Saturday, July 24, 2010

Is living together wise before marriage?

The hands of the bride and bridesmaids with big fake engagement rings on them
   Bride and bridesmaids all wore big fake engagement rings out
By Jovana Rizzo

After a stressful few weeks at work, I was thrilled to be leaving for the long July 4th weekend to go to Fort Lauderdale for my cousin's bachelorette party. It was a fun trip, although not exactly the relaxing weekend I was picturing since getting 13 girls to all agree on where to go and what to do every day is pretty much impossible.

Although there was some drama, everyone came together for some fun, cliché bachelorette party activities (other than drinking... oh, and there were no strippers on this trip). We all wore T-shirts to the airport that said "Laura's Bitches" (the bride's name is Laura). One day while Laura was out of her room, the girls stretched a laundry line across the room and hung all different kinds of bride-themed lingerie on it that we had all bought. There was also a "pin the hose on the fireman" game -- a grown-up version of “pin the tail on the donkey.”

What was interesting about the vacation was that all of the girls were in different stages of relationships -- single, in new relationships, long-term relationships, engaged and married. As the drinks flowed, the engaged and married girls opened up and gave the rest of us advice for the future: before you tie the knot, live with the guy first.

When I was a sophomore in college, I remember an older sorority sister who lived with her boyfriend had returned home to their apartment after a week-long vacation with her family, and her boyfriend told her he had been cheating on her and wanted her to move out.

The days that followed were like a painful mini-divorce: Who keeps the furniture, the dog? Who should really move out, and should they still have to pay that portion of the rent? How could they convince the landlord to break the lease? How could one of them find an apartment to move into as quickly as possible? After witnessing that situation, I couldn't imagine living with a guy until I was 100 percent sure I was going to marry him. (The way my sorority sister's situation turned out: she moved out of the apartment and took all of the furniture with her since she had bought it -- didn't even leave a bed for him to sleep on!)

But the girls on the trip made their case. They explained that you definitely want to know everything about a person before you walk down the aisle so there are no surprises when you come home from the honeymoon and real life begins. Adjusting to married life can be a challenge, and living together first helps the transition, they said. If your future husband is a slob, for example, you know what you're in for before you marry him, rather than learning how to deal with it after you are married and starting fights about it.

As one of the girls in a long-term relationship on the trip, I'm not sure if my mind was changed, but it definitely made me think.

This past weekend was the wedding rehearsal dinner. There are more bridesmaids than groomsmen, so some of the bridesmaids are doubling up going down the aisle. I also bought the couple's wedding gift this weekend -- four martini glasses from Tiffany's (at $55 each). I debated on whether to just give them money, but decided to go with a gift. I'm just a couple years out of college, and one of the youngest cousins, so giving them a big check as a wedding gift is definitely not in my budget, especially when you consider the rest of the wedding expenses...

Next up: Wedding

Money spent as bridesmaid to date: $1,847.32
Includes: dress ($250.41), shoes ($130), bachelorette party hotel ($172), plane ticket ($346.38) and spending money (about $600), T-shirt ($9) wedding ($239.53) and shower ($100) gifts.

Days until the wedding: 0 (It’s today!)

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