Happily ever after is a long time if all goes well, and even the prettiest set of pots and pans won’t provide the foundation for a family.
That’s why when it came time for Bolingbrook couple Teri and EJ Mugnaini to register for their May wedding, they decided to go with a decidedly 21st-century option, eschewing the likes of Target and Bed Bath and Beyond and instead having their guests contribute to a financial nest egg through crowdfunding site GoFundMe.
“We didn’t want a lot of things that we wouldn’t use,” said Teri, a 36-year-old entrepreneur. “We wanted to be able to invest and be able to spend time with each other and be prepared for our family.”
The couple raised a little more than $1,100 of their $7,500 goal in a two-month span, money that will be split between their savings and an eventual honeymoon.
While Teri’s mother was on board with their plan from the get-go, other family members initially were skeptical.
“Some of our family, they asked us a lot of questions like, ‘So you guys don’t need anything, you don’t want anything?’ ” she said. “Once we explained it to people, they got it. It was like, ‘We’re starting our lives together, and we would be so grateful if you would invest in the start of our family.’ ”
But while the concept is growing in popularity—a GoFundMe spokeswoman said there are nearly two dozen weddings listed on the site in the Chicago area—wedding planner Elizabeth Tulipana said some couples may balk because of the perceived stigma attached.
“I think that’s the overarching feeling about it, that it’s a little bit gauche and I think that’s why people are hesitant to do it,” the 32-year-old Bucktown resident and owner of Anticipation Events said. “I think that if you want money for your wedding, the alternative is to not register for anything at all, and I think when people don’t register that’s a signal to their guests that if they want to give them something, they can put a check in the card.”
Part of crowdfunded weddings’ rising popularity can be attributed to the fact that while falling in love might make you weak in the knees, the cost might make you keel over when the bill comes due.
A recent study from theknot.com showed that the average wedding in the U.S. costs around $24,000. If you’re planning on getting married in Chicago, it’s nearly doubled to $40,544—and that’s without the cost of the engagement ring and honeymoon thrown in.
Tulipana said she’s seeing more clients opt to crowdfund the honeymoon as a means of defraying some costs of the big day.
“I think crowdfunding the honeymoon is a cool concept because it still allows those people who don’t feel comfortable with [the crowdfunding concept] to get them something,” she said. “I definitely think people do it with the honeymoon because people in Chicago tend to get married a little bit later in life. They’re not getting married when they’re 22 or 23 and they need pots and pans or sheets and pillows. It’s a cool concept because you can still feel like you’re buying somebody a gift.”