This Is What It’s Like to Get Hitched On The Cheap

Why Married Couples Who Combine Finances Get Richer

I was listening to a Dave Ramsey podcast episode on my way to work when a caller asked: what’s a reasonable wedding budget for a couple on Baby Step 2? That’s Ramsey-speak for someone still trying to pay off debt besides the mortgage.

And, one of the co-hosts, George Kamel, mentioned $50,000, which I thought was an outrageous number to even bring up in a show that promotes being “gazelle intense” in paying off debt.

I know, I know, prices have “skyrocketed” due to inflation. But still, fifty thousand freaking dollars for an indebted couple, are you kidding me???

You see, 20 years ago today, my wife and I got hitched on the cheap for— hold your breath— less than $500, and we weren’t even in debt. On the contrary, we had $50,000 saved. Yet, I was able to convince my then-fiance, now wife, to use the money as a downpayment for our future house instead.

As Christians, we just wanted to get married as soon as possible before sharing the same bed for the rest of our lives.

“How did you manage to spend less than $500?” you might ask. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Marriage license, $40 (including PA state funding for children/ domestic violence)
  • Officiating minister, $250
  • Reception, $75
  • Photographer (the minister took the photos), $0

The ceremony was held in our apartment and the reception was at the local Macaroni Grill. Our only guests were the pastor and his wife. Because we’re both immigrants, our families were overseas— we didn’t bother to invite them.

This was a sharp contrast to my first wedding (my ex and I divorced) where hundreds of guests were invited, among them very prominent people. I guess the studies were right: the less expensive the wedding, the more likely the marriage will last.

But we did have a formal “renewal of vows” ceremony, attended by both our parents, friends, and other loved ones, a year later in our new home.

Forgetable wedding? Not! As a matter of fact, we now have a paid off home we continue to build lasting memories in.

Besides, we’re still in love, and that is all that matters.

$75 Macaroni Grill bill
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