Invest in social relationships. When it comes to happiness, nothing matters more than our social relationships. It’s worth spending money on wedding costs that will enhance these relationships. For example, if your best friend from college or favorite aunt can’t afford to attend your wedding, consider covering their travel costs so the people you care about can be there to share your special day. And think about what you can do to help your guests get to know each other. When our friends and family arrived in Mexico for our destination wedding, they received a glossy booklet with color pictures of each guest and a fun fact about each person—but we didn’t say which fact went with which person (e.g. “She accidentally skied off a roof.” “He was pursued by a grizzly bear in the Canadian wilderness”). Guests spent the week of our wedding doing a “social scavenger hunt,” trying to figure out which fact went with which person—and getting to know each other better in the process. Many wedding expenses, from linen tablecloths to perfect flower arrangements, won’t do anything to bring you and your guests closer. Cut costs on these items and you’ll be able to afford that plane ticket for Aunt Suzy.
Pay for your wedding up front. Thirty percent of couples rely on credit cards to cover some or all of their wedding costs. But paying with credit cards increases the risk of overspending and ending up in debt—and research shows that debt is toxic for marriage (couples with more debt disagree more about common areas of conflict from chores to sex). As well as getting your marriage off on the right foot, paying cash on the spot can make your wedding day more pleasurable. A recent study showed that people enjoy something as simple as a gift basket more when they’ve paid for it in advance.
Of course, even with the most careful planning, some things are bound to unfold differently than you imagine. We chose the perfect spot on a beautiful beach for our wedding—only to have an older man in a tiny red Speedo hover near us throughout the wedding ceremony. At the time, I wasn’t impressed. But now my husband and I still laugh with our friends about Red Speedo Guy. And that turns out to be an important reason why experiences provide more happiness than material things—they just get better with time.
Photo credit: L & A Photovideo
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