Is the wed­ding spend­ing craze over?

Gone are the days when your wed­ding had to cost thou­sands of rands. Now, a grow­ing num­ber of mil­len­ni­als are elim­i­nat­ing the bud­get-bust­ing event.

Glamour (South Africa) - - Contents - Words by BECA GRIMM

“THIS day IS ABOUT you, your PART­NER And your LOVE for Each OTHER. not ABOUT how Much Money you can Spend.”

Price was the ul­ti­mate rea­son Valerie Cil­liers, 32, and her fi­ancé opted for an in­ti­mate wed­ding in­stead of a blowout. Af­ter pick­ing a date and a local venue in their home­town, and whit­tling the guest list to 150, costs still hov­ered around R210 000. “We were pay­ing for ev­ery­thing our­selves and had just bought a house,” she says. “We wanted to spend our ex­tra cash on mak­ing our home beau­ti­ful, not on eight hours of fun.” So they ditched those plans, booked a ho­tel in an­other city and tied the knot in front of 10 friends last Oc­to­ber. The price tag for the whole wed­ding, in­clud­ing travel, accommodation, din­ner and drinks for their guests, the mar­riage li­cense, dress, suit and a pho­tog­ra­pher: R39 000 – less than a quar­ter of the orig­i­nal es­ti­mate.

“We had frozen pizza and boxed wine the night be­fore!” Valerie says. “Be­ing sur­rounded by our close friends and fam­ily made it all spe­cial. We wouldn’t change a sin­gle thing.” Lav­ish wed­dings still ex­ist, but Valerie and her hus­band are part of a grow­ing num­ber of mil­len­ni­als re­defin­ing nup­tials as we know them. Data shows that this gen­er­a­tion is less likely to get mar­ried at all compared to pre­vi­ous ones. And those who do head down the aisle are start­ing to spend less and elope more. So why the re­set?

Cou­ples want to start off debt-free

There’s been sev­eral big re­la­tion­ship shifts for to­day’s cou­ples. In the past, univer­sity-ed­u­cated men would marry a less ed­u­cated spouse. Re­cently, like mar­ries like. Mean­ing: two peo­ple with de­grees get mar­ried, which brings a higher like­li­hood that at least one of them will have stu­dent loans. Stud­ies have shown that stu­dent debt may im­pact the choice to get mar­ried. As peo­ple be­come more fo­cused on school, work and be­com­ing more fi­nan­cially sta­ble, part­ner­ing up and start­ing a fam­ily be­comes less of a pri­or­ity. Tam­ryn de Kock, 31, was with her part­ner for seven years be­fore they ex­changed vows. “We had a gen­eral goal that we wouldn’t bring debt into the mar­riage,” she says. “Sort of like a blank slate.”

They spend money on dif­fer­ent things

Lately, re­searchers have seen a shift in how mil­len­ni­als plan their nup­tials. They’ll forgo a big, ex­trav­a­gant event and say, “Let’s go balls-to-the-wall on our hon­ey­moon.” And in­ti­mate wed­dings are the av­o­cado toast of mod­ern love, pro­vid­ing an af­ford­able cer­e­mony with the ul­ti­mate so­cial cur­rency: ex­tremely high-qual­ity, share­able pho­to­graphs. Yes, In­sta­gram is part of the plan­ning now. Ty­ing the knot in front of breath­tak­ing ocean views? That’s a dope pic­ture that’s go­ing to rep­re­sent you for a re­ally long time.

They have too many friends

The av­er­age age for a bride in 2018: 27, compared with 20 or 21 in 1960. Older brides and grooms tend to have more friends, which makes for a bal­loon­ing guest list, as you now have to con­sider friends from dif­fer­ent walks of life. And there’s only so much that you can af­ford, but cut­ting down your list could re­sult in the end of a friend­ship. A tiny wed­ding or an elope­ment spares you the trou­ble.

They need med­i­cal aid

In the past, head­ing to Home Af­fairs to say “I do” was syn­ony­mous with an un­ex­pected preg­nancy. To­day, a more likely mo­ti­va­tor is med­i­cal aid. Leav­ing a job and the ben­e­fits it pro­vided helped push Gugu Thusi, 28, to­ward get­ting mar­ried at Home Af­fairs. “In the last few years, I’ve been in a car ac­ci­dent and hos­pi­talised with pneu­mo­nia. With­out med­i­cal aid, I don’t know if I could af­ford the hospi­tal bills,” says Gugu. Even with­out med­i­cal con­cerns, she would have had a low-key event any­way. And there’s one truth about wed­dings: this day is about you, your part­ner and your love for each other. Not about how much money you can spend. “You can do some­thing fun, beau­ti­ful and within bud­get. Get­ting mar­ried doesn’t have to be a big thing. You don’t need a hash­tag.”

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