Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The Hidden Cost of a Catholic Wedding

From the title of this post, you probably expect me to wax philosophically eloquent on the emotional roller coasters that planning a wedding brings and all of the drama and tears that go into the binding of two people into one.  While all of that is true, I'm going to focus rather on the unexpected monetary expenses that popped up while I was planning my wedding in hopes that future brides won't be caught off guard by the same costs.

So here's a list:

  • Marriage License: You probably know that you need a marriage license in order to get married, but the cost may surprise you.  It's best to check your state's information and requirements for getting the marriage license sooner than later.  Ours ended up costing almost $100 (should have been $60 with a discount from the marriage prep classes we had to take, but the paperwork for that was by no means clear, so we ended up paying the full amount for the license).
  • Pre-Cana Classes: As a Catholic, you're also likely aware that you're supposed to complete marriage preparation with your priest.  In addition to that, however, the diocese may require additional courses such as seminars on Life Skills or Sacramentality of Marriage.  These cost us $150 total and were the courses that were supposed to give us the $40 discount on the marriage license; however, the individual presenters weren't registered with the State, and the instructions on how to get the certificates verified to satisfy the State were unclear.
  • Pre-Marital Inventory: This is essentially a compatibility test that most (if not all) dioceses require when you're getting married.  Typically, I believe, it occurs near the beginning of your marriage prep.  We didn't find out about it until two weeks before the wedding, so that was fun.  Another $25 fee and another test.  Not that expensive, but still unexpected (and when you're trying to keep your wedding as close to your $10k budget as possible, every penny counts).
  • Priest's Fee:  It is customary to give the priest who performs your wedding a small gift/fee . . . the amount may be prescribed by your church or it may be up to  you.  Typically, at least $50.
  • Altar Server gift: It is also customary and nice to give a small amount of money to the altar servers for your mass - $10 a piece is fine.  (Just keep in mind if you have 5+ servers, that adds up fast.)
  • Thank You notes & postage: We all know we need to send thank yous for the gifts we receive at our wedding, but calculating the cost of the notes and postage into the wedding budget doesn't always make the list.
  • Extra Seats at the Reception: As much as I wanted to submit a final number to the caterer and venue of ONLY the people who had actually responded they were coming by the deadline, my wonderful fiance convinced me to add an extra 8 people to the number for the inevitable people who find they can come at the last minute or who just haven't gotten around to responding.  And I'm so grateful he did . . . we already used 5 of those spots.  And the wedding is still 4 days away.
I could go on with all the aspects of planning an international honeymoon (airfare; car rental; car storage at the airport; hotels/bnbs; food; gas; souvenirs; touring), but I won't.  I hope this list helps any future brides or grooms with their wedding budgeting.  Good luck and stay positive!

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