Home Relationship Couple Spends $200,000 on Malibu Wedding: ‘It Was Worth It”

Couple Spends $200,000 on Malibu Wedding: ‘It Was Worth It”

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Amid inflation, many approach their wedding budgets with affordability and practicality in mind. For Gino Sesto and Bettina Ho, they had the opposite strategy: go big or go home.

Altogether, the duo spent a whopping $200,000 on their Malibu wedding in 2019. For the couple, who lives in Los Angeles, that ended up being worth a year-and-a-half’s salary, which Sesto said is “excessive in retrospect.”

The largest chunk of the money went to the couple’s wedding location, in a large house along the Malibu coast. Weekly rent for the massive home was $30,000 alone, and the couple also had to spend money on entertainment, catering, setup, apparel and a wide range of other costs.

An old-school hip-hop artist called Egyptian Lover performed at the wedding alongside Arabian Prince and a breakdancing crew, and to this day, Sesto says there’s one thing people tend to remember about the wedding.

“To this day the only thing anyone really remembers about the wedding was the entertainment,” Sesto, who is the founder of media buying company DASH TWO, told Newsweek. “So it was worth it.”

Gino Sesto and Bettina Ho married in Malibu in 2019. The entire affair cost $200,000 and amounted to a year and half’s salary.

Gino Sesto

With a $200,000 price tag attached to their big day, the Sestos spent far more than the national average, which sits around $30,000, according to TheKnot.

Sesto and Ho originally met on the dating app Hinge, and it was an immediate love connection, especially considering the two already had a common circle of friends.

“I had gotten out of a long-term relationship and was dating around before I met Bettina, and I knew she was perfect for me,” Sesto said. “I truly believe the dating app aligned us very well.”

When the two approached their wedding day, they did have some finances in mind, despite the spectacle of the big event. In the end, Sesto said their budget went $75,000 above the predetermined amount, due to all the add-ons that came along the way.

“In Malibu, where we got married, there are a lot of noise ordinances, and I was adamant about having good sound for entertainment,” Sesto said. “So we had to change venues last minute to a house literally by itself on the beach.”

Sesto said he and Bettina didn’t experience any backlash on how expensive their wedding was from family and friends, but it did confuse them in terms of how they were viewed financially from there on out.

“With such an expensive wedding, everyone left with a false perception of our monetary worth,” Sesto said. “I personally didn’t like that at all. I just wanted people to have fun and enjoy the entertainment.”

Camille Tenerife, a marriage and family therapist in Los Angeles, said many couples feel pressured to spend big due to a specific desire for a location or vendor. There also can be social expectations encouraging them to spend more than they can afford.

“There often is a desire for perfection and the pressure is high,” Tenerife told Newsweek. “So it causes the couple to spend more to achieve that certain perception of perfection.”

Weddings also carry a special sort of emotional significance, and many couples will leave no stone unturned to create the perfect celebration.

“It is important to explore what attachment we have with certain things in our wedding so we can understand the value we pair it with,” Tenerife said.

How to Curb Costs on Your Wedding Day

Still, many couples have worked through how to hold a special day symbolizing their love and marriage without necessarily destroying their budgets in the process.

Tenerife advises couples to move away from the comparisons and interpretations we make out of big weddings and instead focus on their values as the guidelines for their wedding.

“As human beings who are social creatures, it is impossible not to compare,” Tenerife said. “It is part of what we do. We either compare up or compare down. And with social media, the information is endless. Go back to the drawing board and look at your values as a couple and get creative.”

By choosing a budget and sticking to it, you should be able to mitigate any financial strain once your marriage actually begins courtesy of the big day.

“Decide on your priorities and be firm about prioritizing what’s truly important to be, and be willing to sacrifice elsewhere,” Sydney Goldberg, the owner of Popped Event Planning, told Newsweek.

“Break down your spend per category and include a category for ‘unforeseen expenses’ to pull from as needed. I’d recommend about 10 percent of the total budget.”

Many of the high costs in a wedding come down to location and venue, so if you have the ability to choose a more affordable location outside a big metro, that could significantly cut your expenses down.

“The financial component is one of the most stressful aspects of planning a wedding. Make sure to have a candid conversation with your partner about what is realistic financially, and stick to it,” Goldberg said.

While many couples are afraid to ‘show their cards’ and admit their budget to a wedding vendor, doing so can help find an option that fits their needs.

“If you don’t give the florist a jumping off point on budget, they will come up with an exorbitant number to match the Instagram photo you’ve presented,” Goldberg said. “But if you level set, they will give you a realistic breakdown of what they can do with that number.”

Sometimes, hiring a wedding planner can be more helpful to couples who are afraid they will spend over budget, Shannon Battle, a licensed counselor and the host of the Psychology of Womanhood, said.

“Hire professionals that are creative and willing to help you maintain your financial goals to hold you accountable when you fall into the pressure of overindulgence,” Battle told Newsweek.

“Make the wedding about your current expectations as a mature adult and not based on childhood fantasies that are now unrealistic expectations that can harm the stability of your future.”

Uncommon Knowledge

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

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