The Two Thousand Dollar Wedding Next Door

I recently just started reading The Millionaire Next Door. I am only about a third of the way through it, but if you care anything about personal finance, I suggest you pick up that book and read it. So far, it is so good.

Lately, I’ve been struggling a lot with wedding planning. Not because I’m having second thoughts about getting married, but because I’m frugal and therefore I cannot make my peace with spending beaucoup money on one day. I want to have a nice wedding that our guests enjoy and something to show that we appreciate their attendance while respecting our own financial situation at the same time.

Is this too much to ask???

The other day, I was whining to my mom about how I was feeling so much pressure to spend a lot of money on the wedding. I told her how I am fine being the frugal girl I am, but I am re-thinking my decision to hold back cost-wise because I don’t want anyone to say anything negative about me or my fiancé. (I realize this is pretty silly, but it is also valid.)

I was reading a post the other day written by a bride who couldn’t afford an expensive wedding. She commented: “I have never felt so pressured to live up to some unattainable middle class ideal” and “I don’t want to be judged because my wedding isn’t lavish.” After reading her post, I was thinking “Wow I agree with her so much!”  Then I started thinking, “Maybe we should spend a lot on the wedding.”

Besides, I reason, it’s not like we’re saving up for a down-payment on a house.

-or-

We’ll never have a party this big again so we may as well party it up no matter what the cost.

-or-

If my dad were alive, he would want me to have a big expensive wedding.

-or-

Plenty of people have the wedding of their dreams and pay themselves back later.

-or-

This is one day that I will never get back again! I should do it up!

Then I come back to reality.

A lavish wedding (funded by our bank account) is not me at all.

Don’t get me wrong I love watching Platinum Weddings or David Tutera’s “My Fair Wedding” just as much as the next girl, but in actuality it isn’t Kim Kardashian’s Fairytale Wedding with her fleet of Rolls Royce Phantoms that makes me green with envy. Nope! It’s this 2000 dollar wedding that makes me want to re-evaluate my whole life and what I’m doing with it.

Sure mommies and daddies are still bankrolling their daughters’ mega-extravaganza of a happily ever after event, but there are also betrothed couples out here who are pledging “til’ death do us part” for a fraction of what the average wedding cost — and they’re not even sneaking off to Vegas to do it! Nope, they’ve got the venue, the dress, the photographer, the cake, the guests (and everything else theKnot.com demands we brides have) without the hefty price tag. And all I can say is HOW?!

I mean, sheesh! I have to believe there are more brides than not doing this the inexpensive way. Where did we get this notion that we need to spend a year’s worth of Harvard tuition on a wedding reception?

This is what separates the haves from the have-nots from the will-never-haves. Some people can certainly afford a crazy expensive wedding, but I’m not convinced those who can truly afford it, actually do it. And even if they do, money decisions are personal. How can I ever expect to be financially independent, if my heart doesn’t stop at the thought of paying $600 for a cake? Or if my jaw doesn’t drop when I’m quoted $5 for a single wedding invitation (not including the stamp!).

I am not about this life at all. I told my mom I feel like I am in the Olympics holding onto my money like a track star holds on to her baton while everyone is chasing me and trying to steal my money from me in the form of overpriced wedding crap! Where will these people who sold me monogrammed paper napkins be when I need new brakes on my car next year? Ghost.

I used to crinkle my nose at the Carrie Bradshaw a’ la Sex in the City the Movie types who don’t mind getting married in the courthouse if it meant marrying the love of their life. Now, I’m thinking these chicks are on to something. I realize you don’t need a wedding to get married and a “fairytale wedding” hasn’t kept anyone out of divorce court anyway. We’re having a sizable wedding in a very nice venue, but man a $25 courthouse wedding would’ve been a heckuva lot cheaper! While we were registering for gifts, I kept thinking “If we got married at the courthouse instead of spending money on a wedding, we could buy all of this stuff ourselves.” Haha.

I’m happy with our plans, I just wish our plans required less moolah. Hindsight is maddeningly 20/20 and it is very tough to “know better” until “knowing better” is useless. I’ve been asking God for wisdom in our planning though and I do know, though, that we’re not having a 30-thousand dollar wedding and no one is going to make me feel badly about that. You know what I can do with 30-thousand dollars that doesn’t include flowers tossed in the trash can at the end of the night or a dress I will never wear again?  Lots.  Heck, even an extra twenty-thousand dollars in the bank rather than on the wedding could fund me to stay home the first six months after we have a baby one day.

My perspective is: there is LIFE after “The Wedding”. Yes it is a big day – a HUGE day – for both of us and unfortunately we’re still spending thousands (way more than I ever would spend on a “party”). We’re just not spending tens  and tens of thousands of dollars.

If that means my friends will have to stop at Wendy’s before they come, or no one gets a packet of seeds with my wedding date on it or I won’t get my picture in Columbus Bride or be considered for the “Real Weddings” section of The Knot then I just have to be okay with that. It’s not tacky to have an inexpensive wedding, it’s tacky to have a ginormous, televised wedding and then get divorced 72 days later. I mean, we’re definitely not serving potluck macaroni & cheese in someone’s backyard. We’re still spending money on this shindig – just not enough money to buy a house in the Hamptons.

Besides, I need to save some money for honeymoon lingerie. That stuff is expensive!

8 thoughts on “The Two Thousand Dollar Wedding Next Door

  1. Jameil says:

    This is HANDS DOWN my biggest wedding soapbox topic. It is SO easy to get caught up in the $$$$ of the Wedding Industrial Complex. You say wedding and people start trying to think up ways to separate you from obscene amounts of your money. Venue fees that don’t include CHAIRS. Or only folding chairs and it costs $2,000. Before food. And food is $45pp. And beer & wine only is an additional $14pp. (And I COULD NOT have a dry wedding.) It makes me sad that even many of the best of us get swept up in the weddingness & appearances of it all. SELF INCLUDED. I really WANTED a huge wedding as a kid. But when it came down to it, I was a grad student and I wanted to be married more than I wanted to be in debt. So we had 22 of our closest friends & fam for less than $2500. The biggest budget factors are of course guest list and equally as important, priorities. The things I absolutely did not care about or wasn’t convinced anyone else would notice were immediately eliminated. I had to have live, non-carnation flowers so they were limited and from the farmer’s market. I’ve been to too many weddings that had dozens of leftover favors. Those were out. We got the room of a nice restaurant for free b/c of the amount we were spending on food and alcohol. Most of all, I avoided saying wedding and said event instead. If I had to do it again, the only thing I would do differently is have a day-of planner. That would’ve been a life saver and worth every penny.

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    • Alissa says:

      Only 2500? 22 of your closest friends? Wow I am jealous! I had no clue weddings were this expensive!!!! It’s really too bad I already sent out Save-the-Dates. Good call on just saying it’s an “event” instead of a wedding. And we’re hiring a Day of Planner. I just wish she were free lol.

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  2. pebblesintide says:

    Aaaawww, am so encouraged I coudl cry, cos the same thing ahs been on my mind. Good to know am NOT crazy to think what you have said and agree with you…there is a life after the wedding indeed, and THAT will need MORE money and for longer too. I was telling my boyfriend i dont want to spend teh first eyar of our marriage eating soup and noodles because of having to pay up a loan we took to please people for 5 hours of one day, many of whom we may never see or hear from again. Sigh, ghost indeed!

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  3. pebblesintide says:

    Aaaawww, am so encouraged I could cry, cos the same thing has been on my mind. Good to know am NOT crazy to think what you have said and agree with you…there is a life after the wedding indeed, and THAT will need MORE money and for longer too. I was telling my boyfriend i dont want to spend the first year of our marriage eating soup and noodles because of having to pay up a loan we took to please people for 5 hours of one day, many of whom we may never see or hear from again, many of then do nto even care about us. Sigh, ghost indeed! God, give us wisdom indeed!

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  4. Cait @ Beyond Bananas says:

    I don’t think the price tag makes the day. Not even CLOSE. It is all about the love that the couple shares.. and all of the love that surrounds them in the great company that is there. It will be a special day; no matter the price tag.

    I am super frugal too. My fiance and I are financing our own wedding. I want it to be special, but I don’t want to be in the hole. We made a budget and are sticking to it fairly well. We are both very VERY conservative with our money – so we each had quite a bit saved up to begin with. Blow it all on the wedding? Not even close. We allocated how much we could each transfer to a wedding account – while still staying in the green in our respective bank accounts.

    It is working for us. And regardless of how much we spend.. it is still going to be the wedding of my dreams – because I am marrying the man of my dreams!

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  5. Ann (bummedbride.com) says:

    It’s a shame the wedding industry uses the bate-and-switch method. The statement about chairs is the perfect example. Those starting prices for weddings are the absolute bare minimum. If you are truly wanting to stay within a tight budget you have to be realistic and realize you can’ t have a lot of people, a destination, or a lavish dinner. It’s really sad that newly engaged girls have to find this out when they first start planning. It can also be discouraging to see all of these DIY wedding blogs when no prices are posted.
    In the end, like said in previous comments, marrying the person you care about is the most important part.

    Happy planning girls.

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  6. C. BeBee says:

    Weddings are definitely EXPENSIVE and the pressure is ON to spend, spend, and spend some more. One way we cut costs is my older cousin gifted us our wedding planner who is well-versed in that department. Our planner has been planning weddings for 20 years or so, so she got us some really good deals. She was willing to negotiate for us and to meet us where we were willing to spend. She did also show us venues that were well out of our desired range, but her goal was to expose us to our options. At the time, we clashed every once in a while, but at the end of the day her standard of excellence matched ours. We are more interested in class above all else and that’s exactly what she gave us!

    After a while, I stopped adding up the expenses, but I think we spent like $8,000-9,000. We had 240 people at our reception. We also had help from some of family members; instead of gifts they purchased our limo, the cocktail hour before the reception, or my dress–this shaved off probably like $2500 from our expenses. After all of this, we still get compliments about how our wedding was the best wedding people have ever been to. It was elegant if I may say so myself! Definitely our dream wedding on a dime!

    All we cared about was that everything was PAID upfront; we didn’t want to still be paying on our “big special day” after the day was over. If you don’t consider anything else, consider this: money can be a BIG stress in your marriage if you allow it to be. We didn’t want to be bothered or to have regrets. Since we paid off everything, after the wedding we got to LIVE. You’re right, there is LIFE after the wedding day, and it’s a heck of a lot more important if it’s peaceful.

    Don’t give in to the pressure. It’s your day. There’s real love, two beautiful people and most importantly GOD involved so it will be lovely regardless.

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  7. achick10 says:

    I will be getting married in 2017, we need to save up but I am determined to have our wedding cost between $2 – 3,000. The 2000dollarwedding website and this is very encouraging and inspiring. I think it is a shame that the wedding industry pushes having fancy weddings that follow all kinds of traditions. And I am really starting to hate theknot.com. They seem to be all about $$$.
    We are going to have about 50 guests at our wedding (well that is our guest list, it could be less) and are thinking of self-catering. I love to cook and think it could be fun. I am in love with my engagement ring and decided to use it as my wedding ring also. I don’t wear jewelry normally, so choosing to use it as my wedding ring fits my style but also saves us money.
    I know this post is old but I wanted to get my input out there about not spending a ton on weddings. Hope yours went well!

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