You can't put a price tag on love. But this is gonna cost you.

"You're selling dreams, and you can charge anything."

I think Fiancé and I are reasonable people. We're romantics, but we've got our heads on straight. We shell out for the things we really want, and bargain hunt for the less important things in life. We're money savvy, sort of. And so we went into wedding planning with the unrealistic expectation that we could afford to get married, we just had to be smart and avoid overspending.





I've already learned a lot since this whole process started, so I'm going to expose some of the best tricks of the wedding business trade.

My first mistake? The wedding dress purchase. My dress is obscenely expensive. But I wasn't prepared when I walked through the door of Allegria Bridal. I fell victim to the most powerful pitch in the biz. The saleswoman stood behind me on the podium and placed a veil on top of my head. "This is the most important day of your life," she told me. I have heard this statement time and time again. And it's loaded. The. Most. Important. Day.

Now, I'm an almost-32 year old woman. This is the most important day of my life? What have all the other days been?

So I handed over my credit card. What have all the other days been? Oh, right. Of course. Practice.

Now, just when I thought I'd learned from my mistake and could anticipate the lure, I fell into a whole other trap. "This wedding isn't for you," the reception site coordinator told us. What this does is very effectively corner you once again. You can't be overly frugal, because you're not spending the money for your own benefit. Even though they've just finished telling you it's your day, now they're going to convince you that it is in fact your duty to provide the perfect day for everyone else. This translates into upgraded china and linens, top shelf liquor, and the brie display instead of the domestic cheeses.

Then there's the classic statement that catches you in a tandem web: "This represents you as a couple," the woman at PaperSource reminded us. We went into the store with the goal of spending as little as possible on invitations and response cards; after all, it's just paper. But suddenly overlay vs. mounting, bows vs. buttons, square vs. rectangle, engraved vs. letterpress... it all has new importance. It's how we announce ourselves. To the world.

All these cliché phrases, they're just words. But they pack a punch. This sounds very silly from a distance. Surely an intelligent couple can navigate through this emotionally charged minefield and dismiss the crap and the sales pitch for what they are? But once the platinum diamond ring is in place, they've got you exactly where they want you. It's as if the very weight of it on your finger throws you off-center.

These are the tricks of the trade we've run into so far. I don't doubt there are many more, as we're only two months into the planning process. But this has been enough to open our eyes to the monster we're up against. Why we thought we, unlike everyone else, would be able to resist the hype is beyond me. These people are skilled. If you're resistant, they just work harder to make you realize that you're being cheap and irreverent. Because they know: the shittier you feel, the more important chivare chairs become.