Selfish to want a wedding?

My fiancé’s parents offered to pay for a wedding, or for a down payment on a house. We want the wedding! Is that wrong? My friend says it’s selfish. Who cares what your friend thinks, says our elder. You have to do what’s right for you.

Dear EWC

My fiancé and I are planning on getting married soon. Her parents have given us a budget for the wedding. So we decided to find a nice venue and stay on budget. However, before we signed they said that if we wanted to we could elope and spend the money on a down payment on a house. My fiancé wants a wedding and I do too. I told a good friend of mine this and he said we should do the house and we are just being selfish and being all “look at me” with us having a wedding. I think there’s nothing wrong with having a wedding and celebrating with friends and family. So my question is, are we wrong for wanting a wedding instead of putting a down payment on a home? We are perfectly fine with our apartment right now. We want to renew for another year and save up more for a home we want than just what we tolerate. My fiancé has a decent amount in savings but I figure the more we save, the bigger the down payment. So are we wrong or selfish for wanting a wedding? My friend says, “No one really cares anyway but you two.” And that he got married for $75.

Willow replies

Congratulations on your engagement! This is an exciting time for you and your fiancé, one filled with so many decisions and choices. It can be a time of great stress, too, and it seems to me the last thing you need is added stress or unsolicited advice from a friend, however well-intentioned they might be. Let’s talk about some of the details in your letter.
Your fiance’s parents have given you a very generous choice — money for a wedding, or for a down payment on a house. Note that they have given you a choice as to how that money is spent. They have not dictated it be spent on their choice, as that decision belongs solely to you and your fiancé. It certainly doesn’t belong to friends who decide to impose their opinions on you. The question you ask is whether you are wrong, selfish or stupid for wanting a wedding instead of putting the money down on a home. My answer to that is no. In my view, what’s important is that you and your fiancé have decided together what you want, and you are in agreement that a wedding is the way to go. You have every right to move ahead with the wedding of your dreams, if that’s what you both want.
It sounds like you and your fiancé have considered your options carefully, and that’s the right way to go about such a decision. Not everyone wants a house right away, and you indicate you’re both fine with your apartment for now. You have a plan to renew for another year while you save and if that feels right to you both, there’s nothing wrong with that. You and she are in the best position to know what you earn, what you can save and whether or not you will have the necessary money for a down payment when the time is right for you to move ahead on a house. If you have run the numbers and can reasonably assume you will have enough money when it’s needed, you will have done the right and responsible thing to get your financial lives on track.

This is also not an all or nothing decision. You could also consider spending some of the budget on a wedding and saving the rest for a house down the road. Again, that is between you and your fiancé based on your own understanding of your finances and your priorities.
I’ll share a bit of personal history here. When I was engaged (a long time ago!), my parents gave my then-fiancé and me a similar choice — money towards a wedding, or towards a house. We talked about it a lot and ended up choosing the wedding. We had both completed our educations with minimal college debt remaining, and both of us had jobs that we knew would enable us to save what we needed to purchase a home without our parents’ help. We had a beautiful and memorable wedding celebrating with friends and family. Because we had looked long and hard at our financial situation before we married and planned for our future, only one year after our wedding we were able to purchase our first home. We had absolutely no regrets about the choice we made, because it was well thought out and was the right choice for us.
And that is really my point with this letter. There is no right or wrong choice for you to make. The “right” choice is the one that is right for you. Others, like your friend, might make different choices. That’s fine. What’s right for them is not necessarily right for you.
I wonder about the motivation behind your friend’s comments. It’s hard to imagine a “friend” telling you that “no one really cares besides you two” (ouch!) and pointing out that he got married for $75. Of course it’s possible to do that; it’s possible to do lots of things. But that was a choice made by him and his then-fiancé, a choice that was presumably right for them. It’s quite possible he’s jealous that you are receiving such generous help from your fiance’s family. Maybe he would have liked a big wedding, too, but couldn’t afford the type of wedding you are considering. Whatever the reason for his comments, please don’t let them make you question your choice. If he comments again, smile, thank him for his concern and tell him you’re happy with your plans as they are. There is no need to discuss this with him as he doesn’t have a vote in what you do. Don’t let him insert himself where he doesn’t belong or make you feel guilty for your decision.
I hope you’ve found my point of view on your letter helpful. I wish you and your fiancé a beautiful wedding and many years of happiness together. Congratulations!

Letter #: 453494
Category: Dating/Relationship

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