Wedding Ramblings

In honor of Valentine's Day, today's post addresses the true cost of a lavish wedding. In addition to the Dartmouth participants, several of K's girlfriends have recently gotten engaged, and thus she has had the opportunity to play wedding planner and dress consultant. One friend is clearly going to have a very high-end wedding, but the other three are going to have what I would call a "more reasonable" budget.

Of course, the key here is the extreme subjectivity of what is "reasonable". Popular wedding website reports that the average wedding is now about $27,800. According to Richard Markel, president of the Association for Wedding Professionals International, the average cost of a wedding in the U.S. (in 2008) fell between $21,000 and $24,000. Clearly location matters as well, but let's work from a conservative value of $20k.

A friend of ours got married in a very elegant $99 dress, and last year we attended a wedding where the bride's dress was upwards of $15k. I honestly would not have known the difference, and I think that many guys would say the same. However, I'm sure that most women in attendance could tell, and most importantly the brides themselves knew the cost. The "bride-as-center-of-the-universe" is not something that I understand 100%, but from my own experience I know that I wanted my wife to be perfectly happy on her/our big day, and if happiness cost a little bit (or, honestly, a lot) of money, then I was pleased to pull out the checkbook.

First, the grinch-y perspective: the cost of a wedding is a decent start on a down payment on a house or condo. Alternatively, if the cost of your wedding were instead invested towards retirement, that $20,000 would grown into $160,000 (assume 8% APY over 35 years), and $8k-worth-of-dress would grow to $64,000.

On the other hand, who is to say that we can assume that the stock market will approach an 8% return? Multiple previous posts have highlighted my skepticism; accounting for inflation and taxes, honestly I think that 5% is more reasonable, if itself rather optimistic. If the kind/size cake doesn't matter, that can save you $1,000. Make your own invitations, or select a less elegant design, hire a younger photographer, or (here's the tricky one) invite fewer people. Want to trim some fat off the catering bill? Don't serve meat. Don't be cheap or leave your guests feeling mistreated, but thriftiness is making a comeback these days, and if you and your fiance(e) are on a tight budget, your friends and family will understand and support you.

This is my point; prioritize your expenses and try to save money on details that don't matter as much to the two of you... but don't be afraid to pay full price on the wedding elements that really matter most. Yes it's possible that every dollar you spend now could be invested and turn into $10 in 40 years, but do you really want to postpone happiness for 40 years? Moderation, people.


A Football Rant

I try to avoid saturating the blog with too many sports-related posts, but honestly dactyl is probably more desperate than Steve Phillips these days, so oh well.

So, on to item #1, Brett Favre. I'm not even going to discuss his million-iteration retire/unretire cycle or the tediousness thereof, I'm just going to say that I'm really glad to not have been a Green Bay fan and that I'm not currently a VIkings fan. Favre is a gunslinger, a Jake Plummer who won a Super Bowl, the kind of guy who can win a game with a great play one game and throw 4 stupid INTs the next game - oh wait, he's done that several times. This past game against the Steelers falls into the latter category, where just a couple plays after Adrian Peterson destroyed Steelers DB William Gay and illustrated who should have the ball with the game on the line, Favre gave the game away with a dumb scramble/fumble. Live by the Favre, die by the Favre, but it just irritates me when Saint Brett's faults are ignored/explained away...

Which brings us to the second- and third-most overrated QBs in the NFL, Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger, you decide the order. Ben is really really talented but does stupid shit just often enough for him to lose my respect, and Eli just sucks, but they fluked into good teams that played into their individual strengths. The football aspect of this is that the Giants will actually be much better off if the NFC championship game is AT New Orleans, so that Eli doesn't have to deal with NY winter weather - Brees has the arm to deal with windy/bad weather, and playing in the Superdome will actually work to even the playing field.

Item #4: I fully recognize that any time a team becomes a "dynasty", a lot of people start to dislike them. Easy to root for the underdog, but once you become the favorite, then you're irritating/arrogant/etc. And as such, it isn't surprising to me that a lot of people don't like the Patriots and thus when they destroyed Tennessee a couple weeks ago (58-0, ouch) there was much self-righteous pontificating and blowharding, decrying the running up of the score and the return to the bad sportsmanship of '07. Now, I'm not going to defend the general concept of running up the score, or the intent of Belichek and Brady to humiliate their opponents, but from a strictly football angle, those arguments miss one key element... the Patriots' defense really really sucks. It was weak in '06, really bad in '07, and with injuries and trading Seymour, it's not great this year. And this is what every critique of "running up the score" ignores, that the point of scoring 50 points a game is to (a) keep your own defense off the field as much as possible and (b) to prevent the opposing offense from gaining their rhythm. Additionally, if you can influence the playcalling of the other team into taking more risks (so as to be able to keep up) then you gain an additional advantage, especially if the other team's roster isn't designed for a quick-strike/high-scoring pace.

Anyway, that's no defense for the Pats, I admit that WonderBoy and SuperCoach can be grating, but from purely football grounds, I totally get where they're coming from. Up until the Titans game, Brady had looked pretty rusty/downright sucky, and so it also made sense for him to get in some more "practice".

Is it hypocritical to trash Favre, Roethlisberger, and Eli Manning while praising Brady? probably, but that's the prerogative of being a sports fan right? Objectivity is for PBS/NPR.

P.S. Great quote from my buddy Greg, huge Packers fan. "[Favre] has AP and gives the game away. He is who we think he is. Roethlisberger is him [Favre] 2.0, just as annoying, will be worshipped by home fans despised by others. one difference is that favre is actually pretty smart"

P.P.S. Tomlinson is DONE. Unlike last year where SD didn't give him as many opportunities as he was used to, and tried to rest his legs by giving Sproles more work, the past couple games Norv has given LT multiple goal-line cracks, only to see the Visored One get stuffed. If you play fantasy fb and can get 80 cents on the dollar, sell! That said, do I blame SDs struggles on LT? no - blame Norv Turner. This is an amazingly talented team hamstrung by coaching that is sub-par both motivationally and strategically. And yes, Andy Reid deserves firing just as much as does Norv. Philly fans, I defy you to convince me otherwise.


Sneaky Hot

We have previously addressed this item, when one comes across hotness in either an unexpected, unanticipated or unconventional situation, or instead when traditional hotness is encountered in an atypical wrapping.
It is in this second category that I submit the item below:

Everybody expects cheerleaders to be hot, or rather is at least not surprised when cheerleaders turn out to be hot (but don't forget the importance of community service) - and disappointed when that hotness is not lived up to. But what is extra-, or should we say, sneaky-hot, is when you put a hot cheerleader in 1960's throwback outfits. They didn't quite make up for the awfulness of the Broncos uniforms - see below - but it was a good effort.


Academia funnies

So, I friend of mine is looking at a position at Oxford and forwarded the "job description/job perks" page. I am particularly jealous of the maternity/paternity leave (26 weeks), "pensionable housing allowance" (£8,438), and 1 term in six of accrued sabbatical, up to 18 terms, but a couple other elements caught my eye:

The Fellow will be able to draw on an allowance for the purpose of entertaining undergraduate students (currently £435), plus a per capita allowance of £15 for entertaining graduate students to whom he/she is College Advisor.

Yes, that's right, you get a little over 400 quid to "entertain" undergrads (cue Professor [redacted] joke here), but only fifteen for each graduate student advisee. Better save up for 50p vodka shot night at the Union?