The ugly truth about getting married! When is the “fairytale” more important than reality

Getting married is an exciting time in your life! The very idea of it gives you butterflies in your tummy as you think of how your perfect day will be brought to life. The decision to get married these days is a tough one though, and no longer are men and women entering into the commitment as quickly and easily as they did thirty years ago. The truth is, getting married can be a really stressful experience.

The issue today, is that we are presented with so many extravagant ideas of what getting married is about, that often our expectations of what we want to happen are not very realistic. As girls we grow up unconsciously being told what getting married should be about and look like. These messages range from Disney movies with Prince Charming, all the way to the constant influx of social media on our phones showing images of celebrity weddings that cost a fortune!


Weddings are an expensive way to show a couple’s commitment to one another. Venue hire and catering alone is astronomical these days and can create a lot of stress during the process, especially if you’re paying for your own wedding. For those of us who are just starting out in life, the pressure of a wedding can sometimes make you question whether it’s worth it.

But a couple deeply committed to one another, should be able to have a magical, fairytale wedding without breaking the bank. The reality of finances should never prevent you from having your dream wedding. Unfortunately because of celebrity weddings and a variety of articles presenting what a fairytale wedding should look like, trying to fit your dream into your budget can result in the process losing some of its magic.

Instead of planning a day that is perfectly suited to you and your partner, we often end up trying to plan something extravagant that is based on someone else’s special day, because media bombards us with what a wedding should look like. We believe fairytale means finding the most beautiful venue with an amazing view, coupled with the gourmet food and most importantly an expensive designer dress.

We are fed the idea that a fairytale wedding means extravagance and luxury. According to a Visa SA money survey of South African women from all income groups, 30% of women are willing to spend more than 6 months’ salary on their wedding as well as spend twice as much on their wedding than on their honeymoon.

After attending a number of weddings in the last three years, it is obvious that getting married is a very personal adventure. I say adventure because this is what it should be. Getting married is about you and your fiancé’s journey into married life, nobody else’s. This means, in keeping with the reality of your situation financially, the fairytale aspect of getting married is what you make of it. As a couple you define what a fairytale wedding means to you. It is open to interpretation. There are a variety of ways in which you can bend the so-called “rules” and create wonderful décor from home grown flowers, use the photographic talents of a friend, or invest in a friend’s baking skills over an expensive multi-tiered wedding cake. The truth is, the fairytale is never more important than the reality and vice versa.

They can and should meet each other half way. I have been to weddings where the couple have revelled in a small, simple and intimate atmosphere and others where the couple have found extreme pleasure and satisfaction in a large, traditional and extravagant wedding and reception. Getting married is a personal journey which should always be tailored to your individual reality and interests. The desire to live up to the expectations we see in the media should never determine how you view getting married.

It should never make a couple who cannot afford an extravagant wedding feel that they cannot live up to society’s expectations of them. Getting married may seem like an ugly truth when the process starts, but a little bit of creativity and a personal touch can go a long way.

Guest Post by Janice Louise Garman

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