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I recently read that the average wedding in the US now costs over $30,000. That is insane to me! Whether you spend $1,000 or $10,000 at the end of the day: you are still married. Your marriage isn’t any more sacred or real because of the amount you spend. It is possibly more stressful though. I want to encourage you to save as much as you can on your wedding day; you will need the extra pennies in the years to come.
Over the next week we are going to talk weddings. I’m not here to tell you who to marry, but I can definitely help you save! Before we branch into specific posts on flowers and photographers, I thought it would be best for us to start with a general overview on my perspectives. I am hoping that if you are reading a frugal wedding post that we would mostly agree on things, but it is best to at least lay out opinions from the start.
First, my story. My husband and I got married 12 years ago the weekend before Christmas. I didn’t want a Christmas wedding, we were just told that we couldn’t get married until he was out of school and that was the the first weekend he was officially done! I’m pretty sure if finals ended on Christmas Eve we would have taken Christmas Day… in other words we didn’t plan for a frugal time of the year and normally timing isn’t always perfect to pick the cheapest date.
One would think, a Christmas wedding would be so cheap, the church is already decorated. Yeah, well I really didn’t want a Christmas wedding. So we hid all the decorations and brought in spring. We didn’t do anything big or super fancy, and thankfully this was a decade before Pinterest so I wasn’t guilted into going bigger either. Our total budget including everything (the dress, food, photographer…) was $3,000 and we did it just fine. There were frustrating moments when we would interview a caterer and they would treat us like we were crazy for trying to feed 150 people on so little, but in the end everything worked out.
Honestly, 12 years later there is very little that I remember about the details. All that remains are what was captured in pictures and my memories of certain parts. I doubt that anyone attending would even remember what our colors were. Try to think back to a wedding you went to over 10 years ago and see how many details you remember.
Lets start with a few tips of Planning a Frugal Wedding.
Look for more detailed posts on some of these and general categories over the next few days.
Experts are Expensive
The more famous someone is the more they make. That’s a pretty common rule. So if you want to pick the top florist in the state that has pictures in Martha Stewart magazines you are going to pay for that notoriety. It doesn’t mean that the flowers or pictures they take are always worth the money. Yes the saying is that you get what you pay for, but you may be surprised how great the small guys are too! For our wedding we called around to professional photography printers and asked if they knew any freelancers that would shoot a wedding for a flat price. We paid $300 for 2 hours with a photographer that took pictures and then we owned all the pictures.
If you have friends that play instruments, sing, do photography or even flowers then you should always ask them first. This isn’t about having the top designer arrange something, it’s about getting married and having friends and family there to support you in your new life together. Don’t take advantage of friends, so offer to pay them if they are doing something vital like all your flower arrangements. The cost for their services will be much less than paying “real” professionals though. One warning though, make sure you review your friends photography before you go with their help. In the end the pictures are all you have…
Simple is Smart
The more outrageous things get the more money they cost and the most stressful the day gets. This is about getting married, not about white doves flying over right as you kiss or every person taking home an iPod with the couples favorite songs (sorry George Clooney). While I don’t want you to give up dreams, I do want you to realize that that some dreams have big price tags (and possibly aren’t great ideas in the end). This rule applies to almost everything, from flowers and decorations to events and venues.
And remember, when your well meaning sister, best friend, or future mother in law says you really must have a band, ignore them and remember what is important.
Pick One Place for Everything
Having your wedding and reception at the same location is a quick way to save money. We’ll get more into venues specifically this week, but just remember that asking folks to move for the reception is tedious on your guests. They don’t care where the reception is, they just want to eat cake. Having to change venues adds more work on setup and clean up, not to mention costing more to rent. Can I also add one more request here… don’t take tons of pictures between your wedding and reception. Remember the guests really want to eat cake, and the longer you keep them from that the grumpier they get.
You may dream of a beach or mountain wedding, but traveling adds a ton of expenses. Keep the wedding as close to you as possible. It will make everything from picking a venue to meeting with a photographer easier. Driving two hours to go taste cake may sound fun now, but when you’re in the process of printing 100 wedding programs, you’re not going to be so excited. You can go to the beach or mountains and have a really fun honeymoon using some of the money you saved.
Stay In Season
When I planned my wedding, I knew nothing about flowers. I found lots of pretty pictures and the florist told me lots of scary prices. The solution: we started from scratch. She told me what the most affordable flowers for that time of year were and I picked those. They were beautiful. Whether you are picking flowers, decorations, or your location, remember to do what makes sense for the season. Go in with an open mind and you’ll be surprised by how beautiful and affordable everything will turn out.
Use Coupons, Craigslist, FreeCycle
90% off what you need for your wedding can be bought used or with a coupon. If you are heading to a craft store, don’t go without a coupon. All craft stores run 40% off any regular priced item all the time. All those candles, programs, and more can be bought with a coupon. You can also buy everything from wedding dresses to chair covers to vases used. Seriously guys, most of this stuff was used for 4 hours. There is no need to buy it new.
For things like small bags for candy, don’t forget to look online to buy in bulk. Compare prices and make sure you are actually getting the best deal before buying 100 of anything.
This is just the beginning….
I know this only scratched the surface, but we are going to go into more detail the rest of this week. We are going to cover flowers, photography, and more in detail. If you have specific questions you can leave a comment below or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And remember, if all else fails: just elope. My friends did it and it was $84. They are still happily married.