My Cheap and Meaningful Wedding

Pink Piggy Bank and Wedding Ring isoalted on white background

Ten years ago, I was planning my wedding. Wait, I’m having one of those cliché moments of panic and disbelief.

I just glanced over at the six year old who calls me “mom” sitting to the left of me playing Angry Birds on my iPhone and I’m wondering where this alien being came from.  Has it been ten years?

My wedding presents are practically antiques at this point.

Anyway, ten years ago…

I was not the type of girl who had every detail of her wedding planned before graduating from high school. In fact, I remember thinking about ten minutes after getting engaged, “Oh Geeznow what?”

I didn’t know the first thing about planning a wedding. I didn’t know what I wanted. I didn’t know when I wanted it. I was lost. More lost than I was when I missed that one episode of the show LOST and gave up ever trying to watch it again.  LOST. Like, I need a Monica Gellar in my life on retainer, lost. Okay, I think you get the idea.

How had I not been prepared for this?

I decided that instead of getting overwhelmed, as I have a tendency to do, and head off in ten different directions that I would never see through to completion (sooo not a finisher) that I needed to find one thing to focus on.

Like a designer plans a room around a cool statue or some abstract painting that I will never know the meaning ofI needed a focal point.

What was the most important thing for me to remember and to plan my wedding around? I started to think.

(Cue two days of chirping crickets)

Luckily my parents helped me get to the bottom of this. They sat me down and said these words to me.  Well, first my mother told me to look her directly in the eyes and repeat back what she was about to say becausewell I’ll always be that ten year old with selective hearing. Anyway, she said, “We are giving you a set amount of money to spend on your wedding. That is all. No more than that. This is what we decree, “ she didn’t say “decree’ but that would have been funand a tad biblical. “So you have a choice. You can spend it all or keep what you don’t use.”

I won’t go into detail about the amount but it was a generous amount (because heckany money given is generous) but in NO WAY did it come ANYWHERE CLOSE to the average weddings these days.

Immediately, I knew I had four options:

  1. Plan an extravagant and gigantic affair that exceeded my budget forcing my husband and I to pay the difference.
  2. Plan a wedding that used, to the dollar, the same amount I was given by my parents.
  3. Plan the least expensive wedding possible and use the difference to buy bedroom furniture.
  4. Take the money, get married at the courthouse and have our reception at Macy’s (my husband said Best Buy) as we spend spend spend!

My eyes blinked dollar signs.

Now, different strokes for different folks, but I chose option 3 because both options 1 and 2 gave me anxiety and option 4 would have given me anxiety if dead people could have anxiety. But the cool thing about option 4 is that my mother would have had her own episode of “Snapped.”

Woman in a wedding dress holding piggy bank

So how did I plan a wedding for a few thousand dollars?

I am not going to liethere were sacrifices. Having the money saving goal as my focal point, though, made it a heck of a lot easier to make these sacrifices.

After all, I had furniture picked out. Whenever I lost focus I would sneak into Woodstock Furniture Outlet at night and talk it over with my future sofa, love seat and ottoman that was so big it could have been a twin bed. We would share lattes and dream about Next Top Model marathons together.

Not reallybut I felt like every hero’s journey needs a sage advisorbesides this was a really nice couch.  In fact, I’m typing this article as I sit on itoops – I should have said “Spoiler Alert.”

The very first thing I did was decide what size wedding would fit into my budget. That really had to be your first decision anyway when you get down to the budgeting.  I couldn’t very well invite 500 people to celebrate my marriage and ask them to eat before they came or send them a five dollar bill in their invitation so they can pick up a value meal on the way to the wedding.  I may have given the latter some serious thought.  I’m just confessing. I know it wasn’t right.

Knowing the size of my wedding gave me a much better idea of how much I would be spending for the venue, catering, etc.

Next, I had to decide what services were incredibly important to me and which ones were not a priority. For example, I wanted the freedom to find a beautiful dress and I wanted to have my hair done by a professional.  I wasn’t as interested in a full service videographer (just my personal preference) so for that I enlisted a friend to stand in the back and video our vows.

I purposely had a very small wedding party so that I could afford to pay for everyone’s mani/pedis and pre-wedding massages.  I chose nicer catering over a DJ and opted not to do favors or imprinted napkins at all.  I printed my own wedding invitations and we drove our own car to the airport.

It was all of these little things that helped us come in under my parent’s budget.  I held my reception in a building attached to the church we were married in so unless one of my relatives spiked their own punch, we had a dry reception.

But don’t feel bad. I also made my reception short. I wanted people to leave when they wanted to go. I wanted to go. I had plane tickets to San Francisco! Besides, my parents, from what I understand, had a killer after party (I don’t know because we were not invited) so people got to get their drink on if they so chose.

I tried to keep the guests in mind while also cutting costs in areas that people wouldn’t notice.  The verdict? Well not one person followed up their wedding congratulations with their disappointment at not being able to dab their lips on my name. I’m not sure if I am offended by that or not.

Now I know some of you out there with big plans, a knack for details and the fairy tale dreams of a little girl may think that I compromised on a day where a bride should do everything she wants to do.  But most brides have to make compromises. If it’s to spend morethe sacrifice is in giving up more money to get exactly what you wantI respect that.

But to those of you out there overwhelmed by the sheer cost of a wedding and all the details that you “have” to have for the sake of appearancesput down that burden, not one of your guests is asking you to carry it. You CAN plan a less expensive and beautiful and meaningful wedding if you stay focused and keep you eye on the coucheser I mean prize. Whatever that may be for you.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a date with my couch.

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