and I'm 100% sure I wouldn't be any less happy or in love with my husband!

  10. #10
    Registered User Contrary Housewife's Avatar
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    First, I commend you for not wanting to add to your debt with something as wasteful as a huge wedding. I agree with the other poster who said you should spend a year and set a debt paydown goal and kill as much of that debt as possible first. And I'll add that using that time to start a 'wedding fund' is not a bad idea either. Really knuckle down and do it. It'll be tough at first but as a couple you need to learn to deal with stuff like this together.

    You can have a nice small church or chapel wedding and reception for about $3000, no problem. Your fiance doesn't need a $10000 dress, there are many very beautiful ones under $200. Likewise you do not "need" most of the crap that is being sold for weddings like matchbooks, napkins and disposable decorations. Just think of the reception as a big party and you'll do fine.

    Have a quiet ceremony in front of the judge with your parents and then go meet everyone for an afternoon reception with sandwiches, cake and punch. You're old enough now that you can dictate the terms of your ceremony to meddling relatives. And if you think too many people want to be invited, and have to to keep the family peace, then have a big potluck picnic in the park instead of a traditional reception.
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    We spent less on our wedding, but it wasn't a courthouse wedding. We spent about $7K. It was perfect for us. Could we have done it cheaper at the courthouse? Sure. But we did what was meaningful and important to us.

    If I were you, I'd figure out a wedding budget - $5k, 10K, whatever. Believe it or not, there is a middle ground between "I spent $50K and had my dress custom ordered with fresh flowers flown in from across the country" and "I only spent $.50 on a cheap washer to use as a wedding ring." Once you have a budget figured out, start saving for it and figure out a reasonable deadline - if it will take 2 years to save $5K, then start planning for July 2014.

    It's kind of like goal setting - it doesn't work to say "I want to get out of debt someday" - you need to set concrete goals and action steps. Otherwise "someday" won't happen. If you don't actually make a plan to get married with action steps, then it will just be another "someday"

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    Registered User JoeV's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thefrug View Post
    Look. Just go to the Courthouse. get a licence and get married there.It's legally binding justas much as a church wedding.I don't see the problem. Why do people want to waste so much money on getting married? I have NEVER understood that. It's just brainwashing from folks who have nothing better to do with their money and from the wedding businesses.
    Get married NOW at the courthouse if you absolutely MUST be married, then LATER when you can afford a nice service have a wedding or Vow renewal with the bells and whistles.

    Geesh people, this is not brain surgery. THINK!
    You're correct, it's more serious than brain surgery. With over half of the marriages today ending in divorce, there is no reason to go into a marriage with the baggage of debt overload. This couple are co-conspirators in money mismanagement, by their own admission, and are basically enabling each other to continue this behavior. If they do not take time to change their ways, they will end up not only divorced, but most probably bankrupt as well. If you think they had baggage before, try getting remarried with an ex in the picture as well as a bankruptcy. Yeah, you'll look like a real good catch...NOT.

    Without changes over time that both participate in, their future looks like too many others who want it all and they want it now...disaster!

    JMHO

    Joe

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    Do you want to have a wedding reception to share the celebration of your marriage with your nearest and dearest, or to throw a killer party that everyone will talk about for weeks to come? I think needing a huge dress, expensive ring, absurd number of guests, open bar, etc is more about vanity than celebrating the marriage of two people. Just my humble opinion, and I don't mean to offend anyone who enjoyed a big wedding by it.

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    Registered User CrazyCat's Avatar
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    I think that you've set yourself up. You've already committed to this lady....but 'couldn't' get married while in school....'can't get married' until the debt is paid off~I'm assuming that if you DO decide to have kids...you won't consider it until the debt is paid off. ~while it's nice to have such a concrete plan....to me you are putting off living life until things fall into place a certain way.

    Oh yeah...her sister's wedding?? Craziness I tell ya~! I can almost see a home equity line of credit for an education...but a wedding???? OMG!
    BTW~This is My Own Personal Opinion~!

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    Registered User Libby's Avatar
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    Since you don't want the Courthouse nor an elaborate wedding - How about booking an officiant and only inviting THE most intimate of friends and family to witness and have the wedding by the lake or somewhere very special to you both? Very elegant and intimate. Go out for a celebratory meal after

    DF and I found a 'one stop shop' venue that does/provides everything. They had several packages available with the simplest starting at $99 going up to $10K with the more elaborate. All we're doing is showing up with the marriage lic & guests. Try looking for venues like that near you.

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