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.