What Dungeons and Dragons taught me about wedding budget frustrations

Updated Mar 15 2021
Guest post by juliegolick
christa_chris_0372
Thank to Christa and Chris for uploading their Dungeons and Dragons-themed wedding cake to our Flickr pool.

I'm an avid player of all tabletop roleplaying games. I've dabbled in well over two-dozen systems, everything from World of Darkness to 7th Sea to Heavy Gear. But my favorite, the one I keep coming back to, is good ol' Dungeons and Dragons. D&D is a classic for a reason: it's versatile, it has a vast amount of published content, and it fits almost any story, especially when you throw in all the spin-off games that use d20 rules.

I have played characters at all levels, from a 1st-level rogue who could get knocked out if a goblin sneezed on her the wrong way to a 27th-level bard who ultimately became the avatar of a god, and everything in between. I've scoured books and websites looking for just the right prestige class, feat, or special ability to make my characters the very best they could be.

So I can say this with absolute certainty: no matter what level you are, you are always looking one or two levels ahead and saying, "When I just get to that level, I'll have everything I need!"

It doesn't matter whether you're a 2nd-level paladin who's waiting for his aura of courage at 3rd level or a 19th-level rogue who wants that first epic feat at level 21. There is always something, and it's always just a level or two away.

But what does this have to do with wedding planning? Or budgeting? Turns out, quite a lot…

Think of your wedding budget like your level

It's never quite enough. No matter whether you have $5,000 or $35,000, there's always something you could add if you had just a little bit more money. Maybe it's having waiters serve the hors d'oeuvres or maybe it's live music at the ceremony. Maybe it's having real flowers in the bouquet instead of paper ones, or being able to afford a professional photographer or videographer. And wouldn't it be nice if you could invite just 10 or 20 more guests?

On the other hand, I sometimes feel jealous of friends with $10,000 more to spend on their weddings. "If only I had $10,000 more," I think to myself, "I could easily afford an open bar and I wouldn't have to worry about hiring the photographer for two or three more hours! And I could invite all 25 people on my B-list! What I wouldn't give for that!"

But you know what? If I had another $10,000, there would still be things I wanted. A videographer. Or floral centerpieces. Or another 20 guests. (There always seems to be just a few more people to invite, doesn't there?)

And on the flip side, if I had $10,000 less than my current budget, I'd still make a beautiful wedding. I would cut some things out. Maybe I'd use an iPod instead of a DJ. Maybe I'd have a 2-course meal instead of a 3-course meal. I'd probably have fewer guests. And I'd look around and say wistfully, "If only I had $5,000 more, I'd be totally set."

It doesn't matter what your budget is. It will always feel like it's just a little short for the wedding you really want, whether you're working with $2,000 or $100,000. The important thing to remember is that, at the end of the day, what you have is enough. If there's one thing that Offbeat Bride has taught me, it's that there are beautiful and fun weddings on any budget.

In D&D, you're rarely looking far ahead

The 5th level ranger doesn't compare himself to the 25th level ranger, except maybe with a longing wish of, "Perhaps one day…" But he certainly compares himself to the 7th level ranger and says, "My life would be so much easier if I just had 'woodland stride' like she does."

I've found this is true in wedding planning as well. I might have watched the coverage of Will and Kate's royal wedding — estimated to have cost £20 million – with fascination, but there was no part of me that ever thought, "If I could only have a wedding like that." It's so far beyond my experience that there is literally no point of reference.

And sometimes if you acknowledge that no matter how much you have, it will always feel short, it's easier to settle in and accept that you're blessed to have what you already have. In the end, the most important part of the day is that you're going to be married to the person you love. Everything else is just window dressing.

  1. Well written article! I have to remind myself to take a deep breath and remember it's about me and my partner not if I have a photo booth, or live music at the cocktail hour! Thanks for this article

  2. This could not have come at a better time. Less than 2 weeks away from wedding day and we are double checking and finalizing and counting and recounting money. Time to let go. It is enough – more than enough. And it will be perfect as it is.

  3. I can relate to this on both levels. Putting them together kind of shows you the big picture for me at least. Also just 2 weeks left! I've been thinking "if I just had more time/money", but as they say mo' money mo' problems.

  4. I've found this principle to be true with regular-old budgeting too. "When I make $10,000 more next year, all my financial woes will be over." Until you move to a nicer apartment, eat out a few times more and re-do your wardrobe… I definitely need the reminder when it comes to wedding planning to stop comparing myself to those other weddings with slightly larger budgets.

  5. Ahhh, this is perfect. As an avid video gamer, this rings so true with our wedding too. I'll have to show this to Fusband. 🙂

  6. Fantastic post, JulieGolick! I couldn't agree more. In our case, it's mostly my mother — who's paying — who is pushing on us more than she can reasonably afford, and then gets frustrated when we say no! (It's like she doesn't want us to be smart with her money?) But if we only had $X more, then none of that would be an issue, and I could finally have pleasant wedding planning conversations with my mother, instead of avoiding them. Whatever it is about the wedding that's haunting your every waking moment, it really does seem like it could be better with a bit more money… but, like you explain, I'm sure that if we had that more, my mother and I would still argue over sheet cake vs tiered cake — it'd just be a more expensive cake. I just have to accept that my mom and I don't see eye-to-eye, regardless of the budget's numbers!

    • Good luck with your mom! No doubt, if it wasn't the cake, it would be something else. As I know all too well, there's always something. 🙂

  7. This is a great article 🙂 my mom won't set a budget but she wants it cheap. She keeps sayin well we will see what it costs lol. But I'm trying make a lot of things for my wedding so I can free up some money for other things. I do just need to breath and realize this dragon queen is finally marrying her prince and that's all that matters 🙂

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