Creativity and sacrifice can cut the cost of tying the knot

Regarding the April 27 article, "Here comes the ... bill!": My wife and I got married on April 1, and we're both 26. The only things we didn't personally pay for were the rehearsal dinner and her dress. We set out with a budget of $10,000, and we stuck to it. We had to make sacrifices along the way in some cases - such as not having a limo, and instead renting a Jaguar.

We live near Orlando, and there are a wide variety of venue options. We held our wedding at a four-star French restaurant for $43 per head, and I guarantee that the food was better than a glitzy hotel that charges upward of $100. I think this article was somewhat unrealistic, in that it is possible to have a beautiful and elegant wedding while not going into debt. Careful saving and reasonable sacrifice are necessary.

The media often provide stories of either the new average cost for a wedding, which varies between $20,000 and $30,000 now. Or they provide stories of failure at keeping to a budget. Perhaps the media should highlight the abilities of some young couples to do their wedding on their own and succeed in sticking to their budget?
Justin Slavinski
Longwood, Fla.

Wedding costs? When does conspicuous consumption rule over the real purpose of a wedding, when half will end in divorce anyway? My wife and I married almost 20 years ago, had 30 guests, and the entire wedding and reception, including everything (clothes, transportation, wedding rings, etc.) cost a little over $400. My mother- and father-in-law made the wedding cake. All the food and wine was provided by the guests, rather than gifts. Photography was provided free by a friend who was a professional photographer.

Our daughter is getting married this year with about the same number of guests. Total estimated cost? About $1,500 with catered meals and, once again, everything else. The size and cost of the wedding does not guarantee a successful marriage; the people do.
Tom Sklebar
Millarton, N.D.

Venezuela gives oil companies clear rules

The April 14 article, "Venezuela tightens oil grip," fails to mention the principal motivator behind the recent contract renegotiations. The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela enacted the 2001 Hydrocarbons Law to establish clear rules for foreign and domestic companies engaged in the extraction and upstream activities related to nonrenewable resources on Venezuelan territory.

Previous agreements signed by past governments were signed as service contracts, when in fact they operated as de facto oil-producing concessions. These illegal contracts shortchanged the people of Venezuela by creating elevated production costs while at the same time increasing incentive payments and capital and operational fees that Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), our state oil company, paid to the foreign companies. These fees were negotiated to fluctuate with the price of oil, so that as the price increased, so did the costs borne by Venezuelan taxpayers.

The new law creates joint ventures between foreign oil companies and PDVSA, which result in shared risk and a reduced burden on the people of Venezuela. It is designed to make the extraction of oil and related upstream activities profitable for all parties involved. Foreign companies operating in Venezuela now have a transparent set of rules, and they benefit from the willingness of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to continue fair participation by foreign companies in the Venezuela oil industry.
Fadi Kabboul
Minister Counselor for Energy Affairs, Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela

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