I’m a bubbly twenty-something who refuses to spend more than $10,000.00 on my wedding. Don’t give me that look, it so totally IS possible.
Before we jump in, I have a little disclaimer: I’m not technically engaged yet. Now, before you start thinking that I’m some creepy, wedding-obsessed weirdo, let me tell you that I am in a relationship, one of more than a few years (almost a whole hand of fingers), and a wedding is in our future. We’re making sure that we’re good to go financially before buying a ring and funding a wedding. We’re trying to be smart, here. And, let’s be honest… the wedding is already planned. I just need a date and a checkbook!
Mr. Man and I have been together for a long time. We met in college and he apparently lusted after me for a couple years before finally asking me out (at which point I was not only mortified and shocked that the big man on campus was even remotely interested in me, but I wasn’t interested… not in the least bit!). I went out with him (I’m one of those can’t-say-no-types) and just kept going out with him, then one day, after going on dates with him for about 3 months, I got butterflies one day. I knew I was doomed. It was over. I was crazy in love. To this day, I’m not quite sure how he did it, but he swept me off my feet and has been my best friend, my other half, my right hand man, and the apple of my eye ever since. I can’t imagine life without him.
I live in the Washington, D.C. area and was born to two pretty stellar people who love each other very much, who raised me well, put me through school (thank you), but don’t want to shell out the big bucks for my wedding. My parents aren’t horrible people who refused to help with my wedding; on the contrary, they’re wonderful and they’re more than willing to help pay, but they don’t believe in a “one day party” that costs thousands upon thousands of dollars. The good thing is that I don’t believe in that either.
IMHO, a wedding isn’t about showing off how much money you spent on those flowers that were imported from South America that are going to die tomorrow… it’s not about having a wedding dress that costs as much as a down payment on a house (something else we’re currently saving for). A wedding, or at least MY wedding, will be about celebrating the happiest day of my life with the most important and wonderful people in my life. It will be about never having felt more beautiful, and never having had more fun, and never having had so many wonderful things to look forward to in a new life with my new husband.
When people ask how the [expletive] I’m going to pull this shin-dig off, I tell them that it’s simple: All I have to do is prioritize. I plan on splurging on the things that are most important to me for my Big Day (photographer, venue) and simplifying everything else (dress, food, music, alcohol). My thrifty little trick is making (and steadfastly sticking to) a list… most important things at the top all the way down to the details that I don’t place as much importance in. The big ticket items are at the top, and the investment gets smaller as the list gets longer.
My venue, for example, will be one of the bigger chunks of my budget. Our current fave and front-runner is a beautiful, and when I say “beautiful,” I mean absolutely breathtaking property just outside of Richmond, VA (about an hour and a half outside of the city) that for all table/chair rental, linens and set-up/take-down of the ceremony and reception, will run us around $2,500. That being said, we’re likely going to tie the knot on a Friday. Yes, our guests may have to take some time off work, but it’s worth it because Mr. Man and I are awesome and we’re going to throw one hell of a party!
The dress I have my eyes on is only going to cost me about $500, and the fantastic thing is that it fits me perfectly… no alterations needed. When it comes to shoes, I’m a barefoot or flip-flop kinda gal, no real expenditure there. It just so happens that I used to do hair, so I’ve got that covered… and make-up too. Easy peasy.
You’re probably wondering how we’re going to feed 150 of our closest friends/biggest fans. Right? We plan on having a backyard cook-out kinda dinner. We’ll have a smoker with pulled pork BBQ, burgers and dogs, cole slaw, hush puppies, grilled corn, etc. In terms of alcohol, we love beer. Not in the trashy, barefoot in my front yard drinking a can of Natty Lite kinda way, either. We’re going to have kegs, and wine. The venue will provide sodas, tea and water for a nominal fee.
In terms of decor, it’s going to be eclectic and DIY-esque… We will be getting our own flowers for everything but my bouquet (contemplating getting them from Costco, believe it or not, they have gorgeous blooms!) and putting together some simply, rustic, and insanely colorful (did I mention I don’t plan to have a color scheme?) centerpieces, using some DIY tips and tricks I’ve thought of myself and collected from countless hours perusing the wedding blogosphere.
The bottom line is that your wedding is YOUR Big Day. No one elses (okay, maybe it’s the groom’s too). Do what you want, spend what you want, and celebrate the most wonderful thing ever: Love.
There are a few more things that are important when planning a thrifty Big Day:
1) Follow every rainbow: Your aunt’s sister’s fiancee is a DJ? He may be willing to provide tunes for free? Check into it! Grandma and her lady friends took a flower arranging class? Sit her down and pick her brain on centerpieces, and even enlist her to help! Don’t discount friends and family; the likelihood is that they’ll be more than willing to help however they can.
2) Don’t get caught up in the industry “norms”: The wedding industry is a racket. Everything is marked up to ungodly prices because most vendors know that we’re willing to do whatever it takes to make our Big Day perfect… well, I’m not standing for that, and you shouldn’t either. Demand discounts and deals, ask vendors to throw stuff into the price… never settle for what’s on the sticker.
3) Don’t lose sight about what your Big Day is about: This is your day. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. It’s about love and you and your beau. Enjoy it, relish in every second, and don’t spend money on anything you don’t value. Keep it simple, and you can’t go wrong!