I just find that there's always someone who says you CAN'T do it like that or you HAVE to do it this way. I'm tired of saying I don't have to do anything any way you want and &^%%#&&%$#!!!! I'm literally starting to scare myself with how worked up this wedding has gotten me. And I'm the kind of person who can throw a dinner party in two days.
I want it to be great, wonderful, everything I've ever imagined. But I cannot justify spending all my hard earned--and my parents'--money on one damn day. How did you manage to always keep yourself grounded? How did you decide what factors were most important, and most of all, where did you get so many thrifty ideas?
Wow! There is a lot going on in your message! I'll try to make sure I respond to the different components.
It all still ends up costing a fortune: Yeah, planning a big event is tricky. Anyone who plans events for a living knows that things add up. It's always bothered me, though, when we end up paying more to host a wedding than we do other big events. Weddings are important in that they commemorate a lifetime commitment. But why does that mean they have to cost more money? Why is money the default way to make something meaningful and memorable?
I wonder if you can revisit your budget and cut out things entirely. There may be things in your budget that are there because other people think they should be or because you think that other people think they should be or because you've just always thought that's what a wedding included. I can't predict what those things might be for you, since each of us has different priorities.
For example, my friend, Camella, cut out ceremony programs entirely. Another friend, Maia, said she wished she would have cut out programs (which would have saved her about $400) because, in the end, she didn't think they contributed much to the experience.
Matt and I didn't want to cut out programs, but we were comfortable cutting out other things: professional photography (which we assigned to three different friends and asked everyone else to upload their photos to flickr), flowers (a friend of mine made a bouquet for me from wild flowers since I really wanted something to hold during the ceremony since I always feel awkward during public speaking), centerpieces, cake toppers, new jewelry/shoes, professional hair/makeup stylist, Save the Dates (we sent an e-mail or called), a single big fancy cake, a day-of coordinator, and a DJ.
Cutting out all of these things was necessary for Matt and me because we had such a stringent budget. For the most part, we didn't mind making the cuts because--for us--none of those things was connected to making the event meaningful or memorable.
Because every couple has different budgets and priorities, the decision to cut out or cut back will look different. I'm wondering, however, if you might be able to take yet another look at your budget through the lens of what you can cut out or cut back.
There's always someone who says you CAN'T do it like that or you HAVE to do it this way. Yes, unfortunately. And to those people I say, "Go plan your own wedding" or "You already had your chance to plan a wedding." I didn't actually say it that way, but that was definitely my attitude. In frustrates me when everyone and their mothers think that planning your wedding is a team sport that's open to everyone. You and your fiance decide whose input matters. It's your wedding, and your family and friends should respect your desire to craft a wedding that represents you and your fiance, not them.
How did you manage to always keep yourself grounded? I didn't--just for the record--always keep myself grounded. Matt and I had a lot of stressful things going on in our life during our wedding planning process (buying a home, moving a thousand miles to a new city, finding new jobs, getting a dog) and it was tough. We got into plenty of disagreements. I would also find myself staring longingly at other people's wedding porn and wishing we had more money for centerpieces or photo stamps or vintage salt-and-paper shaker caketoppers. I just had to put mechanisms in place for helping me re-ground myself as necessary (namely shutting my damn computer and reminding myself that we could have the wedding of our dreams for a mere $2,000 and that regardless of what happened we would be happily married in the end and that even if our self-catering experiment completely flopped we would at least have time to authentically connect with all of our friends and family). You can find a few other ideas for nurturing your relationship while wedding planning here.
How did you decide what factors were most important? From the beginning, we knew that we wanted our wedding to feel more like a family/friends reunion than a traditional wedding. We wanted it to focus on community, connection, commitment, and fun. Every time we had to make a budget decision, we would ask ourselves whether the particular item in question would honestly make the wedding more focused on community, connection, commitment, or fun.
Where did you get so many thrifty ideas? The internet! There are so many wonderful, crafty, ingenious people out there sharing their ideas. Reading other peoples' ideas inspired me to modify them and generate my own ideas.
I wish you the best during your wedding planning process! The planning period is much longer than the actual wedding (in most cases), so I think we should try to enjoy it as much as possible!