It’s hard to believe I’ve been married 9 years already! Yes that’s me and my super handsome hubby on our special day.
I thought this would be good cause to share a little bit about my own wedding, and some ideas on planning a wedding on a budget.
A wedding is not worth going into debt for. Did you know that the average wedding is now estimated to cost over $24,000? Yeeks. And apparently, that doesn’t include the engagement ring or honeymoon. Double yeeks. Look. I’m not going to go all Ramsay on you and say that getting a loan for your wedding is the Devil, but I am saying, think long and hard if you want to saddle your new marital adventure with a stressful amount of debt. Not. worth. it.
It doesn’t have to all be perfect. One of the things we realized is we couldn’t have everything top of the line. Particularly when you’re planning a wedding on a budget, pick what matters most to you and put your dollars there. If you MUST have the fancy torte, can you go easy on the flowers? If you MUST have the string quartet playing Pachelbel’s Cannon in D as you walk down the aisle, can you do a more informal rehearsal dinner? If you MUST have a Vera Wang gown, can you pretty much nix the rest of the whole event?
With apologies to my bridesmaids. In hindsight, I should have let my bridesmaids pick their own dress. I know not everyone will agree with me on this one, but why did I insist on having my bridesmaids all wear the same blue dress? True, they all looked beautiful next to each other, standing in height order next to me on that stage…but still. They all spent $100 plus tax for a dress they probably never wore again. When my sister got married a couple years ago she just requested that we all wear a formal black dress. That was the only requirement! This was really fantastic, especially since I had had a baby less than 2 months prior (’nuff said). I chose a dress that was flattering for me. And it cost a lot less than $100.
A reception doesn’t have to have all the bells and whistles. Our reception had some pretty simple touches. For flowers, some of my mom’s friends went to Safeway and bought a few bouquets. They cut them up and put them in vases on the table. Perfectly lovely. We also opted to just keep it simple and have cake. Now I do think there is absolutely value in having a bigger reception, if you can afford it or creatively find ways to feed all your guests. It’s a great way to acknowledge those who have come to celebrate your special day. Again, it may go back to choosing what matters most to you, and what you can let go of. Since it seems that the reception is often the most expensive aspect of a wedding, it makes good sense to me to figure out how to save money here first.
How I would redo my registry. This is a little off topic, but it’s one of the things I wish I could change the most, so I’ll share it. When my soon-to-be-hubby and I went to register at Macy’s, we were given this advice from another shopper (probably a newly engaged dude himself): “register for everything!” Seemed like good enough advice at the time, right? Why not? No one has to buy us any of this stuff, and it’s fun to dream a little, right? And those little scanner guns made it all too easy…scan, scan, scan… This was terrible advice, actually, and I wish we hadn’t followed it.
If you put a zillion things on your registry, you stand a good chance that 1) you won’t get what you really need most and 2) people might assume you’re not actually about to get married, but about to set up an eBay business instead. At the end of it, we received a pretty random collection of items (such as three copies of MIB on DVD – why did we register for that anyways?), but very few plates or cookware (which we desparately needed). It was a lot of work sorting and returning the gifts. Fortunately, we learned our lesson and did a much better job of our son’s baby registry.
Final, Deep Thoughts and Marital Advice from Angela
While I think a wedding should be a wonderfully memorable day, remember that it is just that: a day. I sometimes wonder what would happen if the same amount of time, energy, and care were put into preparing for what will be happening after the wedding (no, I’m not talking about the wedding night…I’m talking about that “till death do us part” part. Get your mind out of the gutter!). If you’re planning on getting married, I’d encourage you to take the time to really get to know who this person is you’re going to be spending the rest of your life with. Some important questions to ask:
- Does the toilet paper roll hang in the front, or back?
- Are you claiming the right side of the bed, or left?
- Do you want kids?
- Do you use coupons?
I would love to hear from you. How did you save for your wedding – or not? Are you planning a wedding on a budget right now? How’s it going?