Monday, June 16, 2008

#316: "newbie mistakes" series, post #2: what? it's taboo? oops.

post #1

i like to call myself 'street smart'. it's probably because my report cards proved i wasn't 'book smart' and i had to explain to someone *coughstrictparentscough* at some point that i had some type of intellectual capacity. regardless of why, over the years, i've come to actually believe that i really am 'street smart'. and by 'street smart', i mean i have some seriously powerful gifts of common sense...tact...and intuition.

but i must have missed something somewhere.

i was chit chatting with one of my friends who was preparing for her wedding last year when i grandly stuck my foot (shoe and all) into my mouth and asked...

"dude. how much is this wedding costing ya?"
her answer was "um...um...i'm not sure...um..."

oops.

at first, i believed her and really thought she didn't know. but after giving it another go around in my head, i realized that there's no way someone as meticulous as she is doesn't know how much money she's dropping. in fact, she probably had it calculated all the way down to the various flowers in my bridesmaid bouquet.

in part due to the fact that i made my friend so uncomfortable and in part due to the fact that i'm planning my own wedding (and will inevitably get asked this question and predict that i will be just as uncomfortable), i now understand that it's SO NOT OKAY to ask about someone's budget.

oops.

so...the advice here is two-fold.

1) if you're not yet engaged but have friends who are getting married, don't ever ask about their budget.
2) if you're newly engaged, be prepared with smartly disguised answers should newbies who don't know any better ask you about your budget.

p.s. so if i'm not book smart...and my street smarts are questionable...um...

22 comments:

mary fran said...

i know this is all "sunshine and lollypops," but i wish we could all share our budgets (with each other, if not the whole world). people who have given me their financial details (whole budget/bouquet cost/per-head catering charge) have given me a better idea what i can expect to pay in the real world.

Linda said...

I think it depends on the friend. Most of my friends tell me how much stuff costs (a few ballpark it for me at least). I'm not shy so I ask but I always understand if they don't want to share.
It might help if you prefaced it with "I really loved where you had your wedding. Do you think it would be in my budget?" Sucking up helps a lot!

east side bride said...

I have some pretty cool friends who were willing to tell me what they spent, and I found it incredibly helpful. (Though I must admit, the frugal people are far more willing to talk about it.) Aren't you proud of your $10,000 budget...?

Karen said...

I absolutely agree that it's really tough to get the straight scoop on wedding costs. I work for a caterer, and every day, I make people gasp, faint or mute. But I don't want to blindside anybody!

Sure, the big reason it's tough to talk straight dollars is the simple fax that it's incredibly complex. But overall, more guidance would be cool.

I just heard about CostOfWedding.com. And I know that those numbers will still look baffling to some people, but I have to say, I know my local market (San Francisco Bay Area), and the website's figures looks spot on to me.

Hope this is helpful, everybody!

Karen (event planner for a big East Bay caterer)

Elizabeth said...

Money is way too taboo in our society. I really believe that if everyone were more open about it - rent, salary, weddings, whatever, that it would help everyone a lot in knowing what they should be expecting. Wouldn't you be bummed to move into a neighborhood and find out all your neighbors are paying hundreds less than you for similar spaces? Or find out that other people with similar positions in your field of work were making way more? Financial transparency really is a way to freedom, and I think we should all be more open about it.

deanna said...

when i started planning my tiny budget wedding, i had two different girlfriends inquire how much it was all costing (they were both very considerate about how they approached it and said that they understood if i didn't feel comfortable divulging). i felt fine telling them, because i knew that they weren't judging me at all but both were on the brink of getting engaged and would be working with smaller budgets as well and had no idea how much weddings actually cost. but like east side bride said, it probably also helped that i was proud of how much bang we were wrangling from such little buck.

Meg said...

It's tough to talk about budgets in detail, particularly because it's so regional. Our wedding would cost half of what it's costing us in say, the Midwest. Thought I'm obviously pro talking about thriftyness in a general way, I tend to think in the end your priorities are your business and your partners business, and that is it. What soulds like a lot to me, sounds like a pittance to some, and a fortune to others, and I have enough to deal with, without extra judgment.

laura said...

you have to be sneaky, I recently brought up the national average that people spend on weddings to my soon to be married friend, and she quickly said "that's crazy we're only spending 8,000" but I agree it depends on the friend.

also I'm, not shy to share our budget (5,000) because I'm really proud. We have alot of creative contributions from friends and family making that possible.

and you should be proud too, anything less than 28,000 (the national average) is doing pretty good.

Teana said...

i think it does depend on the friend. my best friend told me down to the penny and when i asked another friend who had married a couple years before right as i was starting to help my best friend plan hers, she gave me an "about $xxx". i think most people's hesitance to reveal the magic number is to guard against any judgments, good or bad, that might come with it.

Molly said...

I've had some friends be very upfront about it and it was actually very helpful when setting my own budget. I have one friend that used the same caterer as we're using and it was nice to know exactly how much she was charged for things. I think it all depends on the friend and your relationship with her.

Alexa said...

If you're too embarrassed to share your budget, it's probably because you know you're spending a ridiculous amount. I would be proud to say "look, I did all this for $10k!" At the same time, my sister, who got married 15 years ago won't talk about the budget because she wants to remember the wedding itself, not how much it cost.

Allie said...

In my experience, the bigger the budget, the more unwilling they are to discuss it with you. My friends who had weddings under $10,000 were open to talking about budget — in part because it was a bragging right ("Look at the $14 shoes I just found!") and in part because they needed encouragement that, yes, this IS possible. :) Some of my friends who spent upwards of $50,000 seemed embarrassed of the amount they'd spent — or, in many cases, the amount they'd gone over their original allocation.

Tiffany said...

I am very much with Elizabeth and many, many others commenting here. I think we all need to be more open with money. Gone are the olden days when you don't talk of certain subjects. We share gas prices with others, we talk of grocery bills, gas & power bills, so why not wedding costs? It's public information anyway...just like housing prices. I've learned through watching Mom go through retirement, my fathers illness & recent death, that if she hadn't been so open about money, social security, Medicare & health insurance, she may not be as comfortable, worry free and taken care of today. It's much more wise and helpful to share your money information. Even Suzy Oreman recommends doing so. You may discover something you never new about or discover you just helped a friend from making a huge mistake. Especially in this day & age, when the economy isn't the best, how could it be a bad thing to be open about your costs?

kt said...

While I believe it's important to be open and honest with my fiance about financial matters, I don't think that the rest of the world is entitled to that sort of information. My budget is $10,000, but I still don't feel comfortable sharing that information with my friends just yet. Maybe when the wedding is over, but for now I'd rather keep it to myself instead of inviting comments.

rebekah @ elizabeth anne designs said...

The answer should always be "around 200,000" just to freak them out.

Irbas said...

i think people are even worse with rings... some people keep asking me 1. how many karats it is and 2. how much it cost.. i think it is incredibly rude (except for my friends who were trying to figure out what they might want one day....) and how would i even know how much my ring cost i didnt' buy it!

the budget thing- i agree with some of the others.. i wish we could all just share so it would be easier to figure out.

Nerdalicious said...

Here - I'll divulge - we're spending 8500 for our nuptials in August. We're getting about 3K in help and the rest is up to us.

And it's going to rock. :-D

10/09 said...

how's a girl supposed to plan her dream wedding (in her head) without knowing basic figures from other people's weddings? I always ask friends ballpark figures for their weddings. Some don't know how much it costs because their parents are paying for it all. But those friends who are saving their own pennies have been more than willing to share how those pennies are spent. If it's going to help someone else find a way to make their dream day possible... I think we should share! I do see how a stranger could come off as intrusive but within the friend circle... start spillin the beans and help the other girls out! :D

Rebek said...

I definitely think that we should share, but again -- it's because I'm below the national average and, although I wish I could do it for less, I'm proud of our budget. http://rebekistan.googlepages.com/bridalbudgetreality

And yeah, what is it with the rude ring questions? The worst was, "is it platinum?" Why the heck is that important?

gg said...

i think you are correct to think that those whose budget is larger or if someone has a large amount that they are paying, then they are embarrassed and maybe don't want to share.
i'm in the middle of planning my wedding and i'm having a heart attack trying to figure out how to make things cheaper. our goal budget was 20k (which was still high) but i'm already over it.
anyway, i'm trying to figure how to get it back down (which is why i'm on this blog!!!).
i'm not embarrassed to tell ppl prices because i want to know what ppl spend and if there are deals i'm missing and need.
the one issue i do have is that my best friend keeps asking me how much my boys parents are giving us for the wedding. for some reason, i have a problem with that and think it's tacky and none of anyone's biz. she's asked like 5 times.

Kimberly said...

I think that if you use tack when discussing budget. I was a party recently where half the couples there were either married or engaged. One girl and I were talking about our weddings and after making a comment about how pricey stuff was - she said "well, my daddy is paying for everything, so money is not an issue." I was like....hello - rude!

zoliepup said...

We are very proud that we're doing this on a budget. At the same time, a friend of mine just spent over $100,000. She wasn't shy about sharing that with me.

I think that whatever you decide, you just have to own it... and if for some reason you don't feel comfortable with that, then maybe that is a sign!