When my husband and I got engaged, we had very little money between the two of us. We were both in college. He had work-study that gave him $200 a month, and I worked at a Group Home for people with developmental disabilities. My husband lived at home and I lived with his Aunt which kept both of our expenses down. We both knew that we would be paying for the bulk of the wedding ourselves and that meant it would be a very simple celebration.
Despite our lack of funds, we didn’t consider for a moment the possibility of putting off our wedding until we were more financially secure. My own parents were rather poor when they married, and my mom always said that what was most important was being together, not a fancy wedding. Now as a married woman myself, that outlook has greatly influenced my priorities. What is most important is being together.
My husband and I decided that it was possible to have a simple, yet elegant wedding. Our focus would be on what was most important—being husband and wife. A bridal shop nearby was having a $99 sale, and so I picked a dress that was the sale price. Yeah, there were dresses that I liked better than the one that I bought, but it was nonetheless beautiful and I know I couldn’t have been any happier if I had been wearing a wedding dress several times that price. We kept the flowers simple and minimal. For my bouquet, I bought three lavender roses and wrapped them myself in an ivory-colored ribbon. We kept the guest-list down because we had to. Our best man had a relative who did wedding cakes, so he bought the cake for us as his gift to us. My sister-in-law handmade the wedding invitations and she and my brother paid for the dinner for us! I’ve always been so grateful for their generosity as originally we were going to forego the formal dinner.
That outlook—that what is most important is us being together—has continued to influence our decisions. When money was incredibly tight, we would sometimes discuss the possibility of me getting a job on evenings or weekends to help financially. Although there were times where I had to work outside the home (like after I graduated but while my husband was still in college), there were other times where we decided that we would live simply and within our means rather than being like two ships passing in the night and hardly seeing each other. It has influenced how much my husband is willing to spend at work. I’ve always been very grateful that he doesn’t sacrifice time with family in order to “get-ahead” at work. He expects his place of employment to offer a healthy work-life balance.
Knowing our shared priority has given me a lot of security in life. My husband and I both know that the other comes first. Although education, financial security, and home ownership are all good things in themselves, we’ve always worked at accomplishing all those things as a married couple, because being together comes first.