How to Fund a Wedding You Cannot Afford

Celebrate Plus crowdfunding for weddings

I noticed that I had a new twitter follower the other day, CelebratePlus. I then clicked on the profile and saw that Celebrate Plus is a fundraising site for celebrations, most specifically weddings.

No really. You invite people to your wedding and ask them to help pay for it.

Yes, I realize that I’m judgy and mean and that there’s no way that anyone will ever read this post without understanding full well that I do not want to be invited to a wedding where I’m asked to chip in for my chicken buffet dinner. I know that people will think that I’m selfish and rude and that I’m here to be sanctimonious and remind you that it’s not good to start a life together in debt. The wedding was the best day of my life up until that day in 1997 but now in 2013. I can’t say there haven’t been better days and I also can’t say it was the most important day of married life. The moments of devotion when everything was crazy wonderful or incredibly challenging brought us closer than a party ever could.

With that being said I know that these services exist because people want or feel like they need them and I asked Nelson Olavarrieta (the founder of CelebratePlus.com) for a quick interview and he happily complied.

Here’s Nelson’s story:

Almost two years ago I was out with my wife having dinner. We were through a difficult economic situation, at least comparable to a few years before when we both were working and with no kids. We remembered how our wedding was a great celebration, how we received not only the company and love of our friends and family, but also how we didn’t spend a dime in the party, how our family stood behind us, and all the gifts we received. Wow, we were so lucky.

That made me think what we would have done with all the money that was spent on the celebration and the gifts. I remembered an episode of the TV series “Friends”, when Chandler is having cold feet the night before the wedding and his pals Joey and Ross ask him to have dinner with them. “Well I invited 200 people to have dinner with me tomorrow, so I don’t want to spend on dinner tonight” or something like that Chandler said.

My wife and I agreed that it was a waste of resources to spend that much money on a “party”. It isn’t more reasonable that all the people, friends and family, who care about you, “invite” the marrying couple to have ‘dinner’? 200 paying the dinner of 2 is better math than 2 paying the dinner of 200.

Or worst, what if your personal or family’s current economic situation doesn’t allow you to spent that money and not be able to have a marvelous time sharing one of the most magnificent times of your life? What if instead of spending on a party people can give money down on their house, pay their honeymoon, buy a needed car or save to pay for the expenses of a new family. What if people can save that money and put it in a college fund for their future kids?

If you don’t have money for health care, are you supposed to wait for your death? If you don’t have money for a wedding are you supposed to not have a good time in that special moment in your life? Everybody can have a shot at that if we built a friendly platform to invite and raise funds.

“Something needs to change, somebody needs to do something about it”, I said, and instantly hit me back. I NEED to do something about it. I’m a lawyer and have experience in a couple of previous Internet startups, so I said: Let’s start again! In the next days and months I came to the concept of CelebratePlus.com, something like Evite plus Kickstarter, a platform where any person who is having any kind of personal event can easily invite their friends and family and with the new etiquette that internet gives you, be able to ask for funds and raise them automatically.

CelebratePlus.com is now a reality and it has been live since December 2012. We are available in the US but soon we will be available for the rest of the world. We partnered with PayPal because they are the most used and trusted online platform for payments and people can trust their name to handle their money.

We have received an amazing response and people are organizing events as varied as weddings, quinceaƱeras, retirement parties, dances, slumber parties, pizza night with friends, game watching parties, you name it. People are creating their accounts, creating events and raising funds. The lack of funds will not stop anybody to share a great moment of their lives.

We have built a platform for friends and family to share their support to the ones they love and we love what we do.

I’m dying to hear how y’all feel about this. I also must say that it doesn’t really matter how you feel about it because soon enough we’ll all be invited to a crowdfunded event. It makes sense in a lot of ways even if it makes me bristle. Let’s face it, I’m bristly.

Also, if I attend a crowdfunded wedding do I get to deduct that from the gift check that I write at the end of the party? What would Miss Manners say?

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9 Comments

  1. willibaldoea

    This isn’t much different from the Mexican (or is it just a Latino thing? I don’t know. You do the research) tradition to have “padrinos” (godparents) for everything at a party. It’s a great honor to be chosen as a godparent, but it also means you’re responsible for something. So, for example, if a girl is having a Quinceanera, you will have godparents for the DJ, the food, certain gifts, etc. The list can literally go on and on.

    So it’s interesting to think that this idea about crowdsourcing your events isn’t as novel and tied to new rules of etiquette provided by the internet as we might believe. If anything, I think it’s really a way to tap into the complex mix of emotions that comes from our notions of charity but also personal pride. To be chosen as a godparent at a Quinceanera is a great honor, but it’s also a financial burden. You’d never say no, though.

    It’s curious to think about the ways that we manage to tap into something like “charity” or “gift”-giving, despite our propensity to think that we are all self-contained beings who should responsible for ourselves – financially, emotionally, etc. This crowdsourcing brings back some sense of community into lives that have become overburdened by a sense of individualized duty.

    And, let’s face it: if you don’t want to pay, or find it tacky to even crowdsource an event, you just say you can’t go. Fuck that E-vite!

  2. The internet is officially causing people to lose their minds.

  3. I agree with Jessica. It’s not just tacky. It’s distorted. There is no relationship to the size of the wedding and how solid the marriage will be. I respect people who choose small, simple weddings that they can afford. TLC has convinced us that we need large, elaborate weddings to be happy. But it just isn’t true. I can understand having a huge and expensive wedding if you are from a rich family. But if your not, it doesn’t make sense to me to spend that kind of money.

    I wouldn’t crowdsource a birthday party let alone a wedding. I think that the wedding is a good test for a couple. The kind of wedding they choose can be an indicator of how they are going to run their financial life.

  4. Stacy

    I think it is tacky and rude. No way would I attend an wedding where I was asked to contribute. If you can’t afford the wedding, then have a smaller one or elope. I’m sorry but I’m a cynic. I got married at the justice of the peace and my marriage is just fine. No way was I going to fund a party for a bunch of people who really just wanted to come for a free meal anyway. I’d rather have my money in the bank, and no way would I have ever stooped to asking anyone I know to contribute to my party. And it’s not because I didn’t have the money – I did. I think the “I want it now” mentality has really turned the tide on what people will stoop to doing in order to get what they want.

  5. Shannon

    I’m not bristly at all and this is disgusting. Soooo glad I’m past the wedding every weekend phase. Back then I’m sure we would have gone because who wants to miss the big party. Now, at 40, we wouldn’t go to one! Crazy Idea. Goes right along with all the entitlement issues the country has!

  6. I think this is really a cultural thing. When we lived in Israel, we were always expected to bring a gift in the form of cash or check, and that it would cover our expenses. There is even a Hebrew website entirely devoted to calculating how much money you should give to a certain event, based on how close you are to the person giving the event. At Israeli weddings, there is a lockbox at the front and you place your envelope in it. At the end of the wedding, the caterer, wedding hall, etc. stand by the gift box as it is unlocked and checks/cash are handed over directly.

    At first I thought it was terribly tacky from my US cultural mindset. If you are going to have a small, intimate affair with your closest circle of friends, throw a party for you and them. If you are going to throw a wedding or event for a ton of people you know and don’t know so well, I think this is a fine solution. On the other hand, if you are going to have an event with people you don’t know very well, there’s an argument that you might not want to invite them!

  7. Katie

    Tacky, tacky, tacky. And beyond that it just goes along with what should be common sense – if you can’t afford it, don’t buy it. And don’t expect that someone else will want to buy it for you.

  8. Great writeup on the destruction of cultural norms by the internet.

  9. Ummm, I’m a bleeding heart liberal to the bone…but fuck if I’m gonna start paying for everyone’s wedding.

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