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Why I Decided To Spend As Little As Possible On My Wedding Day

If you’re planning on getting engaged this holiday season, stop and evaluate your values before planning your big day.

As families flock together for the holidays, questions get popped and rings get shown off in cute selfies online. ‘Tis the season to get engaged and start wedding planning.

So, if you’re saying “yes” this holiday season, I beg you to consider exactly what the wedding-planning process means for you.

More importantly, don't “sell out” your values.

A 2014 study found the more couples spend on their big day, the shorter their marriage will be.

For the sample of women, the hazard of divorce was 3.5 times higher for couples who spent more than $20K as opposed to those who spent between $5K and $10K.

The researchers also stated their evidence suggests weddings that are high in attendance (but relatively inexpensive) are associated with lower divorce risks.

That definitely requires you to be creative in your planning, especially in today’s wedding culture, where the “necessities” include destination location bachelor and bachelorette parties, photo booths, videographers, lavish post-wedding brunches and multi-week honeymoons.

Over one year ago, I exchanged “I do’s” with my husband in the sunroom of my parents' home.

The best part (besides marrying my soulmate, of course) was we didn’t break the bank.

The DIY touches, such as the wedding cake my mother decorated with flowers in my basement -- literally on top of the dryer -- so it could stay cool on a hot August afternoon and the sequin, lace ribbon I hot-glued to my hand-arranged bouquet two minutes before I walked down the “aisle” (aka the living room) made the day feel genuine, special and utterly real.

Twenty guests witnessed my husband and I make the most serious commitment of our lives.

It was intimate and lovely.

I did not allow myself to feel inferior for doing things my own way.

I skipped the frivolous expenses I initially felt pressured to include -- from the influence of the stunning images on Pinterest which left me drooling, or the fact that I was 28 and everyone around me was getting married with cookie-cutter nuptials -- and no expenses spared.

I had to make a conscious effort not to get sucked into the wedding industry’s ideals and standards that were being pushed down my throat since the second I changed my relationship status to “engaged” on Facebook.

Thank you, targeted advertising.

With seven wedding invites this year and traditional bridesmaids duties, I have never once regretted my unconventional wedding decision.

According to The Knot, an average wedding has 136 guests and costs $31,213 (excluding the honeymoon).

My husband and I live in Boston, and after doing my research, there was no way we would be able to have a traditional celebration with a fancy venue, attire, rings, stationary, band, dancing, food, flowers and favors for anywhere close to 31 grand, without cutting major corners.

Most importantly, I did not value spending that much money on a one-night celebration.

It all comes down to what you value.

I personally value owning a house, which is where we decided to invest our money.

The amount you spend on a wedding could be a hefty down payment on your dream home, where you will create a lifetime of memories.

The love my husband and I have for each other is not reflected by the amount we spent on our wedding. I think some people confuse this.

In my opinion, it does not make sense to take out loans, max out credit cards or tap into your parents' savings for five hours of celebrating.

Kicking off a marriage with a huge amount of debt is a giant buzzkill. I value living with as little debt as possible, so I can do things like comfortably afford a family, travel and retire one day.

My goal is not to push my values on to you.

Rather, I want to make you question what’s truly important to you without the hoopla created by other people outside of the relationship.

For the majority of people in their 20s and early 30s, a huge wedding is likely irresponsible.

Being from the instant oatmeal generation, Millennials want things. We want them now.

We don't really think through the consequences.

What happened to financial responsibility, like paying off your debt? Hello, enormous school loans.

That’s not sexy, but it will provide you and your partner more financial freedom down the road.

If you’re just putting on a big show because it’s what everyone else is doing or if you feel pressure to impress people, I urge you to take a step back and look at the big picture.

This event is to honor you and your partner. Your relationship is what’s most important.

It’s not about providing a lobster dinner for 100 friends and their plus-ones who you don’t even know or like.

The people who truly love you will support whatever decision you make, and they won't take it personally if you don’t throw a big shindig.

In my relationship-coaching business, I have seen couples lose sight of the fact that the wedding is just one day in a lifetime together.

The wedding-planning process can weed out poorly-matched couples, as it’s a great test of communication, compromise, time-management and aligning core values.

So, if you’re going to be planning a wedding this holiday season, remember it’s about the two of you and the life you will be creating together.

Do you want a huge headache of wedding debt? Do you feel you have to prove your love to others outside of your relationship?

Are there other, non-traditional ways to celebrate your love and begin your next phase of life together?

Maybe the secret to a happily ever after all starts with decreased wedding stress and more money in your pocket.

I can honestly say my first year of marriage has been blissful.

Samantha Burns teaches couples how to have a thriving love life in her free e-book, “Love Successfully: 10 Secrets You Need To Know Right Now.”

This guidebook gives couples the ingredients to cook up a happy relationship full of intimacy, connection and affection. Receive your copy for free when you subscribe with your email address.