Author Topic: Frugal Wedding?  (Read 6981 times)

zaratekid86

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Frugal Wedding?
« on: September 20, 2017, 01:00:45 PM »
okay so I recently got engaged and now I'm stressed beyond belief. I didn't realize how much of a rip off weddings are. My Fiance is not one of those perfect wedding type of girls so shes down to make it a simple small get together. Were from Houston, but we did want to get married somewhere that is visually aesthetic. Were thinking Colorado or possibly Oregon. Really any place in the continental US. Any recommendation's on locations or ideas on how to have a kick ass wedding for less than $2,000. We would only have a few close friends and family go. 

ixtap

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Re: Frugal Wedding?
« Reply #1 on: September 20, 2017, 01:07:33 PM »
Well, if you can't drive, your plane tickets are likely to take up nearly half your budget. Even if you hack your own travel, your guests have to get there and stay some place.

Houston has many aesthetically pleasing locations nearby. The fairy house at the Renaissance fairgrounds is amazing. The beaches on the islands are fantastic. There are reasonable venues overlooking the green farmland. Or drive west to the Hill Country. Krause Springs, Wimberley, the Frio river...

The more complicated your wedding is, the less time you have to enjoy it. Save the travel for alone time.

FLBiker

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Re: Frugal Wedding?
« Reply #2 on: September 20, 2017, 01:14:44 PM »
We eloped in Great Smoky Mountain National Park.  We got married by Pastor Bremer for $99.
http://www.smoky-mountain-wedding.com/

Then, we drove around the park and took pictures.  It was great. :)

mcneally

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Re: Frugal Wedding?
« Reply #3 on: September 21, 2017, 07:48:24 AM »
Are the friends and family you're inviting mostly in the Houston area? If so, you're can't really having a cheap wedding out of state, you're just shifting the cost from yourself to your guests. I've always thought having a destination wedding was kind of a dick move unless the couple offers to pay for everyone's travel (or, like one couple I know, you go to Hawaii and don't invite anyone). 

Bracken_Joy

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Re: Frugal Wedding?
« Reply #4 on: September 21, 2017, 08:27:04 AM »
I can share my experience here. We had a small wedding (28 people) in a different state in the SW. Ironically, we live in Oregon but got married down there ;) Was able to use a family members backyard.

Total, our wedding cost ~$8k. We sold back a lot of the chairs/china/decor we had sourced for it, and made back $2k (turns out, if you buy/take for free piecemeal china, and sell it as a cohesive "wedding set", you can make BANK. Who knew).

ANYWAY, all this to say: we paid for many of the relatives to fly or drive down. That accounted for probably $1.5-2k of the budget. Flights will eat up your budget very quickly. I firmly believe there are some really beautiful parts of many, many different states. Arizona and New Mexico are driving distance from parts of Texas, and they have incredible mountains. You can have beauty much closer. The Colorado plateau covers a lot of space and accounts for some of the most beautiful US places.

lexde

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Re: Frugal Wedding?
« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2017, 08:35:03 AM »
This is a great resource I found while browsing random subreddits one day.

https://www.reddit.com/r/weddingsunder10k

YttriumNitrate

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Re: Frugal Wedding?
« Reply #6 on: September 21, 2017, 08:39:42 AM »
My wife and I got married in Lake Tahoe. In addition to there being inexpensive hotel rooms at the casinos there are also a number of wedding venues that range from very nice to downright tacky. The one we chose had a beautiful view of the lake with snow covered mountains in the background (married in early March). I believe our actual wedding was around $800, and the reception was around $100 per person.

FindingFI

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Re: Frugal Wedding?
« Reply #7 on: September 21, 2017, 08:49:04 AM »
Stay local if you can and get creative with your venue.  You already know your area really well and there's bound to be some really pretty locations that aren't traditional wedding venues, but could absolutely host a party for a small group.  I just got engaged too and we decided to get married at a summer camp on a lake 20 minutes from our house.  So we are going to get the same gorgeous waterfront views without all the Preferred Vendors and Fee-for-Everything BS of the typical wedding venue.  We also looked at state parks that rent out group use areas. 

Initially I was really stressed too because OMG weddings are expensive, but I did find a couple blogs that helped.  https://thebudgetsavvybride.com/wedding-budgets/ has breakdown of wedding budgets from $1k to $20k (Ahh!), in increments of $1k, that really helped me understand how far I could make our budget go. While not particularly mustachian, https://apracticalwedding.com/ reinforced that all the "traditional" crap isn't necessary unless its important to you.

hops

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Re: Frugal Wedding?
« Reply #8 on: September 21, 2017, 09:07:16 AM »
Like Slow2FIRE said, we refrained from saying "wedding" whenever possible. The bakery was one of the only exceptions, and part of that was making sure we were on the same page because we're gay and didn't want to arrive for a tasting only for the vendor to clutch their pearls or show us the door.

Our wedding is next month and will cost less than $2,000. The keys for us were keeping it local, which doesn't jibe with your preference, keeping the guest list small (around 25), and forgoing catering. Ultimately, our most cost-efficient food options were a potluck (a popular tradition in my SO's church) or ordering a bunch of food from a great neighborhood joint within walking distance of our venue. We went with the latter after our guests expressed a lot of enthusiasm for the idea, and we'll pick it up ourselves to avoid a delivery fee. My fiancee also saved a pretty penny by finding a dress at a thrift store.

StarBright

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Re: Frugal Wedding?
« Reply #9 on: September 21, 2017, 09:09:40 AM »
Well, if you can't drive, your plane tickets are likely to take up nearly half your budget. Even if you hack your own travel, your guests have to get there and stay some place.

Houston has many aesthetically pleasing locations nearby. The fairy house at the Renaissance fairgrounds is amazing. The beaches on the islands are fantastic. There are reasonable venues overlooking the green farmland. Or drive west to the Hill Country. Krause Springs, Wimberley, the Frio river...

The more complicated your wedding is, the less time you have to enjoy it. Save the travel for alone time.

I'm going to second this. 2000 bucks is tight, especially if you are including travel in that. I went to a gorgeous wedding at the Houston Arboretum - overlooking a pond and in the forest.

And not a location specific suggestion - but having a small wedding party can actually open up a lot of opportunities for cool spaces. We had a wine country wedding but because we kept it under 50 people we were able to use a small side garden instead of the regular multi-thousand dollar vineyard setup. We simply called and asked about a small space and they didn't even have pricing so they made it up for us. It had all the bells and whistles of vineyard wedding but at a tenth of the cost. So think about what you want in a backdrop - mountains? oceans? and start thinking outside of the box.

Also if you can specify for us what you are looking for- we can help more too. (Frugal weddings are like my hobby :))

Acastus

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Re: Frugal Wedding?
« Reply #10 on: September 21, 2017, 11:11:59 AM »
I spent a little less than $2k on my wedding, but that was 25 years ago. We got married by a JP that ran a B&B and held the ceremony in their cottage garden. Out of town guests stayed there. We held the reception in my back yard - farmhouse in the ex-urbs with a nice big yard. Guest list was about 30. If I had it to do over, I would have spent a few $100 more for better food.

I think a destination wedding is very tough on your proposed budget. Plus you create a travel cost burden on your guests. If you are doing that, you should make the soiree worth their effort.

Ixtap - The Ren Faire is a great idea. I am sure there are many more eclectic venues in any big town.

LadyMuMu

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Re: Frugal Wedding?
« Reply #11 on: September 21, 2017, 11:17:43 AM »
We had 35 guests. Small chapel wedding (not the big church) in our parish and a sit-down luncheon at a 4-star restaurant. Simple flower bouquets and a photographer. Off-the rack white dress and tan sport coat purchased. Total spent about $2000. To this day I still get told how much people enjoyed our wedding.

bestname

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Re: Frugal Wedding?
« Reply #12 on: September 21, 2017, 11:25:05 AM »
We got married at Brennan's. It was about $1000 for 12 people - lunch and champagne. My mother and mother in law provided flowers and cake as gifts. It was very aesthetically pleasing, if I do say so.

Goldielocks

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Re: Frugal Wedding?
« Reply #13 on: September 21, 2017, 11:30:20 AM »

All in we stayed under $5000 for a wedding held just a few years ago with a fairly large number of people.  We didn't fly to a different location though.

If we had known that people would cheap out on the wedding gifts (I think 5% of people gave gifts) we would have just done a potluck wedding and saved another $2700 from the catering costs.

Umm.  Really?  You hosted a dinner for friends and that was the reason you spent $2700, because you like your friends and wanted them with you on your day.

Are you saying that these people, in hindsight, were not even moderately good friends, as shown by a lack of gifts, so you now regret paying for dinner for 190 people who were not friends?  Who did you invite.. the whole church but you aren't an active member, so people did not know you and only came for food?   It is truly strange that you did not get even modest gifts or cards from your attendees, which makes me think that they thought of it as a business or community event...  OR   Perhaps the church members viewed a free venue as their gift, or they provided all the setup and clean up for you, baked a cake, that sort of thing. 

ETA:  Another reason...  people may have given group or family gifts.  I realized years later that at my wedding, although I had 90 people, we only received about 18 gifts.  Why?  We were the oldest cousins and everyone came as a family of 4, and our college friends including attendants went in on 2 group gifts (a knife set and a bread maker, very nice gifts).  I only realized this about 8 years later when we were buying yet another $200 gift for a cousin's wedding... the 3rd wedding that year...and reflected on the difference our ages made in the attendee list.
« Last Edit: September 21, 2017, 11:39:39 AM by Goldielocks »

Dave1442397

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Re: Frugal Wedding?
« Reply #14 on: September 21, 2017, 12:07:08 PM »
My wife and I got married in Lake Tahoe. In addition to there being inexpensive hotel rooms at the casinos there are also a number of wedding venues that range from very nice to downright tacky. The one we chose had a beautiful view of the lake with snow covered mountains in the background (married in early March). I believe our actual wedding was around $800, and the reception was around $100 per person.

Another vote for Lake Tahoe...just a stunning area for a wedding. You can do an outdoor wedding on state land as long as you get a permit. Here's a website featuring Logan Shoals, which has fantastic views - http://www.laketahoeweddings.net/wedding-locations/logan-shoals/


Hula Hoop

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Re: Frugal Wedding?
« Reply #15 on: September 21, 2017, 02:20:13 PM »
I agree that the fixation on gifts on a frugal forum like this one is a little odd.  We didn't get a ton of gifts either - we had a very simple wedding with no gift registry.  I really didn't want tons of gifts although we were grateful for the ones we received.

If you want to keep it inexpensive keep it simple and old fashioned.  We got married at the courthouse while visiting my family.  No church wedding, no bridesmaids, no wedding dress (I just bought a dress that I liked for $79 a few days before the wedding), no engagement ring, no flowers, no photographer and no gift registry.  After the courthouse we just had lunch with 30 of our nearest and dearest at a local restaurant.  Later that evening we had Chinese food with some old childhood friends of mine.  We didn't have a honeymoon either as the trip to visit my family was the honeymoon.  Also, I was pregnant with our first child so it limited our options.

We're about to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary and couldn't be happier. 

Goldielocks

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Re: Frugal Wedding?
« Reply #16 on: September 21, 2017, 02:29:17 PM »

All in we stayed under $5000 for a wedding held just a few years ago with a fairly large number of people.  We didn't fly to a different location though.

If we had known that people would cheap out on the wedding gifts (I think 5% of people gave gifts) we would have just done a potluck wedding and saved another $2700 from the catering costs.

Umm.  Really?  You hosted a dinner for friends and that was the reason you spent $2700, because you like your friends and wanted them with you on your day.

Are you saying that these people, in hindsight, were not even moderately good friends, as shown by a lack of gifts, so you now regret paying for dinner for 190 people who were not friends?  Who did you invite.. the whole church but you aren't an active member, so people did not know you and only came for food?   It is truly strange that you did not get even modest gifts or cards from your attendees, which makes me think that they thought of it as a business or community event...  OR   Perhaps the church members viewed a free venue as their gift, or they provided all the setup and clean up for you, baked a cake, that sort of thing. 

ETA:  Another reason...  people may have given group or family gifts.  I realized years later that at my wedding, although I had 90 people, we only received about 18 gifts.  Why?  We were the oldest cousins and everyone came as a family of 4, and our college friends including attendants went in on 2 group gifts (a knife set and a bread maker, very nice gifts).  I only realized this about 8 years later when we were buying yet another $200 gift for a cousin's wedding... the 3rd wedding that year...and reflected on the difference our ages made in the attendee list.

Well, since more details are warranted:

Friends provided gifts at 100%.

Family members were where the lack of gifts came in.  Maybe 10% is more realistic because we had 8 friends who provided gifts, 4 parents provided gifts, and direct siblings.  Add on 2 cousins.  My wife's extended family is HUGE.

Perhaps for your wife's family, the tradition is that the parents provide one "group" gift in support... or that no one gives wedding gifts... or that they gave their time and effort instead, or had to travel,etc. In which case, you are certainly within norms to not provide a gift other than your presence / assistance for future weddings on their side, and will come out ahead.

I still don't see why that would change your decision to provide the food at the party you are hosting.

socaso

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Re: Frugal Wedding?
« Reply #17 on: September 21, 2017, 04:12:50 PM »
My sister got married in a lovely state park and it only cost $100-200 to rent the venue. She got married in the afternoon and the reception was just appetizers (mostly bought from Sam's club) and cake. I believe the whole wedding was only $500.

My biggest takeaways from planning my own wedding are that providing a dinner really increases the cost so if you can get married locally and have a cocktail reception it's cheaper. When I got married we felt we had to provide the meal because so many of our guests were travelling to us for the wedding and to us it felt rude not to have a meal with our reception. Others may feel differently about this.

You say you don't have many people who will be attending the wedding so another solution I can think of is to rent a nice house with several bedrooms in a pretty location on Air bnb or a similar home rental site. You could rent for a long weekend and have your wedding and hang out with the people you care about. That would be nice! I've been pricing out large homes for an upcoming family reunion and have been surprised to find some lovely options for pretty reasonable prices.

Lastly, I bought my wedding dress used on Ebay and it was only $60. It was a great solution for me because I sew and wanted to customize my dress. You could also borrow a dress. If anyone asked me to borrow my dress I would be thrilled. It's just sitting in the closet.


ormaybemidgets

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Re: Frugal Wedding?
« Reply #19 on: September 22, 2017, 08:28:15 AM »
There was never the intention of "breaking even" but you still feel kind of crappy when you go to great lengths at great expense and don't even receive a thank you card from many participants.

Wait... you wanted to get a thank you card from your guests? A card that said... thank you for getting married? Usually the host sends the thank you cards, thank you for attending.

LadyMuMu

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Re: Frugal Wedding?
« Reply #20 on: September 22, 2017, 09:12:23 AM »
+1 on not understanding why you would even think that someone would send YOU a thank you card. You threw a party and invited them to attend. They attended, so if anyone does any thanking it is YOU thanking them for taking the time to come to your party. You didn't throw a party for THEM. You threw it to celebrate your marriage/love/commitment. Additional gifts are nice, but really the gift is that they came. This is particularly true if the wedding involved travel, hotel, etc.

Dicey

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Re: Frugal Wedding?
« Reply #21 on: September 22, 2017, 02:03:53 PM »
I agree that the fixation on gifts on a frugal forum like this one is a little odd. 


Thanks for your judgemental comments.  Much appreciated.
Wow! I second the other comments. Your posts certainly sound er, entitled. People you don't even know are trying to help you. You don't like their 100% normal responses, and you're calling them judgemental? Look inward, my friend. And watch out for well-deserved facepunches.

And expecting thank-you notes from guests? I can't even...

Goldielocks

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Re: Frugal Wedding?
« Reply #22 on: September 22, 2017, 09:42:13 PM »
Hey,  maybe he meant a "congratulations and best wishes on your marriage" card, not a thank-you.  Slip of the tongue/keyboard.    Most people give those to the happy couple at some point between engagement and a few months after the wedding when they find out. 

Dicey

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Re: Frugal Wedding?
« Reply #23 on: September 22, 2017, 10:59:19 PM »
I agree that the fixation on gifts on a frugal forum like this one is a little odd. 
Thanks for your judgemental comments.  Much appreciated.
-snip-
And expecting thank-you notes from guests? I can't even...
Hey,  maybe he meant a "congratulations and best wishes on your marriage" card, not a thank-you.  Slip of the tongue/keyboard.    Most people give those to the happy couple at some point between engagement and a few months after the wedding when they find out.

Hi Goldielocks, in light of your thoughtful benefit-of-the-doubt comment, I went back and re-read the thread twice. Here's what I responded to:

There was never the intention of "breaking even" but you still feel kind of crappy when you go to great lengths at great expense and don't even receive a thank you card from many participants.
And
If we had known that people would cheap out on the wedding gifts (I think 5% of people gave gifts) we would have just done a potluck wedding and saved another $2700 from the catering costs.
It doesn't seem like a slip of the tongue/keyboard, but okay, sure, I'll give S2F the benefit of the doubt...

Goldielocks

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Re: Frugal Wedding?
« Reply #24 on: September 22, 2017, 11:05:47 PM »
I know,   that whole "despite the effort we put into the event"... type of phrase...!   The first time I read it, I overlooked this part and assumed the poster meant the "we are happy for your" cards that one gets with and without presents attached....   The second time I read it, I was strongly wishing what was written was not what was meant...

Dicey

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Re: Frugal Wedding?
« Reply #25 on: September 22, 2017, 11:35:29 PM »
I know,   that whole "despite the effort we put into the event"... type of phrase...!   The first time I read it, I overlooked this part and assumed the poster meant the "we are happy for your" cards that one gets with and without presents attached....   The second time I read it, I was strongly wishing what was written was not what was meant...
You and me both.

JLR

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Re: Frugal Wedding?
« Reply #26 on: September 23, 2017, 11:23:00 PM »
The biggest thing that saved us money at our wedding was asking people to buy their own lunch in lieu of gifts. We did still receive a small number of gifts (practical things we still use. Towels, photo frames). But gifts wasn't our goal.

We had the wedding at a small church about 10 mins from home. Just used our own car (I ran it through the car wash on our way to the ceremony, my cousin put a ribbon on the front to spruce it up while I slipped my dress on where we picked up the bridesmaid). We had no photographer. It is probably my only regret, but really, I just wish we had put aside some time for some staged photos. Not that we had forked out for a photographer.

We had our reception at a local tavern. It was a nice, modern venue and they didn't charge us for use as they were happy we were bringing 90 people to buy lunch! A friend's girlfriend worked at a local supermarket that had a bakery. She made our wedding cake (chocolate mud). Cost would have been about $35, but she gave it to us as a gift. For flowers, I didn't get my dream flowers, but got a florist to make something seasonally available (daffodils) and I loved them. I now have a daffodil garden at home. They pop up every year around our wedding anniversary.

We didn't have a fancy night in accommodation the night of our wedding. We left the ceremony late afternoon so those who needed to could travel home, then we met up that night with some friends who had travelled for the wedding and were staying the night nearby. Then we just went back to our house at the end of the night.

A few weeks after the wedding we had a new nights up the coast for our 'honeymoon'. My dad booked and paid for some accommodation. It was nice and relaxed (except for the traffic on the  drive home!)

My dress was quite simple, under $120. Wedding rings, again simple. Cost about $200. Engagement ring was the most expensive part, $900. The entire wedding cost us $2000. We did our own invitations, own bomboniere. Nothing fancy.

Free Spirit

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Re: Frugal Wedding?
« Reply #27 on: September 23, 2017, 11:28:41 PM »
Have a courthouse wedding with those close family members as witnesses and then take everyone out to a super fancy dinner. Hell, buy a wedding cake and serve it at said fancy dinner. Everyone is included, everyone gets to dress up and eat a fancy meal, and best of all everyone gets to eat cake.

englishteacheralex

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Re: Frugal Wedding?
« Reply #28 on: September 24, 2017, 12:22:42 AM »
I have a weird obsession with weddings.

Your options:

1. Think of it as a restaurant dinner party that happens to include a wedding. For $2k, take your closest friends/family to the courthouse, and then meet everybody else at a restaurant you booked. Have a nice dinner, booze--you can treat about 20-25 people. Can be secular or religious, but you're probably not gonna get a church out of this option. Slightly controversial depending on folks' expectations. Very normal for second marriages.

Don't waste a lot on wedding attire. There's lots of ways to get around this, my favorite of which is to skip a wedding dress and go with www.renttherunway.com.

Never been to a wedding like this, but very nearly had one and extensively researched the options.

2. Poor as church mice church wedding. You've been going to this church for years and have a lot of people on your team for the wedding. You invite a ton of people, the church is free, as is the pastor, the choir, and the organist, and you have the reception in the basement (no booze). The reception features lots of Costco food heated up and served by volunteers who love you. The church secretary makes the cake. You wear your mother's dress, or luck out with a $100 dress made in China that you found on Ebay. Get your makeup done at Macy's the morning of the wedding.

I've gone a lot of these, and I find them charming. My own wedding was kind of like this, but a little fancier (our budget was $10k). Only works if you have the right community. Not to mention a church you've gone to for years.

3. Secular backyard potluck wedding. You're gonna need a backyard and a nice, can-do community who likes to cook. You're also gonna need low expectations and you're really gonna need to get the fuck off Pinterest because that shit gets expensive and soul-numbing.

4. Destination wedding elopement. To a low-key, non-international destination.

Honestly, for $2k on a first marriage wedding, you're gonna have to have a bride and groom who have a very strong understanding of who they are, because in most families there is going to be some serious pushback. It can be done, but depending on your circumstances it's going to require a strong constitution. A wedding with the bare minimum of wedding expectations is going to run you around $8k-$15k, depending on how much help your community wants to give you.

BTW, yeah, um, you don't throw a party expecting a gift from your guests. I've read every wedding etiquette book known to man, plus all the wedding websites (I second the recommendation for www.apracticalwedding.com; do not, I repeat, do not allow your fiancee on www.stylemepretty.com). You throw the party as a party for your friends/family to celebrate the creation of a new marriage. Gifts are a bonus, not a requirement. You write thank you notes for them ASAP. Plenty of people will say times have changed, but trust me on this: it's easier to just throw the party with no expectations of gifts, and it's easier to just write the damn thank you notes.

Hula Hoop

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Re: Frugal Wedding?
« Reply #29 on: September 24, 2017, 02:36:24 AM »
englishteacher - we did #1 from your options above (as I wrote above) and it turned out great.  But it's true that certain family members were not happy.  Luckily, my sister had a traditional wedding a few years later.

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chaskavitch

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Re: Frugal Wedding?
« Reply #31 on: September 24, 2017, 08:49:03 AM »
If you want someone else to make the cake - Whole foods has DELICIOUS DELICIOUS cakes, and as long as you don't want them to stack it, it's very reasonably priced.  Extra plus side - I told them I was trying to decide which cake to get for my wedding, and they gave me a full sized slice of each cake to take home to try FOR FREE! This was then compared to King Soopers, who had us make an appointment to stand next to the bakery counter and eat part of a piece of cake with a tiny deli fork.

Also, if you're buying flowers, Sams and Costco do some nice flower arrangements for bouquets and boutonnieres (wow that is a big long word).  I'd have preferred wild flowers, or something seasonal, but I also decided to get married in February, so that didn't happen.

GizmoTX

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Re: Frugal Wedding?
« Reply #32 on: September 24, 2017, 09:23:19 AM »
We were married decades ago, but angered some of our extended family by specifically excluding children from the reception, since it included a seated supper with dancing at a small venue with a farmhouse vibe. It wasn't just about saving money; I didn't want the pack of young unsupervised cousins literally running around & screaming as they always did at other weddings. No one had ever told the adults how unacceptable it was. The reception turned out just the way we wanted & was a lot of fun.

Hargrove

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Re: Frugal Wedding?
« Reply #33 on: September 24, 2017, 10:47:21 AM »
Your big expenses all disappear with a 2k wedding, because you're already assuming you won't pay for them.

Bands? Scour the internet for places like Manly Bands that sell tungsten rings for $120. No diamonds needed. Or buy on ebay.
Dress? Rent one, or get one on ebay, or if you really want, find out what David's Bridal offers for $99.
Venue? What's free or almost free? Church, state land of some kind, a friend's donated space. Plan to decorate yourself for $100-200. Personalized collage, white banners of some sort, some pictures of you.
Ceremony: Gotta pay officiants. $300-500. Less maybe with a church.
DJ? MP3 player.
Food? Costco. $300-800.
Cocktail hour? For 25-40 people, 2 drinks for say 30 people for one hour is 60 drinks. 35 drinks in a 1.75L bottle, you get 1 vodka and 1 whiskey and 2 30pks of beer and you'll have some extra. Donate it to the family member who pours drinks. $90
Marriage license: $81
Invites: $100
Gifts to bride/groom party: $100-200
Photographer: crowdsource those phones
Flowers for "grandma's funeral": $100-500

Total cost: 1390-2590.

You will likely face tremendous pushback - be clear to yourselves on what you want, why you want it, and how many battles you're willing to undertake to achieve it.

If you want more, well, your budget will change.
If you wanted it because you thought weddings were usually easy, well, now you know! The easy wedding is eloping (until begrudging family, if any, find out).
If you aren't willing to fight the battles, be honest about where you are and what you need to do for yourselves. Nobody who isn't offering to pay can do much to make you book a 10k venue.

JLR

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Re: Frugal Wedding?
« Reply #34 on: September 25, 2017, 06:29:44 AM »

icemodeled

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Re: Frugal Wedding?
« Reply #35 on: September 25, 2017, 01:31:28 PM »
Like someone else mentioned, we married in Gatlinburg TN. We did have close family there, about 10 or 12 total. With the ceremony, photos, minister it was around $700. Our budget was $2000, so it left enough for Dress and tux rental. 2 weeks later back home we had a cookout in a park shelter(free) and invited all family and friends. It was very inexpensive and fun Casual for everyone.

We looked around at local venues and pricing was insane! Well over $2000 for some places. Ne regrets at all. Wedding was beautiful ontop of a mountain, picture perfect! So glad we kept things frugal, it was a important day but goes by so fast, not worth spending thousands for it.

MBot

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Re: Frugal Wedding?
« Reply #36 on: September 26, 2017, 04:16:42 PM »

2. Poor as church mice church wedding. You've been going to this church for years and have a lot of people on your team for the wedding. You invite a ton of people, the church is free, as is the pastor, the choir, and the organist, and you have the reception in the basement (no booze). The reception features lots of Costco food heated up and served by volunteers who love you. The church secretary makes the cake. You wear your mother's dress, or luck out with a $100 dress made in China that you found on Ebay. Get your makeup done at Macy's the morning of the wedding.

I've gone a lot of these, and I find them charming. My own wedding was kind of like this, but a little fancier (our budget was $10k). Only works if you have the right community. Not to mention a church you've gone to for years.
.

Fwiw I've also been to a lot of these (and we did our own this way as well) and I find that they vary a LOT based on how you (a) obtain the food and (b) present the space.

Organization costs nothing. If you do it this way, think through every detail, be on time, make a seating chart, etc. Adding formal details, having a timetable, "staffing" everything from your kissing game to guest book with volunteers and having ushers, etc. will add polish for no cost. ,

We were able to get really nice food from an Italian catering company for about $1000 for 120 people - only the cake and salad and buns from Costco. By hiring a couple people from the church to manage the kitchen and host and serve the buffet it was much nicer. (Shrimp cocktail, roast beef, etc.) The church also had matching plates, silverware, chafing dishes, etc.

Also, a lot of churches will have white tablecloths, chair covers, etc. If you can get in a couple days early and decorate and set up; you can have a great looking space.
l

MBot

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Re: Frugal Wedding?
« Reply #37 on: September 26, 2017, 07:08:22 PM »
I'd also add that

1. You can sometimes rent the church hall for the reception only - have an outdoor wedding if you want but it can be a cheap venue for the reception


2. Some church halls or basements look better during the day in natural light... but  have horrible yellow light at night.

Others have fine evening lighting or will look good if you borrow a ton of string lights and a couple $20 floodlights.

By considering the space available and setting the time of your reception accordingly, you can make a space look much nicer than using it in a way it is not suited for.

Michael in ABQ

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Re: Frugal Wedding?
« Reply #38 on: September 26, 2017, 08:44:33 PM »
We got married in the courthouse by a judge. Guests/ witnesses were my parents and my wife's oldest brother and his wife. Afterwards we had a small reception at a nearby restaurant that was maybe a few hundred dollars (I think my parents paid for it). My wife's family all lived a few states away so it was pretty much just my side of the family, about 20 people total. I already had a suit and my best friend's GF made a dress for my wife.

A few years later we got married in the church and my wife's side of the family was all able to attend. I wore my Army dress uniform this time and my wife wore her same wedding dress. I think we just did a potluck for the reception afterwards as I don't recall really spending much.

formerlydivorcedmom

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Re: Frugal Wedding?
« Reply #39 on: September 27, 2017, 09:17:36 AM »
I had wanted an outdoor wedding or a wedding at the butterfly exhibit at HMNS, but it wasn't in my budget (neither was Renfest).  We got married just south of Houston at our favorite restaurant.  It was a casual place - they serve primarily (really really good) soups, sandwiches, and casseroles.  They reserved one of their two rooms for us and waived any room fee. 

We held the ceremony at 11 am on a Saturday (not a particularly busy time for them) in the restaurant, then sat down with our guests and had a nice lunch.  They customized a menu for us - I got to pick the casserole and soup of the day (for the whole restaurant)  and which sandwiches and appetizers to offer our guests  - and guests got to order whatever they wanted off that menu.  We spent about $1200 for 65 people (including a VERY nice tip - they actually delayed opening until the ceremony was over, which I had not asked or expected).  They were very eager to work with us, I think in part because they weren't the kind of venue most people think about for weddings.   We didn't serve alcohol, since the wedding was so early, but provided punch (not normally on the menu) and iced tea.

We created centerpieces ourselves - small flowerpots we painted and filled with perennials.  We gave some of them to our guests and planted the rest in our flowerbeds at home.

After lunch, we moved some tables out of the way and set up an ipod so people could dance. I did splurge and get a jazz musician to play for an hour during lunch. I think that cost about $200.
My mom bought my dress as her gift to us.

When the reception was over, we honeymooned at a bed and breakfast in the woods in Brenham.

This was my second marriage, and I thought this was a lot more fun than my first more traditional wedding reception!!

You might also check out the cost of marrying on a cruise ship.  If you book your cruise with them, you can marry on embarkation day in Galveston and have up to 50 guests who aren't sailing with you attend, or you can marry on one of the islands. 

ETA:  For flowers, look at nontraditional choices.  My bouquet was made of Alstroemeria (the really cheap flowers you can get at the grocery store) and was gorgeous.  Since I occasionally pick up a bouquet of those at the store to put in a vase at home, it was meaningful to me. 

So that's the biggest advice - what's meaningful to each of you and to you as a couple?  What do you enjoy normally that isn't that expensive, and how can you leverage that for your ceremony?
« Last Edit: September 27, 2017, 09:22:21 AM by formerlydivorcedmom »

Goldielocks

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Re: Frugal Wedding?
« Reply #40 on: September 27, 2017, 09:21:21 AM »
^^ be careful of cruiseships.  My SIL's wedding on a cruise ship before departure was hideously expensive per person, for the space and catering.   Even things like flowers and photographer had to be purchased through the cruise ship at high prices.

Shanksy

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Re: Frugal Wedding?
« Reply #41 on: September 27, 2017, 09:39:32 AM »
The first things you need to do are sit down with your fiance and make a budget! Decide how much you CAN and WANT to spend on your wedding. Now double it, that's what you'll probably end up spending. We originally budgeted $1500 and ultimately spent 3k. My best friend budgeted 15,000, and ended up spending 30k...yep, more than some down payments. I would wager that our weddings were equally fun, mine might have been more fun because it was relaxed and casual. Truth is, weddings aren't all that fun, so do things you like and want to do.

Second after budget, make a guest list. Don't just estimate, literally write down the name of everyone you want to invite, and then have your fiance do the same. Decide if you want to keep it that long or cut some extras. We had about 50 people at our wedding. 25 for each of us. It was almost ALL family with 1-2 friends each.

Remember it's just a big party to celebrate an important milestone for you and your future spouse and you can make it as fancy and expensive as you want. Also, people have opinions on how things should be done, so think about if you care about garter and bouquet tosses (I don't like them so we didn't do them). Think about current wedding 'traditions' and ask yourself if you want to continue them or not. We chose to walk down the aisle together, as opposed to me going down with my dad, because I'm in my 30s and we have already been a couple for several years and living together, no one was giving me away. I didn't care about my husband seeing me in the dress, in fact I got ready like 4 hours before the wedding and ran around running errands and doing last minute things in my dress, and greeted guests in my dress. I'm not superstitious like that, it was just a practical need, seems weird for the person doing most of the planning to be hidden away until the last minute. Also I love parties and bloody mary's and someone needed to get the champagne party started, and that person was me.

My mom was awesome and gave us a thousand dollars to help pay for the wedding and she gave me full autonomy to use it how I wished. I spent the biggest portion of our 3k budget on food and booze and I'd do it again. Your family may offer to help pay for this wedding in some way, let them, but also recognize that they may want some say in what you do if you take their money. Be firm about what you can afford, even if they are helping pay, let them know if the things they are asking for are beyond the budget you've set up. Unless they want to pony up the balance, you probably are going to have to say no to the 'insert outrageous demand or item'.

CONGRATS!!!!!! I love weddings and it'll be so much fun to celebrate your new life with all the important people in it!

*check out my journal to see our financial breakdown from our wedding in March.*

zaratekid86

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Re: Frugal Wedding?
« Reply #42 on: September 27, 2017, 01:51:24 PM »
awesome insight and responses yall! I just ready all of them and have a list of things my fiance and I need to discuss. Will let you all know what we decide and how much the cost will be when we figure it all out.

thank you all!

MBot

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Re: Frugal Wedding?
« Reply #43 on: September 27, 2017, 06:54:38 PM »
Ooh also, one of the most fun weddings I attended was a morning one with brunch reception

-ceremony at a university theatre room (since it was normally used for theatre productions the sound and sight lines were ALREADY great - and a few simple decorations (at the end of the seats near the aisle and a backdrop) were all that was needed. Such a great option. Also fairly sure they rented it for not too much $, as alumni. 

Then, a nearby golf club BRUNCH reception. Mimosas for the booze, an amazing waffle bar and food, and overall I'm sure it was much less expensive than an evening event. Beautiful setting and great service. . Plus we were outta there by early afternoon! Super fun.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2017, 06:59:05 PM by MBot »

Teachstache

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Re: Frugal Wedding?
« Reply #44 on: October 13, 2017, 03:13:01 PM »
Late to this thread, but spouse and I got married by a judge (who's a family friend) at a small City Park. Immediate family only, because we have huge extended families. Went out for a nice dinner at a local restaurant afterward.

My parents initially couldn't stomach their 26 year old daughter getting married outside of the Catholic Church, but they eventually came around and very generously paid for a way too expensive dress for me, a string quartet, flowers, a professional photographer, and lovely dinner for 10 afterward. I think that their total amount was $3,200, which was far more than I wanted to spend but their money, their choices. As long as I got my non-Church wedding with only immediate family, I was happy.

Spouse and I spent another $1,800 on wedding rings (no engagement ring for me, at my insistence), park rental, spouse's wedding suit, and a 3 day 4 night honeymoon in Kansas City MO (within driving distance of our home in NE).

Over 9 years later, the pictures are still fantastic, the memories are still special, the rings are still being worn, and we're very happy with our choices. My parents got to  throw their big expensive (like $35k) family wedding for my sister in 2015, so everyone's happy.