Sometimes, technology is a bad thing. Just because you CAN do something doesn't mean you should. That's exactly what went through my mind when I received an email from a public relations company asking me to blog about how wonderful it is that brides and grooms can crowdfund to pay for their weddings now. Are you kidding me? That's the worst idea I've heard in a long time.
I've acclimated to online wedding invitations, and God forbid, online RSVPs. The etiquette maven in me cringes but has to accept that this is becoming more and more common. Even harder to accept was that my clients started registering for "non-traditional" wedding gifts, such as honeymoon registries and in one case, in vitro fertilization. But still, I've managed to keep my mouth shut and help however I can (including finding the registry for them that would allow in vitro fundraising). But I draw the line at crowdfunding to pay for your actual wedding.
I did some research and almost died. There are entire websites dedicated solely to crowdfunding your wedding, like Crowded Wedding. I couldn't surf the posts because this site allows you to privately target your friends and family specifically to ask them to pay for your wedding. I cannot decide if that's better or worse than putting it out in the public realm - it's almost like selling tickets. And if I'm a friend who couldn't afford to contribute, will I still be invited to the wedding? Does contributing to your wedding fund automatically guarantee me an invite? Probably not. But it should.
Here are the cold hard facts. Listen up, and listen well.
If you cannot afford to pay for your wedding, have a smaller wedding. If you still cannot afford to pay for a wedding, you should elope. For real.
A wedding reception is a party given by you (or your parents) to celebrate the fact that you have exchanged your vows. I cannot think of anything ruder than asking your guests (or worse, random friends who aren't even going to be invited to your wedding) to help finance your big day. As far as violating etiquette goes, this is beyond the pale.
Look, I'm not a totally heartless bitch. I recognize that most women (and some men) want to have a big, beautiful wedding to celebrate the big step they're taking in their lives. But, as someone who has planned more than 500 weddings, and has done at least 2,500 consultation calls with potential clients over the years, I'm the first one to tell you that most of the brides and grooms who call me have absolutely no clue how much money the kind of wedding they want actually costs. Once we talk, they adjust their expectations because I'm always honest and direct about the budget.
Not having a budget big enough for the wedding you've dreamed of leaves you with two choices - change your wedding plans or find the money. Whether it's charge cards or a home equity loan (and no, I don't advise people to get into big debt to have a big wedding but it's better than holding out a tin cup), figure out how you're going to pay for the things you want yourself, or with help from your families. But please don't put out a plea to the general public for money to pay for your wedding.
As I scrolled through the site that contacted me, Move Your Mountain, and clicked on the tab for "Newlyweds," I became more horrified by what I found. Sure, there were some honeymoon registries (very popular now), but there were just as many people asking strangers to fund their actual weddings and pay for their families to fly to those weddings. In a couple of cases, they were having destination weddings their parents couldn't afford to attend and they want somebody to pick up that tab for their parents.
Hold up, wait a minute! You're having a destination wedding, but your parents cannot afford to come? What were you thinking when you decided to have a destination wedding in the first place? You had to know your family would be budget challenged. The amount of selfishness it requires to plan a wedding you know your immediate family won't be able to afford to attend and then put them in the position of being a charity case is truly astounding.
Sure, people are donating. What are you supposed to do if you get a crowdfunding email request from somebody you know who is pleading for your help to pay to fly her parents to her wedding or her father won't be there to walk her down the aisle? And what about the ones who are crowdfunding for their wedding gowns? Oh. My. God. You can get a beautiful wedding gown for a couple hundred dollars if you're creative and put in some effort. Asking your friends and family to donate literally thousands of dollars for the dress you're going to wear for one night is absolutely, positively atrocious. Crowdfunding sites were initially designed to let people donate to charitable causes, and invest in new business ventures. They were never intended to indulge brides for their Cinderella gown.
A couple of years, doing a honeymoon registry online was still not that common, but it was becoming more acceptable. Let's face it - a honeymoon registry is basically an exercise in crowdfunding. But it's something your friends and family would enjoy contributing to as your wedding gift. And it's better than saying "give us cash for our honeymoon" when people ask where you have registered. There are articles all about the best ways to finance your wedding and to crowdfund your honeymoon, but it's clear nobody thought anybody was going to start using crowdfunding as a regular wedding finance tool.
The funding requests you see for children with cancer and homeless veterans should give you perspective on how you're misusing and abusing the crowdfunding channel's true purpose. As much as I love weddings, nobody is ENTITLED to have a large wedding, or a designer wedding gown. If that's what you want, you have to pay for it. Crowdfunding your wedding exposes the bride and groom as exactly what they are - greedy and ill-mannered.
Until next time, happy wedding planning from Sandy Malone Weddings & Events!