Is Sweet 16 worth the Cost of a Wedding?

Kelly is a mom of two teens, ages 16& 14 and a freelance writer in Upstate NY. With her wonderful husband by her side, they have developed a united front to help raise good, honest, caring citizens, despite the constant “you don’t get it” and “why do you have to love us so much” speeches- so far, so good. Catch up with her on Mom Got Blog, where she writes life stories, love of food, coffee and sports. When she needs a break from writing her novel, you can find her chatting it up on Twitter @Kpugs.


I just finished a conversation with my 16 year old regarding gifts for the holidays which are being exchanged between her friends and their significant others.

My daughter’s question to me was “Why is being a couple so expensive?”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“I heard that so-and-so bought their girlfriend a Coach purse and a Pandora bracelet and my friend bought him like $200 worth of Ralph Lauren clothes and stuff…and then so-and-so bought this and that and….”

I stood there with my mouth agape.

If I did not think that today’s parent of teens was high on crack, I do now.

Parenting of a teen is so difficult these days and fellow parents are not making it any easier.

Remember when you were in your 20’s and the mail seemed to deliver invite after invite of a friend announcing to “Save the Date”. In fact, one summer my husband and I attended at least 4 weddings…either as guest or as part of the big day. Each one was a joyous event; a special day…one that family and friends would remember forever, because it was a wedding.

We expected to shell out some Franklins for a weekend of hotel stays, a new dress, many cocktails and a four hour party, because it was a wedding.

So, why did this summer bring me back to the summers of weddings past? Our oldest turned 16 as did a majority of her friends and was riddled with invitations to birthday parties, with a twist. I found myself asking: when did birthday parties turn into mini-weddings? When did it become the “norm” to rent out country club rooms, hotel ballrooms or local concert places and have them fully catered with hors d’oeuvres along with a specialty cake? When did custom invitations invite our child to a party that she would have to buy a semi-formal dress to attend, or be on a guest list?

I kid you not. One party of many had a “Guest List Only” entry, which was strictly enforced…, with a “Bouncer” at the door and everything! Whaaaaat??

Another party “requested” that everyone wear only black and white. The guest of honor was checking on the dress color too…and if it was not black OR white, she asked that the frock be brought back!! (She was wearing hot fuchsia, by the way).

There are DJ’s, decorations, professional photographers. The last party attended, the birthday person was escorted out to the dance floor on the arm of two friends as the DJ announced their arrival.

What is wrong with everyone? Is our teenager speaking words of truth when she says to us “You are the ONLY PARENTS THAT DON’T GET IT!”

We did not have anything outlandish…we had a few friends over for a sleepover, made a special cake and spent time being silly teenagers. Did my husband and I feel a little guilt not providing a huge party because “everyone else is doing it!”?

No. We didn’t, because it was a birthday party.

We discussed it with our teen and told her, it was not happening. Graduation is around the corner, then college and years from now maybe a wedding (if that is what is wanted). We were not spending a fortune on a party to celebrate turning 16.

Yes, it’s a big day, but what happens in 11, 12, 13 or so years when wedding bells are ringing? How will that day feel special? Especially since they have already experienced such a shin-dig?

The only thing I can think of is parents have lost their freaking mind…

We all complain that our kids are growing up too fast. The trip down that road is even faster when parents have not learned to master the phrase “Just Say No.”

So, fellow parents, will you join me? Can we all just say NO?