Tying the Knot in a Meaningful and Memorable Way (Without Losing Our Savings or Sanity)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

An Almost $2,000 Wedding

Phew. All the number-crunching is done. After seven months of planning and five days of partying, the final spending tally is in: $2,012.

We only went over by $12 [insert huge sense of relief!].

At one point in the wedding process, a friend of mine--who was also planning a wedding at the time--asked, "Don't you think you're making yourself more stressed during this process because you have to worry about whether every single detail fits in your tight budget?"

To a certain extent, she was right. It was stressful trying to figure out how to host a Welcome Picnic for 80 people on $290. But it was also like a fun LSAT puzzle--trying to put all the pieces together, rearrange them, and make it work out.

Plus, there was a lofty purpose and goal attached. Matt and I wanted to pay for the whole thing ourselves because we wanted to make all the decisions ourselves. We had a hard enough time reaching consensus between the two of us. We didn't want to expand the circle of decision-makers to four or six or eight or ten (depending on whether grandparents got involved). And we truly wanted the wedding to represent us, not anyone else.

We also wanted to save money for our first house (the one we bought four days after our ceremony or two days after the wedding weekend was officially over). We acknowledged that our wedding was an important event because it only happens once (knock on wood) and it's a chance to bring so many friends and family together. We wanted everyone--our guests and ourselves--to have a splendid time.

However, we speculated that the less money we spent, the more fun our wedding would actually be for three primary reasons: 1) It would be a more casual and comfortable event (read: it would feel less like a show) and 2) Our guests would have to step up and help out, which would bring us all closer and help them feel more involved and 3) Our strict budget would prevent us from stressing about inane details. We'd have to cut stuff out, and we would have to be okay with it. We couldn't get lured in by the Wedding Industrial Complex.

We were up for the challenge of making our event special with sincerity, rather than money.

Of course it all sounded well and good during the planning process, but I was nervous about the actual implementation. I was worried that people wouldn't follow-through on their jobs or the homemade food wouldn't taste good.

But once the wedding weekend started, it was smooth sailing. We got to spend serious quality time with our friends and family: hiking, horseback riding, chillin' on the porch eating homemade breakfast, soaking in the hot-tub, playing board games, dancing under an almost-full moon, chopping tomatoes for salsa/guacamole/seven-layer dip.

Our friends stepped up to the challenge of helping us pull off a wedding. They alleviated any stress I might have felt. It wasn't on my shoulders; we were doing it together.

Our $2,000 goal was an arbitrary one (early on in the planning process, I suggested we increase it to $2,500, which would be 10% of the average American wedding). What mattered is that it was an amount we felt comfortable spending on one event. It was an amount that forced us to cut out the fluff (oh, how I wanted those photo stamps!), focus on what matters, and not get caught up in all the insanity that surrounds wedding planning. It was an amount that could get paid off in full every time our credit card bills came around (and left our savings in tact so we could buy a house). It was an amount that left the creative control in our hands and ensured that our wedding was the fullest expression of us and our love.

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Anonymous said...

Well done!

I'm getting married in a month, and we also picked an arbitrary number for our budget ($10k). I've worked out all sorts of deals, done a ton of comparison shopping, etc., but we'll still be over by a couple grand. What kills me is thinking that even spending only $12k ("only" compared to the average WIC-provided number, and compared to the weddings my friends have had), that extra two thousand dollars represents a 20% overage of my budget! Boo!

Anonymous said...

You guys are totally inspirational! Thank you!

lsaspacey said...

I don't mean to throw a wrench in it but I didn't notice the cost of the rings in the budget breakdown. Did they turn out to be completely free because of the gold donations? Or did you forget them?

I wrote a little something about you guys on my blog, check it out at http://lifeisexaminded.blogspot.com/2008/08/wedding-for-2000.html.

Susan Fussell said...

Great news ... I think you saved even more! I noticed that you included the $10 marriage (wedding) license in the cost of the weddding, but not the rings. Your reasoning made perfect sense and it got me thinking ... the marriage license would have been necessary whether you had a wedding or not. Justice of the peace, backyard bash or big church affair aside, in order to marry one another you have to obtain a wedding license. So, I think you could back $10 out of that final figure. Like your rings, the marriage license is an essential part of your marriage - not your wedding.

Unorthodox Bride said...

I love this! A few months back I started planning our wedding with a 5 thousand dollar budget. 5gs that we did not have. So I had my mom telling me about all these frilly things I needed, chair rentals, chair COVERS... blah. So I dropped out of the race and didn't look at anything wedding for a long while. Then I came across your blog, and limited our budget to 3grand. I am so in it this time. My mom is making my dress, my mother-in-law is taking care of all things flowers, and sister in law volunteered to be my wedding planner, and we thought up all sorts of things that our friends could do. Right now, I'm questioning if we'll even meet that $3,000 mark! As it is, our good friend is letting us have the wedding at his estate, and we are making all the food! AND I get to invite all 100 of our close friends and family members (I have a huge family) I am so excited! thank you!! Here's my blog if you would like to follow http://unorthodoxfairytales.blogspot.com/

Cindy said...

Congrats. You did it YOUR way and did not feel the need to impress anyone! You are off to a great start! Years ago I had a simple but beautiful wedding that was reasonable in the total outlay of money spent. You know what, I was just as married as my best friend that spent a great deal more!

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