Tuesday, February 26, 2008

How much money would you spend on your wedding?

In the past weeks, we have had to make certain decisions which determined how much money our wedding ceremony and the arrangements around it (fireworks/no fireworks; chuppah designer/basic option) will cost eventually. Now, I must say that we certainly haven't skimped on anything and everything possible, but we tried to be reasonable, keeping in mind that we are a young couple moving into a new home - which is, apart from being a very, very joyous and thrilling occasion, in a certain part a financial stress as well.

We have heard the opinion that our wedding day will be special and once-in-a-lifetime, and therefore financial considerations shouldn't even cross our minds. However, I disagree. I know several couples that took loans for their wedding and started their married life in debt - or even worse, their parents did it for them. Should I say this isn't a perspective I find appealing?

For a basic wedding ceremony, we need a rabbi, a minyan, a chuppah, and a ring. And of course all the paperwork around the authorization to get married, which we (thank God!) already worked out. Everything else in my eyes is an extra. I don't "need" a wedding dress that costs more than all the clothes I ever owned. We don't "need" three photographers, live music and a fancy honeymoon. Sure, all those things are nice if you have extra money - but if you don't, why put strain on yourself in order to have them?

I feel that weddings have turned into an industry, and wedding planning is a very stressful - much too stressful - time for many young couples. In my opinion, the most important thing to do in the weeks prior to your wedding would be to study and prepare for marriage (together, or separately and then discuss what you've learned with your future husband). And pray, pray, pray. Instead, things often turn into a mad race of ticking things off a to-do list.

Another important thing for a young lady who is about to leave her parents' home would be to spend time with her family - sure, getting married doesn't mean you won't see your parents and siblings anymore, but things will be different, and your responsibilities will be different. So don't miss out on this tender and special time with your family.

To those of you who are married or planning their wedding: I would love to hear your input as well. How simple/fancy was your wedding ceremony and the additional expenses (dress, makeup, honeymoon)? How many guests did you have? Did you feel limited by financial considerations, or did you allow yourself to indulge in anything your heart desired at that special time? Would you do things differently if you had to go through it again?


Mrs. Brigham said...

Our wedding was very small, planned in less than thirty days, and cost under $500. There was not too much that had to be paid for--many family and friends offered their talents and skills to help make our wedding amazing, and as I was a makeup artist, I did my own makeup and had a friend/co-worker there to do my hair & nails. Sean had his military dress uniform so there was no formal wear needed for him. And we had no attendants. The ceremony and reception were both at my grandparent's beautiful home and the whole day was lovely. :D We did not have a honeymoon, other than one night in a fancy hotel in downtown Atlanta, as Sean had to leave for his next duty station two days later, but we lived right on the water for the next two years & he was only sent away for one six week mission during that time, so I really cannot complain one bit. hehe. If I could do it all over again, the only thing I would do differently was wear a more modest wedding dress! Oh, and different shoes...OUCH. (Any soon to be brides- Please, please, please be sure to break in your shoes, and also bring bandaids with you in case on blisters, cuts, whatever from your shoes.)

Jenny said...

Hi! I have been married for 14 years in Nov. We had a very modest wedding, and truly we were just as happy as some of my friends that had the BIG weddings. The things I remember most, is him! Not the flowers or lack of. He will be all you really see.

Have a great day!

Sammybunny said...

I SO appreciate someone of the same mind as me on all of this. A wedding is a glorious, ceremonious occasion but it does not have to put a person into financial stress/ruin right before the couple begins a very stressful part of beginning a new life...cultivating wise financial habits as newlyweds. My beau and I are not yet engaged but we have talked about the time when we will become so and I have been thinking about the future (not planning, necessarily, but thinking).

I really want to have a beautiful wedding but I want to be wise and keep it simple. I want my mother and I to make my dress (I always have) and I would love for my beau's green-thumbed father to cultivate the flowers for us if he wasn't too busy. I don't want it to be huge and I would love to have a joyful, un-fancy but beautiful wedding among family and friends.

I would love to hear how your wedding goes and ways that you were wise with your financial decisions concerning everything.

Emma said...

Our wedding cost about $10,000. Most of that was for the reception (hall rental, food, table, chair, & linen rentals, flowers, & favors. We had about 250 guests (mainly family & parishioners for our father's churches... both of our dads are priests).

K in the Mirror said...

I have seen several couples put off their wedding in order to save up for the lavish things they just "had" to have, and one of them was divorced before they finished paying for the wedding. That's not to say that expensive weddings mean your marriage won't last- just that this couple had their priorities in the wrong place from the start.

My wedding was very simple- punch and cake at the church, my mom made bridesmaid dresses, that sort of thing. We didn't spend very much at all, and I was satisfied with most of it.

Two things I would have done differently: we didn't have the funds to go anywhere on a honeymoon, and we JUST finally went on our first vacation together for our 11th anniversary. I wish we could have found the money to go somewhere special, even if it wasn't far away, because once kids come along it's much harder to get away.

The other thing is that we of course were anxious to get off by ourselves and we didn't take advantage of the fact that ALL our family and friends were together in one place. They still talk about how much fun they had together after our reception, and I wish we would have hung around for just a few more hours because we've never had so many loved ones in the same place since then.

Manda said...

Hi Anna- well, we spent very little money on our wedding. It was less than 2000 US dollars, including my dress, hubby's tux, and our honeymoon. We married in my parents backyard, in the springtime, and my mother and aunts made all the delicious food. A friend of the family made a beautiful simple cake for us. We invited only family and a few close friends. I loved it and the simplicity of it. There were no worries, only joy.

Thia said...

I have been following your journey for a few weeks now and am happy that paths are clearing for both of you!
My general thought on weddings is that wedding debt is stupid (in most cases). Debt is a stressor and that is the last thing a newly married couple needs. It is important to have family and friends to celebrate and witness adn that is what counts, not all the trimmings. I do think, more effort should be made for some sort of honeymoon, time alone together, a chance to do something before life gets busy and children come etc.
Personally, we had a very low budget wedding. 150 guests invited, 100 came. We had a catered buffet (thanks to dh's parents) in a public park ($25 to rent the pavilion). Our wedding party paid for their own clothing. My dress was not expensive. Our first night was in our "new" home (dh's apartment) which has good memories (opening our gifts together at 2am), then one week camping in the middle of no where on our own island and one week camping closer to some attractions. Then life and work and we had one quick weekend for our anniversary. Since the kids came...we haven't been able to do a thing except visit family...

Kacie said...

It sounds like you have a good balance that it's OK to spend money on a joyous occasion, but it's important to be reasonable as well.

I was married last May. It was just two weeks after my husband and I graduated from college. Needless to say...we didn't have much money between us.

We each contributed financially, and his parents and my parents paid for things as well. It was such a blessing that they were able to do that.

In all, the wedding cost about $3,000 USD. We had about 120 guests, and we served a cookout-style lunch meal.

It was all quite simple, and I don't wish "oh, I wish we spent more money in this area."

Still, it was quite a shoestring wedding, but appropriate for two recent grads.

I shopped for bargains as best as I could, and hired college students to do my hair & makeup and also a student photographer whom I knew well (he did a fantastic job and saved me thousands of dollars!).

If we had more money at the time, we might have spent more on things here or there, but I'm happy with how things turned out, and I'm glad we still aren't paying off our wedding!

The best part? I'm married to a wonderful man and I'm so happy!

Liedeke said...

Hi Anna,

Be careful what you ask for... I'll try to keep this short, but I'm afraid I'll get carried away, so (again) feel free to moderate ;-).

Our wedding was great, but is wasn't big. We both come from families that aren't the least bit tradition-minded, so we didn't feel limited by 'customary' additions. We did feel financially limited, until our parents told us that their gift to us was the price of the wedding 'banquet'. We went over budget on some things, like the rings and my hat. On other things, we spent less than we estimated, like my dress and the photos. In my opinion, a wedding is the best occasion for a festive celebration. Our wedding day truly felt like our special day.

So, what did we skip?
- church ceremony
- tailor made outfits
- attendants
- gourmet meals
- reception
- professional photographer
- live music
- professional hair and make up
- moving (we already lived together)

What did we have?
- nice ceremony at the 16th century town hall where my parents were married too
- home made dress in coloured satin and lace (and matching store bought hat)
- nice suit
- brothers and sister as witnesses
- exclusive High Tea, served after the ceremony
- celebratory party with about 75 guests, good drinks, great snacks, etc.
- juke box system on a computer that we brought to the location (guests loved it!)

We had a great time. So did our guests, as far as I've heard. The apparent 'unconventionality' of our wedding turned out to be very appealing to those of our guests that regularly attend weddings - they thought it was refreshing and fun.

Although we (well, I, mostly) stressed that we did NOT want any skits or songs, of course there was some 'informal entertainment'. We didn't mind too much, since people made sure that it wasn't too saucy or embarrassing. One of the sweetest things ever was the moment that our mothers gave a speech together. They wanted to take the opportunity to 'officially' put us into each other's care.

Okay, I'll stop now. To sum up: we skipped some conventions, but only those that we didn't have any use for anyway. So we ended up with a fabulously informal yet official yet festive wedding.

I hope your wedding day will suit you as well.

And be careful never to ask me about pregnancy, birth or babies!

Have fun taking this step.


Persuaded said...

When I got married we spent quite a considerable amount... I am embarrassed to admit, I don't really know how much, because my parents footed the entire bill. I do know I had a dress that cost close to $1000 and that was 25yrs ago, so I can't imagine how much such a dress would cost now. It was beautiful... so very beautiful, but it is all packed away, and I can't even look at it because it is specially sealed (kind of a mixed blessing, lol!)

Although my wedding was costly, it doesn't compare to a family member's wedding that cost over $40,000, can you imagine? and that was about 10yrs ago. I hear those kinds of amounts spent on a wedding and I think of how much more beneficial to the marriage it would be for the couple to use that money as a down payment on a house, to pay down debt from school or just foolish living, or even to have that money in the bank as savings!

A young lady in our church was recently married and it was a very very simple wedding... I doubt she spent over $500. She and her family made all the food.. including several cakes. They had a special party the day before the wedding where all the women got together and each decorated a different cake, very unique and pretty. The reception was just finger foods made by the ladies of the church and held in the fellowship hall. The guys all just wore their best suits instead of renting formalwear. It was simple, some might even say plain, but it was the nicest wedding I have ever been to. My daughters tend more towards the frugal and sensible, for which I am very relieved!

EllaJac said...

While there is much I could write, I feel the best thing I did was kept in mind that the purpose of my wedding was to get married. As long as that one thing happened, the day was a success! I see many brides with expectations of a perfectly grand, fairy-tale style wedding, and when one little thing (or many) went awry, they fall apart or get upset. All the 'little things' should not affect the joy you have in the purpose of the day. Blessings to you in this season! You seem to be thinking/living it through with wisdom.

Anonymous said...

Hi Anna. Happy to oblige you with a few details of our wedding expenses. My parents paid for our reception (rental of site, the dinner), & the band. I paid for: photographer, cake, dress, bridal party flowers, church organist, 2 vocalists. I did my own hair & makeup. We did not take a honeymoon. (We stayed 2 nights at the hotel where our reception was held). I entered my marriage completely free of debt. This was very important to me.

The idea of taking out a loan just to pay for a wedding is becoming increasingly hard for me to stomach. So much attention paid to one day...not enough to what follows. I think it's kind of sad.

What would I do differently? I would have wedding programs printed up, I would have more extended family involved, (musical things & so forth) & I would give a little less thought to trying to please everyone. I did many things right, but in my effort not to be a "pain in the neck" bride, a "Bridezilla" to use today's term, I think I shortchanged myself. So, for me, the changes would not be so much about extra things I would buy, but differences in the overall "feel" of the wedding.

Best of luck as you continue your planning!-


Tracy said...

We had a large wedding. Over 300 people. Mostly because my husband's parents divorced when he was young, and his mother remarried. So we had both sides of my family, his mothers family, his real dad's family, and his step dad's family.

I paid for nearly everything. My grandmother bought my dress, which was not overly expensive, and my parents paid for catering. I paid for the reception hall, invitations, flowers, cake, etc. I was only 18, but was working...

I wish we had fewer people there. Cousins that we hadn't seen in years, aunts, uncles, etc. That wasn't all needed, but it's what our families wanted.

We bought a house right away, and didn't rent. Verne's money went to that and the honeymoon,my ring, and paying the pastor.

Tracy said...

Oh, and I'm not planning on huge weddings for our children. Simple, tasteful, people that really care.

Michelle said...

I didn't really keep track of the expenses at the time, but I know my wedding was not very expensive. We mostly paid for it ourselves out-of-pocket, and we were certainly not well off, yet the wedding costs never really put a crimp in our wallets.

Let's see...

The church was either free or very cheap. I remember the pastor, a friend of ours, repeatedly saying he personally would not take money from us because performing weddings is part of what pastors do. He never takes money for funerals, either.

My dress was about $400. Probably the most expensive thing in the whole wedding. My shoes were about $20, just simple white shoes.

I don't recall how much the cake was since my mother paid for it. Probably under $150.

We got all of the decorations from a party supply store for a couple hundred dollars. I also bought printable invitations and programs.

My mother paid to have napkins printed. I don't know how much that was.

We spent about $15 on music. One of my husband's many former professions was club dj, so a friend of his dj'd the reception. The $15 was for an Elvis CD -- our song was "Fools Rush In."

My relatives all took photos. Later I made a scrapbook in a lovely old journal that someone gave me in high school which I had never used because it was too pretty. I wrapped some ribbons around it that had been used in our ceremony to represent the Trinity. (Those came from the party supply store.) It's the best wedding album ever.

Hmmm... All of my flowers were fake except my bouquet. I can't recall how much the bouquet was, so my mother must have paid for it. Certainly under $100.

My grandmother made a flower girl dress for my daughter out of simple white cotton. It was very sweet.

Oh, the tux rental for my husband and son was probably about $200.

Oh, and our wedding rings. We got very nice silver rings from James Avery (my FAVORITE jewelry store!!) for about $65 each. I LOVE my wedding ring. It's very non-traditional, but I would have hated the whole gold band and diamond thing.

So that's what, $1500 for the whole wedding (including what my mom picked up)? Paid for one piece at a time over about 6 months?

Oh, we paid for our honeymoon out of money we received as a wedding gift. We went out for a nice dinner, spent the night in a local hotel, then went out for breakfast and went shopping the next morning. I know it couldn't have been very expensive because we have also done that for our anniversary at least once. (Stayed in the same hotel, even!)

I never felt limited by our budget. I pretty much got everything I wanted. The wedding itself was beautiful and exactly what I hoped for.

sparksfley said...

When I met my husband, it was under very unusual circumstances. We were only 21 and 22. We'd both been engaged before. We both were new Christians. We both were newly sober (from an addiction to drugs.) I had sworn off men altogether, since I'd been so so so hurt. We met in Bible college, in class for a month but didn't really talk to each other. Then I sat next to him at an evening service. We talked until 3am that night. And the next two nights. And then on night 4 he asked me to marry him. I said yes (16 times according to him.) We weren't virgins, due to our pasts, but him and I did not consecrate anything until we were married. I started planning the wedding... But it became too much when A) I realized that my parents didn't really want to pay for anything, and I had no money, and B) When I realized we had lost all our friends. Both sets of parents were the only ones "for" this wedding. I was so stressed out... When his mom suggested, "Why don't you just elope?" I was appalled. And then I started thinking about it. I thought about what was most important to me about the ceremony itself, which was, everyone dressed properly for the occasion, flowers, and family. So - we eloped. To a chapel in Lake Tahoe my mother found. I had "the" dress - found on clearance at a bridal warehouse. Flowers - bouquets given to us at cost by someone at our church(a former florist.) The moms bought dresses in my "color" - forrest green, and the men rented tuxes. We all headed up to the mountains, spent the weekend at the hotel we got a deal at. It was just him, me, my parents, his parents, my best friend (maid of honor) and his brother (best man.) The photos (taken by the chapel photog) are BEAUTIFUL and on the lake with snowcapped mountains in the background. We eloped because it was the best decision for us, but we thought it out, and it turned into a beautiful wedding memory. Because my parents knew how much I truly helped in keeping costs down, and wasn't a petulant child, they paid for a beautiful week long cruise, which was a wonderful setting for the first time my husband and I were "together." We'll be married 10 years in April.

Pendragon said...

I feel very strongly in agreement with you that one should not spend beyond one's means for a wedding. In fact, I think this idea that the wedding has to be a lavish production is a relatively new one. When I look at my grandparents, each set had a simple ceremony with a handful of guests followed by a small lunch. My parents felt they were being lavish and they had only 35 guests.

When I got married, I only wanted to do a small intimate ceremony with just our parents -- mainly because were were young and didn't have a lot of money. But my husband wanted a big ceremony, so we had 100 guests. We managed to do it for about $3500 (this was in the '90s). (Sorry for the Americanism -- I am not sure how that would translate into Israeli money.)

I was very earnest and strict about not spending unnecessary money. No flowers to decorate the place where the wedding was held; no party favors for the guests (except for small gifts for those in the wedding party); no live musicians; no photographer; no limosines; no special hair or make-up; a dress that cost less than $100. We put virtually all the money into things would actually make the guests comfortable -- unlimited alcohol, waiters to pass around hors d'hoevres and cocktails, lunch, and cake. We did pay someone to play records. We ruthlessly purged almost any expense that we did not deem strictly necessary.

I think because we put so much money into the drinks and food, there was not really an appreciable difference for our guests between our wedding and those where much more money was spent on videographers, make-up artists, limosines, etc. etc. etc.

Pendragon said...

Oh, I forgot the honeymoon. We probably spent another $1000 on the honeymoon. We drove to a vacation spot about four hours away and spent a week there. Nothing fancy.

If you can afford it, I don't think there is anything wrong with a really expensive ceremony and honeymoon. But it seems like pure foolishness for someone to go beyond her means to hire a make-up artist. (I will admit that I went to a make-up counter at a mall for make-up tips before my wedding, and probably bought about $50 worth of make-up, which I applied myself at the wedding. I had never worn make-up before and began wearing it regularly at the time of my wedding.) I also had a haircut about five days before my wedding, but no special styling. And I had worked on cultivating a tan all summer-- which was cheap since sunshine is free!

the sistosos said...

My wedding cost about $2,000 (we did not take out a loan). That was 9 yrs ago. If I had it to do all over again, I think I would have had it even simpler and splurged on the honeymoon a little more. I only had about 2 weeks to really plan it (I moved to the city where my husband was stationed only about 2 weeks before the wedding).

I also would have spent a lot more time studying marriage...that is SO much more important than most soon-to-be-married couples think. Just "being in love" is not enough! However, God has been so gracious to my husband and I and we have learned a lot over the years...


erica said...

what a great post!
I am getting married in just a couple weeks, and i am just sick at the wedding industry. in the U.S., the average wedding costs $24,000. That is insane! My fiance and I set a budget for ourselves of $6,000 (which still made me feel faint). He is a graphic designer and has been blessed recently with many freelance opportunities that have basically paid for out wedding! We will not have any debt from this wedding, praise God! Our parents think that we will not have a fun celebration because we are not doing as many fancy things as they hoped. Parents on both side suggested not to think about money at all in our plans, just to put it all on a credit card and worry about paying it later. No way! The last thing a a marriage needs is to start off with insane amounts of debt (especially considering that we, like most couples, are already entering into marriage with quite a bit of debt from college!).
A couples Wedding day will be a very special day, but it will only be one day! you don't want to spend the next several years of your life paying for it!

And i entirely agree that much more time, thought and prayer should be put into planning for the lifelong marriage than should be put into the one day wedding. I highly recommend premarital counseling for everyone! It was such a great and beneficial experience for us, and we feel very prepared for marriage and confident about spending the rest of our lives together.

Terry said...

We had a simple wedding and incurred no debt for it. The most expensive thing we had was my dress, and the food, both of which cost about $500 each. I had a simple gold wedding band, didn't get diamond at all until our second anniversary after my husband had saved to get me a nice one. My maid of honor and I were up two nights before the wedding making our own bouqets out of silk flowers. And you're right, despite the simplicity of the ceremony, I still felt considerable stress. And we didn't go on a "honeymoon" until our 5th anniversary! It may not sound very glamorous, but we've had a great life together for the past 13 years because we have tried to focus on the more important things- that money can't buy. And with the exception of our home, we've avoided debt, which we thought was more important than a fairy tale wedding followed by a stressful marriage because of debts.

Anonymous said...

hi anna, I was married 2 years ago and at the time, I was suckered into the idea of having the perfect dress/place/food/etc.. Then circumstances changed and we had to move the wedding up about 3 months. (i about died when I heard that) So I ended up going to a bridal store and got myself a $100 prom dress(in white, they all look like bridal gowns) and 2 $80 bridesmaids dresses. My jewelry was rhinestones from a teenybopper boutique and my veil was a $5 pre-packaged one from the craft store. (I sewed ribbon and such on it to make it look prettier..) As for shoes, I wore my best looking ones that were in my closet. As my dress came to the floor, I figured no one would notice. My parents got fake flowers and adorned our church chapel with ribbons, and my aunt volunteered to make our cake. We invited 15 of our closest relatives and friends. We were married by the bishop of our church. It was a fairly inexpensive ceremony. A year later I was a bridesmaid for a good friend of mine who had the music, the hors d'oevres, the satin, the lace, the sunset, the place, you name it. I remember standing there while her vows were being read thinking, why did I want all this? Im sure it was a great experieince for her, but to me, the way my husband and I were married was one of the most intiment, special moments. It didnt feel like I had to take time away from the man I just married to go make sure all my guests were doing ok, or to see it the caterers were doing their job. I wouldnt change my wedding ceremony for the world. I think you will find that a small, inexpensive wedding means more to both the husband and the wife.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anna,
This is a topic I do feel strongly about. I never did like big shows at weddings, so when my beloved and I said our vows 26 years ago, our wedding actually only cost $300! We did not have bridesmaids/ushers, we only had our best friends stand up for us as witnesses, and pray for our marriage. I made my lovely dress, my mother grew the orchids and her friend arranged them (I had a lovely crown of orchids on my head) My sister made a cake for us to share, then others in our church made cakes and cookies for the reception, it was really fun! We did spend money on our honeymoon to cross country ski in Canada, as we had a winter wedding. We would not do anything differently today, our choices were right for us.
I have made wedding dresses for others now, glad to see them choose to spend money on things needed to begin their lives together instead of going into debt their first day together.
Its important to choose what is important to you as a couple. We were older when we married (26 and 32), so it was easier to choose all we wanted I believe, than young kids getting married and parents having big parts of the decisions. Then the wedding turns out to be the parents party for them and their friends. If the couple can handle that, its ok also. I think sometimes people feel obligated to provide food/entertainment at the wedding since they expect guests to bring lavish gifts. I have been to some weddings lately where when I check the registry I feel really overwhelmed at the choices for purchase. With a simpler wedding, the families could provide more for their children than expecting guests to purchase.
These are just the thoughts of someone who prefers simplicity, and is not bound by tradition. We have enjoyed making our own traditions as we were blessed with two children. They are grown now, and we look forward to being a part of the traditions they make when they get married and begin families.
blessings on your marriage Anna,

Anonymous said...

My wedding was amazing! We had 143 people that showed up and had the entire thing (ceremony and reception) at a beautiful resort overlooking Camelback Mountain (in gorgeous Scottsdale, Arizona). It was sentimental because both my brother and aunt had their wedding at this same place. We did a lot of research and found that this place offered the very best deal.

My dad simply gave us a budget and we did everything we could to be within his means. WE picked our priorities - I wanted a very nice dinner in a very nice setting. Photography was more important than videography, so we had a friend video tape.

In the end, it was greater than I could have imagined and I'm glad we didn't skimp on the things that were important to us. This is a once-in-a-lifetime occasion and should be every bit as special as you dream it to be.

Anonymous said...

Hi Anna,

Thank you for bringing up this issue. I'm getting married soon and my fiance and I have been discussing this in depth.
It's interesting to hear your perspective as well.

I completely agree that the marriage industry is out of control. I think the average cost of a wedding in the U.S. is
$28,000. That's more than some people pay for their college education! Why would a couple want to start their lives together
in debt? Unfortunately I think a lot of people feel pressure to spend more money than they have. And I understand that,
we want the day to be special, one we can remember fondly for the rest of our lives.

We're unable to spend $28,000 on a wedding so for the reception we're focusing on what is important to us and our families. For instance
we want to be able to provide a good meal to our guests since many people are coming out-of-town. The largest portion of our budget is earmarked for the caterer. However, neither one of us cares about a giant wedding cake or dancing. So we're purchasing a sheet cake from a grocery store and we're not hiring a DJ.

I'm going to post this anonymously and come out and say that we're spending $5000 for our wedding. It was helpful for me to hear what "real" people spent on their wedding so maybe someone else will find that helpful as well. It's still a lot of money for us but we have big families and we want to throw a nice party. And it's totally possible on a budget.

Anyway thanks again for the thoughts. I agree with you and think the most the important, valuable component of a wedding
is that two people are making a commitment to marriage in front of their friends, family and the world. The rest is really secondary.


Candy :) said...

HI Anna :)
Well my wedding was almost 13 years ago. I was 20 years old and my Dad, who is a pastor, married my husband and I, so that was special :)
As far as cost and if our wedding was fancy.. Our ceremony was simple in decor, I tied tulle around the ends of the pews for when I walked down the asile. And we had heart shaped candle obras up where my Dad was standing. We also had a table with the unity candle. I believe that was about it. For the reception, we had a selection of 2 types of meat with potatoes and salads and lots of desserts. The reception was also decorated basic but decorated. The total cost for our entire wedding, back then was two thousand dollars ($2,000). Which is not alot for weddings here in Canada! That included the dress and all the flowers we supplied for the bridal party etc.
We did not go on a honeymoon because my husband had to work and we travelled alot so it wasnt a big deal for us really.
If I had to do it all over again, would I do it differently? Yes.
I would still have the ceremony in church but Id only invite my closest friends or family (unlike our actually wedding when we invited just about everyone we ever know LOL) I would also not have anyone else in our wedding party (no bridesmaids or anything) just my husband and I. I would want my ceremony to be more holy as in just simple, traditional, maybe fresh flowers but no foo foo, just simple. I would not wear a traditional white dress and veil. I would opt for a plain regular white dress.
And for my reception, if I could do it all over again, I would have it at a family members home and just have like a little brunch or dessert and thats all, very simple with maybe mini sandwiches and tea and chocolate, strawberries and lemonade. And have pictures taken by a nice waterfall or in a family members backyard with flowers. It would be a beautiful reception because of the simplicity and nature. And it would cost probably $2-300 dollars. A basic but to me, breath-taking wedding.


AnneK said...

Ours was a pretty simple wedding compared to most weddings here I guess. Where I am from, the parents pay for the wedding. No one will think of making the kids pay for the wedding. It is the pleasure and privilege of the parents there. Here we paid for the wedding ourselves. Or rather hubby paid for it since I didn't have a job at that time.

We didn't go any place special for honeymoon. We were at where we ended up, so hubby was helping me get set up and stuff. I am totally with you that it doesnt make sense going completely overboard and in debt. Probably not a great way to start married life. But it is fine to have a small indulgence if it is important. After all, wedding is a once in a lifetime thing.

We had one photographer, one videographer, one pianist etc. We splurged a little on flowers. I love beautiful flowers.

Gothelittle Rose said...

Our wedding had about 35 guests and cost about $1500 altogether. That counts for gown/accessories, flowers, rings, cake, etc. A lot of stuff was donated, including the use of family traditional candelabras and my grandmother's wedding pearl jewelry set. Other stuff was making use of what we already had, like lighting the fireplace in the reception room ourselves.

Our pastor does not charge to perform weddings for church members, nor does our rustic country church charge for member use of facilities. A friend of ours played piano, another friend took pictures, and a friend's mother gave us a flower setup as her present to us.

I bought my dress and veil secondhand, but I could not have designed a prettier dress for myself. My father designed and burned a music mp3 CD full of medieval/ren dance music for our reception, and we played it on my husbands laptop with the living room speakers plugged in.

Our biggest expense was the cake, because I insisted on the fountain. My aunt redesigned the traditional 'fountain cake' (200+ guests) to work better for 35 guests, because I insisted on the fountain "no matter what we had to do." So the reception was marked by three elements: The fire in the fireplace, the ancient dance music in the background, and the gentle trickle of the lit-up cake waterfall.

I was married in mid-March. We had a simple wedding party of four, groom/bride/maid-of-honor/best-man, and our attendants picked out their own outfits based on our wedding colors, which were dark leafy green and dark purple. My maid of honor already had a pretty green dress to wear. The best man rented his own tux.

We broke convention in a few ways. My dress and the cake were both more indicative of $40K 300 guest weddings. Bernie's tux was specially picked out, all black with dark green ferny embroidery on the bowtie and vest. "All black for a wedding? Horrors!" But generally, it was a simple, sweet ceremony with a friendly reception, and I heard people who had advocated and attended very expensive weddings saying afterwards that it was one of the nicest they'd ever seen!

Of course, we didn't have to use any amount of opulence to hide any bitterness, bad choices, or false cheeriness. It was honestly the celebration of two people, in love, making their vows before God and man before indulging in marital bliss.

Our honeymoon was simple enough. We stayed home. Got Bernie moved into my rented houselet, got used to living together, went out to a few local attractions, and rented movies to snuggle to in our tiny living room. It was good enough for us!

Gothelittle Rose said...

Oh, to answer your questions themselves...

We were limited by finances, but we didn't choose to be limited, if that makes sense. The cake with the fountain was easily half our expenses, but we got it because I wanted it. So in a way, we were limited by finances AND I allowed myself to indulge in anything my heart desired.

I just didn't desire a lot of expensive stuff. :)

I wouldn't do things different... well... if I had to get married again, I would have a different ceremony I'm sure. But if I went back in time, I wouldn't change a thing. It was beautiful... it was perfect.

Rebekah S. said...

Thank you for these great tips, Anna!! I will definitely keep these wise words in mind when I'm planning my own special day.

I agree with you that people often spend far too much on weddings. They go into debt or they spend money on something that isn't needed, when they could have spent that money on their home, etc. The wise thing to do would to spend enough money for a nice wedding(not anything overly extravagant!) and then put the rest of the money towards the first home/home furnishings, etc.

I couldn't agree more with what you said about making those last days/weeks/months with your family all the more special. That time with your family will never come back. Once your parents are gone, you'll really look back at those special last few months with so much joy and happiness, thinking back on those lovingly-made memories that will last a lifetime. It's so important to not get so bogged down with wedding prep that you forget to make beautiful memories with your family during those special last days with them.

I'm ignorant when it comes to the Hebrew language, so I have to ask you what chuppah and minyan mean?
Also, do you have any tips on learning the Hebrew language? I would love to learn it, but haven't the slightest idea where to start!

Many blessings,

PhDCow said...

We had a relatively small church wedding (90 people including attendants) followed by a lunchtime reception at a restaurant. When the dust cleared, I think we spent close to $8,000.

The most expensive items were the reception ($3K that included cocktail hour, open bar, wedding cake, lunch, and decorations) and the photographer ($3K because we wanted a photojournalist who would take more candids than standard poses).

I bought my wedding dress at a discount bridal warehouse for $300. Flowers were in the $300 range and all the flowers were done in silk. My bridal bouquet is in a silver vase in our dining room. The centerpiece on the altar is sitting on top of our television in the living room.

We opted to keep it as low-key as possible. Honestly, we both wanted a simple ceremony followed by a barbeque in our backyard, but my mother wanted to live vicariously through me since she had a quickie shotgun wedding.

Could the money have been used for better things (downpayment for a house, etc.)? Sure. We tried not to go overboard, but we also wanted to make it special and unique.

We were lucky that our parents helped pay for the wedding. My mother-in-law paid for our honeymoon in Aruba, so I didn't include that in the wedding costs.

Sorry for the novel. I've known people who have done it for less and have had beautiful weddings and I've known people who went all out and their weddings were nice, but nothing special.

IMO, I think we spend too much time planning the wedding and not enough time planning the marriage. Same with pregnancy. We worry so much about childbirth, but don't really prepare for having a child.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for bringing this topic up Anna. It's one that is much on my mind too as I plan my wedding (across continents!) later this year. Many discussions with family, friends and even strangers have helped me make decisions on this matter. In short, I want a simple wedding, and here's why:

Firstly, because the cost of a wedding of so off-putting to many people (including my own brother) that I want to show by my example that many of the trappings and extravagances of a typical wedding day are unnecessary, and that a wonderful celebration can be had much more cheaply and simply. I know of many people in the country where I am living whose marriages have broken down only months after the wedding because of the financial strain they have imposed upon themselves- something I definitely want to avoid! And personally, even if I had the means I would shy away from an extravagant wedding budget to show others that there is another alternative. For me this means in practical terms planning a self-catered buffet meal, making my own invitations, ditching hen nights and wedding favours and having my wedding dress made by a friend.

Secondly, my Christian faith calls me to environmental responsibility, and therefore I want my wedding to be as waste-free as possible. Thus, as far as possible I want everything purchased for the wedding to be reuseable afterwards (eg. silk flowers, cloth napkins), either by myself and husband, or to give to others. And if this means eating off an eclectic selection of plates, who cares!

And thirdly, those who like to tell us that our wedding is the most important day of our life can sometimes be misleading: a wedding ceremony is, in its essence, simply the doorway to marriage. An elaborately decorated doorway perhaps, but still a doorway. When family, friends or glossy magazines try to distract from the path I and my fiancé have chosen I hold onto this image and I look forward to what lies the other side of the doorway. Let's concentrate more on our marriages and less on our weddings.

Good luck!
Catherine D

singlemomforgod said...

I'm not married yet, but that this was something that I have been before God about, therefore I have been saving money aside for it and planning by faith for that day. I want a very simple, yet elegant wedding, nothing over the top or fancy. I am a small woman so big is just not my thing, I am very big on elegant simplicity.

I believe it is about prioritizing the most important desires for you and your groom. I know mine are my pictures/video and my honeymoon.

This being said, since I am saving money aside for this now, when that time comes, I will be able to spend what I saved over time for this which is a very frugal and modest amount.

I was blessed to find my dream dress. After trying it on in a store while (mind you this is something that I did on faith) it was $1000, and there was no way i was going to pay that much for a dress. Months later, I was perusing e-bay attempting to look for a dress for my brother's fiance' and I saw the exact dress for a fraction of that, I prayed about it and on the last day of the auction,God led me to bid on it, I got it for the starting bid which was $250. As I am out bargin shopping, if I see things on clearance, I buy it. I bought 7 boxes of do it yourself invitations for $7 each, so I have over 225 invitations for less than $50.
I prayed and asked God to help me plan my wedding by faith, and with wisdsom, because when the time comes, and it is drawing near, I want to be able to not stress over little things. It sounds crazy to some of my friends, but having that special moment with God in this process is blissful.

oh yeah, I planned my wedding budget, honeymoon included to be around $3,000-$3,500, that I have saved over time. So every thing will be paid for with cash. I plan to have around 150-220 guest, and I am only having a mingling reception, with just my cake, fruit trays, veggie trays, nuts, and punch. No huge meal for everyone, When the day comes, I will have my wedding in the early afternoon. Also I am not a huge flower person, I am a huge fan about lights, so I will have string lights and candles to make my wedding very simple and elegant, I will only use flowers as light accents. I can't see myself spending tons of money on something that won't live more than a day.
To me, the my honeymoon will be important, because I already have children, and I will want some alone time with my husband, to bond and enjoy each other as I know that will change once we blend together as a family.

Julia said...

I agree. My brother and I both had simple weddings. It's a day to make your vows to each other and start your married life. It's also a day to celebrate with friends and family. There's a freedom in going simple. Freedom to enjoy yourself with less distractions. Freedom from worry about financial issues.

If you are blessed with babies you will find that there is also an industry around babyhood. I fell for the nonsense and spent a ridiculous amount of money on unnecessary things. By the time I had my second I saw the industry for what it was and realized the care of a baby is actually very inexpensive if you're willing to cloth diaper, breastfeed, and avoid buying every piece of baby furniture that comes along.

Rachel said...

My dress and the groomsman's tuxes were kinda expensive, but everything else we saved money on. Me, my mom, and my aunt did all the decorations from stuff we bought at Hobby Lobby, my aunt did my hair, and I did my makeup.
We spent a bit on the honeymoon, but we figured it was worth it since we are usually so busy with work and school we don't get a chance to take trips very often.

Anonymous said...

I'm just in the beginning stages of planning myself!
What we're hoping to do is have the ceremony in the chapel at my dad's work (free!), and instead of going to some hotel we've never been to, run by people we don't know, I want to do my own reception at a park within walking distance of my home. I played in that park as a little girl, my fiance and I have taken long meaningful walks in that park. It's special and personal. And renting one building for one afternoon will not cost much. Plus, you can bring your own food, bring your own music for dancing, there's no bar (an important issue for me)...and something creative and memorable!

It's not like we're planning on spending no money, because we will have to, but definately much much less than the 20,000 dollar average it is here in the states!!!

It's most important to spend time developing your relationship with each other. People spend so much time on the wedding, they forget that when it's all over, you go back to living everyday life--which could bring disaster!

Sue said...

Hi, Anna:

My husband and I will have been married for 22 years this May 31, and it was a second marriage for me, so those things may skew the figures I'm going to throw out a bit.

We received $1000 ($US) from Alex's parents for the wedding, and nothing from my parents other than a non-monetary gift. I expected that because they paid almost everything for my first wedding. Finances were tight because my husband was a graduate student writing his dissertation (and his fellowship would expire 2 months before our wedding date) and I was underemployed, although I had some money saved.

I made my own tea-length ivory gown and probably saved a lot right there. It was really fun to make it! I wanted to get a hat, but when I went looking with a friend, turned out that a hat would cost more than I'd paid for all the fabric, trimming, etc. for my wedding gown, so I just has the florist use a comb with flowers in my hair.

We also had help from a lot of friends.

One friend had a great music collection and sound system and was our DJ as a wedding gift.

Another friend was a semi-professional photographer and took our photos for just the cost of the film. Her sister-in-law was just getting started in flower arranging for weddings, anniversaries, etc., and she did the flowers at cost and "enough so my husband and can eat out in a nice place and leave the children with one of my other sisters."

And our soloist was another friend.

We didn't get great price breaks on the cake or invitations; just didn't go for the high end.

At that time in our city, we found that you could get tremendous price breaks on wedding rings if you could find a pair that could fit both of you from discontinued styles. We each bought our rings from each other for about 25% of original price.

And we had a great place for the reception -- we got a party room for with an adjoining balcony at one of the student unions at the University of Wisconsin for a very small bar guarantee because Alex and I were both associated with the university.

We had an evening wedding (7:30pm) and hors d'oevres (sp?), cake, free soft drinks, and beer. Anything else the 75 guests had to pay for themselves.

Our honeymoon (1 week) was part business and part fun. Business was to find a place to live because we were moving 500 miles for Alex's job in 2 months and the fun was visiting the Hocking Hills and staying in a state resort park in southeastern Ohio.

So IMHO, you can have a nice wedding on a budget if you are thrifty and you get by with a little help from your friends.

Best wishes as you plan your wedding,


P.S. We were engaged just before the previous Christmas so had a little more than 5 months for planning.

Bridget said...

Hello Anna,

I completely agree with you. My husband and I paid cash for everything. We had a very small ceremony and reception with closest relatives only.

Unfortunately, I have been to weddings that must have cost a fortune and the bills may have outlasted the marriage. My grandfather said these words to me: The grandness of the wedding has nothing to do with the quality (or length) of the marriage.


Exspectantes said...

My husband and I are blessed with very generous parents. We actually had to sit down and tell them the things we didn't want for our wedding. Go over what we considered important--prayer leading up to entering into our marriage covenant, our family present with us, and friends if they were able to join us. We were in charge of planning our ceremony and I was able to find a wedding dress and bridesmaid dresses as reasonable prices. Our parents wanted to have a large reception (225!). They wouldn't budge on it, so we told them if they wanted to do that, it was okay but not something we needed. It's good to sit down and go over a budget with those contributing financially and talk about what's important to everybody.

neuropoet3 said...

I completely understand your point of view here. When my husband and I married we were very young - and we knew how small the amount of money we were bringing in every month was. I did want the wedding to be an event that my family could look back on with fond memories - but I was more interested in the actual marriage myself. :)
We were very frugal - in fact, there were certain things I just wasn't planning on having at all. It turned out that people gave those things as gifts. My mother wanted to buy my wedding dress - so we found one for sale under $100. Then we rented a tux because my hubby really wanted one - but the cost was minimal. My bridesmaids wore dresses that they provided (they didn't match, but they looked lovely, and they were able to wear their dresses later), and the groomsmen provided their own suits or tuxes as well.
We bought the rings, and then everything else God provided one way or another. I was very close to the pastor - so he didn't charge me for his services, and he even surprised us with a honeymoon night on the coast (we hadn't planned a honeymoon of any kind since money was so tight, and we had to drive clear across the country to our new apartment after the wedding). My bridesmaids and I took a day hike the day before my wedding and gathered wildflowers for our bouquets - then we took them home and spent the evening designing them. They turned out beautiful, and it was a fun memory for me to look back on after I had moved away (plus, it was entirely free!). :) The photos were provided for us by the older brother of one of my bridesmaid's - he was just an amateur photographer, but they turned out wonderful - and he took pictures of absolutely everything! (At the time it was even a bit annoying because we just wanted to go - but we knew we would be happy to have all the pictures later - which was true.) :) I have to admit that I really wanted one of those beautiful wedding cakes - they are extremely expensive and I never even considered getting one myself - but out of the blue an elderly neighbor friend (she was like a grandma to me) took me shopping and had me pick one out. :) I was thrilled! (But my husband wasn't quite as happy when the cake ended up smeared all over his truck after the wedding!) :)
All in all, we really didn't spend that much, but it ended up perfect for us. There was enough emphasis on the wedding to provide a memory for everyone to share, yet we were able to focus more on our life together after the wedding. In fact, I really spent very little time on the wedding plans - but I did focus a lot on treasuring my "last days" with my family (especially since I was moving far away - since we were all rather broke I wasn't likely to see them again for a long time), and preparing myself for my new life with my husband.
Of course, if a couple has the money to "go all out" for their wedding there's nothing wrong with that - and I know that some couples have parents who want to provide a huge wedding - but I think that many young couples might be wise to consider being a bit creative with their wedding plans and cutting costs as much as possible. Financial strain is one of the things couples fight over the most - it just causes a lot of stress, and avoiding it is really a good idea for couples just starting out.


Leanna said...

I was married nearly 10 years ago and spent $1,200.00 total for the dress, flowers, wedding, cake, and reception dinner. You can see the pics at
We splurged on the dinner and kept everything else as inexpensive as possible. I just couldn't see spending a small fortune on a single event when we could invest the money in our future.

As we were unable to be married in our church due to a paperwork snafu(long story), we married in a lovely garden at a local wedding house. (We were married in the Catholic church a few years later)Our reception was at a very nice restaurant that rented rooms for special occasions.

We had 28 people at our wedding. My husband's parents are still upset that we didn't have a large wedding but we didn't want the expense or the stress involved in something so grand.

Our 10th anniversary is this year and we still believe we made the right choice to have a frugal and stress free wedding. Due to the choices we made we were able leave our apartment and buy our house and new furninture very quickly.

One thing we did that saved a lot of money - we had a friend take our photos and we had them printed at the local discount store when they had a sale. We also gave out about 10 disposable cameras for the guests to take photos. We also had those photos printed during discount sale times.

Another thing - if someone volunteers to help out or asks you if you need anything - please say yes, then put them to work using whatever talent they have! Our flowers were bought by me but put together by a neighbor (a former florial designer) who asked if she could help. Another friend who's family owns a stationary store offered to provide the invitations, thank you notes, and the guest book.

If I had to do it all over I wouldn't change a thing.

compactmanifold said...

I'm reminded of "The local chuppah knitting emergency" that happened last year. There's a guy in the local knitting community who was planning his wedding, and decided that the chuppah should be hand knit, because knitting's what he does. Well, life and wedding planning got in the way and a month out, there was no chuppah.

Many knitting friends were rounded up and a pattern with a 12-row repeat was selected so that everybody could use a provisional cast-on and knit as many repeats as they could before transferring their stitches to a holder. The owner of my favorite local yarn shop was heading "Team Kitchener" and was grafting all of these huge sections together.

It's so neat that lots of his friends got to make something for his wedding and that the spirit of giving was for something that was more than a registry at a department store.

Kelly said...

Oh Anna, I've been waiting for you to visit this topic. I am a big fan of the small inexpensive wedding. I don't see why so many couples go into massive debt for a wedding. Once in a lifetime or not it shouldn't take you or your parents the rest of you life to pay it off.
My wedding had 50 people incuding the entire wedding party. No live music. One photographer only. No video. We did splurge on a sit down dinner only because we kept the list so small could we manage that. My wedding gown, veil, and shoes was only 500 US$. I did my own hair and makeup. I used silk flowers instead of live cause it was cheaper and just as pretty. Flowers only cost 200 US$. As for our grand total it was 5,000 US$ now that is the wedding, clothes, flowers, photographer, food, drinks, DJ, rings, and our honeymoon which was spent just a three hour drive away at a ski resort in the off season, very cheap, and secluded and beautiful. I wouldn't change a thing.
My hubby and I decided that it was more important to pay for the wedding ourselves and pay for it outright since we knew that we wanted to buy a house within two years of our wedding. Had we gone into debt, which we could have, we would have never been able to afford our home and we'd still be in an apartment.
As for the wedding it was exactly what I wanted and I wouldn't change a thing. Best of all, I'm not STILL paying for it!!!!!
Go Anna!
PS Obviously my hubby and I had money in savings that we used for our wedding and not all the items were paid at the same time. Some were paid early and others a week or two after the wedding.

Anonymous said...

I had 2 wedding ceremonies,one for each side (my husband and I lived in different countries). For the reception for my side of the family, I did not want anything fancy and extravagant. I did my own nails, borrowed my sister's necklace, bought a simple dress, my mum sewed an elegant dress for the official signing ceremony. I only spent more for hair and makeup and the dinner for the guests. Everything else was kept simple and if I could make it myself, I did. I didnt invite much ppl either, never understood the rationale for inviting ppl you hardly know to weddings.
Second wedding was a tug of war (sometimes) with my MIL who insisted that we invite all these unknown ppl, and that I wear tons of jewellery. We had an open bar, reception at an expensive hotel and steak dinner. Its funny because my friends were envious that I had such a "nice" wedding when I was really unhappy inside. It was not my style and we ended up paying lots for that wedding (husbands side has a keeping up with the joneses mentality). It was a waste of money.
My advice would be to concentrate on what the day really means to you and your husband. Weddings have lost their meaning, with all these bridal boot camps, ridiculously expensive dresses and plastic surgery.. the madness!

Anonymous said...

You are so practical and mature! Sadly-when I got married I was immature and only focused on the 'party' aspect of the wedding. I had 200 guests and spent an unbelievable amount of my parents money on things like ice sculptures and fancy linens on the tables etc. I went all out. I spared no expense. I look back on that now-7 years later-and wish I would have been more focused on just enjoying my husband to be rather than the biggest and grandest wedding I could plan.

It is a special day-and should feel that way-but there is no reason to go crazy and put yourself in debt.

Anna-I can't wait to see pictures and hear more about your wedding!


Ewokgirl said...

We were married in Texas almost 10 years ago. We spent about $7000 total for a wedding with approximately 100 guests.

I spent:
-about $1000 on my attire.

-around $3000 for the catering (this was our big splurge as I wanted some real food and a beautiful atmosphere)

-$350 on flowers (we only bought bouquets, boutonnieres, and corsages)

-$400 church fee for using the facilities

-$90 rental fee for the 9 candelabras belonging to the church (this was our only decor in the sanctuary as I don't believe a sanctuary needs to be decorated for a wedding ceremony)

-$100 as our gift to the minister
-$100 as gift for pianist
-$50 as gift for the soloist

And I can't remember now what we spent on invitations, postage, bridesmaids' gifts, bridal luncheon, and whatever else we had to pay for. But I do know the wedding and reception came to $7000.

My husband spent about $2500 on the honeymoon. We spent a week in Jamaica.

Did I feel limited by budget? A little bit, I suppose. We had our reception at the church, rather than at a hotel or country club. It was just as nice, though, and it meant the guests didn't have to go out in the 100 degree heat to go from church to reception site. The catering also wasn't as elaborate as I might have liked, but it was beautiful and had plenty of food for the guests. And the cake was simply phenomenal in taste and visual effect.

I had no room for complaint, though. My older sister wasn't given as much money for her wedding. I felt bad about that, but I knew I wanted this particular caterer, and my dad wanted to meet her with me. I was afraid that he would think she was too expensive, but once he saw her menus and photos, he was impressed and immediately upped my budget by a lot!

Weddings can be done within a budget. The wedding industry and all those ridiculous TV shows with over-the-top weddings would have us believe that it can't be done. That, and I think people have bought into the idea that a wedding is supposed to be a fantasy/princess day for the bride, so people spend exhorbitant amounts of money to pretend they're royalty for the day!

Catherine R. said...

My wedding dress was under $100 dollars, the ring was under $700 (an antique), we had one of my husband's friends do the photography for free and we bought desserts only for the reception. In our case, there was just no way a big wedding could happen unless we took out a huge loan. I just don't think that's smart. Some people are wealthy and they can easily spend a large sum of money on their wedding but the trend today is to stress yourself out so bad that you become a monster, then get yourself deep into debt (a bad way to start out a marriage in my opinion) or spend lots of money you do have already when it would be much better spent on a house and/ or just starting a life together.

You are right to note that weddings are an industry. I think people have been brainwashed to think that it's so incredibly important to have a lavish and expensive wedding. It's pretty much not. Look at all the fools who spend $100,000 on their wedding and then get divorced 5 years later or less. People's priority should be rejoicing in having selected a good mate and preparing one's self to be a good mate. There's something humble about having a small, frugal wedding. Also, why not spend the money on more important things that are going to last more than a day like a house?!

A Note From Theresa said...

I would have to say that my wedding was about in the medium price. We had friends do the meal and being married in the church in which we are members made that free. I really think that the most expensive item was my dress. It was still very nice and went well.

Kristy Howard said...

Our wedding was far from extravagent (financially speaking) but was very, very beautiful... we were blessed to be able to borrow many things (lights, an extra bridal slip, flowers and other items for decorating, etc). I didn't hire out "extras" like a wedding coordinator, musicians, decorators, etc- we found that our friends and family were more than capable for helping out in these areas. The only "splurge" we made was a good photographer (which Jeremy & I paid for ourselves) and even then we didn't go overboard with fancy extras, a "professional" video, etc.

My parents purchased my wedding dress (brand new) for around $100- it was gorgeous! My mother made the few necessary alterations (for modesty's sake) and made the cathedral-lenth veil I always wanted- it was stunning! My shoes and full-lenth satin gloves I bought (new) off eBay for a very modest price.

Looking back nearly 6 years ago (to the day!), the only thing I would do differently would be to not stress over all the seemingly "important" details. Yes, your wedding should be lovely; yes, you want to remember it as a beautiful and joyous occassion. But your Big Day isn't just about THE DAY- keep your marriage in perspective!

Kaye :) said...

Hi Anna,

My wedding was over 21 years ago, but I do remember spending only $1000. That included my dress, flowers, piano player. Not too bad I suppose. My husband's grandmother bought the food and prepared it for the reception as her wedding gift. The fare was very simple and prepared with love. Small sandwiches (cut in pretty shapes), chips, vegetables punch and cake (I paid for the cake out of the $1000 also. I can't remember how much our honeymoon cost, but we chose the mountains around the area here in Tennessee and stayed three or four days.

The preparation of your heart is the most important part of your marriage preparations (as you mentioned).


With Love,


KTHunter said...

We married almost 12 years ago. We decided that we wanted to spend more money on the marriage than on the wedding. We thought that we could have a simple and pretty ceremony, and I think it turned out rather well. Some of the things that are traditionally bought were given to us as presents by friends -- the cake, the photography, the videography, etc. I used artificial flowers and made my own bouquet, the bouquets for the bridesmaids, etc. The ceremony and reception were outside, so we did not have to decorate a room. We found a caterer that made simple (but yummy) finger foods for the reception. We printed our own invitations. I did not buy any engraved favors or have a program. I found an inexpensive elegant dress at JCPenny's. My husband wore a suit he already owned. Since it was a small gathering (about 40 people), we didn't go for the tux rental. It turned out rather well, and we ended up not overextended ourselves or my family on expenses.

I hope your wedding goes well and that you are happy. The most important thing is that you and your groom to be spend a large enough amount to have good memories and a small enough amount to have ONLY memories (no debt)! :)

Erin said...

Long time lurker coming out here because I just couldn't let this post pass without a comment. I've been married for 2 1/2 years, and when we were planning our wedding, we firmly believed that the marriage was what was most important, not the wedding. Not that we didn't want to celebrate with family and friends, because we did. But we didn't want our wedding to turn into an expensive circus that was more about partying than celebrating our relationship. We had 11 guests, we were married in a small chapel at a local college, and we went out to dinner at a nearby restaurant afterward. We had a brief 2-day honeymoon in a town a few hours away. I found my wedding dress about a month before the wedding (which totally stressed out the seamstress when I went to have it hemmed!) and paid a few hundred dollars for it. We could have afforded to have had a "fancier" wedding, but we just didn't feel it was necessary to spend money on one. We chose to save some money for our marriage and our future. I would not change a thing about it. But this is what worked for us. Like you, I believe it's important that all couples ultimately plan a wedding that is right for them (and don't just blindly conform to societal expectations and pressures).

Oh - and I had my makeup done for free at a makeup counter at the local mall. I highly recommend it!

Sheri said...

Anna, this is a great topic. And I am so excited for you to be "a bride" very soon! May the Lord bless each step you take up to that day and beyond!

My hero and I have been married 8 years and our wedding day certainly was one of the most special days of my life. We did have a very elaborate wedding, which my parents paid for. If I had to do it all over, I probably would have spent a great deal less money, but on the other hand, I'm so thankful for everything about my memories from that day.

With that said, you are right that weddings have become very commercial - an industry. I believe it's much more important to focus on "the marriage" than it is "the wedding day."

USAincognito said...

If I ever get the chance to get married, I am getting married on the beach in Charleston, South Carolina (well, actually on the Sullivan's Island beach to be more precise). Simple wedding on the beach under a huge tent. Bridesmaids wearing long flowing sundresses. Groomsmen wearing khaki pants and white buttoned shirts. And then we will ride away on horseback. :) Me on a white mare and him on a black stallion. :) Heh...I may be single and quite independent but I am still a woman who can dream....

Maggie said...

When I was a teenager I would tease my parents that I wanted to elope. My dad said he would gladly pay for the thorny bushes to be placed underneath my window -- he thought it would be amusing that the groom and I should at least work at 'sneaking out of the home'.

All joking aside, I shudder to think about how much a wedding will cost if I ever go down that route. I do know I want a low-key reception, i.e a luncheon or backyard BBQ, though a traditional Anglican Church service is a must.

Zeljka said...

I agree - wedding is just ceremony; the real thing is marriage - and couple should concentrate on their relationship, and reality of finances of course. BTW if I may be really cruel - I think preparing super wedding is many time like the mask over the fact that poeple aren't sure are they marring the right person.
I had specific situation - my husband's parents wanted to pay our wedding, so we made deal about what is important to us, and what is important to them.
I considered my wedding is a moment when we choose each other before God - for what priest, rings and witnesses would be enough.. all the rest was gift to our loved ones, parents, relatives and friends. So we let parents to decide about what is appropriate for older and more traditional people to feel good, to feel our love and thankfullness for all the things they gave to us while we were growing up. I guess young people are easier to adapt - than older people. In example, we choose place without stairs, and with food typical for my country, nothing exotic. Also, in-laws choose simple place - where our relatives from village or so wouldn't feel too impressed or put in a position to handle codes of conduct they are not familiar with.
It was compromise between what we wanted and what parents wanted; now I think we were generous towards parents and guests and if I had to do that again - I would do the same.
Many our friends, on their weddings, broke the rules and traditions in our country for the sake of claiming their freedom, or so, we didn't - we choose traditione even in parts that we find a little bit funny - for the sake of guests we put on a first place.
I must say that many, many people (135 guests) said that was the most beautifull wedding they have ever been to, and many people sent their special thanks; I was touched.
My in-laws, who payed for the wedding choose the price range for all we had - it was medium; or even a little bit below what I would choose for myself... but I agreed. I think it was okay.
My wedding dress was great, price was average, if not a little bit more expensive than average, and dress I had later was pretty expensive - for my terms. But I wanted it - it was the only luxury for my wedding.


Shelley said...

Hi Anna:). My husband and I were married last June and our wedding cost less than $1200 Cdn. I wore a long white gown made especially for me by a dressmaker that cost less than $200. I made my flowers (silk) myself and got the materials from Walmart. We had a very simple Christian ceremony at a small wedding chapel near Niagara Falls ON. Only our immediate families attended (9 people including bride and groom). The most expensive part of our wedding was probably the photographer. God is good, the Minister knew a wonderful professional photographer who was able to attend at the last min. My dear in-laws held our wedding reception for 50 people at their home where my husband grew up a few days after the wedding. We had my mother in laws wonderful cooking and a band (my husbands brother is a professional musician), I even made my wedding cake myself (it had a bit of a lean but didn't fall over;) I have attended many weddings where the speeches went on forever, where the guests were so hungry they had to sneak out to McDonalds because the wedding party were still taking pictures and where the Bride was magicly transformed into the worlds most annoying spoiled person! These were things that we did not want at our wedding and I think our guests enjoyed themselves as much as we did. I think the most important thing for you to consider is what do you want your wedding to look/feel like, how do you want people to remember it and then figure out how to make it happen. When you have a plan you spend less and are less tempted by things devised to part a bride from her money. Yes there is a wedding industry, it feeds on the emotion surrounding "your day". Most importantly, consult the scriptures, what does God say your wedding should look like?. I wish you the most wonderful wedding possible Anna:)

Jaime said...

My parents did pay for my wedding; had always planned to - and it made sense, as I happened to get married out of college. My father told me how much he was willing to spend - anything over, and I'd make up the difference myself, and anything under he'd write me a check for the difference.

He also thought it would be wonderful if we just eloped & he'd send us the money instead!!

We were pretty careful anyhow, and did come under, but that truly was a secondary concern - we wanted to have a special day that incorporated all of our "must-haves", with a couple little special other things. My mom is an amazing planner & she helped us quite a bit.

The one thing I would NOT cut corners on is pictures. Yes, a wedding is just a day, but pictures are something you get to look at for the rest of your life. We got married just before digital was plentiful, and I am still sad to this day that the photographer broke 2 rolls of film and I am missing very special parts of the whole thing.

Karen said...

As a mama of a daughter who is planning her wedding, I would have to agree with you about what the essentials are. Fortunately for us, my niece was married this past summer and had what we fondly refer to as "the wedding of the century." All of the hoopla has convinced my daughter that she really needs very little to get married. She'd rather have a house with a basement than "butterflies flying freely above the guests heads" and a trip to Disney World for her honeymoon rather than "renting the city's art museum for the wedding reception". Her wedding plans are very simple. At least they are for the moment. We can hope that they stay that way.

Elizabeth said...


I've been married for a year and a half, and I'd like to try to answer your questions. I agree with you that weddings have become an industry. People spend WAY too much time planning for the day of the wedding and not nearly enough planning for the marriage itself. This is sad. Weddings are wonderful and beautiful. It is a day that you will remember for the rest of your life. But, it is only ONE day, and at the end of that day, you probably won't care that you didn't wear a fancy designer dress or didn't serve a seven-course meal. You will be happy that you are married and you will remember the joy of that day forever.

Having said that, my husband and I had a nice, but somewhat modest wedding. We did have a sit-down meal, but we didn't serve the most expensive food. We did have music, but we had a DJ, not a live band. We had flowers, but it wasn't overboard. We were blessed with small financial contributions from our families, but we paid for 90% of the wedding ourselves. We invited about 300 people, but many were from out of town, so we had a little over 200 come. We were somewhat limited financially, but it's all about choices. We really wanted a larger wedding (we have huge families), so we made that choice, even though having a larger wedding cost more. We made our invitations and decorations to save money. We did everything modestly--not dirt cheap but not lavish. There were a few things that were important to us, so we ended up spending more money in those areas and less in others. I would change very little looking back.

The one thing that I would say though: don't skip too much on photography. We had a really good photographer (just one) and we now have beatiful pictures. My sister hired someone just starting out who was very inexpensive. Her pictures ended up being horrible, and she has only a few that are good. When all is said and done, the picture are what lasts. Do hire a professional photographer if you afford one, and make sure you see samples of their work. Other than that, many things can be made or done very modestly. People will talk about your love for your new husband, not what the centerpieces looked like. I know it can be hard sometimes to look at wedding magazines and feel like you need to have this and that, but you don't.

Set a realistic budget based on what you can honestly afford. Spend money on the things that are important to you and save money on the rest. The best part of any wedding is the love between the new husband and new wife. Focus on that.


Anonymous said...

My parents said they wanted to help out, and I am the only daughter, so I took them up on it. They gave me enough money for a modest wedding. Their funds paid for the reception and I paid for the dress & photographer. I think my DH paid for the DJ.

My thoughts: The day goes by so quickly, that if I were to do it again, I wouldn't have had a dinner/dancing reception. My parents insisted on giving me the money, and said if I didn't use it for the wedding, they would give it to me anyway in the form of a check, to start our new life. I wish now I had gone with that option!

If I were to do it again, I would have still had the church wedding, but the reception would have been a buffet at the church.

One thing that is worth spending the money on is a professional photographer. Those photos are one of the few lasting mementos of the wedding (except for your husband of course, LOL!). I invested in a good photographer and now I have beautiful photos, including close ups and outdoor shots in challenging environments such as a sun-dappled park.

I have seen brides who just had friends take photos, and the photos were ok, but were washed out and not as close. A pro has the right kind of lighting and lenses to really catch the emotions, close up, in a variety of lighting.

I liked my wedding, but would have liked it just as much if it were more simple....and I didn't have anything fancy, but we did have dinner, drinks and dancing, which adds up.

The day just zooms by...and it feels like an out-of-body experience at times. So I don't think it's worth spending too much money, personally.

Just my 2 cents. I am sure you will come up with the right decision for you.

P.S. If you get married in spring or summer, & take outdoor photos, make sure to have water so you don't feel faint! (Ask me how I know...LOL)

Anonymous said...

When you say, "even worse, their parents did it for them," are you meaning that it's worse that their parents paid or that the parents went into debt to pay?

Anonymous said...

It certainly is a difficult weighing up what you need versus what you want/dream of.

My father and my husband's family paid for the majority of the wedding with my mother contributing what she could afford towards the flowers, his sister paying for some of it too. I am grateful for this as we could never have afforded half of what we did.

Initially we thought we would be paying for most of it - which turned out to be a blessing as we kept costs fairly low.

When my father said he would pay the whole cost of the dress, I decided to buy my dream one which was a good 50% more than my second choice, although still (after all taxes and alterations were paid) about half of the average dress in this country. I did look at second hand but hadn't found anything suitable.

Professional photographer was worth paying for (at least I think it was - I will know for sure on Thursday when we get the photos).

Seventh Day Adventist weddings do not have dancing so we didn't have to pay for music (we borrowed cds for the background music at the reception).

We invited 130 people to the wedding reception and only 65 came, we had crossed off 70+ people from our "want to invite" list (in a bid to cut potential costs), and now I regret that as we had to pay for a minimum of 80 people at the reception so our "cost-cutting" was a waste of time - not to mention hurting the feelings of at least one friend. In hindsight I would have invited all 200 and been done with as only 4 of my family members turned up and only 8 of his (2 more would have come but were too sick).

Otherwise we kept things fairly simple where possible, the church didn't charge and since it was family and friends conducting the proceedings it was quite an involved ceremony but didn't cost anything and everyone enjoyed it.

Sister in-law found the restaurant for our reception and they had varying prices depending on chosen, we chose the cheapest option.

My parents-in-law paid for the honeymoon and we paid for the expenses - day trips meals out etc while away with some of the money we had been given as gifts.

Wedding planning can take a lot of time and energy but it is important not to loose sight of what is most important - God and your future marriage - focus on prayer and preparation although it is the most important day of your life (after the day you committed your life to God), it is still only one day (or only several days for some people), not a lifetime, the lifetimes' work comes afterward. Try not to get in debt or at least minimise it.

Most importantly ENJOY yourselves.

Jenna said...

When my husband and I got married 17 months ago, we decided that we'd rather buy a house than have a wedding. So, we had a small, simple ceremony with immediate family only--so simple that I did not buy a wedding dress. That was it. I never regret that's what we did--I never wish that I'd had that special day, because what we have now is far more special to me. We closed on our house 2 weeks after our wedding date. So, anytime we want to have a big party, we have a nice big house to have it in!!

Jenny said...

I've always thought you sounded very practical and you should definately go with your instincts on this! I have said many times if I had my time to do it over I'd have a very simple ceremony with just immediate friends and family. We did the flowers and things ourselves and didn't spend a fortune but I would definately do things simpler if I could go back.

My advice... include what you want and what makes you happy, pass on the things you don't, even if they are "traditional".

Anonymous said...

We definitely stuck to a budget, and our budget was fairly ample, but not huge, especially by US standards -- just the right size for the small, simple affair we wanted, and we were very strict about staying inside the limits. Like you, we think it's foolish to start out in large amounts of debt. It wasn't hard once we worked out what our priorities were.

We're not much for "show" or "status," but a big consideration for us was keeping our money as much in the local area as possible. I had my dress made by a local seamstress, we hired a local caterer, a local woman to bake our wedding cake, a local teen to "babysit" our laptop (we didn't even have a DJ -- just playlists we made ourselves on itunes, and it worked fabulously), and bought our flowers from a local shop (but arranged them ourselves -- also easy, and so rewarding; I'm happy to share tips if that interests you).

The really great thing about making decisions on this basis was getting to know all the wonderful people in the area who do those things, and feeling part of the community in a real way -- for instance, the cake lady showed me her portfolio of pictures of cakes she'd made for other girls, and I realized I knew almost everyone she mentioned, and then realized that I was soon going to be part of this group of local girls too. That felt really good.

Also, we were able to keep our budget small because we chose to do things ourselves that we could just as easily have contracted out. We wanted the wedding to have a really intimate, personal feel. And I don't know about you, but I don't get that vibe from "personalized" favors and monogrammed this and that. Instead, we made our own flowers (and they didn't turn out slick and professional, but, I think, expressed our own sense of fun and whimsy), our own invitations and programs, chose a very basic, DIY sort of venue, etc.

I really couldn't be happier with the way everything turned out -- it was a genuinely great time, and we had so many compliments from people who felt, as we'd hoped they would, that we put our heart and soul (and not our $$$) into the wedding -- but part of me wishes we'd had an even smaller, simpler event! There was a bit of bustling in the last week. But of course, hindsight is 20/20, and that's only a small quibble.

Best of luck to you in your own planning! I think the key is to prioritize, which it sounds like you've done. Excellent.


jen said...

When we got married we did as many things ourselves as possible. It was definitely less expensive and in many ways more meaningful. My Mum made all the dresses (major savings). Now years later I have a dress made for me by my mother-really nice to have. She also made the vests for the groom and groomsman in my husbands family tartan ( never could have afforded or wanted to spend what this would have cost-and it again is nice that all the guys have the vests now in the family tartan. My aunt made the wedding cake -it was really nice. My husbands aunt did all the catering/dinner at the reception. Wonderful food! She never had kids of her own and this was kind of her own part of the wedding to take pride in/ contribute too. She recently passed away and we have such a wonderful memory of her doing that. So some may think we were possibly being cheap doing things ourselves but like you we did not want to be in debt right out of the gate so we were willing to for go these things but were so fortunate to have others participate. Good memories all around. And we were able to purchase a home the first year we were married partly thanks to low wedding costs. We still live in this home and we were so lucky we bought when we did as prices are astronomical where we live now (Vancouver Canada) and within the first year of marriage my husband was in an accident and became disabled-so we never could have bought it later on. God's wedding gift to us really-our home! we are so fortunate.

Do enjoy the planning! It can be fun and a bit of creativity goes a long way and makes for great memories years later.

Bonnie said...

I agree Anna! Well said!!

I too would love to have a simple but tastefully decorated wedding that isn't a financial burden, and that isn't too stressful to prepare!

Bonnie said...

I am not getting married anytime soon in the future (as far as I know, lol), but I just thought I'd add a tip...

Have your wedding dress made by a friend or dressmaker - it won't cost as much, and it will be extra special, especially if someone close to you made it. That is what I am planning to do...someone has already offered to make my dress!! :-)

Anonymous said...

Our wedding was very inexpensive as neither one of us had high paying job or rich parents. My wedding gown (bought on sale)was very lovely and cost just $50. We decided against the idea of serving a sit down dinner and had just cake and punch (non alcoholic). We got a few professional photographs but were blessed with many many friends with cameras. Too many young couples focus on the wedding day and the display that goes with it when it is the preparation for the marriage that needs attention.
We have been married for 40+ happy years.

Jess said...

Hi Anna,
We had a simple wedding ceremony compared to most.

We used our (free) college wedding chapel. I did have a wedding dress but it was fairly inexpensive as far as they go. Jewelry? Simple. Makeup? Done by a friend. Musicians? My friends played the piano and violin and sang in the service. Flowers? White daisies (so beautiful, and they're my favorite-- but also VERY inexpensive compared to others). Reception? Mid-afternoon desserts and finger foods! :) Honeymoon? (We splurged on that and went on a cruise together to the Bahamas.) We had about 80-100 guests come. We also had a photography major friend of ours do all the photography, and it turned out BEAUTIFUL. We developed them ourselves (he turned over all the film) and saved a BUNDLE (he actually traded his services for a painting Doug had done). We did stay within financial restraints and I was very happy with the outcome.

If I had anything to do differently, I don't think I'd change a single thing.

Simplicity is beautiful and the moments themselves are what you'll remember... not how much you spent or that sort of thing. It's a special day because of WHO it's with-- not because of all the "splendor" or simplicity you choose to celebrate with.

I hope it's a beautiful day for you, Anna, full of wonderful moments you can look back on and cherish together.

Cristina (a.k.a. "Stramenda") said...

Hi Anna

My first wedding was a huge expense (I was 20yo). About a year's worth of our salary, very little monetary imput from my parents, none from his, and the wedding was expensive. Elaborate gown, hired suits, 5 pience band, 6 bridesmaids and bridegrooms, full reception with master of ceremonies, hired limosousines, and an overseas honeymoon (10 days in Bali - my first ever air travel). At least I had studied floristry and I did all the flowers myself. We started our marriage in a rental house, with no money in the bank at all. It was very hard, and we eventually bought a house, half and half with my sister because we had so little for a deposit. We renovated the house, and then when my sister wanted to leave, the house had appreciated and we had to pay her out a huge sum, so another loan again. That marriage unfortunately ended in divorce.

I have since met a wonderful man, and having gone through a divorce I didn't have money to waste. We just wanted to be married and avoid "living together". We phoned the pastor and told him to come by "next Saturday". With only parents, brother and sisters present, I put on a work suit, he wore a matching tie, and we got married in our back yard. I picked up a nice bunch of flowers that morning from the florist, and I made sandwiches and afternoon tea for our few guests. At 4pm we headed off to a beautiful bed and breakfast two hours from home, overlooking the ocean, and that was the best wedding ever. No debt, and just the true meaning of the occasion, our love and commitment and vows. I only regret not getting a dress and a photographer, but I don't regret anything else.

I would say, as long as you both look wonderful for your photos, which is what you will have forever, the rest is not important. You won't remember much of the other details anyway, such as what band you had, or what flowers were on the table or what food was served. Keep it simple, and start your marriage in a home where you won't have to struggle to buy groceries. Since you will want to start a family asap, being financially secure is more important, especially when you have young children and are on one salary.

I am totally impressed in this post that you already know what to really focus on. I wish I had that insight at 20.

Very sincerely, Cristina :-))

Cristina (a.k.a. "Stramenda") said...

PS: At the big wedding, there were 350 guests. (!!)

Ways of Zion said...

I've been wondering how to comment on this so here goes:

What Hubby and I wanted was this, a BBQ in the local park with our family and friends. Having the Sunties bring their amazing fruit pies instead of the cake. Gingham table clothes, buckets of daisys and wild flowers. Simply we wanted a simple wedding.

My parent took over! Ah! "If I'm paying for it..blah blah blah..." I think you get the picture. So we ended up moving the date up (if they want it indoors might as well get married in the winter). Compared to most it was still simple. Instead of a huge dinner we did hor'derves (spelling?) and it was all over by 6:30pm. No dance, no alcohol. Those were 2 things I stood firm on.

I will spare you the story of the dress, simply put I didn't really like it but it was modest and I was presurred into getting it by my Mom and the saleslady. At least it was a cheaper one $500 Canadian.

Laeyra said...

Hello Anna!

I'm glad you're getting married pretty soon! I was very happy for you to hear that you would be able to get married sooner than you anticipated! I know you must be very excited and thankful. :)

I am also in the midst of planning my wedding. My fiance and I are both laid-back and relaxed people, and neither of us feel that spending a lot of money on one day is very smart. With that in mind, our wedding will be fairly simple. We live in the mountains, so we plan to have the ceremony in some lovely spot. Our closest family and friends will be there, and after the ceremony, we'll be grilling some meat and vegetables, and some of our guests will also bring food. My father and I will be the photographers.

As for my dress, I have a nice embroidered white skirt and shirt, neither very formal looking, which I will probably change out of before eating. I may dye them later, after the wedding. My wedding ring will be an antique engraved platinum and gold band that my mother found thirty years ago, that I have always loved. I don't know what to do about music just yet. The wedding will be in the summer, so we will do it later in the day when the sun isn't so hot.

I don't anticipate this to cost very much. The biggest cost will probably be the food. I can already feel the mountain grass under my feet, feel the warm summer wind on my face, and see in my mind's eye the forested valley stretched before us. But all of that will pale in comparison to the kind, happy face of my beloved as we say our vows.

So, God willing, that will be my wedding! Have a blessed good day!

Anna S said...

Some clarifications:

Chuppah = wedding canopy at Jewish weddings.
Minyan = 10 Jewish men above the age of 13.

- By the way, I don't think it's wrong that parents pay for the wedding. When time comes, I will be honored and delighted to do that for my children. I just don't think it's right to go into debt to do that.

Mrs W said...

Hey Anna. We didn't have a lot of money and refused to go into debt for our wedding. We even rejected doing things his mom wanted us to do because we couldn't afford it. I was going to give up having flowers at the wedding, but a friend gave them to us as a wedding gift. I paid about $100 for the cake and that was about the biggest expense. At the time the house we got was fifteen minutes from the MS state line so we went to MS to a small hotel that someone paid for as a wedding gift to us. We LIKED not going far for the honeymoon. We told friends who asked about the honeymoon that we were going "out of state" (we were, only five minutes haha) so that there would be no jokes.

I paid $30 for my wedding dress, I found it in a thrift store in Australia, and it was beautiful and JUST what I wanted to have made and fit me except for some minor adjustments that a friend made for free. My best friends (the husband gave me away at the wedding) bought my husbands suit for him (we got it at Wal-Mart) and he didn't wear a tux...just a white collared dress shirt that cost $20.

We had a "cake and punch" reception in the church and people commented later that although it was the "cheapest" wedding they had ever been to, it was also the sweetest.

Buffy said...

I don't think there is a right or a wrong amount of money to spend so long as no one goes into debt or spends more than they can afford. I think the less money you have the smaller the wedding should be. No one should feel under an obligation to invite 200 people, most of whom they hardly ever see.

If you are going to spend more money on any one thing I would make it a photographer because once the day is over this is how you will remember it and there is a vast difference between a mediocre photographer and a really good one. I have known many brides shed tears over photos that did not live up to expectation because they decided to cut costs in this area. Better to cut out the meal or the band.

And remember the real point of the day: to marry the man you love!

Anna S said...

... We will have approx. 150 guests, most of them from the chatan's extended family. The dances will be separate for men and women, but otherwise men and women will be seated together.

Alexandra said...

I was the last of my friends from high school and college to be married. They all had fairly low cost church weddings with the use of the church meeting area for the reception, or if they were military, the officer's club.

I am sure mine was the least expensive of all. We pretty much eloped. The total cost was around $200.00 including the license. We got married in Old Town Alexandra, Va. which is a very nice historic area, and stayed overnight at small Colonial period hotel. It was just the way I liked it, small and private with two of my married friends present.

This is a extreme of example of 'it's just about getting married to the man you love and cherish'. We pretty much stripped it down to this! We've been married for 15 years, and it's been a wonderful journey. I highly recommend this vocation! :) Don't sweat the small stuff, and keep it simple to your own comfort level.

Coffee Catholic said...

We tried our best to keep the costs to a minimum and we did our own decorating of the church and the banquent hall which helped reduce the costs. I bought three colours of satin floral ribbon (3 inches wide and cheap!) and some paper bells and we hung these up around the hall. We bought paper table cloths and sprinkled silver heart confeti over the tables to add a wee touch of pizazz. I had all of my wedding flower boquets made from artificial flowers so that they would last forever ~ I figured if we were going to pay for them we should at least get to keep them! I bought my dress for $200 and then shopped around for a veil, petticoat, and corset thingy that fit without being overly expensive. We were both very relaxed about the actual wedding because we made sure and focus on the fact that the ceremony was a one-day affair and the marriage lasted for the rest of our lives!

For our Honeymoon we made it as simple as we could and toured Scotland for three weeks rather then going abroad. We sat down and mapped out all of the beautiful public gardens down the west coast of Scotland, across the centre of Scotland, and then up the east coast. i can't even begin to explain how wonderful it was to walk with my new husband amongst lovely lush breathtaking gardens!! We enjoyed the beauty, the fresh air, the exercise...and the low admission fees hahaha!

We booked rooms at Bed and Breakfasts ahead of time so that we didn't have to stress about where we would sleep and we chose three star or less so that the price was modest. When we ate our main meal in the afternoon we stuck to the less expensive eateries which are just as good as the expensive kind! We also did our best to always eat our evening meal in our rooms via groceries that we picked up at the markets along the way. This gave us "quiet time" together and kept the food costs to a minimum. I still have fond memories of bustling about the room as I lay out our light "tea time" meal while my new husband relaxed with a book after a long day of driving!

All in all we had a wonderful wedding and a fantastic Honeymoon and we have plenty of lovely memories to charish for the rest of our lives!

Anonymous said...

In 1997 our wedding, including honeymoon, cost $14,000. We paid for it all ourselves. In the year of planning before hand, we paid for things a bit at a time. We chose what was important to US, and didn't follow anyone else's traditions. I think that is key for anyone getting married.

There is nothing wrong with all the "trappings" that come with a wedding. As long as you don't go into debt to do it. We chose two areas that were most important to us - the reception (food, music, etc) and the honeymoon. We both felt strongly that our honeymoon away was extremely necessary. We splurged and spent two weeks at an all inclusive resort in Mexico. Our reception was our party; the entire goal was to celebrate our marriage with our family and friends. We had about 120 people there and everyone stayed until the very end. The DJ cleared out before about 1/4 of the guests. For us, that was the best part. We got to spend so much time enjoying ourselves with people we love and who love us.

Sure, we could have spent a whole lot less than we did. But, the two things that cost the most were the two things that were the absolute most important to us. We made that choice.

In the end, I think that's what weddings should be. Not obligation, not following someone else's idea of tradition, and not falling into the trap of thinking you have to do this or have to do that. It's about two people starting a life together, and those two people should start that life in the way that suits THEM.

Whether you spent $10 or $100,000 you should spend what YOU can afford to pay for without debt and do what is the most important to YOU.

Anonymous said...

I agree that couples shouldn't go into debt for a fancy wedding. Our wedding in '86 cost between $1,500 & $3,000, not counting the honeymoon. In order to do this we had wonderful help from friends & relatives. My parents let me live at home rent free most of the last yr. We were adults so we paid for everything, but that really helped out. Dh's cousin said she would would prepare the food, if we bought it, & helped with the final preparation. I was able to rent the church (with reception hall & kitchen) for a very reasonable amount because my parents were members there, & I was a former member. The wedding was two days after Christmas, so the sanctuary was beautifully decorated. (Now--I don't think I would want a wedding that close to Christmas.) We got a deal on the photographer, as well as other things.

The greatest savings was on the dress. I was very blessed to be able to wear my mom's dress from 1957. It is a beautiful Chantilly Lace over Satin with the big poofy skirt typical of the '50's. It has an unique collar/neckline that makes it one of a kind. I believe she paid $67 for it back then, which was a ton of money for a wedding dress. In '86 I figured a comparable dress would have cost at least $6000 if I bought it new. However, it was much more meaningful to wear my mom's dress.

The only thing I regret is that the food cost more than expected, so we had to put off paying a couple of small bills. We were able to pay them within 3 months.


Susie said...


My wedding was about $2000 6 years ago. I think I paid $200 total for my dress (with alterations). We had a college student who was studying photography do our photos (free--except for her dinner). My veil was borrowed. My parents paid for the reception (the most expensive part..around $1000). We didn't have any bridesmaids or groomsmen. We had 35 guests, as the only people from my husband's side who were able to attend were his dad, aunt and cousin. If I were to do it over again...I'd have his family show up. I wouldn't have had alcohol (we weren't convicted of drinking being wrong at that time). I'd also have my makeup professionally done or I would have tried it out before(it was a stress that I wasn't prepared for on the wedding day). That would be it.

What I'm glad I did do? (besides marry my husband) =) Well, the only thing I "indulged" in was a beautiful bouquet that cost almost as much as my wedding dress....and you know what...I still have it. =)

Anonymous said...

Dear Anna,
I am here to agree with many of the other posters and say....this is YOUR DAY, yours and your beloved's. My husband of 22 years asked me to marry him in May, we kept trying to figure out when to get married and in June, we decided to just do it and get married in 2 weeks! I promise you, we couldn't have planned a better wedding if it had taken 6-12 months! We threw it all together with the help of friends and had about 45 guests. I had a maid of honor and matron of honor (an 82 year old dear friend of mine ~she was actually a German Jew whose family perished in the death camps~ who was soooo excited to be up on the "stage" with us...She kept on saying, 'I was on the wedding!) The whole thing cost about $2500, including our wedding night stay at a very nice bed and breakfast (I would not skimp on that if you plan on spending your wedding night away from the home you will inhabit together as man and wife. Make sure it is a private, cozy and comfy place. We spent, if I remember, about $150 on this.)
We got married at 11:00am and had a very simple, yet satisfying luncheon that was very yummy. There was a big ham, all the fixins for deli sandwiches, HUGE chocolate covered strawberries, other delicious things to eat and a wonderful white cake that was beautifully decorated. There were dozens, and I mean, dozens of roses all around the house where we got married ~ a simple outdoor ceremony in a garden atmosphere. I do have some gorgeous photos that were taken by an old friend of the family for free, and a totally amateur video that is absolutely priceless to me ~ as I walked up to the "stage" from where my beloved was watching me, he said, "You look beautiful!" What bride doesn't want to hear THAT on her wedding day! Because we held the wedding so early, we were able to spend the bulk of the day with family and friends who were in attendance, after which there was still enough time for my husband to treat me to a cozy dinner at a restaurant on the river before retiring to the room where we would spend our first night together as man and wife.

Plan it to please the 2 of you. Only include rituals and traditions that are meaningful to him or yourself. Just don't plan it so full so that you say constantly, "Well, we can't to that because we have to be here or do this NOW, etc. etc....who wants to feel like a rat running through a maze on their wedding day. Plan it to ENJOY it, TREASURE and SAVOR every waking moment of it. Make time and take time to look into each other's eyes with bewilderment that you really ARE, finally and forever married!

Let the day's overall feeling be the same as the way you desire your future lives together to be....from what I have read of your blog, you desire a simple, yet beautiful, unhurried, practical and frugal home life. Can't lose!

Judi said...

Hi. I was engaged to my college sweetheart in the early 1980s, and we were to have a church wedding with about 150 guests, reception, etc. The groom showed little interest in the wedding plans, saying whatever you want, which I thought was pretty normal for a guy. But, he actually had reservations about getting married at all, and broke off the engagement a month before the wedding. My parents lost a thousand dollars or so on deposits on photographer, reception hall, caterer, etc.

Two years later, I married another man. Another church wedding was planned, with 150 guests or so, reception etc. Probably $4,000 was spent, divided between our two sets of parents and ourselves. This time the groom was very opinionated about the wedding plans, which at first I thought was great. But, we ended up having many arguments about the philosophy of the wedding and how it reflected our attitudes regarding religion, marriage, even each other. I am sorry to say that due to my insecurity of another engagement being broken, I went along with a lot of things in planning the wedding that didn't really reflect my beliefs. I didn't grasp how this did not bode well for our marriage. Our different beliefs continued to cause us to be fractured, and the marriage ended in divorce eight years later.

Many years later, I met a sweet, wonderful man, and two years ago we were married. We did not have much money, and still don't. But, we do have very similar beliefs and a consideration of each other that was lacking in my two previous relationships. We spent virtually no money on our wedding, because what we wanted was to BE MARRIED, not have a wedding. Also, we are in our 50s, each with children from previous marriages, and we decided to leave the weddings to the younger generation. We got married at the courthouse by a judge, on our lunch hour. We do not have a fancy album of photographs of that ceremony, but nothing will cause us to forget the smiles we gave each other as we stood in the judge's office and said our vows.

I do not mean to imply that no one should spend money on a wedding. My comments are to indicate that when planning a wedding, it is not the cost that indicates the quality of the relationship or the potential success of the marriage. It is so important that couples really make sure that they truly are walking in the same direction on a path together, with God. As I have learned, how the two people approach the wedding plans can really reveal whether they are stepping onto the same path or whether they are at a crossroads.

Meghann said...

Our wedding five years ago cost under $3000 which we paid on our own. Mainly spent on the dress, photos ($700), and cake. I just couldn't believe how much all of these things cost! We had it at our church, had a modest reception in the fellowship hall with zero decorations. Just cake & punch for the guests. The only thing I regret is possibly the dress, spending the $500 - and it sitting in my closet forever now (though my daughter really wants me to keep it for her!), and possibly the photos. I know those were cheap compared to most (my friend just spent $7000 on hers!)...but still, I think I could have found a friend who could have done a better, lesser expensive job.

It was very nice not to go into marriage in debt. The ceremony was wonderful and having our friends and family witness our covenant was great - that is what it was about to us.

Anonymous said...

My wedding was definitely small but lovely. I bought my dress for $100 at a great sale and my mom was able to find matching lace and fabric to close in the neckline and make it modest. We paid a friend for just the ingredients of a beautiful, 3 tiered cake. The church was free for us to use. I wore my aunt's veil and used the bouquet she used for her own wedding. Another friend allowed us to borrow a simple garden arbor as a decoration which we wrapped with ivy and white Christmas lights that we already owned. Friends brought simple finger food. Our closest friends and family were invited and I made the invitations myself.

At that time I was working and living on my own (I left home to escape an abusive father and eventually helped my mom leave him as well). One of the benefits of my job involved almost free airfare so we chose to honeymoon in Las Vegas (and I kept working long enough to take advantage of this benefit!). The cost of the flight was $19 roundtrip for both of us and we paid about $40 a night for 4 nights in a simple hotel. We did not gamble but took advantage of the sights, incredible shows and amazing buffets!

All in all - it was about the marriage itself, not the wedding event and I love that. My only wish is that we had taken more pictures. I agree with how couples like to wax nostaligic about their younger, simpler years. It helps to have pictures for this but of course, is not absolutely necessary either!

We've been married 15 years and have 3 beautiful children.


By the way, I enjoy your blog and opinions a great deal. I appreciate the time it must take you to share and blog as much as you do, especially on topics that can generate a lot of criticism. Thank you!

Linda said...

We were married when we were both in college. And as you may know.. college students usually have debt, not money ;) The same in our case..

We managed to save just about 2000 dollar in the year before our marriage, so that is what we spent. (No way were we going to stick ourselves into debt because of a party!)

We had (for our measures, in the netherlands) a fairly big wedding with about 120 guests. I had a beautiful gown, really one from the pictures.. only I'd bought it on ebay (new though, some chinese outlet thingie) for less that $200. My husband wore a beautiful white suit (he's black, so he can handle a white suit.. *lol*) which he bought in a retail store for only $80. Underneath he wore nike's! People are still talking about the nike's! ;)

I guess our biggest help were the ladies in church. They really made everything possible. About 20 of them made snacks and other food, so we didn't have to worry about any of that. We don't drink alcohol, so there's a big expense cut! ;) As for drinks, we only had to buy coffee/tea and soda.. then the teenagers of church volunteered as waiters / waitresses.

The decorations were made and hung by the pastors wife, who only charged us for the materials she used.. now, after four years of marriage we still have one of the HUGE wreaths she made in our living room!

You might think we're in some mega church, but the truth is, almost everyone helped! there are only about 50 people in there.. very Godly people, as you can see.. *lol*

greetings from the netherlands!

Anonymous said...

Our wedding was simple, elegant, and cost less than $5,000. The wedding party consisted of only a Best Man and a Maid of Honor. Nobody wore fancy rented clothes (khaki pants, white shirts, navy blazers and ties for the guys, and my MOH wore a red dress). I wore a simple dress, a hat and plain shoes. My entire outfit cost less than Hubby's blazer!

We got good deals on everything, and only had a cake & punch reception.

The one thing I would recommend you splurge on is photography. You will want nice pictures to commemmorate your day. That was one area we spent a little more on and are glad we did.

Enjoying your blog!

Anonymous said...

I was married last June and our wedding would be considered modest by many. I did buy a new wedding dress, which was on sale. :) The most expensive thing we paid for was the photographer. I wanted really nice pictures. My mom and I made the cakes (french vanilla and almond and dark chocolate), and they were delicious! A friend decorated them for us. I did my own hair, and makeup. We had the flowers done by the florist at a grocery store where I used to work and they were beautiful! Cost far less than a flower shop would've charged. My bridesmaids all bought their own dresses. I told them the color, and they each had a different style dress. It worked out really well. We had over 100 people at the wedding, and had an entire meal. Most of my church helped decorate and clean. We got the decorations at the dollar stores, and party supply places. Our honeymoon was simple-a night or two at a nice hotel in town. We did get to go to Disneyland with family and friends a few days later and that was so much fun! One of my bridesmaids worked there, so she got us all in for free.
I didn't feel limited, though I knew there were financial limitations. That just meant we had to be more creative! I've seen people spend thousands upon thousands for something that lasts only a few hours! You'll never wear that $5000 dress again after your wedding day. My wedding was simple, and that's the way I wanted it. Having so much family and friend involvement made it something very special. And my husband and I didn't start our married life under the enormous strain of paying for a gigantic wedding. The wedding is a few hours in one day. The marriage is for the rest of your lives.

Machelle said...

In high school, I took a class called Marriage and family (Well, technically, now it's called "balancing work and family" but Blegh! the original name sound much better!) And for our final we had to plan an entire mock wedding, from the church and dress to the napkins and invitations., EVERYTHING had to be accounted for, and it was a real eye-opener for a lot of us; I managed to keep mine down to $4,000 (US) by haveing a home-cooked meal (we're Roman Catholics, so my family is a clan!) and even then, I could have cut more. My family likes to joke that since my prom dress was frilly, puffy and white, that I should wear it for my wedding and you know? Maybe I will!