J.D. from Get Rich Slowly has asked people to share their financial success stories for a chance to win a Wii. I think my wedding can definitely be counted as a success
As most of you know, Mr. Micah and I have only been married for 3 months (glorious 3 months!). We did the 7/7/07 thing, which had special meaning for us because it was two days after our 5th anniversary of dating. (That’s actually why we picked the date; the numbers were a nice coincidence.)
I wanted a beautiful wedding, but the cost frightened me. My parents were paying for it and I didn’t want to get them into debt. So when I planned it, we eliminated a lot of the little, unnecessary things that are so common on modern weddings. I’m not sure about the final cost, but I know it was under $5000, perhaps quite lower ($4000? $3000?).
Here are some of the places where we frugal-sized, without feeling the pinch:
Flowers – flowers are beautiful, but the whole industry is rather ridiculous. I chose Queen Anne’s lace and baby’s breath for my bouquet, which brought the cost down to the $50 minimum. I’d rather have gotten my own flowers, but I worried about them wilting or not being able to find them, or having an earwig in the bouquet (which happened once when I picked them).
My sister was my only bridesmaid (frugal and sane!) and her bouquet cost $35 for the same combination. The guys wore a very cheap but very pretty lily. Their boutonnieres cost $6/ea. As a side note, they also just wore their black suits so no rentals.
We splurged on two large vases. I did some internet research on cheap, pretty white flowers beforehand, which helped me decide what to put in them. These vases were at the wedding and then again at the reception on the dessert table. There was also a splurge of sorts for flowers for the grandmothers. $20/ea, which was more than I wanted, but it was the base level for corsages. That was $80 total.
Total spent on flowers? Less than $400.
Dress – This one was simple. I’m a rather experienced seamstress, so why would I buy a dress? The pattern cost $7. My aunt and uncle gave us the lace as an engagement gift (it was around $200 worth, I think, but free to us). I made the underdress of white muslin, which sells for a couple bucks per yard (maybe $10 total) and is excellent for light summer weddings. I reused a petticoat.
It actually took me less than a week to put the thing together. Now, if we count the time I tried to make it before the lace arrived, that’s another $40. That material did not work out at all.I also made my sister’s dress. The fabric for that cost about $30. Because I was making it and she was my only bridesmaid, I was able to find a color that looked really good on her.
Photography – free! I’m all about preserving the wedding memories. So we asked Micah’s sister, a photography student, if she’d take our pictures. We offered to pay her, but she did it as a wedding present. She knew our families and was able to get people to cooperate for the group shots. Then various photo-minded friends of ours were delighted that there wouldn’t be a photographer. We now have wonderful shots taken by friends as we joked and played and danced together after the serious photos. I love the pictures!
Videography – skipped it. I have a video of my highschool graduation which I never watch. Plus, getting an excellent video requires paying high-end bucks for editing and such. So I figured why even ask a friend to tape it? This may be different for other people, but it was the right choice for us.
Limo – nope. The reception church was less than 3 minutes away. Mr. Micah’s car is nice and worked quite well. We scampered out of the church and drove straight to the reception. Our bridal party followed in a second car.
Buildings – with the weather, we could have had it outside for cheaper, but we didn’t want to risk it. So we rented two churches, one with a beautiful sanctuary and one with a large reception facility. Together, they cost less than $1000. The reception even had lamps which another couple had donated. They made the room dimmer and brought down the high ceiling. It was a nice effect. Our friends and family helped decorate the hall.
Food – one word: lunch. Lunchtime weddings are much cheaper than dinnertime. We ordered sandwiches from this great local store. We got lots of types, including vegetarian. Then my family and I made lots of cookies and some cakes for the dessert. A friend of the family made the wedding cake. I’m not sure if we paid her back or if she did it as a gift. Either way, it was gorgeous. I made the chocolate chip cookies!
It cost less than $700 to feed 100 people or so. It may have been lower, but I’m guessing high. There were quite a few leftover sandwiches, so we packed some in a cooler to save money on our honeymoon and left the rest for family.
In the end, it was a beautiful, glorious, wonderful, happy day. No hitches that I remember. Mr. Micah and I celebrated afterwards by going out for coffee ($8) before heading off on our honeymoon. I have so many good memories and no regrets about the cost.
I think frugal gets a bad rap as being “cheap.” It’s more a matter of figuring out what really matters to you. In this case, marrying Mr. Micah and spending a good time with the people who’d come to celebrate with us was what mattered. Having a fancy party and showing off didn’t.
(And as a disclaimer, I’d like to say I couldn’t have done as well without so many wonderful friends who pitched in to help make this an essentially perfect day!)