#928 Wedding Savers: Your Dream Wedding Is One You Can Afford

19 Feb

I’ll tell you what people remember about a wedding. People remember whether they had fun or not, whether they were happy for the couple or not, whether the food was good or not (maybe that’s just me) and whether there was something unique about the wedding. Things that people don’t remember are…flowers, place settings and centerpieces, invites, any other obscure details and whether the bride was wearing anything other than a white dress. So before you get lost in the myriad of wedding details that seem to all scream for equal attention and dollars, what people remember about the wedding is if they had fun, which is based on how happy they are to be celebrating. Part of why they’re happy to be celebrating is if they are happy for the couple.

Everyone’s been to those weddings where everyone is trying to have fun and possibly are having their own fun, but there’s that overarching, awkward feeling that it’s a bad match. Finally someone admits, “it’s weird” or “it’s awkward” and everyone breathes a sigh of relief that someone else feels the same way. So first, before undertaking all this wedding stuff, make sure you’re marrying the right person. If you have doubts, which is normal, explore whether those doubts are superficial or nervous energy or merit real consideration.

Photo via flickr by smasha_moro.

Photo via flickr by smasha_moro.

Reasons like “we’ve been together long enough,” “I don’t want to be lonely” or “we’re pregnant” are not good reasons if you feel the connection is not there. Reasons like “he/she makes me look good,” “she/he has a lot of money/status” and “all my friends are married” are also not good reasons. Any situation where you are sure you can “fix” or change someone or those that involve physical or verbal abuse are clearly bad ideas, but not any easier to leave than any of the other bad reasons.

So why start out on a lovely, happy love-fest with this kind of talk? Because…if you’re marrying the right person then your wedding will be awesome no matter what…everyone will have a good time whether you spent less than $1,000 or $10,000. And you will have no problem being realistic with your partner about what you can afford and working out disagreements. You’ll both know that it is not the day that matters but the marriage afterward. And what better way to start a marriage than by having worked together on a budget and finances, one of the major sources of marital arguments and disagreements, and making the day not “all about you” but all about who you are. You’ll also start out your marriage having dealt with each others families and being able to say “no” to in-law requests politely.

So if you’re confident that you’re marrying the right person, sit down with your significant other and work out a budget that you can save for or afford and make sure you track it like you would any other budget. And here are some ideas to think about on how to make it work with whatever your final number is:

  • The venue:
    wedding maine coast

    Overlooking the Maine coast on a fall day didn’t need much augmentation and was perfect for us.

    If the venue is beautiful, flowers and other decorations can mostly be dispensed with – nothing replaces a gorgeous view or unique site. If the religious ceremony and reception site are different, both can be beautiful. If you have the ceremony and reception in the same place, even easier. Keep in mind, having a ceremony outside in a field where someone has to provide and haul everything from forks to a dance floor out there, won’t necessarily save you money over a place that has it all at hand.

  • Invites: Anyone with a printer and some nice card stock can make a nice invite over a weekend. No need to pay for special printing. This is where you can start to get creative. Like how to get the printer to print on an A1 size card. Hand addressed envelopes with a nice pen or calligraphy is a nice touch. RSVPs via email or electronic invite reminders eliminate the need for postage-paid response envelopes. Come on, I don’t know a single grandpa who doesn’t have an email now…and you know he’s coming anyways.
  • The dress: Like I said, no one remembers much besides, “she was wearing white.” Styles like strapless and lace are influenced by current trends. Getting your dress online, on eBay or on consignment is a great way to get a bargain. You can try dresses on in a store to get an idea of what you want or what works best for your body type. If you’re confident about your body type and what you’re looking for, than online offers zillions of options at better prices. All you really need is a good tailor to make the dress fit like a glove once you receive it. Both my sister and I ordered dresses online with good knowledge of what we wanted and loved our dresses. If you order new from a bridal site, it still takes upwards of eight weeks for a dress order, although you can immediately order certain styles and save even more money. There are sites like Tradesy Weddings that are online consignment shops for wedding dresses – you can be assured the dresses have only been worn once!
  • What about city hall? To take the pressure off all that wedding madness, why not get married at city hall and then have whatever party you want afterward. You have to go get a marriage license anyways, so it makes the city hall workers’ day if they marry you as well. This can also work if you need or want to be married and it then gives you a long time to plan a religious or other ceremony at another time. The civil wedding with an approved officiator is what matters to the government. Any religious ceremonies are up to the couple. In the US, they can be one in the same, in Europe, they are strictly separate.
  • Have an Ipod or Karaoke instead of a band/DJ. Be your own DJ and load an iPod with music for the reception. ipod nano ipod shuffleIt’ll be your unique stamp on the day. You can also invite others to bring their music to play. I compiled a three and a half hour playlist with music to fit the mood. Hour one, cocktails. Hour two, meal. Hour three, fun time! I love playing DJ so this was so much fun for me to do. I knew a girl who wanted karaoke but was worried about what was acceptable. Don’t worry about what everyone else does. Do what you want to do. And who doesn’t love karaoke? Karaoke machines and equipment are easy to rent for the evening and are a fun alternative to a DJ or band.
  • The registry: Make sure it fits what you do. If you don’t ever use or have a need for something now – why would that change after you’re married? Don’t register for single-use items, like a quesadilla maker when a good skillet can be used for that and many other things, or nice flatware or silverware if you don’t entertain. If you already have an established home, you can register for upgrades or replacements for what you have. This is some of the best advice I’ve seen for what someone who does want a nicely equipped kitchen would need.
  • Don’t be afraid to be different. You don’t need to do every rote thing on the wedding list. It is much more fresh and fun if you change it up with your own touches. Don’t be afraid to do what you want and be creative. My husband and I didn’t really feel the need for dancing at our small, brunch reception, so we didn’t have dancing. But we did have a lot of fun. And we look back on it as a great day because we did what we liked and didn’t do what we didn’t care about. We wanted to have a good time with the people important to us, and we did. Success! When I was struggling with being fine with this and drowning in all the wedding websites that push every stereotype and cookie-cutter detail, I found this site that helped me feel confident doing our own thing.
  • Consider other people’s budgets. Clearly, you don’t want to be this person’s bridesmaid for multiple reasons (and clearly she has not read my blog), but you should be considerate of other people’s expenses if you’re asking them to be part of the wedding. They can say no, but come on…that’s kinda hard to do to a friend or sister. But picking a bridesmaid dress and groomsmen suits that are reasonable are much appreciated by all. And not having other demands like travel, parties and gifts galore that really leave people feeling like they’re human ATMs for your wedding.

So, a dream wedding is the one you can afford…but more importantly the one where you’re marrying the person you love and respect for all the right reasons. Everything else will fall into place.

What did you do at your wedding to save money or give it a unique touch that people still remember?

2 Responses to “#928 Wedding Savers: Your Dream Wedding Is One You Can Afford”

  1. Miss Mary February 22, 2013 at 11:26 pm #

    Thank you for this post and your wedding series in general! I am a firm believer that the marriage is the important part of the equation – not the wedding. I’ve been involved in several wedding parties where the brides have spent ridiculous amounts of money on things that don’t matter and no one cares about. Plus, they expect their attendants to spend huge sums of money on bachelorette parties, showers, dresses, shoes, make up, hair, destinations, gifts, etc. I agree that people remember the food, if they were happy for the couple and if they had a good time. Save your money! My husband & I are glad we invested in a good photographer to document our wedding – we look at the photos all the time.

    • thrifty February 23, 2013 at 1:41 pm #

      Thanks! Looking at your wedding photos is so fun afterward. I swear this series wasn’t just an excuse to use a bunch of my wedding photos…

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