Even though Matt and I only had $2,000 to spend on our wedding, we still wanted the event to be meaningful and memorable. We wanted our guests to enjoy themselves, and we wanted to honor them for their long journeys out to Colorado and thank them for their support.
There were many times throughout the planning process when we had to make things special with sincerity rather than money. For example, we couldn't find a place for photo stamps in the budget, but we did manage to hand-write a personal message to each and every recipient, letting them know how much they mean to us and how much we hoped they could join us.
I find myself in a similar situation as I prepare to attend my cousin's wedding in the Outer Banks of North Carolina this May. Honestly, we almost couldn't afford to go. We are busting our behinds to live within Matt's income so we can completely bank my part-time salary. We need to save a ton of money for the downpayment and closing costs on the permanent loan for the house we're building (we're converting our construction loan from 85% to 80% at that time, so it's a pretty hefty chunk of money that we'll need). We also need to save up money for my maternity leave. I'll stop working when the baby is born in June/July and won't resume part-time work again until late in the fall (then full-time work in the spring). We'll also need money to send Henry to daycare over the summer and then pay for his Montessori school when it starts up again in the fall. Our other major expense will be our midwife/homebirth costs. We'll also need to be able to pay babysitters here or there when I have work obligations that I simply can't avoid during my maternity leave.
I don't say all of that to make it sound like I feel sorry for us. We are fortunate that all of these costs relate to creating the life we want to live. They aren't related to unforeseen medical emergencies, job losses, etc. They relate to the urgency I feel to move into the house we want to spend the next 10 years in and the urgency I feel to complete our family while my age hovers around the mid-thirties.
But these choices mean that we have to live within a very tight budget. We don't have room for any extras right now. When my cousin announced that she is getting married in a remote place in May, it added a conundrum to our situation. Of course we want to prioritize family and attend important events, but the cost of flying and housing our family of three was going to cost $1,500--almost the cost of our entire wedding.
In the end, we decided that I would go alone to reduce the cost to about $500. It's sad that Henry won't be able to spend more time with our extended family, but it's the only way we could make it work.
As far as a wedding present goes, I decided that I could contribute something with sincerity rather than a lot of money. She was talking about how she's trying to balance her full-time job with her master's program with her wedding planning. I decided to offer to undertake one of her DIY wedding projects for her. I hope she takes me up on her offer!