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I never wanted to spend much money on my wedding. Of course, I wanted it to be nice, and not a drive-through style wedding in a Las Vegas chapel. However, I never wanted to spend thousands and thousands of dollars. For a few simple reasons. The first reason was obvious. I always believed that in order for your future married life to be happy, it did not really matter how lavish your wedding was. What mattered was if you were able to find and marry your equal. The second reason was even more obvious. Beaker and I were broke-ass newlyweds-to-be.
Therefore, based on our philosophy and our financial situation, we ended up with quite a cheap wedding. We did not run out of food. Somehow, we managed to not run out of booze. Most importantly, we managed to share our happiest day with our family and our closest friends on the cheap, and not break our bank account (well, it was already broken anyway.)
You know the average cost of a wedding in the U.S.? Apparently, it was about $26,989 in 2012. I never can quite comprehend why people are willing to drop thousands and thousands of dollars on a big dress-up party.
Our wedding cost? It was about $3,000.
This is how we did it.
My Wedding Dress
I knew I could not afford to spend more than $500 on a wedding dress. Sorry, Vera Wang! Even $500 for a dress was too much for us. Being a shopaholic I, nevertheless, had a surprisingly rational approach to my wedding dress. Why drop an outrageous amount of money on a dress that was going to spend most of its life in a closet? I settled with David’s Bridal, particularly their sale’s rack.
It took me a while to find a dress on sale (most of them were just pompous and ridiculously looking) but I managed to find The One. Cost: $400. By the way it is still in my closet, and I have no idea what to do with it.
My advise to the brides-to-be: start looking for a wedding dress early! I started eight months in advance, and it took me about four months to find my dress.
Our Wedding Venue
Okay, I have to admit that we lucked out big time with our wedding venue. We had friends who owned a small restaurant in downtown Salt Lake. The location was perfect. The venue was small, and could only accommodate sixty people. This reason on its own was compelling. The smaller the venue, the less people you can invite.
Our friends gave us a great deal: we booked their restaurant for $300. Food was about $700. We decided on a buffet style presentation, giving everyone the opportunity to taste everything. Total cost $1000.
We did have to provide our own alcohol. Cost: $500.
My advise to the brides-to-be: limit your guest list. Your wedding expenses depend on this list. Your financial sanity depends on this list. I have to say that coming up with a guest list was the hardest planning stage for us. We fought over it. We argued over it. We were upset because we wanted certain people to attend, and we could not fit them all. We ended up with two lists. The first list (dinner) included the closest family and friends. The most important people in our lives. The second list (the reception) was for those who did not make the cut to the first list.
Wedding Flowers and Decorations
This is an area where we went really cheap. Our friends, the restaurant owners, decorated the place the way they always decorate it for big parties. Maybe it was a little bit cheesy. Maybe it was a little bit scarce. We still loved it.
We bought flowers that were in season and arranged them nicely on the tables. Leftover flowers went into my wedding bouquet. Yes, it was totally cheap. Cost: $300.
The other things we did ourselves: music, photos, invitations, thank-you cards, hair and makeup. Total cost (including our marriage license and tuxedo rental for Beaker): $200.
My last advice to the brides-to-be: do not let anyone pressure you into something that you don’t want or that does not feel right. Just because other people do it a certain way, it does not mean you have to follow in their steps. It is your wedding. Not theirs.