Wedding bells, and bills, from “Death, Sex & Money”

Reema Khrais: Hey everyone, so This Is Uncomfortable is on a break for the summer while we work on our upcoming season. It’s going to be a good one, so keep your eyes on this feed in the coming months… 


In the meanwhile, we wanted to share an episode from one of our favorite podcasts…


Anyone who has planned a wedding knows it doesn’t take long for the romance of it all to turn into a cold numbers game. 


This week, we’re sharing an episode of Death Sex & Money that explores that very problem. 


The DSM team talks to couples for whom money became a sticking point as they dealt with vastly different ideas of what they wanted to spend. And of course, there’s the problem of unsolicited opinions from parents and in-laws that only further complicate the process. Plus, hear helpful tips from couples who did manage to full off a budget-friendly wedding. 


Listener: And then the guest list started to balloon…

Listener: A tent and porta-potties and lights and chairs and tables…

Listener: And I was like, absolutely not. Immediately, I was just like, we cannot afford this…

(opening theme for Death, Sex & Money)

Anna Sale:

This is Death, Sex & Money. 

The show from WNYC about the things we think about a lot…

…and need to talk about more.

I’m Anna Sale.

(end of opening theme for Death, Sex & Money)

So, you made a big decision and decided to get married!

But then, after that flash of celebration comes a whole new set of decisions: what kind of a wedding are you going to have? And where’s the money going to come from to pay for it?

Listener: I worked as a wedding planner for five years before planning my own wedding.  and knew that I didn’t want to blindly follow costly traditions.

Listener: I think the whole thing cost us probably about $3,000 or less, no ties was a rule and shoes optional, but encouraged not to be worn.

Listener: We just kind of kept it really simple and I don’t wanna brag, but I made a profit. It was such a good day. And even my nanny who’s in her nineties said it was the best wedding ever.

Listener: In DC you can actually officiate your own wedding. So it was literally just the two of us and a friend who is a photographer.

Anna Sale: The average wedding cost in the United States is about 29,000 dollars in 2023, up about 18 percent from the pre-pandemic levels. A survey of vendors this year found 77% raised their prices because of inflation. And, of course, an average cost is just the average. Total costs vary widely, depending on where you are, and the kind of celebration you want.

Vanessa: It’s funny because sometimes I’ll see these things on The Knot and it’ll be like, the average wedding costs $29,000, and I’m like, who in their mind is only spending $29,000. Like, that’s insane.

Anna Sale: We asked listeners who are in the wedding planning process RIGHT NOW to tell us how money is coming up… some of you said you’re learning that you and your fiance have different ideas.

Listener: When I look at a floral budget, I think, oh yeah, that’s actually really reasonable. And he looks at the same budget and he’s like, “That for flowers?”

Listener: I’m currently a resident doctor with six figure debt, and the idea of spending a down payment on a wedding is quite overwhelming and crushing.

Listener: I have struggled with going back and forth with it, spending as much money as we thought, and getting eloped, which he would like.

Listener: My partner on the other hand feels that because it’s only a one time thing we’re ever gonna do that it should be a big party.

Devon: I always thought I’d be married and I always thought I’d be a father. But, I always imagined a really big wedding.

Sierra: Yeah. I think when we did our potential invite list Devon had listed about 150 people. [laughs]

Anna: So how many guests did you have for your wedding?

Devon: I think 17.

Sierra: I think it was 17, including us babe.

Anna Sale: Devon and Sierra are both in their late twenties, and those aren’t their real names. Because we talked about money, family relationships, and in-laws, many people asked to shield their identities for this episode. 

Devon and Sierra met in grad school in New York City in 2019.

Sierra: I was always kind of on the fence about marriage. I was like, “I don’t know if this is for me. I don’t know if this is gonna happen.” And when I met Devin and we started dating it, it clicked automatically for me.

Anna Sale: Devon comes from a big Black and Latino family in the south. His parents had a big wedding that they love to talk about. Sierra is also Black and Latina, but her dad wasn’t around when she was growing up in the Bronx. Her mom is a lesbian, and Sierra’s also queer, so a big family wedding was nothing she ever imagined for herself.

But she always knew she wanted kids. A few years into dating, she and Devon started to save in case they needed fertility treatments, because Sierra has PCOS and  fibroids, but then she got pregnant.

Sierra: I was already in my first trimester, I was nauseous and tired. In fact the day before he proposed, I had gotten really sick from eating some spicy Indian food. I probably should have known better and, you know, I spent the whole night throwing up.

Anna Sale: And preparing to get married while also preparing to become parents changed how Devon thought about a wedding.

Devon: We had a lot of other things to consider. You know, we just bought a new home, we both have a substantial amount of student debt, and, you know, we don’t come from families that have a whole lot of money to spend on one day ceremonies.

Anna Sale: Sierra said she googled “how to plan a small wedding,” and found the term microweddings, and wedding planning services that offered low-cost off-the-shelf packages.

Sierra: Like everything is micro. Everything is smaller from, you know, the planning to the amount of people invited to the food.

Devon: Also, it was a very nice, intimate ceremony. We held it at a local art gallery and had a reception at a hotel restaurant that we really liked.

Sierra: And I actually feel like it was even more beautiful because it was so intimate. There were folks being able to really engage with one another and with us and speak love and life into us. And I consider myself to be an introvert more.

And so I would imagine myself at a larger event being very anxious, so I think it panned out well. I think I looked gorgeous, not to toot my own horn, but I think I looked gorgeous as a, you know, nine month pregnant person.

Devon: Yeah, I echo that. The intimacy was overwhelming. I mean, as a guy that doesn’t cry a lot, I don’t think I could stop crying.

Anna: Aw. And about how much do you think your wedding celebration cost all in?

Devon: I think it was about $12,000 or $13,000.

Anna: That still seems like a lot for something called micro.

Devon: Right. You plan to do, I guess as little as possible, not to make that sound in a bad way, but you know, as inexpensive as possible, rather. And, you know, things add up quickly. We still have to print our wedding pictures, which we’re gonna do. That might be another thousand.

Anna: That’d be a nice anniversary present someday.

Devon: Thanks for the idea.

Anna: Yeah. Tell my husband, we still haven’t printed ours. [laughs]

Devon: Oh, wow. [laughs]

Anna: Did either of you find that you had to be in the position to explain to a parent or an elder relative? Like: “Let me tell you, in 2022, it’s different now, how much a wedding costs to celebrate with 150 people on a fun dance floor.” Did you find you had to help people understand that you were making a choice that was really the right one for your family because of how much things cost?

Sierra: Oh, you got this one, babe.

Devon: Yeah, I was explaining things, I’m still explaining things to this day as to why people didn’t get invites and, you know, why didn’t we go for something bigger and why was I so concerned about the cost? Yeah. I heard it from everyone.

Anna Sale: When you’re planning a wedding, well meaning people might tell you it’s your day, do what you want… but for a lot of couples, the voices of what their families want can be LOUD.

Listener: We’re thinking about having kids and it just feels like it would be a big expense and time suck in our lives that we’re just not sure is what we need to have happen. But every time we get together with his family for some family occasion, his aunts and uncles, honestly, it’s almost gotten to a point of bullying. Some of them take us aside and give us this talking too about how important it is.

Listener: His mom really values these big Italian weddings inviting pretty much everybody you know.

Listener: His family just doesn’t really understand why we’re spending the money that we are. We also have some worries on dress code and how to communicate that to them because they’re not normally the type to dress up, whereas my family will judge you pretty harshly if you’re not dressed accordingly.

Vanessa:  I’m getting married next weekend and money’s definitely been a big part. My parents are throwing the wedding, it’s been pretty interesting trying to navigate that.

Anna Sale: A listener we’re calling Vanessa sent us a voice memo a week out from her wedding… when we talked, she was just days away.

Vanessa: So I just finished work yesterday, and then today just doing some errands, and then tomorrow is our rehearsal dinner. And then Saturday we’re doing a welcome party for all of our guests, and then Sunday is the wedding.

Anna: So there’s three events because the rehearsal dinner and the welcome party are separate. Okay.

Vanessa: Yes. Three outfits.

Anna: Three hairdos?

Vanessa: Three hairdos. Exactly.

Anna Sale: Vanessa loves weddings. She grew up watching her parents’ wedding video over and over. It was a big and fancy New York City wedding. As she got older, Vanessa said she cried at every wedding she went to whether she knew the couple or not.

Vanessa: I’m one of my last friends to actually get married. And for a while I was like, you know, maybe this isn’t gonna happen for me. So there is this sense of like, oh my gosh, this is my time.

Anna Sale: Vanessa is in her early thirties, around the average age of a person getting married in the United States these days, which is 31.

Vanessa and her fiance got engaged a year ago. They live in the west, but decided to have their wedding in New York City, where Vanessa grew up and where her parents still live. Vanessa didn’t want to say exactly how much her wedding cost, but she needed a big budget to accommodate about 180 guests.

Vanessa: We wanted a pretty big party, so then a lot of venues in New York just can’t accommodate over 120, let’s say. So, we were able to narrow it down pretty quickly,

Anna: Mm-hmm. And did you have a sense as you were collecting these quotes, how this wedding would be paid for? Like, did you know where the money would come from?

Vanessa: Yeah, so my parents generously, we never even talked about it really, I guess it was just assumed they were gonna pay for it, which they have.

Anna: Wait, so you didn’t have a conversation about it?

Vanessa: Not really, actually.

Anna: Huh. Was it kind of like, the bride’s family pays for it, like that’s sort of a convention and so it was just sort of a built-in assumption that everybody had?

Vanessa: I guess so. Yeah.

Anna: Uh huh. And for your fiance and his family how did you all talk to them about money and the planning?

Vanessa: So again, nothing was really talked about, which is probably why it got so complicated, but they are throwing the rehearsal dinner and a welcome party. Again, back to that more traditional sense of, you know, the night before versus the day of.

Anna: Uh huh. And when you say it got complicated, can you give me a few examples of moments where you were like, “This is really hard.”

Vanessa: Well, the guest list was definitely a struggle of who could invite how many people and family versus friends. And trying to navigate what was deemed “fair.” Quickly, it would get very heated between me and my parents.

Anna: And when you say things got heated in your family, what does that look like when there’s conflict?

Vanessa: Yelling.

Anna: Yelling, uh huh.

Vanessa: And then maybe, you know, no one’s talking to each other.

Anna: Uh huh, and who is it? All three of you yelling?

Vanessa: Mostly me and my mom yelling at each other,

Anna: And if you were going to articulate what your mother’s point of view on something like the guest list is, how did she describe what was important to her?

Vanessa: You know. It was, “We’re throwing this, you know, just because it’s your wedding, it’s also our event.”

Anna: Because of the money.

Vanessa: Yeah… I mean, it was true.We ended up getting a wedding planner who was the actual hero of this year. Not only with logistics, but like emotional support. I mean, sometimes I’d get on the call and I’d say “I’m not in a good place with my mom right now.” And she understood. And sometimes she would relay things to both of us if we weren’t talking at the moment.

Anna Sale: Coming up, how parent’s opinions can influence wedding planning, even after their deaths.

Maya: I remember shutting my computer after the Zoom call and just kind of holding my, then we called each other partner, my partner at that time, who’s now my fiance, just kind of held each other and I cried. That there was this mysterious gift that she had given me that I had never expected.

(midshow theme for Death, Sex & Money)

Anna Sale: Episodes like the one you’re hearing right now – filled with the voices of you, our listeners – all start out the same way, with a big, broad question. And we’ve got a new one we’d like your help with.

It comes from the brain of our movie-loving executive producer Liliana Maria. She talked to some of you this past spring about the movies that taught you about sex – an episode I loved! –  and now she wants to hear about your stories about a different sort of movie –  the sports movie – and if there’s one that’s helped you through a particularly hard time.

The idea came to Liliana Maria as earlier this year she found herself surrounded by cancer and death – in her close circle of family and friends – and she turned to the boxing movie, Creed III. Like, she watched it repeatedly and even bought multiple t-shirts on Etsy with pictures of Michael B. Jordan’s character, Adonis, on them to remind her that she was strong.

Liliana Maria is pretty sure she’s not the only one who relies on sports movies in this way – who finds solace in epic training montages, underdog-against-all-odds-redemption stories, the game winning point right when the buzzer sounds, the reminder that pulling together with a team makes things easier than going it alone. 

Creed III is part of the Rocky franchise, a staple of the sports movie genre, but remember, not all sports movies are about boxing! There’s The Mighty Ducks about hockey, Bring it On about cheerleading, Love & Basketball, Cutting Edge, one of my personal favorites, about pair figure skating. If there’s a sports movie that’s been important to you because it helped you get through a pivotal moment in life, tell us about it. Send us your voice memos to [email protected].

(end of midshow theme for Death, Sex & Money)

Anna Sale: This is Death, Sex and Money from WNYC. I’m Anna Sale.

Moms and weddings. We heard from a lot of you that in addition to the monetary cost of weddings, there can be a built-in emotional cost with wedding planning and parents, especially moms, you told us, who tended to dig in more to the details often with strong opinions. Weddings, after all, can be a complex family affair marking the beginning of one family, and a breaking away from what has been.

Maya: My mom loved my now fiance very dearly, and he became an instant part of our family.

Anna Sale: A listener we’re calling Maya is planning her wedding without her mom, who died suddenly in February 2020. It was unexpected. Maya had talked to her mom on the phone an hour before she collapsed. They had been planning a retirement party for her. Retirement had become a big topic with a lot of anxiety around it.

Maya: She would just be like, I’m leaving you with my debt, and she kind of acted like she wasn’t sure if she would be okay, which was actually a source of anxiety. Her and my dad, if they would be okay financially in their old age.

Anna Sale: After her mother died, Maya and her sister were terrified about what it meant for their father. He had recently been diagnosed with cancer and had mounting medical bills. Then she heard from her mother’s financial planner – someone Maya had never even heard about. They had a meeting.

Maya: And it was in the first meeting with that woman that not only did she leave my dad totally set for life, but she left money for me and my sister for weddings, so that was a shock, truly. I was unsure how to feel about it.

Anna:  I wanna make sure I understand. You say your dad, you now feel like he will be financially comfortable for life. How much money did your mother have?

Maya: You know, it’s hard. So she had worked at the same company for, you know, over 40 years with 401K matching, and had been bought out of a pension at some point. So she had, I believe, 1.5 million. In addition to that, she had this life insurance policy that was a mystery to all of us that my dad didn’t even know about. That was $750,000.

Anna: Mm-hmm.

Maya: So it’s, to me, a tremendous amount of money that I never thought in my wildest dreams my family would have access to.

Anna: Oh, so she left your father secure and she left you and your sister with this pot of money to celebrate.

Maya: Yeah. It wasn’t really until it felt like my dad was stable that we were able to be like, “Oh, now about that wedding money.” It took a long time to absorb that and now I’m in the height of absorbing that because I’m spending it and it feels crazy.

Anna: And as you started looking around at what that would look like and what that might cost, how did you all talk about that?

Maya: I’ll be transparent. The number is $50,000. That was left to me, which to me is an unbelievable sum. I’d never seen those numbers reflected in my bank account as someone who, until recently, had lived pretty paycheck to paycheck. I was like, are we gonna ball out? Are we gonna ball out at our wedding?

Anna Sale: Maya and her fiance had a shared vision of the event. They wanted to be in nature, to have it at a place where people could stay over, and camp in cabins. She’s a documentary filmmaker and he’s a teacher and musician. They wanted their friends to gather together and play music.

Maya: Yeah, I assumed we would be not only having the most incredible celebration of our dreams, I had no idea how much a wedding cost and I was wrong. I was terribly wrong and I assumed we would spend $30,000, was the number we came up with, and to have $20,000, you know, left over to keep as our nest egg for perhaps in the future putting a down payment on a home.

All these things might have been doable like 20 years ago. Like that amount of money would be good for those things. And in the year of our Lord 2023, that is just not the case.

Anna: Do you have an idea of the budget you’re looking at now, like the total cost?

Maya: I think it will be around $60,000 conservatively because I didn’t realize everybody expects like a 20% tip [laughs]. As somebody who worked so many service jobs in my life, I totally get it. I just didn’t know about the wedding industry in that way. So like the caterer wants a big tip, and you know, that’s hard, it’s a lot of tips that I didn’t realize should have been calculated into the budget.

Anna: Uh huh, so that’s more money than you had given to you by your mom. How’s the rest of that money gonna get covered?

Maya: That’s a good question. My sister tells me that I should just ask my dad for it since he’s sitting on a small fortune and that feels, I mean, he’s about to go through radiation. I cannot stomach asking him for that money.

My dad’s also offered to cover anything that’s extra and he is like, “Just so you know, I’m fine.” And you know, somehow I can’t trust it. I’m just so afraid he’s going to just drop dead like my mom I think, and I just want him to have everything he wants before that happens.

Anna: Ah. I just wanna notice that you said, “I don’t wanna ask my father.” And then you revealed that he had offered, so it’s actually, you don’t feel comfortable accepting it.

Maya: Yeah, I think that’s right. I think I have a lot of guilt around money. I just have a lot of weird money stuff.

Anna: I also do.

Maya: Yeah, we all do, I think.

Anna: Yes. And I think that’s what’s so interesting about weddings and early marriage is like, your weird money stuff becomes exposed maybe in ways it hadn’t been. Are you and your fiance both equally aware of exactly where all the costs are right now?

Maya: No. I have been, at the beginning I had this amazing spreadsheet and I was so on top of it, and now once the numbers started to scare me, I just had this toxic thing where I just stopped tracking it, and now I am in the process of rebuilding that spreadsheet with the actuals, which is just a really scary process. And I think a lot of the tension is that I have not been terribly transparent about where we are because I’ve been so overwhelmed with the cost of a wedding.

Anna: Is this something if your mother were living, you would talk about with her?

Maya: Yes, and it would’ve been really difficult. I think maybe what I’m skirting around here, Anna, is that my mom and I had a lot of tension around money. She didn’t like the way I spent money, she didn’t think I was responsible with it. And I think in many ways, you know, that was sort of a mirror for her own thoughts about how she should be spending money.

So I think maybe some of the tension around spending money is I feel like I’m spending her money and if she was alive, she’d have a lot to say about it.

Anna: Hmm.

Maya: Yeah. Like the amount of money I paid to have my dress dry cleaned, which was probably unnecessary. I bought my dress secondhand, so I was actually very smart about the wedding dress. I bought one for like $300 secondhand that I really liked and just paid to get it tailored and then paid more than the dress cost to get it dry cleaned, something like that my mom would’ve had a thing or two to say about just being smart.

Anna: Well, you know, the thing that I hear is it’s this interesting position you’re in where you’re learning how to accept this incredible gift that you weren’t expecting, and that felt almost out of character. And the spirit with which that was given was like, “I want my daughter to have this.” And then, I’m puzzling along with you of what in the next week or two could be possible to line up so you don’t feel this self-judgment that you’re doing it wrong.

Maya: I’m working on it, you know, and I’m working on letting go of certain things and, and the things that’s bringing up about my relationship with my mother. And also, I think I’ve been really secretive about how I’m paying for this wedding because my friends know what I do for a living. They know what my partner does for a living, and they know that we’re not rich people. But, you know, I think I am considering making a statement at the wedding and saying something like, “Everything that’s happening today is because of her. And I wish she could have been here to do it with us. And I just want everyone to know that this party is put on by her, this weekend is from her, you know, it’s a gift from her.”

Anna: And I think you can tell yourself that, that maybe she would’ve judged the laundromat for charging you so much, but she also wouldn’t want you getting married in a dingy dress.

Maya: That’s very true… that might be true.

Anna Sale: Having a death in the family, or experiencing loss, can also be the thing that’s made you want to get around to planning a wedding, like for a listener named Flannery in Philadelphia.

Flannery: My partner and I have been together for 12 years and we were discussing last summer that we would like to do some sort of a wedding celebration because we only have our moms. Both of us lost our fathers a long time ago, and while our mothers are in their seventies and in very good mental and physical health, we just thought like, “What are we waiting for? Let’s do this while everyone can party and have a fun time and really enjoy it.” But because my partner is very anxious in social situations that put a lot of attention on him, we decided to do a surprise wedding, so we’re having a big party in our backyard.

We’re calling it a housewarming/family reunion, and because it’s a potluck, they’re all gonna help us with alcohol and food and all the expenses there, and then we’re just gonna spring it on them a couple hours in. So far we feel like we’re geniuses, like we’ve only spent about a thousand dollars on, you know, some improvements to the outside of our house and our yard. And the only thing that has come up that I’m worried about is that we might have a really serious plumbing issue in our house that could be very expensive to fix in time.

Anna Sale: Turning a wedding script on its head is something a listener named Sasi told us is important to him. He’s a wedding planner in Iceland. His company Pink Iceland started in 2011 as a travel agency that catered to queer clients. It was around the same time Iceland legalized gay marriage, and the team thought, “Maybe we should learn how to throw weddings too.”

Sasi: What we ask them to do is to throw away everything they thought a wedding should be, or whatever their family wants their wedding to be, and think about what would be the perfect ceremony for them.

Anna: Have you had the experience of a parent of one of the partners wanting to be very involved in the planning because they are perhaps paying for a large share of it?

Sasi: Oh yeah, oh yeah. Those are difficult, those are incredibly difficult.

Anna: Why do you say that?

Sasi: We see ourselves as the couple’s advocate first and foremost, and then that’s where money gets tricky in wedding planning because whoever holds the purse strings has a lot of influence.

One story is that there was this awesome party, and it was just like banging, it was so much fun, everybody was having so much fun. But the father had a room close to the ground floor of this hotel that we had a buyout at, and he went absolutely nuts because he couldn’t sleep. And he just said, “Look, I’m paying for this. Shut it off. We don’t want to have any more music. I’m paying for this. I don’t want people to have any more drinks, and I don’t want there to be any more music because I need my sleep.” And I’m like, “Oh my God,” we can’t bring that to the couple even.

Anna: What did you do?

Sasi: It was pretty much all hands on deck. We started kind of shifting, moving the DJ station further away from the room. We lowered the bass by quite a lot. We started sort of very slowly bringing the volume down and, and then kind of running back and forth, going to the dad’s room and just going like, “Okay, yeah, we’re just sort of working with you now to get it done. Yeah, we’re totally on board and we’ve stopped the bar,” which we hadn’t, and just sort of like, we were still under budget for what he wanted to spend. So he won’t even know, but because we are here for the couple, we are their advocates. We will do everything to protect them and give them the best day of their lives.

Anna: Was the couple aware that you were doing this shuttling between– ?

Sasi: No, they never know. The kitchen could be on fire and they’ll never know.

Anna: In 2022, how many weddings did you do?

Sasi: 175.

Anna: That’s a lot of weddings. [laughs]

Sasi: I know. [laughs]

Anna: Wow. That’s a little less than one every other day, basically?

Sasi: Yeah.

Anna Sale: Most of Pink Iceland’s wedding clients now are straight couples, and from the US, who like the idea of making a wedding celebration into something more like a big group vacation.

Sasi: I think there’s a sense of, in the US especially, there’s a sense of I don’t know, I feel like I’ve heard from so many couples. They’re like, “Oh, we’re looking at this, you know, banquet hall or this venue space and, you know, it says it costs this on the website, and then we said it’s for a wedding and it costs twice as that suddenly.”

We don’t have a wedding industry here, and while Iceland is incredibly expensive, there’s something that happens here that is quite special. We inhabit less than 1% of the country, which means that, you know, you drive 45 minutes and you’re in the middle of nowhere.

There’s a grounding effect here that people feel and they feel like this is where I want to take my loved ones and I want them to feel it. And they just think our money would be better spent on doing something that we truly want, rather than feeding 200 people, you know, let’s take them on a tour, let’s show them a waterfall.

Let’s have beers in the midnight sun. I mean, when I got married myself, we decided, we don’t want to feed 230 people. That’s not fun. So we invited people, you know, after dinner and said, you know, “Come after dinner. We’re not gonna feed you, but we’re gonna show you a hell of a good time.” We had sliders and midnight snacks. It was fine. Nobody went hungry.

Anna: Amazing. And probably more fun, you know, a sit down meal, you kind of want to get to the dance floor. You just cut out the sit down meal, got straight to the party.

Sasi: Exactly, exactly.

Anna: Interesting. What year was that, that you got married?

Sasi: It was 2017 and then I got divorced in 2021. Yeah.

Anna: Okay. Currently unmarried?

Sasi: I’m currently unmarried. Yes.

Anna: I’m not sure if this has ever happened, but have you ever had a couple seem interested in hiring you using your service and you have a sense that they have the budget to cover your costs, but you’re seeing red flags about either their communication together as a couple, or their communication with their families of origin, or you just kind of, you get a sense that there could be a lot of headaches to come? Have you ever declined a client?

Sasi: A number of times. Yeah.

Anna: Yeah. Is there a theme to what’s made you do that?

Sasi: When there’s a lot of money. When people are very rich, they seem to be inherently distrustful.

Anna: Huh.

Sasi: And we actually just tend to, we’ve burnt ourselves a couple of times with that and we now, we just sort of stay away.

It’s not worth it, the emotional toll of not being trusted or second guessed at every turn. It’s that thing where you just know that you’re always going to be looked upon as the help, in a way where you’re not just gonna be valued as a human being.

Anna: Hmm.

Sasi: We do okay. We’re for profit, but we’ve never paid dividends to ourselves. We make everything go back into the company. We just want to enjoy our working lives and create an atmosphere of kindness and surround ourselves with cool people and what a way to live your life.

Anna: I have a personal question for you, and you don’t have to answer this if you don’t want to, but I’m wondering, I also have gone through weddings. I’ve had two weddings and I went through a divorce. If your work is sort of recognizing milestones and transitions, and you do it often in weddings, did you have some kind of ceremony or ritual when that marriage ended, when you went through a divorce?

Sasi: No, we didn’t. We talked about it the other day though. We’re now at a place where we can sort of discuss it more freely. It was tough for a while. Not much communication, but we discussed basically sort of in jest, but maybe we could, you know, hire the same band and get all of our friends together and because we had so much fun, you know, and just do that as a kind of a celebration of what we had.

I mean, we had 10 years together and there were ups and downs, but ultimately, I mean, I know that for a fact on my side that there’s no regrets. I got to experience love. It’s not a given.

Anna Sale: That’s Sasi, a listener and wedding planner in Iceland. And one more thing, Sasi told us his company is about to hit the milestone of throwing 1000 weddings, and in recognition of their company’s roots, they want to plan and throw a wedding for a QUEER COUPLE… for free!

He says “We are looking for a couple who currently do not have the means or familial support to celebrate their love and want to help them plan the wedding of their dreams in Iceland, all expenses paid.”

You can get more information about what Pink Iceland is calling their “Queer Wedding giveaway”, and how to nominate yourself or another couple, by checking our show notes or going to

As for more updates: Maya said with about a month to go, she still has not asked her father for the extra money to cover the last 10 grand of her wedding budget.

Flannery said she and her fiance were able to get a temporary fix to the plumbing issue just in time for their surprise wedding. She said, “The moment I burst out our backdoor in a little vintage white-ish dress with a flower crown everyone SCREAMED!

And Vanessa said her Manhattan wedding was an incredible, beautiful day, but in the weeks since, she and her mother started fighting again and aren’t currently speaking. She wrote to us: “It does make me go back to the place of was it all worth it? If you had asked me on the day I would have said 100% yes so I’m trying to harness that feeling versus the “I wish I had done something smaller and simpler and paid for it ourselves.” 

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Death, Sex & Money is a listener-supported production of WNYC Studios in New York. This episode was produced by Zoe Azulay. The rest of the team is Liliana Maria Percy Ruiz, Afi Yellow-Duke, Lindsay Foster Thomas, and Andrew Dunn.

Our intern is Christian Reidy.

The Reverend John Delore and Steve Lewis wrote our theme music.

I’m on Instagram @annasalepics, that’s P-I-C-S. The show is @deathsexmoney on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Thank you to Carolyn Zimmerman in Madison, Wisconsin for being a member of Death, Sex & Money and supporting us with a monthly donation. Join Carolyn and support what we do here by going to

Vanessa: So my fiance and I took dance lessons and we choreographed a dance. I’m nervous about it, but I’m also excited because I think it’s fun. Like it’s goofy.

Anna: Can you tell me what song it’s to?

Vanessa: As long as this plays after the wedding, because it’s a secret. It’s Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go by Wham. It’s just fun, you know? The instructor was like, “What does this song mean to you?” And I was like, “Nothing like it’s a fun song.” I was like, “It’s from Zoolander.” I don’t know. [laughs]

Anna Sale:  I’m Anna Sale and this is Death, Sex & Money from WNYC.

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