When Jessica put out the call for bloggers she asked, “Why is being budget savvy important to you in planning your wedding?” I smiled at first. I had a flood of thoughts. There was so much to say that I didn't say, but I felt it was important to share.
The short answer to this question is that I don't “need” much. The long answer is—well…..it's LONG.
I was raised in a single parent household and sometimes there was no “house” to “hold” in. And when we did have our own roof to live under, sometimes there was no hot water or electricity. We were cash poor, but rich in so many other ways. My mother took us to free ceramics classes at Chicago’s Public Parks and Recreation where we learned to paint as a family, and she encouraged friends to buy us books over Barbies in gift giving seasons. We didn’t always have access to television, so it was common that we’d read and spend time playing “beauty salon” with my mom.
One of my most memorable birthdays was spent in a shelter. A couple of the residents (who’d become friends of my mother) gave me two simple gifts that meant the world to me—a roll of nickels and a stuffed mouse. That roll of nickels made me feel rich and that toy mouse was perfect for playing tricks on my sister. I was the happiest kid and couldn’t have asked for more.
However, throughout years of parenting under tough circumstances, my mother had given me the greatest gift of all—the gift of consciousness. As a poor single mother, she was regularly faced with criticism about her parenting and things we “needed.” She refused the notion that we needed Barbies in order to have a childhood and did not knowingly accept luxury gifts, especially if we were lacking in other essentials. Her point was that we would not define the quality of our experience by material possessions nor did we need designer labels to be great.
I didn’t understand it then. I remember saying typical kid things like, “…but all my friends are doing it” and “I can’t wait until I’m grown.” Now that I’m “grown” and my consciousness has matured, I know exactly why my mother shunned the recommendations of so many and even I wouldn’t want my younger self to do what “ALL” my friends were doing. Having Barbies could never have taught me what it means to be a whole person the way my mom did. And I’m glad my mother turned away a $200 pair of kid’s designer jeans that had been given to me.
Her choices taught me over and over again that “things” don’t make the person. Best of all she showed me what does, and you can’t put a price tag on mom’s help with studying for the spelling bee, tagging along with her to work, or countless mother-daughter talks that shine a light on life’s shadows.
With that said, for me, being budget savvy is a condition of who I am. So it’s only natural that I would be a budget savvy bride. My bridal vision doesn’t involve designer labels or a mountain of gifts. I just want to feel beautiful and loved, and those things don’t have a price tag.
There are a lot of reasons brides choose to be budget savvy. Mine has everything to do with the lessons I learned living in poverty. However, regardless of the reason you choose to be a budget savvy bride, there will be a lot of people to tell you what “you must have” (whether they are contributing or not) and that you’re not being “practical” or “realistic” with your budget. Just know it comes with the territory. I won’t tell you those people aren’t your friends because the truth is, overall, people just want what's best for you (in their opinion). Be graceful. Remember who you are in all of it, say “thank you for your suggestion”, and keep it moving.
When you’re a budget savvy bride it means you have to work a little harder, be more resourceful, and stay connected to the woman you see in the mirror. That's where the magic happens!
I'll be the first to admit it isn't an easy path, but that's life. If you come to a place where you feel given to step outside the budgeting parameters you originally set, ask yourself a few questions:
- Why do I need _______?
- Can I do without _______?
- Will choosing _______ cause us to compromise our marriage by mortgaging our future?
If you or your fiancé are dissatisfied with the answers, “_____” probably isn't in your best interest.
My mother made many tough decisions in her parenting, and I’m glad she always chose my sister and me first. It took three jobs and then some, but she successfully planted the seed that enabled us to break the cycle of poverty.
Since Sherrod and I have changed our date (….AGAIN), I find it rather fitting that it fall on Mothers’ Day weekend. When I asked my mom how she felt about the new date she said, “A son will be the best Mothers’ Day present I’ve ever gotten.” So, a son she’ll get…
Have you thought about your reason for being a budget savvy bride? Please share!