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Or I could spend $70 US on tiny wooden figurines that were the exact likeness of my husband and I and our dog, handpainted from a photograph by an Etsy shop owner in Solihull, England.
I think you can guess what I did. I went with my heart, and got the Etsy topper, which is sitting on my bookshelf and brings me great joy every day. I always listened to my heart on every single design detail, with the lingering voice in the back of my head repeating, "If you don’t do what you want for your wedding, if you compromise, you’ll regret it."
Would I regret not getting the cake topper? (In retrospect, absolutely!) The extra flower centerpieces by the altar that turned out weren’t in my original contract and I had to pay an extra $400 for? (I think so.) The Twigs & Honey headpiece? (Yes!) The gelato bar? (Maybe not.) We didn’t have that many extravagances for our 115-guest, fairly casual wedding, but everything I wanted and dreamed about and pinned on my Pinterest board, I did — right down to the 30% off Manolo Blahniks I found.
This spending spree isn’t really like me. I love shopping — I work at Racked, of course — but I also prioritize saving money, which is how I had a small nest egg for my wedding that I spent down over the course of my six months of planning. I was semi-prepared with budgets for each wedding expenditure, and my parents were kind enough to help with the venue and wedding dress.
But what I didn’t realize is that the attitude that came over me, that little voice saying, "Buy whatever your heart desires" — I couldn’t shut it off for non-wedding related expenditures. There was always something to spend money on. At a certain point, when you’re putting $1,000 down payments on your credit card for various vendors, other charges feel like a drop in the bucket. All the wedding spending opened the floodgates and lowered my defenses for Zara trips.
And that’s how I ended up turning into not a bridezilla, but a spendzilla, on stuff that was completely unrelated to the wedding. You can justify basically anything if you tell yourself you’re a bride-to-be, and this is your special day/year. That dress that’s on sale but still really expensive? I could wear it to my bridal shower, so I bought it. I "had" to buy all sorts of shoes for various events, like bachelorette parties and afterparties or the honeymoon.
I got a Clarisonic because my skin was freaking out, maybe because of wedding planning stress. Then the saleswoman at Bluemercury very easily talked me into a whole new skincare system, from toner to serum and everything in between, which was a huge outlay of cash for me.
I decided to get my eyelashes permed and tinted, because I was worth it, damnit. It was barely perceptible, but I liked it. I also bought a new pair of Moscot eyeglasses and a pair of on-sale Acne Pistol boots and a Stella McCartney tennis outfit. See how this is veering further and further from wedding-related expenses?
So a wedding is kind of like wish fulfillment for adults — you can create one day out of your life that’s completely suited to your tastes, and bring all your loved ones along for the ride. And culturally, you can spend as much or as little money on this day that you want. Besides this thinking, my orgy of spending might also have been related to the fact that my husband and I would be merging our finances. Once we were married, my purchases would affect him directly, and our future together. The fact that the Acne boots were on sale might not be a good enough reason to buy them. Maybe deep down, I was trying to get something out of my system with all this shopping. Subconsciously, perhaps I wanted to get something for myself from all the saving I did, before we merged finances.
It’s been eight months since our wedding, which was the happiest day — what everyone tells you really is true. All the small details I labored over came together, and I don’t think I would change a thing. I also escaped unscathed by credit card debt, thank God, and I’m working with Joe to get that nest egg back. Meanwhile, sharing a bank account hasn’t affected my freedom like I feared.
My extended spending spree also came to an abrupt end: like many couples, now that the wedding bills are paid up, the party’s over and we’re trying to save for one more purchase. It’s a really big one — a house — and that’s one place I know better than to spend more than our budget. I’ll have to leave my spendzilla ways behind.