Debate: traditional wedding vs. extravagant honeymoon

This is actually a homework assignment for students in my debate class, but regular readers are welcome to play.

The topic is eloping and splurging on a honeymoon (this includes destination weddings) vs. spending a bunch of money on a traditional wedding and spending comparatively less money on the honeymoon.

For example, my sister was talking to me about her wedding ceremony and reception in Boston for 150 or guests. It’s going to cost a lot of money. I told her to forget about the reception, spend as little as possible on the wedding, and spend as much as possible on the honeymoon.

That’s my honest advice because I barely remember my wedding reception – it was fine but nothing special compared to my 9 week honeymoon in Italy. I’ll remember those 2 months in Italy forever.

However my sister went for the big wedding reception because she wants to share her wedding day with as many friends and family members as possible.

So enough about me and my sister. What do you think is better between:

a) a traditional wedding (expensive) and a normal honeymoon OR

b) a cheapo wedding (with only a few guests like immediate family) and an extra expensive honeymoon?

Filed Under: Wedding & honeymoon travel

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  1. Victoria says:

    If it was upto me.(it wasnt- mom paid for reception)i would have an intimate wedding (immidiate family only) but since it wasnt italian tradition to do that…i had 150 guests.. i did love my wedding… our honeymoon was spend in france and italy a week each

    i would have rather spent more money on my honeymoon and put the rest into savings.

  2. Kim says:

    For the amount that one pays for a traditional wedding is enough for a down payment on a house!

    Direct most of the funds toward a memorable honeymoon and play down the traditional wedding part. That makes sense to me.

  3. Lana says:

    I have had both, first marriage big wedding, small overnight honeymoon. Second marriage, small wedding and a great honeymoon. The best was the great honeymoon. The wedding is such a blur, your so worried that everything is going to turn out OK, and the guest are having a good time, I forgot to enjoy the day myself.

  4. Kate says:

    A traditional wedding doesn’t have to be expensive. I had a wedding with 200 guests, and then my husband and I spent a week at Disney World. The flowers were arranged at cost of materials by a family member (who did a beautiful job… granted, not everyone is lucky enough to have a family member who can help like that). The reception was held mid-afternoon; we didn’t have a sit-down dinner or even a big buffet. We had crackers and cheese, veggies and dip, cake and punch — no alcohol. That saves a ton right there. No dancing — just a classical guitarist. (Heck, you could just bring in a stereo and ask a friend to help with the tunes, thus saving even more.) We paid very little for the reception site, which was at a church.

    There is no need to outshine or outdo everyone, and as someone who has been a guest to plenty of weddings, I don’t need the wedding couple to wine and dine me. I don’t see a big reception as a necessary exchange for the gift I’m bringing. You can invite lots of guests and still keep it cheap and then splurge on your honeymoon.

  5. Jennifer says:

    I am getting married on June 1st and we are having small simple everything and we can’t wait! We are getting married in Gatlinburg, TN (Smoky Mountains), a package price of $700 and a week honeymoon there in a cabin for about $1000. The best of both worlds. A small wedding but with everything included (family, friends, the chapel, flowers, music, pictures, video) plus a week in the mountains! What a great wedding it will be!

  6. JooNo(hufs) says:

    I think you should think what your sister really wants on her wedding first. She might have been dreaming about a big wedding since she was young. A dream cannot be the same for everyone, some wants fabulous honeymoon, some wants a big and nice reception with many people she knows.

    If she wants a tradtional wedding, just let her do it! It is her wedding. Nobody can’t say what is good or bad on her wedding. If she just satisfy with her own decision, nothing will be better than that. All you’ve gotta do is just coming to her wedding and wishing her happiness.

    After coming back from extra expensive honeymoon,just like she accpept what you recommend, if she doesn’t like it, you are going to be in trouble!!!

  7. Julie says:

    Well, I am Jim’s sister and let me explain that we are having our wedding in a night club/candlepin bowling alley (not what I would call traditional, nor would my parents) and spending significantly less than the average Amercian wedding. Don’t get me wrong, we are spending a lot of money, but are very conscious of where our money (ok, my parents money!) is going and are making sure we will still be able to put down a down payment on a house within a year of the wedding.

    We are also planning to go on a honeymoon for about a week – maybe a cruise – Liberty of the Seas looks nice! We can’t splurge on a really extravagant honeymoon even if we wanted to, since we don’t have the luxury of 4 months of vacation. I get three weeks and my finace get two weeks. We have the luxury of getting help from both sets of parents; I am sure we would scale things back even more if we were paying the bills ourselves, but as it is I like to think I am showing some restraint!

    It is interesting to read everyone’s comments, but I have to say I agree most with JooNo!

  8. James Trotta says:

    If my sister agrees most with JooNo I guess I have to give him an “A” – good work JooNo!

    But to clarify, what I really mean is what’s best for you (instead of trying to guess what other people want, tell us what you want)?

  9. Charo says:

    There is no right or wrong answer I’m sure. It’s really hard to choose between a) and b). It depends on the people involved I guess. Me, we had 250 guests during the reception. Primarily because for me, the wedding is something to celebrate with family and friends. (We celebrated our 1st wedding anniversary with friends as well.) And my wedding was truly memorable! It was perfect! With glitches and all. It has been 2 years but I still love thinking about it. Email me if you want to see pictures. 🙂

    As for the honeymoon, we went to Bangkok. We were supposed to go to Maldives (oooh perfect!) but we had to change our plans after the tsunami happened. I would have wanted to go to Europe, but yeah, we couldn’t because of budget constraints. Here’s the thing – we can still go to Europe in the future, more than once even, but we can’t bring back the wedding anymore. So, I liked our choice. 🙂

  10. metoo says:

    Either way you look at it in the end its the result that matters. You have the one you love and have a lifetime of memories to create. Share it with all, share it with few, but all that matters is two!

  11. Shim-Gyun says:

    A wedding ceremony is once in a life-time(not all the time but usually). It is certain that most people especially women want a memorable wedding. It differs under circumstance but usually what we call a memorable wedding requires a lot of money. It is no big deal if you or your parents are rich enough to afford both a big wedding and an expensive honeymoon. However, I am sure there are more people out there worrying about their wedding and honeymoon expenses. So let me suggest my opinion on this. If I could give Mr. Trotta’s sister an advice on this decision, I would tell her to spend more money on the honeymoon than the wedding. A big wedding including a big reception has the advantage that everybody can celebrate and congratulate together. However, it only lasts a day. It is only a one day event, in other words just a one day episode. If it was for me I would rather choose a fantastic trip only for the both of us, me and my wife, instead of having a one great day with a bunch of other people I know. Imagine! You can travel all around the world with that amount of money. This might be the first and the last chance for you to experience something like this in your whole life. It might sound a little selfish looking at your friends’ and family’s point of view. However, Your wedding is supposed to be more for you and your wife, not for others. Even though not everyone gets to congratulate you on your wedding day you can make it up to them later anytime by seeing them individually. A small wedding in a church with your immediate family and a spectacular once in a life-time honeymoon trip is what I strongly reccomend! There is no need for further thoughts and hesitations! This is something you would never regret! Trust me on this!

  12. Jessie(hufs) says:

    In my opinion I agree with the idea to have a cheap wedding and spend the remaining expense on the newlyweds honeymoon. It is more efficient for the couples to expend on their honeymoon because the actual wedding only goes on for 3 hours which is hardly memorable after few years of marriage. The wedding is more about the bride and the groom but these days the guests are enjoying the ceremony more than the actual couple. Moreover luxurious honeymoon after the wedding could provide the environment for the couples to enjoy their special moment of love and focus on their time with each other.

    Furthermore people who have big traditional weddings usually get exhausted very easily after the wedding because of the long reception. Couples have to go around and say thank you to their friends and family and even relatives that they have never seen before. This process is likely to affect the newlyweds to appreciate their time on the honeymoon.

    My parents for expample had a big traditional wedding with more than 150 guests outdoors but they don’t quite remember their wedding. In fact when they arrived to Jeju Island, it was obvious for them to unpack their bags and go to sleep because of the tiredness from that day.

    For that reason, an extra expensive honeymoon and a cheaper wedding would be productive and worthwhile for the newlyweds.

  13. JooNo says:

    OH! MY ! God!! I got an A!!! Thank you Julie!!


  14. Hyun (HUFS) says:

    People have different opinions about wedding. Some people think that it is worth to spend a lot of money on their weddings and some people think it is unnecessary to spend so much money on weddings which is only “one day event”.

    Wedding is an event that is supposed to be once in a life time and I personally want to celebrate my marriage specially so that I could remember it for the whole time. But I do not think having a special marriage means spending large amount of money for a fancy wedding with a big reception. I would rather have an affordable or not so expensive weddig and spend money saved from the wedding on honeymoon. I think it is more practical in this way. I simply think spending thousands of dollars just for a day is not smart. But because I also do not want it to be dull and since I love to travel, I would spend more money on the honeymoon than the wedding. Then probably not the wedding itself but my marriage will be still special and memorable. I would say it is the marriage that matters not the ceremony of marriage, wedding and above all, it is really important to know what I and my partner want for our marriage.

  15. charottle(HUFS) says:

    Parental objection is no longer the only reason couples elope these days, while not for everyone, eloping has many advantages over full-blown wedding for the reason of rationality. First among them is saving money. There are some couples who try to show off their family status and fortune with a big ceremony. They mistake the means for the end. Rather than spend thousands of money on a big fancy wedding, couples in France usually get an alternative to have a wedding ceremony in a city hall, where you cost almost nothing. And spend as much as possible for their fantastic honeymoon or make a deposit for the future.

    You could also avoid stress from wedding planning with eloping. We can easily see some couples who feel so much pressure into having the most perfect and beautiful wedding in front of the people. They feel however alienated from what they really dream about, and very disappointed after all.

    Eloping, on the other hand, allows the couple to really focus on one another and the special intimacy and privacy. This is the most important thing for a wedding. In this regard, you could have a special wedding day with just your fiance or only include your family and a few of those close to you.

  16. Na Young says:

    If I’am getting married soon and I have to choose either one way, I want to spend more money on honeymoon. If I have a big wedding ceremony, I think I can’t be a heroine of the wedding. For example, one of my cousin had a very big wedding ceremony and there were alot of people. Actually, there were too many people so even though I was his close cousin, I met him just once because he was too busy to meet all the other peole. He tols me later that he was very tired after the ceremony and he had no time to celebrate with his close people. I don’t want to make same mistake like him. Rather, I’ll have a simple one with the people I love. And I’ll spend more money on honeymoon

  17. Amy(hufs) says:

    I prefer to take an special honeymoon, because it can give more precious memories. Spending a bunch of money on a traditional wedding is just for other people, not for real heroine of the wedding ceremony. Some guests really congratulate a friend on one’s marriage, but most of the guests are parent’s guest and even have never seen before. They just come to make up the kind of compensation. (Parent’s friends each other attend a ceremony of other’s children.) After wedding ceremony, you will very tired and just remember lots of people and want to take some rest.

    On the other hand, having a special honeymoon can give lots of memories and is very good chance to understand each other through traveling. Even if you know the husband /wife’s personality before, living together and dating is definitely different thing. Through long and wxtra honeymoon, a couple’s love will be deeper and sincerely as well as making a lasting memory.

    Several years after, when you have troubles with husband/wife, you probably think about when you were happy. And then, would you recall a big traditional wedding ceremony with over 100 people? I think not. When you wedding, you took a great honeymoon rather than a splemdoid traditional wedding ceremony, at that time of memory will be very helper for you. So I think having a simple wedding ceremory and making a beatiful memory is much more better.

  18. Lynn(HUFS) says:

    There is no denying that a marriage is one of the most important thing in a person’s life. It usually happens once for many, not all. However,

    the amount of money people are willing to spend

    for this one day event might differ. I personally think it’s more efficient to have a small wedding and spend the rest of the wedding money for more

    constructive use. There are many couples that use excessive amount of money for their wedding.

    It’s not a problem when you’re able to afford it. But,when it reaches a point where the couple has to pay off their debt after the ceremony, it becomes a disaster and the financial burden might lead to divorce. A wedding is a celebration where people who you care and love gather together to share the joy of two people’s union. Just because it’s big and luxurious doesn’t mean that the couple will live happily ever after. What’s important is that the couple are able to stay within their budget and still have a day to celebrate. A wedding day is something for the bride and the groom to remember. But most of the times, the guests get more excited and it often takes the spotlight off the bride and groom. Also, when too many people are invited, the meaning of the celebration often degrades and becomes a noisy party. As a result, they are left with monthly payment bills and a whole bunch of pictures of people they barely know.

    Therefore, I think it’s much more efficient to have a small wedding with immediate familes and have a spectacular, memorable honeymoon. Afterall,it’s a celebration for the two.

  19. Donghee(hufs) says:

    For me having a big wedding is important for two main reasons; since I am Korean I have to consider the tradition and wedding is a once in a life time experience which needs to be treated special.

    In Korea, it is a tradition to invite as many people as possible whenever we have an event. It’s considered as a virtue in Korea to greet the good things together. There is a saying that if you share you happiness it doubles the excitement and if you share you sorrow it decreases to half. For example, when my grandmother and grandfather got married they invited pretty much every body in town including homeless people. It may seem a little awkward to Westerners but we can think of it as donation. Well, back to the subject, I believe having a lot people’s greeting from a traditional wedding is better than small wedding. Even though the greeting from the people you have not seen until than. I think it’s worth it.

    Secondly, wedding is a once in a life time experience (though nowadays second wedding is so common). Don’t you want to make it special? I mean having a traditional wedding might be a little expensive but if you spend it wisely than it will be meaningful throughout your life. I’ve read Mr.Trotta’s comment and he too can’t forget the wedding though he had lots of guests.

    Having a fabulous wedding that will last forever is valuable than a fancy trip where you can have other time.

  20. Jean Ah says:

    If I were your sister, I would choose to spend less money on the wedding ceremony and more money on the honeymoon. I know that all women have dreamed of a big wedding ceremony, among hundreds of people watching you in beautiful white wedding dress. However, we cannot spend most of money we’ve saved or borrow money just for few hours of pleasure. Their life wouldn’t be happy, if they had to pay off everytime they earn money, without any savings for the future. In the worst case, this might lead them to divorce.

    Secondly, and most importantly, big weddings are often not very memorable. Let me give you my personal experience. My cousin got married two years ago, and she got married at the hotel, and spend about 30million won. It was very fancy wedding, with expensive food and decorations. However, all of her friends couldn’t go inside because all the seats were taken by the parent’s guest. Some didn’t even get a chance to say hello to the bride and groom. Do you really want to have a wedding like this? I think it will be sad to have a wedding without friends watching. My cousin told me that she couldn’t go to the honeymoon that day because they were too tired to go, so they spend their first night at the hotel sleeping. Also, they went to Bangkok only for three days because they spent all their money on the wedding ceremony. Therefore, they had to travel very quickly as they had not much time.

    If you have a small wedding, you not only can save money, but also can celebrate with the close people. Small wedding doesn’t always have to be “not fancy”. You can find ways to make your wedding fancy without spending a lot of money. For example, I heard that some students majored in design, can lend you the dress for only 50000won but still looks wonderful. Also there are some places where you can borrow at a very cheap price. Rather, if you spend the money that you saved on the honeymoon, you can stay in luxurious hotels and have expensive, delicious food. Also you can stay there as much as you want. It will be for only two of you, so it would be more memorable.

  21. Rosa(hufs) says:

    Many couples get married but they have different thoughts and preferences on how to have a wedding. Some like to have traditional weddings and others prefer to have cheap wedding and a expensive honeymoon. I am in favor of having a simple wedding because it saves the money and time the couple would spend in case they have an expensive weddings. To prepare for a traditional wedding, not only the couples but their parents tend to spend more than they can afford, thus they have financial problems after their marriage. Bad financial condition in the starting years of the marriage acts as a liability to the couples thus they are busy paying the debts rather than spending time together. We have to take in mind that marriage cost are not short-term financial problems since it may take the several years for the newly wed couples to pay back. In some cases financial issues may lead to fights and in extreme cases family break-ups.

    We all know that during the preparation of the wedding, a lot of time is spent on the reservation of wedding halls and inviting guests. The wedding is to celebrate the bride and the groom, but, in the actual wedding guests are busy talking to each other thus the intention of the ceremony is forgotten. So, why spend the time on bid wedding when you can be with your husband and get all his attention? By having small weddings, couples can spend more time on the honeymoon where they have all the time to themselves. Also, this will be a unique experience that will last in their memory throughout their marriage. Considering these facts, I believe that it is better to have a small wedding and a memorable honeymoon which will give the couple a good start in the marriage.

  22. Jooyoung (hufs) says:

    If we could have enough money to do both an expensive wedding and a long and luxurious honeymoon, that would be perfect. But in the reality, we always have to make decisions because of limited amount of money. In my opinion, having rather cheap wedding and an expensive honeymoon. I have three reason for this.

    First, wedding ceremoney is short. It usually takes only about 2-3 hours. But honeymoon is usually at least two days.

    Second, honeymoon is a good chance that we can stay in a five-star hotel. I have never been to a five-star hotel because it is very expensive. But on the honeymoon, people usually do not care a lot about their money too much and can experience a new circumstance that may be only once in our lifetime.

    Third, the money that we spend on the wedding ceremoney costs a lot because of all the people in the wedding. It includs all the family and friends and the money we have to pay in an expencive place is rather high. But the money that they pay when they come to the wedding is the same. So more money goes out and a little money comes in. That is a waste.

    For these three reasons, I believe that having a cheap wedding ceremoney and an expensive honeymoon is better than having an expensive wedding ceremoney and a cheap honeymoon.

  23. Joe Jung says:

    A marriage is something that the bride and the groom has to decide on. Every couple has different preferences. Some might think traditional wedding is the better choice for everyone. On the other hand, others might prefer to have a small private wedding with the ones they love. This differ depending on their priorities.

    In my opinion, I would give one vote to having a small private wedding of your own. I personally think that a small marriage is more meaningful than a big traditional wedding because a smaller wedding will make your wedding plans more flexible not only money wise but also making the wedding into a celebration of your own. Therefore, this will make your wedding more memorable.

    Having a big luxurious wedding with many people felicitating your marriage does not mean you will live happily ever after. A marriage is an engagement between the bride and the groom. Therefore, it has to be a meaningful gift for the two of them.

    A big wedding may cost you more than what you can afford, putting you into debt before you even start living together. From my point of view, I don’t think that is a good way of starting a new life with your lover. Hence, I think having a small wedding of your color and a memorable honeymoon is the wiser thing to do.

    A wedding is a celebration for the two. Make the best out of it. Because as time goes, it’s the memories that last in your heart.

  24. Meg(hufs) says:

    If I were in that situation, I would have small wedding and spend more money on honeymoon. I think that being celebrated from the other people is important becuase if the couple take their marriage vows in front of other people, they can get strong sense of resposibility. However having a big wedding spends lots of money and it is hard to be memorable because it’s too busy.

    So, in my opinion, having a small wedding with immediate family and intimate friends is the best way. If it is held at a small restaurant or their yard, the couple not only can be celebrated by their family and friends but also can save their money.You can Kill two birds with one stone.Then, go to the expensive honeymoon wherever you want.

    Wedding as well as honeymoon are really important thing the couple’s entire life. I hope that Mr.trotta’s sister decide well and her married life will be always healthy and happy.

  25. Derek says:

    I prefer cheaper wedding to traditional wedding because cheaper wedding is more reasonable and efficient than traditional one. As you mention above, expensive wedding and big reception are not memorial. You cannot even remember your wedding procedure. But your honeymoon trip is so special to you. Also if you choose eloping, it will give you a chance to invest your future and valuable ting. You would buy bigger apartment and luxury furniture instead of spending for just one day ceremony. Although eloping is for only your close friend and family, you can inform your marriage to others by recording your marriage and sending it to them. And you can enjoy your ceremony with people who you love. In conclusion, eloping is more beneficial to your future and it remains in your memories as well as traditional marriage is empty formalities and vanity.

  26. steve (hufs) says:

    I have mixed feelings on this topic. Being both American and Korean I want both a big and small wedding. However if it came down to it I would choose the small wedding.

    A wedding is a bond between the bride and groom, not a bond between the guests invited. So I do not need a lot of people to witness my wedding for it to be official. The ceremony itself, if you think about it, is a show to announce the fact that you are getting married. Since money is always an issue for a wedding, I would rather invest it into having once and a life time honeymoon.

    A honeymoon is a trip that starts the life with one another. Newly weds take this trip more seriously than anything else because it is the start of another stage of life, married life. What can be more important than this part of a wedding. Why would you spend more money on other people you may not know, when you can make this part of your wedding even more special. Why make this trip only last a few days when it can last for a month.

    With the money saved on a big wedding, the outcome of a even more memorible honeymoon is much more benefical. So the choice that your sister should make is very simple, elope.

  27. Jerome says:

    It’s your wedding. You have to do what you and your fiancee would like and can afford. I would suggest not starting a marriage with 10-12k more additional debt. Most marriages that fail, fail because of money troubles, and that would be handicapping yourselves right out of the gate. If you end up going more frugally, and getting grief from family or friends which you shouldn’t but just in case, you can say we’d rather use that 10k as a down payment on a house or a car.

    Now, you’re choosing only between a wedding and eloping. There are frugal weddings you can have, it just takes a little more work and creativity. When my cousin in the states got married, it didn’t cost him all that much at all. They rented some chairs and wedding-type decorations from a party house, they reserved a city park by a lake, they had a friend who was in seminary school do the ceremony, they had friends in bands do the music (along with some recorded music on equipment they borrowed) at the reception, they rented a little hall, they had a caterer bring in food and I think they did have a DJ/MC at the reception. It’s really upto you and your partner’s decision for call.

  28. Hyung-ju (hufs) says:

    It is difficult to say which one is better because there are a lot of things to consider for wedding and it also depends on one’s personality. But if I get to choose between a traditional wedding + a normal honeymoon and a cheap wedding + an extra expensive honeymoon, I will definitly choose cheap wedding and enjoy my honeymoon in Europe or Africa because it goes with my personality. As a non-party person, this traditional Korean wedding will be quite stressful and will ruin the day. Wedding is for making the day special and memorable.

  29. Ashley(HUFS) says:

    I think a traditional wedding is better. Wedding ceremony and reception can offer the place my people meet together. It’s hard to meet one’s friends unless there is a big event such as wedding or birthday party. If most people did small wedding in Korea, they would have a difficulty for make a relationship with others.

  30. Seung mee says:

    I prefer a cheap wedding and an extra expensive honeymoon. Having a cheap wedding doesn’t mean it’s not memorable. It’s important that the people all get together and congratulate the bride and the groom. The ceromony is like an anouncement in front of these close friends and families and being blessed by everybody.

    The honeymoon, I think should be special. Of course, the couple could travel around in the future but I think it certainly will be different from a honeymoon. When a couple gets married, I bet they are greatly in love. After a few years it won’t be as it used to be. So I think it’s really important to have a memorable and very special honeymoon.

  31. Jin says:

    I think a traditional wedding is better. Wedding is very important for couples to make sure keeping their promise. traditional wedding can gather many people. They declared their sincere promise in front of them. So they might have great responsobility. Wedding is gate to new and different life. Your sister may feel like that.

  32. Jenny says:

    I prefer having a small wedding and a wonderful honeymoon. I heard from some people that they can not remember much what happened on the day they got married. That is becauses they were too nervous and tired. If you can not even remember clearly how the ceremony was, I think it is not worth to spend a lot of money on it.

    Also, people go to lots of weddings and your wedding will be just one of those. Though your wedding is traditional and expensive, people will soon forget about it. If the purpose to open a big wedding is to impress others, I’d rather choose to have a great honeymoon. I think though the honeymoon the couple can have a memory that will last forvever. And you can plan it however you want not since you don’t have to care about others.

  33. Christine says:

    My husband and I had an intimate wedding, approximately 60 guests. The wedding itself was unusual and costed approximately $4,000 in 2000. We honeymooned in Iceland for 10 days. The most amazing vacation I have ever had. I barely remember the wedding, but the honeymoon was truly a once in a lifetime experience.

  34. umpi says:

    i want big wedding ceremony

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