‘Mini-monies’ replace traditional wedding ceremonies in the time of COVID-19
Smaller-scale wedding ceremonies are giving some couples more options for happily ever after.
Jamie Mendoza, a Wells Fargo account holder since high school, had planned a perfect storybook wedding for June 2020: a catered garden event where 250 friends and loved ones would gather and celebrate.
Then COVID-19 happened, and it slowly dawned on Jamie and her groom-to-be, Jake Kanburoglu, that the original plans for their nuptials were a no-go.
“We had to rethink our strategy,” she said. The couple was able to redirect event deposits and travel plans, and opted to hold a different, much smaller wedding. They also used the money they’d set aside for a honeymoon in Jamaica to purchase an RV. “We just tried to stay as positive as we could and go with the flow,” Mendoza said.
Due to the pandemic, thousands of couples like Mendoza and Kanburoglu have had to rebook their trips down the aisle and host a “mini-mony” in place of a ceremony. According to Brides.com, an average of 44,000 weddings normally take place every weekend. The decisions made by Mendoza and Kanburoglu, financial experts say, are among some of the better ways to stay on course for happily ever after.
“We had to rethink our strategy. We just tried to stay as positive as we could and go with the flow.” — Jamie Mendoza
“The ability to be flexible and pivot when you need to reflects a healthy orientation that can be helpful to couples in the long run,” said Arne Boudewyn, a clinical psychologist and head of Family Dynamics within Abbot Downing.
The decision to have a “mini-mony” was one of the couple’s first major financial decisions together, and they say it turned out for the best. A fraction of the guests ended up attending the Charlotte-area ceremony, in a different area of the garden than was originally planned, followed by a reception at a local restaurant to allow for social distancing.
The couple’s thoughtful wedding guests ended up providing gifts that covered everything from event costs to microwave popcorn for snacking in the RV.
“It was amazing. It was like a blessing in disguise — a financial blessing,” Mendoza said. “It left us in a great position to try and start a family and move forward from all of this.”
Buying an RV not only allowed the couple to have a fun camping honeymoon, it allowed them to acquire a hard asset, Boudewyn said, which has long-term value that can serve their needs well into the future, with room for friends or family to come along.
“There is no question about the value of weddings and honeymoon, but it’s great that they funneled the money from the wedding into an asset they will be able to retain,” Boudewyn said.
Extra cash from a canceled or downsized wedding can essentially help newlyweds start building nest eggs, Boudewyn noted. “It can be an opportunity for couples to save a significant amount of money to redirect toward something that could be no less meaningful than a wedding, but that leaves them with less debt and more money in their pockets,” Boudewyn said.
Other ideas to consider include putting a down payment on a home or using wedding money to build up an emergency fund.
“The ability to be flexible and pivot when you need to reflects a healthy orientation that can be helpful to couples in the long run.” — Arne Boudewyn
“The key is to set yourselves up as responsible financial stewards,” Boudewyn said. “Another idea is to just put it in savings or invest it. Just put it aside and almost try and forget about it.”
Mendoza and Kanburoglu were also able to save some of the money they received as wedding gifts. “When everything was said and done, we had more money in our account than we did when we started saving and spending for the wedding,” Mendoza said. “Most all of it is going back into our (Wells Fargo) savings account.”
Extra wedding cash can even be used for couples’ favorite causes. Boudewyn notes newlyweds are also foregoing ceremonies altogether, and redirecting guests to fundraisers for philanthropic purposes. “That can make the guests feel good about being able to contribute to something important, and makes the couple feel great,” Boudewyn said.
Mendoza and Kanburoglu feel happy about their decisions, in retrospect, and still feel their wedding was a perfectly memorable occasion.
“I think everything worked out for the best,” Mendoza said. “There is nothing I regret, decision-wise. We knew it would have eaten us alive if we were to get angry about everything that was going on, so we made the best of it.”
“It was amazing. It was like a blessing in disguise — a financial blessing. It left us in a great position to try and start a family and move forward from all of this.” — Jamie Mendoza
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