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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: boy_bye on February 20, 2012, 10:38:28 AM

Title: planning a wedding ...
Post by: boy_bye on February 20, 2012, 10:38:28 AM
after 39 years of figuring i was too weird to be married, i am engaged to the most wonderful guy in the world! we've been together for 4 years, lived together for 2 of those, and get along like peas and carrots. i'm a lucky gal!

i am SUPER excited about spending my life with my man ... but i was never the type to fantasize about my future wedding, and honestly i am struggling with the idea of planning it for a couple of reasons.

first off, we are not broke by any means, but we are also not where we'd like to be financially. we don't want to spend too much on our wedding -- our priorities mostly center around being outside and having great food. and i'm financially in flux right now -- working a contract job that will likely be over in the next few months -- which makes it scary for me to commit to spending $X on one day.

secondly, i have a HUGE stepfamily. my stepmom is the oldest of 10, and family culture states that everyone is invited to everyone else's wedding. but if i were to invite just aunts/uncles/cousins, that's about a hundred people and that's not at all what i want. i really want a small, low-key wedding but am not sure how to do it in a way that doesn't hurt my steps.

when i envision my wedding, i see it outside in a park, with excellent food and good music on the stereo and maybe a bonfire? and fun but not-that-fancy outfits all around! but when i think about planning this effortlessly elegant event on top of everything else i've got going on (a full time job, a growing small business, and being there for my grandma as her health declines), i kind of just want to go back to bed.

can you all please share your sage advice / stories of your own frugal beautiful simple weddings? how did you bring everything together and get the wedding you wanted?
Title: Re: planning a wedding ...
Post by: arebelspy on February 20, 2012, 10:50:39 AM
We did a super small wedding, partly to save money, partly because that's what we wanted.  I think we had about 15 people there.

The best thing we did to not hurt people's feelings, IMO, was not tell them until afterwards.

If we had made it a "we're getting married on this day, but you can't come" (even for good reason), that can cause resentment.

When we presented it, it was like a "Yay, we're married" and then we described the wedding about how it was super small, showed pictures so they could celebrate with us, etc.  It helps if you can say that no, you weren't invited, but neither were any other aunts/uncles/grandparents/whatever.

We also then each had a separate reception for each side of the family that was more like a party/get together so everyone who wasn't at the wedding could celebrate with us.

Figure out what is important to you and go for it.  You won't regret it.

Oh, and CONGRATS!  :D
Title: Re: planning a wedding ...
Post by: Guitarist on February 21, 2012, 12:07:44 PM
It is YOUR day. Do what YOU want.
Now, if that meant you were inviting 90 people instead of 100, I think those 10 would have a reason to feel slighted. But if you have something like 20 or less, then it shouldn't be a big deal.
Consider doing a "tour" with your new husband and visiting everyone to share in your happiness.
Title: Re: planning a wedding ...
Post by: Taylor on February 21, 2012, 12:42:28 PM
For cheap outdoor venues, check out your local and state parks. Many of them accomodate small weddings for a fraction of the price of a private place. You may encounter some random hikers, but if you're ok with that....   :)

One day my boyfriend and I were having a picnic in a lovely park and wound up in the middle of someone's wedding photos. We promply moved so that they would have their space, but it comes with the territory of using a park.

I also went to a lovely wedding that was held at someone's barn that they had cleaned up. It was rustic and beautiful. So if you know any farmers....
Title: Re: planning a wedding ...
Post by: velocistar237 on February 21, 2012, 12:49:58 PM
My favorite weddings are the barn-raising style, where everyone pitches in. The typical wedding-planner-type wedding, with guests as spectators, just doesn't seems as personal. It's a show, and people are stressed out about it not going perfectly.

My cousins had a catered lunch, and they stood up and got married between the meal and dessert. It saved having to decorate two places. If I could go back, I would do it this way.

Some friends of mine got a permit for a Chicago beach and had a small service there. It's not too hard to get a cook-out spot at many public state and local parks.

How far would your relatives have to travel? If it's a long distance, then they might expect more of an affair.

My unimportant opinion? Have a small wedding just like you want it, get married there or at the courthouse before, and have a low-key reception near your family if you want to, where you can take the guest book and show photos and video, if you have them.
Title: Re: planning a wedding ...
Post by: amr_ve on February 28, 2012, 08:55:33 AM
Before I say anything else: Like Guitarist said, you're the ones who are getting married and passing through this ceremony. The big thing to remember is that it's just a passage to a new life between you and your partner. The only thing that matters is how great you two are for/with each other; anything else is just blowing it out of proportion.

When my husband and I got married, we couldn't figure out a way to just not invite family members and close friends and not anger anyone (read: my husband, who wanted a bigger wedding), so we cut costs elsewhere to accommodate. We had our wedding in a public park (which was free to reserve), my family made all the decorations (which is the cost of ribbons/wire from the Dollar Store and fresh flowers from Sam's Club) and food (which was home-grown fruit/veggies mixed with sandwich trays from Sam's Club), my aunt baked and decorated the cake, and my sister sewed my wedding dress. Our one real splurge was paying for a photographer. Our wedding was planned to be mid-afternoon on the weekend so people had time to drive up/get back in time for work (and for me to get back to the university campus to study for a test), with the added bonus that we didn't have to provide people with dinner after/during the reception.

If it's the size of the wedding that bothers you (and not trying to just cut costs), have the small ceremony with you and your partner's immediate family (yay witnesses!) and have a reception for the rest of the family at some later, mutually agreeable time. Or see the first paragraph and explain to your family that it's the decision of you and your partner to have a small ceremony.
Title: Re: planning a wedding ...
Post by: sol on February 28, 2012, 09:08:22 AM
We got married last summer, had about 40 people, and spend less than $1500.  That included rings.

We invited a small group of local family, and hosted at our home so we also invited our immediate neighbors.  It seemed rude to have a wedding in the front yard and not invite people who would be watching anyway. 

Most of the cost was flowers and food, and most of that was meat from the local grocery store butcher for the barbeque.  The best man stood at the grill.  The bride's sister made the cake.  My parents went and picked up the chairs we reserved.  A coworker performed the ceremony.  Pandora ran on the stereo.  We asked people not to bring presents unless they could be consumed at the reception, since we already had two full households and were trying to simplify our lives by combining them, not add new blenders and waffle irons to the mix.

It was surprisingly low-stress.  We had a calendar set up with various tasks to complete on various days ahead of time, to get both the yard and the house into perfect shape.  There was a lot of cleaning involved.

In the end it worked out great.  The whole thing was heavy on the parts of weddings that people like, namely hanging out and talking to people while drinking and eating a ton of food, and very low on the parts of weddings that people (at least our friends) don't care about so much, like decorations and dancing.  It was kind of like a giant all day party, which was perfect for us.
Title: Re: planning a wedding ...
Post by: boy_bye on February 28, 2012, 09:22:52 AM
In the end it worked out great.  The whole thing was heavy on the parts of weddings that people like, namely hanging out and talking to people while drinking and eating a ton of food, and very low on the parts of weddings that people (at least our friends) don't care about so much, like decorations and dancing.  It was kind of like a giant all day party, which was perfect for us.

this sounds amazing! thanks so much everyone for sharing your ideas. i don't know why i was letting this wig me out so much -- as it turns out, an hour or so of conversation and research with my fella has turned up some great options and the whole thing is basically sketched out at this point.

there is a park full of frank lloyd wright houses just outside of pittsburgh, and we are going out there this weekend to check it out. looks like we'll be able to rent a few houses for the wedding party and just have the wedding itself outside, with the reception in a tent or in one of the houses. we'll only have about 25-30 people so this should be doable without a big fuss.

we shouldn't even need a "set up" outside -- i went to a friend's wedding once where we all stood in a circle while the couple spoke their vows quietly to each other, and that was that. i think it was a quaker-based ceremony and it was really beautiful and that's the kind of thing we want to do. then we'll eat!

we also found an amazing and cheap place in costa rica for the honeymoon which sounds and looks like freaking PARADISE and costs less for a month than a long weekend in new york would. i am getting excited! the wedding's going to be great, and then we get to hug monkeys! and be together forever! hooray!
Title: Re: planning a wedding ...
Post by: AJ on February 28, 2012, 02:13:58 PM
We had a pretty frugal wedding, since our parents couldn't help out and we weren't even out of college yet. But even still, I always say that if I could go back and do it again I would have eloped and thrown a big reception when we got back :) I have some friends that realized that for what they were spending on a big ceremony they could elope to they did! I was so jealous, they were the smart ones.

If you want a low-key wedding, have one. I like what arebelspy said about not telling anyone. Just have a small private ceremony, and invite everyone to a big fun reception a month or so later.
Title: Re: planning a wedding ...
Post by: Mrs MM on February 28, 2012, 02:26:32 PM
I agree!  Do what YOU want.  The family will forgive you eventually... :)

My brother got around this problem by having his wedding in the Caribbean.  This meant that very few people could come due to the expense.  They then stayed there and had their honeymoon.  They got married on the beach with their closest family and friends.

MMM and I hiked up a mountain and married ourselves on a random Wednesday afternoon.  It was lovely and we now hike up that same mountain every anniversary.

Later, we had a party back home with family and friends at my parent's house.  There were about 35 people there in total.

I went to an amazing wedding by a lovely lake in the mountains with about 50 people that was nice and intimate.

Perhaps you can come up with a setting that automatically sets limits on the number of people and then you can do what you want outdoors and invite whoever you like.  Later, you can celebrate with individual family members or friends at casual house parties or by letting them take you out to dinner!

Congrats on finding a great guy!!
Title: Re: planning a wedding ...
Post by: Parizade on February 28, 2012, 03:02:59 PM
My son and future DIL are getting married at the local renaissance festival. Total cost for ceremony and reception, $700 (includes food). I'll be sewing the wedding dress, don't expect to pay more than $100 for fabric and notions. Considering the "average" wedding these days is >$20K I think theirs counts as pretty darn frugal.
Title: Re: planning a wedding ...
Post by: Dave on February 28, 2012, 03:23:24 PM
We had ~20 at our ceremony. Nobody was really that funny about it as far as I can tell! Funnily enough the reason we finally went this way was just that we could only fit about 90 of 110 guests into the venue, which was extremely difficult, so instead we went immediates & closest friends only (and saved a fortune on the venue too!).
Title: Re: planning a wedding ...
Post by: ShavenLlama on March 02, 2012, 11:37:24 AM
We got married about a year and a half ago. I think we spent about $3k on the party and clothes and stuff. My zip code shows the average wedding cost around $20K!!!  Being in the Hospitality industry, I had NO DESIRE to do a fancy hotel wedding.

We got married at the courthouse on a Friday in front of close family and friends, then we had the reception at my home association's pooldeck outside my back door with about 90 people. My biggest splurge was on the catered food. We found a luau-style caterer that everyone LOVED. I had an old buddy from HS do the cake, a friend's daughter fresh out of beauty school did my makeup, my old work friend did our photography, another work buddy did the DJ gig all for really low prices! My sister-in-law helped me with the DIY invitations and Thank-you cards.

I almost forgot to get a bouquet, but a quick trip to Fresh-n-Easy on the way to the courthouse scored me a pretty setup of gerber daisies for $5.

I was able to get my dress in the clearance section of Macy's (white Betsey Johnson frock), and my husband wore a white hawaiian shirt and khakis. has customizable shoes, so we got matching pairs with the wedding date embroidered on the side and "Team Boo!" on the other.

Just make sure you have fun, don't worry about making everythign PERFECT, and when your future mother in law throws a fit because you think you are wearing SNEAKERS on your SPECIAL DAAAAAAAAY, just remember that it's YOUR special day!

Also, join the Offbeat Bride Tribe (google it!) for some fun and frugal ideas.

Title: Re: planning a wedding ...
Post by: Parizade on March 04, 2012, 07:06:23 PM
Just got 11 yards of crepe back bridal satin for $2.99/yd at Mill End textiles. WHOOT! This wedding dress will cost less than a pair of designer jeans.