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Is a Big Wedding Worth it?

Many of us, as we get deeper into wedding planning, ask ourselves the question: Is a big wedding even worth it? Is it worth the stress and the crazy expense?

In our desperation to know whether or not our “big wedding” panic is “normal,” we scour blogs and forums for advice and guidance. But the answer to this question is personal and it always depends on the individual.

Based on speaking to many engaged and married couples, the consensus seems to be that a big wedding is worth it ONLY if you fall into one of the categories below or if you have followed the guidelines below EXACTLY before getting started on your wedding planning. If not, then a big wedding will probably NOT be “worth it” for you.

A Big Wedding Will Be “Worth it” For You If:

1. You’ve long harbored dreams of having a big wedding

For those whose childhood dream was to have a big wedding at the center of family and friends, you don’t want the decision to not have a big wedding to be a regret. Or if you’ve been attending the weddings of friends and you look around imagining yourself having your own big wedding, there may be something to that.

You don’t want to kill yourself throwing a big wedding, but you also don’t want to have huge regrets about not having the experience you envisioned for yourself.

If this is the case, close your eyes right now and imagine the perfect scenario again. What is there that is important to you? What elements of that big day do you really want?

Go ahead and throw your big wedding, but narrow your concentration to those specific elements and let everything else fall away.

2. You set a reasonable, feasible agreed-upon budget and stick to it

A big wedding will only be worth it if you have first thought long and hard about the numbers. It sucks, but if you don’t take the time to do this at the beginning, you will be riddled with doubts and vulnerable to overspending later on.

Sit down with your partner before you book or plan anything. Talk about what number you absolutely won’t go over. What number would make you sick or uncomfortable to spend? Agree on it and respect it.

This number should be feasible with your lifestyle and chosen so that it won’t put either of you in a desperate or dire financial situation at any point down the road.

If just talking about this hurts, is uncomfortable, is PAINFUL even, then a big wedding will not be worth it.

If you’re interested in reading more about the the expenses involved in planning a wedding these days compared to our parents’ generation, you may also like my article 3 Reasons Why Weddings Are So Expensive.

3. You know what you want and don’t let other people’s opinions interfere

Similarly to always knowing that you wanted a big wedding, if you have a vision of what you want, a big wedding is more likely to be worth the effort and price for you.

Alternatively, if you’re wishy-washy in your decisions, or if you’re unsure of what you like or want, you are SO MUCH more likely to overspend.

Others, either family members, friends, or wedding industry vendors will take advantage of your uncertainty and you are less likely to be happy with what you’ve paid for.

Before deciding on whether or not to have a big wedding, sit with yourself for a while and think. What do I want? What do I envision for this day? Do plenty of research before even considering buying anything or making any big decisions.

Talk to your partner. Solidify your vision together and ask yourself constantly: Am I comfortable and happy with this? If at any point the answer is no, a big wedding may not be worth it.

4. You are secure in discussing money with your partner

If you and your partner can easily talk about money and how much is being spent on what, you will eliminate one aspect of stress caused to many couples planning their weddings.

Financial infidelity is a real thing and something that can taint and corrode the wedding planning process (and a marriage…). It’s so important that you’re both on the same page with how you want to do this THING. If not, the potential for regret and hard feelings goes way up.

A healthy line of communication regarding finances, and not secretly adding things on here or there, will make planning a big wedding more enjoyable and will keep you both honest in terms of whether or not it was all “worth it.”

5. The sacrifices you’ll have to make are not a big deal to you

For most people asking themselves “Is a big wedding worth it?” they are not in the position where they have a ton of extra disposable income.

If you are very wealthy, you’re probably not agonizing over the money you’re spending on your wedding. So that means most of us planning our weddings, especially big weddings, will have to make sacrifices of some kind.

The question you have to ask yourself is: What are the sacrifices I have to make, and are they worth it?

Will you have to work on the weekends? Pick up extra shifts, get a second job even? Will you have to cut out eating out or going out for a year? Whatever it is that you have to do to pay for this big wedding, be honest with yourself when you then ask yourself: Is it worth it or will I feel angry for having to do or give up these things?

If you’re not bothered by the sacrifices you’ll have to make, then a big wedding is probably worth it to you.

6. You don’t mind being the center of attention

Of course, if you’re shy, introverted, not the type to seek out attention, or if you’ve always dreamed of a small intimate wedding, then you already know a big wedding is not for you. Skip it! Have the small wedding that you want.

If you don’t mind being the center of attention or if it excites you to be the center of attention, then you might be onto something! Perhaps a big wedding will be worth it for you.

7. Your wedding budget isn’t competing with other major financial pressures in your life

If you have major debt such as student loans or credit card debt, adding a giant wedding price tag onto that could be quite suffocating.

That’s not to say that it’s impossible to have a big wedding if you have debt, but you do have to at least take the time to think long and hard about it first.

Not the wedding vows you were planning on…

Perhaps you can look at all the numbers and figure out how long it would take you to pay everything off if you had the big wedding you wanted. If there’s a payment plan that looks feasible and that doesn’t stress you out, then a big wedding might be worth it.

If looking at the payment plan or the numbers makes you want to vomit, I would suggest that you downsize your big wedding plans. It probably won’t be worth the stress and price tag.

8. You remember to prioritize your relationship over your wedding

These days, with image being such a driver of everything that we do, be it for social media or to sell a product, there seems to be a huge loss of the sense for what is really important.

What is the purpose of a wedding? To marry the love of your life, right? To gather the people who matter most and show them how deep your commitment to each other is.

If your relationship and the connection to your partner gets lost among the big, expensive plans for your wedding, I guarantee that it will not be worth it.

That’s it! For anyone thinking to themselves next, “Is an Expensive WEDDING DRESS worth it?!?” take a look at the article I wrote on the subject. (Hint: You probaaaably don’t want to buy that designer dress)


Brittany is a writer and teacher in Vancouver, Canada. She started the website Wayfaring Weddings as a way to share her research on affordable, eco-friendly, and less stressful approaches to wedding planning.