The real problem at the root of expensive weddings is the desire to create an
image that does not accurately reflect who you are. Humility is another word
for accuracy. It does not put on airs. Those who have it simply "are who
they are." And it is a beautiful thing.
My wedding 20 years ago was done inexpensively out of necessity. Wedding dress:
$300. Temple ceremony: $0. Reception: Free at neighbor's home. We served
sheet cake, those standard butter mints, Kool-Aid mingled with Sprite, chicken
salad stuffed cream puffs my roommate made (we paid for the ingredients), and my
other roommate did all my floral arrangements as a gift (we bought the flowers
at a wholesale florists). We paid for a photographer and tux rentals. It was as
inexpensive as we could make it but very classy and elegant. If I could go back,
I would have spent less money on the wedding invitations (that people throw
away) and more money on a better photographer, but that's all. With
thoughtful planning, a wedding doesn't have to blow the bank.
You need to have a mom like mine. This amazing woman made both my and my
sister's gorgeous wedding dresses (cost ran $75-$100 each). She also made
the decor for our receptions (no tacky balloons or crepe paper hanging from
B-ball standards), but really classy ideas she researched from different wedding
books. She made the food for my buffet and my sister's French-themed
dinner, buying the ingredients when they went on sale and freezing what she
could until it was needed. We also set a time limit for the line, or, in my
case, banished it altogether. We got talented friends and family to provide
performances and entertainment. For my wedding we rented a large pavilion at the
local park for $45. My sister's reception was held at our wardhouse, in the
gym, but you would not have been able to tell. She baked and decorated our
gorgeous cakes, too. Total cost: $4000 and $5000 for mine and sister's
weddings.Unfortunately, the DIY spirit has all but dried up in our
generation while expectation and perception have only been inflated. Our
neighbors still talk about those weddings, years later. Because they were FUN.
I prefer to attend wedding receptions held in the neighborhood. It is difficult
for me to drive at night. The LDS cultural hall is usually close enough I can
walk or has adequate parking and bathrooms I can find. I also prefer eating
wedding cake with buttercream frosting. Families in Utah used to
refinance their mortgage for wedding activities. Now they file bankruptcy. I
wonder who they are trying to impress. I don't volunteer to help with
stuff or at the receptions anymore. The last time I volunteered they looked at
me like I was strange. Or they want me to donate a wedding cake for free (It
can be my gift). My cakes cost in the $300 plus range. I usually don't
give gifts that expensive.The two dresses that Mom of 8 mentions is
common. One is for the temple and one is for the pictures outside/reception.
Unfortunately, Utah weddings ARE becoming like this. In the past couple of
years, I've seen local LDS families max out credit cards so their daughters
can have weddings that look like the overblown examples they've seen on
reality TV shows. If it's not held at an elaborate reception
center, you can rent thousands of dollars worth of fake-ness to camouflage the
church gym.Wedding dresses average $600-800 in Utah, and did you
know most brides marrying in the temple now have TWO dresses? (Whoever came up
with that scam was brilliant.)Utah wedding receptions now frequently
have meals and DJs and everything else that blows parents' retirement
plans. And unnecessarily.
Unfortunately the weddings in Utah are not the norm. In the rest of the U.S. it
is customary to provide a decent meal and some level of alcohol. A reception in
Utah is the bridal party standing in a reception line for hours and guests being
given a cookie and glass of punch. There is also entertainment (dancing) and
the venue can't be any old place. Backyards are great for small weddings.
A good wedding for 100 guests can be done for $10,000 and if you are really
good, cook the food, buy bottles of wine and beer wholsale, find a venue that
will let you, and you can do 100 plus guests for $5000. But its a lot of work.
Pay $50.00 for the licence. Get married in clothes you already own. Spend
nothing more than that to get married.Use the savings to get out of
debt, or to stay out of debt, or for a down payment on a house. Buy or rent less
of a house than you can afford. Save or invest the difference. The resulting
peace of mind and increased financial freedom means you will be happier than you
would have been otherwise.
Does a fancy, %12,000 reception hall really make your marriage that much
stronger than a reception held in a backyard? Does the family that spends that
on their child love their child that much more than the family that holds the
reception in their backyard?Not all that can be counted counts, and
not all that counts can be counted.
My wedding cost about $500 in 1985. My mother made my dress and I chose a
microwave over a fancy breakfast. I had my reception at a friend's home.
People are insane to spend that amount of money. I just don't understand
it, but I was brought up to be frugal. Now I own my house, which isn't
fancy either, and have no debt. In this cast, I'm glad to be me.
Finally, an article that makes sense. I have never understood why normally sane
people are taken in by the wedding hype and spend the equivalent of a down
payment for a house on a party that lasts several hours. It is simply
unimaginable to me. My parents had a great system. They set aside a certain
amount of money for our weddings. Then they said "take the cash that you
don't spend". We all figured out ways to spend very little! The dress
was $183, and we found a venue that was free (a beautiful business location we
had a connection to). Spending more money does not make the event
more special. In my mind, it makes it "cheaper" in a way that is hard