Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking together in the same direction.
~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery
When my wife and I got married we considered ourselves to be frugal about it, and yet we still had a tone of fun.
All told our whole wedding and honeymoon came to less than $5,000. In fact to be honest we actually eloped. But hopefully I can impart some tips to the frugal bride and frugal groom in newly engaged couples.
The average cost of a wedding in America was estimated to be around $24k in 2010. In 2007 it was around $28k when the average salary of an American in 2007 was $40k. Folks are spending more than 70% of their income on their wedding. Personally I find this outrageous and even foolish.
Outrageous because when else do we ever spend close to 70% of our yearly income in one day? Never, unless you count mortgages and perhaps cars, but those are payments made over many years.
This is foolish because folks are getting into debt for a single day in their lives together which will hopefully last many decades to come. Starting off with a mountain of debt is just asking for double, double, toil and trouble as I’ve mentioned before in the top marriage problems that many of us experience.
So in 2007 you’re not only in for a penny but you’re in for a pound. We’re looking at over $30k spent in 2007 and as the economy starts to improve in 2012 I’m sure we’ll be there and more.
I don’t want to come across as a scrooge but this is just one day of your lives together.
Certainly a day that should be remembered and enjoyed for the rest of your lives. A day that lays the foundation of your happiness and love together moving forward as a family, but it is just one day and as such should be addressed in cost relatively to it’s commitment in time. One day does not deserve to rob you of $10k, $20k or more.
Sit down with the parents of both the bride and groom and express your wishes for a frugal wedding.
If you are paying for your wedding yourself then as a frugal bride and frugal groom you can dictate the amount you are willing to spend.
One of the best ways to limit your spending on your wedding and to have a wedding on the cheap is to keep it close to home. Both geographically and in the guests you invite. A family only wedding will be much cheaper than inviting every last person you think you should.
Unless you are close to your cousins and aunts and uncles then frankly there is no need to invite them.
The same goes with friends. If you want to extend invitations to friends then be sure to invite only your closest friends. Above all else, don’t invite your cousin Billy who you all know is going to get into a fight or make a fool of himself after he’s had one to many.
This is your wedding day and you need to put some boundaries around it so that you can enjoy it to its fullest. Don’t be pressured into things you aren’t comfortable with.
As far as the actual wedding, keep things frugal and simple here too. A community hall is a great place to have your wedding. It is inexpensive, can accommodate a lot of people and can be decorated however you like. That is one of the funnest parts of your wedding – decorating the hall the day before.
You don’t need a band when a good DJ will do and be able to play everyone’s favourite songs.
For food, my sister had her wedding catered by a local East Indian restaurant. It was buffet style and it was delicious and inexpensive. You can eat a delicious frugal wedding dinner if you’re willing to think about how you as the frugal wedding couple want to do things.
As far as booze is concerned, I wouldn’t offer more than a free bottle of white and free bottle of red wine to each table.
Encourage less alcohol consumption by charging a reasonable amount for any wine beyond the free bottles on each table. Charge reasonably for beers too and consider not offering hard liquor. This is your wedding not your tavern.
Another thing to do is offer free pop and juices which can also encourage folks to drink less alcohol and be more mindful and sober minded.
If there is one place you are going to splurge I’d recommend splurging on your honeymoon. The wedding so often becomes about pleasing other people and letting them have too much input into it. But the honeymoon is just for you two. You can have a lavish, frugal honeymoon if you choose sales and off season times to take it. But enjoy it. It is a good way to cement and start your marriage on a solid foundation of fun and happiness and love.