Planning a High-Value Wedding Regardless of Cost

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dubsem
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Planning a High-Value Wedding Regardless of Cost

Post by dubsem »

Hello All, the title sounds contradictory, but I'd please like your opinions or practices for limiting wedding costs and feeling like you received a great value. I would like a nice wedding and I'm not trying to pinch pennies, but it's only one (special) day that shouldn't break the bank. I've been compiling a list of things that I could reduce or take in-house, and wanted to open it up to the forum.

If you can, please share things you did or would have done (ie. perform what the coordinator did for you, scale back the open bar hours, etc) for a wedding to maximize the value of your spending, while keeping the costs to a reasonable amount.
G.O.O.D.
YttriumNitrate
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Re: Planning a High-Value Wedding Regardless of Cost

Post by YttriumNitrate »

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davebo
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Re: Planning a High-Value Wedding Regardless of Cost

Post by davebo »

The biggest thing we did is get married young. We hadn't been to that many weddings up until that point so we didn't know what we were doing wrong :)

In our case though, we chose to get married at a nice venue that was further out from the city (probably 45 minutes outside Chicago). I still found the place to be very nice, the venue was close to my parents house so we had a reason to be out there, and it was still driveable so people didn't have to stay in a hotel room if they didn't want to.

The venue was, far and away, the biggest expenses so saving money there was a huge money saver overall. The only thing we did to really trim was doing a family style meal (pass around plates at each table) and not getting chair covers for every single chair (instead just head table). I am pretty sure we were the only wedding that I had been to that did family style and maybe it's viewed as tacky, but I personally loved it and my friends (who were low 20's at the time) also loved it because you can eat as much as you want.

I almost feel bad for people getting married now because Pinterest has set the bar high. We booked a photographer, get invites made, got a limo bus thing, and booked the hall....I was pretty proud of myself :)

Actually, one more thing and probably the most important. When I got married, "Save the date" cards were not yet popular. As a result, we had a "Yes" response rate of about 80% when we just mailed the actual invite. I have heard from others that they had much higher response rates when they sent out a save the date card. So if you want to extend a courtesy invite, but don't care if they come then just skip the save the date cards.
swl
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Re: Planning a High-Value Wedding Regardless of Cost

Post by swl »

Cull guest list, replace any flowers you can with something else (e.g. sub floral center pieces for something you two craft that is related to your relationship), don't overdo it on the cake, and limit open bar to signature drink(s), wine, and/or beer.

OTOH we got full value out of photographer, planner, bar hours, and DJ.
dbr
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Re: Planning a High-Value Wedding Regardless of Cost

Post by dbr »

We got married at home and had a pot-luck reception with friends supplying decoration, food, music etc. I guess the whole thing was a few hundred bucks for the wedding and maybe 70 or 80 people at the reception. Biggest wedding costs were for the minister, flowers, and probably the most for family dinner out the night before. The reception was organized for us by our friends. It was in a cost-free venue that was part of an ongoing organization we all belonged to, maybe a little bit unique situation. This kind of thing is just how we all did things and there were others that followed the same model.
quantAndHold
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Re: Planning a High-Value Wedding Regardless of Cost

Post by quantAndHold »

My favorite wedding ever was my own. We had it on Sunday morning, at a local park. It was a beautiful venue and was only about $200, including chairs. One of the side benefits was that it was a small venue that only allowed 75 guests, so we were forced to keep the guest list down. We love classical music, so we hired a string quartet to play at the wedding. For the reception, we had a brunch, and hired a chef who cooked omelets. It ended up being something like $9/person, and everyone loved it. Having a Sunday brunch saved us from having the obligatory DJ and dancing, which we didn't really want, and also saved a bundle on booze.

We had custom outfits, made by a local costume designer, and custom rings. The cost of both ended up actually being cheaper than buying the normal stuff, and we were able to get exactly what we wanted.

We also designed our own invitations, thank you cards, etc, and did our own flowers, which saved us some money, and gave us something unique, but we have some skills in that area. If you don't already have design skills, I don't particularly recommend trying to learn by doing your own wedding.

All in all, my suggestion is to figure out exactly what you want, and do that, and skip the stuff that you're "supposed" to do, but isn't important to you.
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Atilla
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Re: Planning a High-Value Wedding Regardless of Cost

Post by Atilla »

We got married on a Labor Day weekend Friday afternoon at a restaurant with nice outdoor grounds. They had a permanent tent on a concrete slab for summer events and fish boils so that's where we held the reception. The service was 100' away outside on the lawn.

No wedding party other than best man/maid of honor. Bar was free beer & wine. Food was HEAVY hors d'oeuvres laid out on several buffet tables.

Two friends of the family played classical music for the ceremony and we bribed an uncle who was good with a camera to take the photos. No DJ, no dancing, no stupid crap.

Weather was perfect, people actually had a good time because it was so easy. No horsing around after the ceremony having to wait and then go elsewhere for the reception.

AND it gave a bunch of people an excuse to skip work early to get a head start on the holiday weekend.

And it was very affordable.
itstoomuch
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Re: Planning a High-Value Wedding Regardless of Cost

Post by itstoomuch »

shouldn't break the bank
So. Where is will the wedding be located and How big is the bank?
My older bro gave his daughter a traditional 3 day wedding. He had a bigger bank in 2002 than he did after 2008. :annoyed
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dbr
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Re: Planning a High-Value Wedding Regardless of Cost

Post by dbr »

dbr wrote:We got married at home and had a pot-luck reception with friends supplying decoration, food, music etc. I guess the whole thing was a few hundred bucks for the wedding and maybe 70 or 80 people at the reception. Biggest wedding costs were for the minister, flowers, and probably the most for family dinner out the night before. The reception was organized for us by our friends. It was in a cost-free venue that was part of an ongoing organization we all belonged to, maybe a little bit unique situation. This kind of thing is just how we all did things and there were others that followed the same model.
PS We did not buy clothes for the wedding but wore things we already had. Cost zero.

Buying wedding dresses and especially dresses for bridesmaids, etc. seems about as silly as it gets.
corysold
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Re: Planning a High-Value Wedding Regardless of Cost

Post by corysold »

You can print your own invitations, name cards, programs, etc.

Make your own wedding favors.

Look for Friday or Sunday as an option, we had ours on a Friday and received a 15% discount on the hall and food.

Know your guests and what level of bar would be appreciated. No need to pay for liquor no one will drink.

Look into hiring the photographer full day. He went to my wife's parent where she was getting ready and was able to capture that whole process, which we appreciate years later.
psteinx
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Re: Planning a High-Value Wedding Regardless of Cost

Post by psteinx »

Keep in mind that the main point for the couple is the MARRIAGE, not the wedding.

Weddings can be nice - fun for the guests, and a memorable fun day for the couple. They can also be stressful and expensive.

The couple will likely remember their wedding day virtually no matter the circumstances, and there are many ways (and price levels) to have a fun wedding.

For the guests, they want to honor the couple and their wedding, and have a good time. But how elaborate the flowers are, how tall the wedding cake is, whether or not the meal is chicken or filet, how perfect the calligraphy on the invites is - in general, these things matter a lot less than some couples think.

Do a party that YOU want to do (within reason), that your guests will enjoy. Don't feel the need to "outspend the competition".
Jack FFR1846
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Re: Planning a High-Value Wedding Regardless of Cost

Post by Jack FFR1846 »

Pro tip: Verify any guests from parents are alive. We found 25 people who were actually dead. Although that amounted to some postage savings, the particular parent list was bigger than the total number the hall could hold. That took some work.
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dbr
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Re: Planning a High-Value Wedding Regardless of Cost

Post by dbr »

Further PS We did not serve alcohol at all at our wedding. That is not because we are teetotalers (ask me about single malts) but because it is unnecessary and there are lots of beverages that are as good or better. That especially means not trying to hire a bartender and bar service at some club or restaurant. You have to have a crowd of friends and family that don't think having a good time has to include alcohol. That can be difficult in some groups and families.
123
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Re: Planning a High-Value Wedding Regardless of Cost

Post by 123 »

If you elope virtually 100% of what you spend directly benefits the bride and groom. Hard to get a pay-back much higher then that with such low risk.
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Taylor Larimore
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Elope

Post by Taylor Larimore »

Dubsem:

We had a large and expensive wedding which left us nearly broke. We discussed it afterwards and we wished we had saved the money and eloped as "123" suggests.

We were married 62 years until my wife died of cancer 3 years ago.

Best wishes.
Taylor
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joebh
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Re: Planning a High-Value Wedding Regardless of Cost

Post by joebh »

"Great value" means very different things to different people. My wife's family wasn't able to pay for any of the wedding, so we happily paid for it ourselves. We incurred no debt doing so.

For our wedding we invited only about 50 people.
We had no bar, but had bottles of wine at each table.
The food was very good, but not wildly expensive.
The venue was historical/colonial. Not a lavish wedding venue, but not an Elks Club.
We did the planning ourselves - we didn't hire a planner.
My wife's wedding dress was a white dress purchased at a non-wedding-dress establishment. It cost $50. It was simple, but beautiful.
My suit was new, but something I planned to use at work.
Although my wife and her dad arrived at the venue in a horse-drawn carriage (the one extravagance), we had no limo to drive us to the airport for our honeymoon. Our friends drove us instead.

Overall, it was simple, memorable, and exactly what we wanted. It fit our personalities. And it didn't break the bank.

One of the keys to keeping costs in line for us was to stay as far away from "wedding" shops as possible. Dress, suit, flowers, etc, etc - none were purchased at a wedding-specific shop.

I think of great value as getting exactly what you want, without overspending for things you don't really want. For us it felt like great value. For some it might have felt extravagant, while for others it would have felt frugal.
Last edited by joebh on Mon Feb 08, 2016 7:56 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Church Lady
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Re: Planning a High-Value Wedding Regardless of Cost

Post by Church Lady »

Congratulations on your upcoming wedding! :beer

If you must have a fancy gown, you can rent one. For $75 including alterations, one family member rented a *spectacular* gown. She looked fabulous.

She also believes she saved money by getting silk flowers instead of real flowers.

Happy planning!
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texasdiver
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Re: Planning a High-Value Wedding Regardless of Cost

Post by texasdiver »

Got married on a friends boat in Alaska. We had two friends and my brother in attendance and wore jeans, rubber boots and fleece jackets. Total cost (to us) was about $200 for the gold wedding bands we got at Costco. Our friends paid for the gas, champagne, bagels, and smoked salmon.

We were actually planning a much larger second ceremony back in Chile where my wife was from but never got around to it as we figured out we were already legally married and didn't need the hassle. With my wife entering a medical residency in the US the headaches of planning a second big wedding down there got way too much to deal with. So we just nixed the whole idea and had a reception party at her parents house instead which didn't cost any more than any ordinary party.
staythecourse
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Re: Planning a High-Value Wedding Regardless of Cost

Post by staythecourse »

The only answer is there is no answer.

What you may find cheap someone else may not and vice versa. Just like in life find what your absolute wants are and what you are willing to give up. For example: If you LOVE to get married at x place then do it on a day that is not popular, i.e. Sunday brunch or not popular wedding days, i.e. Easter weekend.

I will say the same thing I say to everyone your guests will like or not like you wedding/ reception not based on grandiosity, but on ease for them to attend. If you make it simple for out of towners then they will love it no matter what and vice versa.

Good luck.
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blueblock
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Re: Planning a High-Value Wedding Regardless of Cost

Post by blueblock »

My brother and his wife had little money when their son got married, so they gave the rehearsal dinner at a popular BBQ joint with a private room. The food, while casual, was outstanding--so much better than a standard "fancy" catered dinner--and the easy-going atmosphere encouraged people to mingle and offer their reminiscences and toasts.

Yes, there were a few who voiced concern about the "low" venue, but, seriously, it was one of the best parties I've ever attended.
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dm200
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Re: Planning a High-Value Wedding Regardless of Cost

Post by dm200 »

My suggestion is to focus on a successful MARRIAGE as opposed to a fancy WEDDING.

While I cannot cite any references or statistical studies on the issue, I doubt there is any positive correlation of a fancy WEDDING with successful MARRIAGE,
renue74
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Re: Planning a High-Value Wedding Regardless of Cost

Post by renue74 »

In 1999, we eloped to Oahu, HI and it was the best ever. We dropped about $7000 for a 2 week wedding/honeymoon.

The wedding day was no stress. The B&B wedding package we got took care of most of the details and we actually shipped formal clothes and wedding dress over to HI before we left.

In fact, the morning of our wedding day, we went snorkeling at a small state park a couple miles from the B&B.

We told our parents and they were invited, but didn't go....and we sent out wedding "announcements" the day we flew to Hawaii.

About 2 months later, our family threw a small get together, but nothing wild and didn't cost us anything.

No regrets.

BTW...a month later, we closed on our first starter house...because we had money for a downpayment.
boomergeneration
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Re: Planning a High-Value Wedding Regardless of Cost

Post by boomergeneration »

A friend of mine is planning her daughter's wedding. She was aghast at the prices for catering and then saw on Angie's List high ratings for the catering department of the culinary program at a local community college. The catering is done by supervised students of the program for an excellent price. She is saving thousands of dollars. Something to thing about if there is a program near you.
basearebelongtous
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Re: Planning a High-Value Wedding Regardless of Cost

Post by basearebelongtous »

  1. moissanite instead of diamonds
  2. palladium instead of platinum or gold
  3. pinata instead of cake
  4. resell dress (didn't convince my wife of this one...), and/or buy used or rack sale
  5. pinwheels and other etsy or diy craft instead of flowers (permanent keepsakes to boot)
  6. photographer who will just give you high res jpegs, never pay for albums or prints (diy without the insane markup)
  7. destination wedding at hotel. Room comped or upgraded because of guests, built in honeymoon, hotel already looks great with minimal decorations etc, smaller guest list, guests less likely to bring non cash gifts (!), and local labor was cheaper. Also no separate venue fee. But, make sure hotel is close to airport and taxis are cheap!
  8. decide where to splurge. We paid top dollar for photography and boy does that still make me happy.
My wedding was awesome and on budget.
kaudrey
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Re: Planning a High-Value Wedding Regardless of Cost

Post by kaudrey »

dubsem wrote:Hello All, the title sounds contradictory, but I'd please like your opinions or practices for limiting wedding costs and feeling like you received a great value. I would like a nice wedding and I'm not trying to pinch pennies, but it's only one (special) day that shouldn't break the bank. I've been compiling a list of things that I could reduce or take in-house, and wanted to open it up to the forum.

If you can, please share things you did or would have done (ie. perform what the coordinator did for you, scale back the open bar hours, etc) for a wedding to maximize the value of your spending, while keeping the costs to a reasonable amount.
Hi,

We got married about 2 1/2 years ago. Here is what we did to help with costs:

1) Keep it small(ish) - we had 70 people. Our criteria was: do we see these people regularly and WANT them there?
2) Make stuff. I made the name tags, name tag holders (out of corks), card box (out of a wooden wine crate), and the centerpieces for the tables. We also ordered the bridal party flowers online and assembled them ourselves. Our invitations came from Vistaprint and used a photo we had of us getting engaged - cheap, and people loved them.
3) Have an afternoon wedding. Saturday afternoon is much cheaper than Saturday night. We had an after-party at a local bar, and more than 1/2 the people came (and a lot of those who didn't were older relatives who were happy we had a day wedding anyway).
4) Skip the videographer
5) DJ instead of band
6) We did a cupcake tower instead of a cake - people LOVED it (and we could have lots of different flavors!)
7) No limos - everyone carpooled

The bottom line is that people will remember the personal touches and that they are sharing your special day. If you really want to downscale, think about alternative venues - like a park, or a mountaintop or something. Hope this helps a little, and congratulations!
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lthenderson
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Re: Planning a High-Value Wedding Regardless of Cost

Post by lthenderson »

I think the best thing you can do is ignore the large majority of the weddings you have been too and do what you want to do. All in, we spent $500 on our wedding and honeymoon. We got married in my parent's church. My wife bought a second hand dress and I rented a tux, the biggest expense of our entire wedding. For flowers we picked some out of the ditches and flower gardens of people coming to the wedding. For pictures, I bought around 20 or so disposable cameras (back when film was going out of style and they were cheap) and passed them out before the wedding. It turned out to be the favorite thing we did because the pictures we got back were excellent and really captured the mood of the ceremony. Afterwards, we went back to my parents farm and had a BBQ/potluck dinner and played croquet out on the lawn. At the practice rehearsal the day before the wedding, we also had a potluck and we planted an orchard of fruit trees that my wife and I are still enjoying. For our honeymoon, we drove down to the Ozark mountains and spent a week hiking the trails and staying in my parent's cabin. Wedding are all about the memories, not about how good that catered meal was or the number of drinks you got from the open bar.
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Rob5TCP
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Re: Planning a High-Value Wedding Regardless of Cost

Post by Rob5TCP »

Just on a side note --- the more expensive the wedding the higher the probability of divorce:

http://www.cnn.com/2014/10/13/living/we ... index.html
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dm200
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Re: Planning a High-Value Wedding Regardless of Cost

Post by dm200 »

We were married in the late 70's. I can't remember the total cost, but it was modest (by today's standards). Mother In law made the wedding cake, and prepared much of the food for the buffet reception (100+ guests) held in a church hall (same site as the wedding) that only cost a few hundred dollars to rent for the occasion. Had a band, bar, etc.

What I find so puzzling (and shocking) - is that the very same "event" (such as a rehearsal dinner) costs much more when you call it anything connected to a "wedding" vs. just some group function. We had a rehearsal dinner for those in the wedding and many out of town guests/family at a Chinese restaurant (separate room) the night before and it was very modestly prices and the food was outstanding.
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dm200
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Re: Planning a High-Value Wedding Regardless of Cost

Post by dm200 »

Rob5TCP wrote:Just on a side note --- the more expensive the wedding the higher the probability of divorce:
http://www.cnn.com/2014/10/13/living/we ... index.html
Very interesting.

Haven't "shopped" for financing weddings (no need) in recent years, but the amounts I hear folks spending on weddings is absolutely shocking - and that is just for local events held at hotels, clubs, etc. for the dinner/reception/etc.
mouses
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Re: Planning a High-Value Wedding Regardless of Cost

Post by mouses »

There tend to be very pretty places that you can rent inexpensively for a wedding - local historic houses and their grounds, etc.

I would never spend giant amounts of money for a wedding dress or bridesmaid dresses.

I would not cheap out on the rings. There's no need to be extravagant, but the real stuff is the real stuff. Personally I am not a fan of engagement rings. A gold wedding band is all that is necessary, imho.

Limit the guest list, say to close relatives and close friends although phrase it diplomatically.

Travel should be for the honeymoon, not dragging unwilling guests to some expensive to travel to place.

Potluck when possible. I would shell out for a very attractive cake if none of your circle knows how to made one.

Another vote for no alcohol. The potential for someone getting drunk and causing a scene is too high.

A professional photographer, but also a friend taking snapshots as well. Stuff happens, and you don't want to have no photos.
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Re: Planning a High-Value Wedding Regardless of Cost

Post by jpelder »

Some notes from my wedding (a year and a half ago):

1. Shop around for everything. Some vendors cost way more than others
2. Keep the guest list small. As others have mentioned, lots of costs are "per guest"
3. Use who you know for venues. Belong to a church/other religious organization? Get married there (for free). Belong to a country club, boat club, swim club, etc.? See if you can use their facility. Have family with land? See if they'll let you use it. We got married in my grandfather-in-law's farm, and it was a beautiful and free venue.
4. DIY what you can. The maid of honor was a florist, so we just bought loos flowers and she made bouquets and boutonnieres. Our centerpieces were just mason jars with wildflowers that we picked the day before. We painted table numbers and place cards ourselves.
5. Buy a used dress, or resell afterward. Buy a suit, don't rent a tux. You'll pay $100-$180 for a tux rental, when you can buy a suit, tie, and shirt for $250 and keep them all. Just choose a color that you'd use in regular life. Groomsmen appreciate this, too.
6. If you can find one, use a photographer who gives you the files but doesn't require you to order prints. You never know which pictures you'll want new prints of in a few years
7. If you want alcohol, wine and beer is fine. Having liquor will probably lead to groomsmen doing shots, and we all know how that story ends.

8. This is more of an attitude one than a cost one: don't worry about pleasing anyone but yourself, your spouse-to-be, and maybe your parents/siblings with your wedding. Remember that the whole point is for it to be a party to celebrate the couple. Everything else is window dressing
LateStarter1975
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Re: Planning a High-Value Wedding Regardless of Cost

Post by LateStarter1975 »

We had our wedding in 2011 and it cost us about $50,000 and it was our dumbest mistake ever! The wedding was beautiful and nice, but it was stupid to have spent that money (on credit) for such a wedding, no matter how beautiful. Some of the mistakes I made were:
1. Paying for hotel accommodation/transport for all the groomsmen/bridesmaids
2. Not shopping for the food budget and drinks (this was by far the largest cost of the wedding and I was seriously ripped off on this)
3. Paying for some of my relatives' airline tickets (international flights) to come to the wedding

I did not know about money then. It took us 2 years to dig out of that debt and all our debts (we became debt free by 2013) and I found this site in 2013 and since then, have been much wiser with our spending.
Debt is dangerous...simple is beautiful
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Watty
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Re: Planning a High-Value Wedding Regardless of Cost

Post by Watty »

A couple of things;

We had the rehearsal dinner at a nice chinese restaurant on a weekday evening. They were not busy on at all on weeknights after about 7:00 PM so they just set up an oriental partition and let us use half the restaurant for just the price of the food. I think we provided a few bottles of wine and people could buy their own drinks. We ordered in advance and got a wide variety of food so there was a lot of great tasting interesting food that that we would not have ordinarily ordered including whole fish cooked in a Chinese style. The food was lot better than most catered food and there were so many different dishes that everyone could pick something they liked. In today's dollars it would have only cost a few hundred dollars.

Our wedding was in a very nice old church that the local historical society has. We had the wedding there and a reception in the adjoining room with just punch and cake along with some light refreshments. I just checked and they are still doing that and it would now cost less then $1,500 to use the building for about four hours. It looks like on weekends they can rent it for three weddings a day in the morning, afternoon, and evening.

Not having a sit down meal meant that we really didn't have to worry about cutting people off the guest list. I worked at a medium size office that was a friendly environment but trying to pick who to invite and who not to invite would have been awkward especially since I had only been there a year. I could also have come across like I was hitting people up for wedding gifts. Since we had plenty of room I just put a invitation on the bulletin board letting people know they were welcome to come and there was a good turnout from my office. In talking to people I think that a lot of them actually liked it being relatively short, about 2 hours in all, compared to spending most of the day at a wedding and formal reception. We only had a few out of town guests and we visited with them in the days before and after the wedding. We did not head off on our honeymoon until the next weekend.

My son didn't give us all the details but his wife's family apparently gave them a fixed budget which they could use for the wedding, honeymoon, or to save for a down payment on a house. We have a huge backyard and he asked if they could have the wedding there. The main expenses were a catered buffet and rented tables. Our subdivision isn't real fancy but it has a pool with a nice clubhouse and we had the clubhouse rented for a backup in case it rained, but we didn't have to use it. There were a few minor glitches like most weddings but it turned out very nice and the weather was good.

They were able to buy their first house within about a year.
Last edited by Watty on Tue Feb 09, 2016 11:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Raymond
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Re: Planning a High-Value Wedding Regardless of Cost

Post by Raymond »

Adding to the previously posted information on correlations between wedding spending and marriage success:

"The Divorce-Proof Marriage" - The Atlantic

"‘A Diamond is Forever’ and Other Fairy Tales: The Relationship between Wedding Expenses and Marriage Duration" - SSRN

Best wishes to you and your soon-to-be-spouse, dubsem! :sharebeer
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psystal
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Re: Planning a High-Value Wedding Regardless of Cost

Post by psystal »

1. Strictly limit the number of guests. My rule for our wedding guest list: If I wouldn't buy you dinner any other day, I'm not doing it on my wedding day.

2. Hold the ceremony at a nicer venue, but look for a more economical location nearby for the reception. Conservatories are a great option, because the flowers are already there. One large room with tables and food and a dance floor is much like any other. Just avoid the fire hall route.

3. Make the bouquets yourself. I am not at all artsy, but helped my wife make hers. It took about an hour the day before our wedding. Saved a couple hundred bucks easily, and we probably got better flowers from the local florist.
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dm200
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Re: Planning a High-Value Wedding Regardless of Cost

Post by dm200 »

jpelder wrote:Some notes from my wedding (a year and a half ago):
1. Shop around for everything. Some vendors cost way more than others
2. Keep the guest list small. As others have mentioned, lots of costs are "per guest"
3. Use who you know for venues. Belong to a church/other religious organization? Get married there (for free). Belong to a country club, boat club, swim club, etc.? See if you can use their facility. Have family with land? See if they'll let you use it. We got married in my grandfather-in-law's farm, and it was a beautiful and free venue.
4. DIY what you can. The maid of honor was a florist, so we just bought loos flowers and she made bouquets and boutonnieres. Our centerpieces were just mason jars with wildflowers that we picked the day before. We painted table numbers and place cards ourselves.
5. Buy a used dress, or resell afterward. Buy a suit, don't rent a tux. You'll pay $100-$180 for a tux rental, when you can buy a suit, tie, and shirt for $250 and keep them all. Just choose a color that you'd use in regular life. Groomsmen appreciate this, too.
6. If you can find one, use a photographer who gives you the files but doesn't require you to order prints. You never know which pictures you'll want new prints of in a few years
7. If you want alcohol, wine and beer is fine. Having liquor will probably lead to groomsmen doing shots, and we all know how that story ends.
8. This is more of an attitude one than a cost one: don't worry about pleasing anyone but yourself, your spouse-to-be, and maybe your parents/siblings with your wedding. Remember that the whole point is for it to be a party to celebrate the couple. Everything else is window dressing
Good list, but a few comments:

#3 - be aware that - even if offered 'free' - using place of worship is not FREE for the entity, since there are costs involved. Consider making a generous donation.
#5 - renting tux (or similar) may not be a bad idea, especially if there are a small number of attendants. Styles change over the years. In the late 60's I was in a relative's wedding and all we needed was a white jacket. In the late 70's blue tuxes were "in" (look silly today).
#6 - to supplement pictures, request/facilitate guests sending you their own smartphone photos
#7 - it all depends on the "culture", but try to take appropriate "steps" to avoid alcohol related "incidents". Without getting into details, certain religious/ethnic groups tend to have alcohol with nobody getting "drunk", while others tend to have "problems" with alcohol. Others just ban alcohol. I don't think anyone wants the "most remembered" thing about the wedding to be that Uncle Charlie got drunk, danced on the table and grabbed the bridesmaids! We had a bar, but just had one bartender. That minimized over drinking.
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dm200
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Re: Planning a High-Value Wedding Regardless of Cost

Post by dm200 »

LateStarter1975 wrote:We had our wedding in 2011 and it cost us about $50,000 and it was our dumbest mistake ever! The wedding was beautiful and nice, but it was stupid to have spent that money (on credit) for such a wedding, no matter how beautiful. Some of the mistakes I made were:
1. Paying for hotel accommodation/transport for all the groomsmen/bridesmaids
2. Not shopping for the food budget and drinks (this was by far the largest cost of the wedding and I was seriously ripped off on this)
3. Paying for some of my relatives' airline tickets (international flights) to come to the wedding

I did not know about money then. It took us 2 years to dig out of that debt and all our debts (we became debt free by 2013) and I found this site in 2013 and since then, have been much wiser with our spending.
Wow $50,000!!!

Glad you "survived" (in many ways).

I do think that it is nice to pay for some wedding party/guest accommodations, but wonder if a smaller wedding party might be another way to reduce costs.

Weddings seem to be a prime target for ripoff folks. Maybe when having a "wedding", you could just call it a group dinner. I'd bet the costs would be lower.
TSR
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Re: Planning a High-Value Wedding Regardless of Cost

Post by TSR »

A good friend of mine loves fashion but hated the idea of paying for a high-end wedding dress. She went to the Nordstrom website and shopped from the "fancy dresses" section (that's probably not what it's called) instead of the "bridal" section. This had a few benefits. First, the fanciest dress at Nordstrom costs about 10% of the fanciest wedding dress, so you can get something really nice and really beautiful without paying a wedding premium. Second, you can order EVERY dress they have, try them on, then return them. This was its own kind of fun for her. Third, you might actually wear that dress again, which you can guarantee is not the case with a wedding dress.

I mention all of this just because it sounds like you don't want to go "cheap," just "cheaper." Nobody is going to see a VERY fancy dress and think that you cheaped out on the dress, even if you really did. (I personally don't care about any of that stuff, but I understand if someone does.)

It is also fundamentally rude in any value system to ask people to be part of your wedding and then ask THEM to pay for a dress/tux/etc. Just specify black dresses for bridesmaids and grey suits for groomsmen (or just don't have these people), and you won't get into these questions of "Sally can't afford the dress so we need to subsidize it."

Oh, and when you budget for the wedding, don't forget to include the price of the engagement ring/wedding rings. There are a lot of people who do this absurd mental accounting game where they get a $25,000 ring and have a $50,000 wedding, and then they pretend that they didn't just pay $75,000 to get married.

Best of luck and congrats!
btenny
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Re: Planning a High-Value Wedding Regardless of Cost

Post by btenny »

Two of the most affordable weddings I have been to were POT luck wedding reception setups. There were tons of people at both these wedding receptions but all the guests brought food and drinks for themselves and some to share. So no big food and drink bill. Plus the actual weddings in both cases were small. Both brides had nice short tasteful dresses but not "designer". The chapels did not have tons of flowers.

My cousins grandson wedding was held in their church on a Saturday afternoon with just the family and wedding party in attendance. Then the reception was held in my cousins big backyard. She spent the spring/summer growing flowers and making the place look nice. She rented a dance floor and a bunch of chairs and tables and table clothes and a trailer restroom. One of her friends did the DJ thing. Her daughter did a slide show and outdoor video of the couple. My cousin and her daughter and other kids cooked for about a week to make some of the food. Guests brought potluck as well. There were about 150+ people there and we danced and partied for hours. It was a fantastic wedding. She said the whole wedding cost $2K.

Likewise the biggest wedding I have attended was for my nephew. But it cost very little. The couple got married in a small chapel in Green bay, Wisconsin with just the wedding party and the parents. Then we went to the reception at a motel giant meeting room for the reception. The party was totally potluck but being Green Bay half the town came to the wedding. There were 250+ people there. My sister bought two kegs of beer and some friends did the DJ thing. The brides friends band played part of the evening. But the best part was the open mike and story telling about the couple. The party went from 5PM till 1AM and was a total ball.
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Re: Planning a High-Value Wedding Regardless of Cost

Post by hirlaw »

My daughter is getting married this year, so I understand the issues!

Unless you are planning an inexpensive "do it yourself" type of wedding, I encourage you to retain an experienced wedding planner. Get some referrals and interview them. While there is a pretty large fee, she undoubtedly has saved us time and money. When dealing with vendors such as a band or DJ, florist, transportation, hotels, food, cake, etc., she will know who to interview and, more importantly, who to avoid. She will give you ideas on trimming costs (do you want really need extra lighting?, can the DJ supply this? what type?, Invitations? Save the Date cards?). During the week of the wedding, she will handle the vendors directly so the bride and you don't have to deal with last minute problems.

Good luck and try to enjoy!
corysold
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Re: Planning a High-Value Wedding Regardless of Cost

Post by corysold »

If you have it catered, go for one of the least expensive options. I've been to a lot of weddings and can't remember ever thinking the food was great, even "high end" surf and turf type meals.
jf89
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Re: Planning a High-Value Wedding Regardless of Cost

Post by jf89 »

Once you toss the word "wedding" onto anything, it immediately becomes more expensive. DJs, catering, and flowers especially. Avoid saying that you're hiring or renting anything for a wedding and just use the term "event" up until you get a quote for items and setup.

Along those lines, wedding venues tend to jack up their prices just for the space, because they can. We used a non-traditional venue (a local, small-ish art museum). They were used to hosting events and parties but rarely did weddings, so they stuck to their normal pricing schedule. Maybe try to find venues like that near you. Just think of buildings with a space big enough to seat 100-200 guests. Museums, schools/office buildings (think large, grand/interesting lobbies)... if I could have figured out a convenient way to get 120 guests up three stories without having them plod up service stairs in dress shoes and heels, we would have been married in an old water tower for a grand total of zero dollars for the space. You don't need to have a special connection to the building or the contents of the building, but if you have a REALLY weird location with a lot of floor space that's meaningful to the couple, ask if they'd let you rent that for a night. You might be surprised by the places that are used to holding events and would be happy to take your money to host yours.
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likegarden
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Re: Planning a High-Value Wedding Regardless of Cost

Post by likegarden »

The cost of the wedding might be inversely related to the endurance of a marriage.

We spent $ 550 on our wedding in 1971 and had an annual income of $20,000 then before taxes. The 110 guests contributed as wedding gifts about $500 to us in cash, so we broke even, costs us nothing. We had insisted that my father-in-law not pay for anything because he paid for my wife's sister's wedding the year before. My wife had also no student loans. We had our wedding reception in a mansion restaurant in a state park on a Sunday afternoon. 2 hr open bar was next to a large waterfall. My wife's dress was bought on sale for $80.

So our wedding did cost nothing, and we are still happily married after 45 years. There is that inverse relationship.
Last edited by likegarden on Tue Feb 09, 2016 2:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
bigred77
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Re: Planning a High-Value Wedding Regardless of Cost

Post by bigred77 »

My one piece of advice is that I saved almost 50% of the cost by having my wedding on Saturday afternoon (ceremony at noon, reception 1-5) instead of a typical evening wedding reception. I prefer to day drink anyway :D .
jcchen
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Re: Planning a High-Value Wedding Regardless of Cost

Post by jcchen »

here are some thoughts

1. set priorities. spend more on what's important. for me, it was the food, to treat the many out of town relatives and friends.

2. read library book on wedding planning and cost cutting

3. platinum rings from amazon. diamond (went for best cut) from jamesallen.com. also, costco and bluenile provide high value

4. small guest list at dinner (~65) so could use a normal restaurant instead of a hotel ballroom. restaurant had private room. cost is $60 pp for 10 course Chinese banquet. hotels run over $100 pp.

5. no bar and no bartender but restaurant let us bring in bottles of sparkling wine, which I got from BJs Wholesale club. also, bought in cake from local bakery. no cake cutting fee.

6. flowers and bouquet from costco.com run about $250.

7. photographer was just starting out so only $800. in this hcol area, normal price is $2000 to 3000.

8. reserved blocks at local hotels via hotelplanner.com. we didnt pay for anyone's room.

9. got friend to emcee. borrowed microphone and speakers.

10. no limo. thought of renting high end car and having a friend drive but in the end, didnt bother.

11. designed own invitations and printed at vistaprint. emailed out save the date.
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Tamarind
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Re: Planning a High-Value Wedding Regardless of Cost

Post by Tamarind »

psystal wrote:1. Strictly limit the number of guests.
+1

One very important way to do this is to remember that you are financially independent adults and act accordingly. If you don't solicit or accept money from either set of parents for the festivities, you will have much more leeway to avoid "parents' guests", vicarious living, and other expensive interferences.
psystal
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Re: Planning a High-Value Wedding Regardless of Cost

Post by psystal »

dbr wrote: PS We did not buy clothes for the wedding but wore things we already had. Cost zero.

Buying wedding dresses and especially dresses for bridesmaids, etc. seems about as silly as it gets.
My wife is generally as frugal as I am, but this was the one expense I couldn't talk her out of. She didn't spend a lot on her dress in comparison to what many others spend (<$800), but she wore it once and it has hung in a closet ever since. Sigh.
psystal
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Re: Planning a High-Value Wedding Regardless of Cost

Post by psystal »

caticind wrote:
psystal wrote:1. Strictly limit the number of guests.
+1

One very important way to do this is to remember that you are financially independent adults and act accordingly. If you don't solicit or accept money from either set of parents for the festivities, you will have much more leeway to avoid "parents' guests", vicarious living, and other expensive interferences.
We were fortunate in that our parents contributed small amounts (about $500 each). I'd suggest keeping any help to a minimum, and asking for them to pay for very specific expenses that they feel are important. My parents really wanted to enable us to use a certain venue, so they paid for it. Her parents expect free-flowing alcohol at weddings, so we played up the melodrama a bit and let it be known that we didn't see the value when most of our friends were light drinkers. They ponied up for the open bar cost. It made them feel more attached to those aspects of the wedding, rather than the event as a whole, and there was a lot less pressure to invite anyone who didn't make our original guest list.
Leeraar
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Re: Planning a High-Value Wedding Regardless of Cost

Post by Leeraar »

We eloped.

Image

30 years ago.

L.
You can get what you want, or you can just get old. (Billy Joel, "Vienna")
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dubsem
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Re: Planning a High-Value Wedding Regardless of Cost

Post by dubsem »

jf89 wrote:Once you toss the word "wedding" onto anything, it immediately becomes more expensive. DJs, catering, and flowers especially. Avoid saying that you're hiring or renting anything for a wedding and just use the term "event" up until you get a quote for items and setup
Thanks for all the comments/suggestions, everyone.
G.O.O.D.
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