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Wedding Tips!

November 5, 2010 · 39 comments

in Life, Misc Tips, Personal Finance

Last week, I wrote a post about a woman who wanted her parents to fund an extravagant wedding for her.  (Wouldn’t we all like someone to provide extravagant things for us?  Feel free to contact me anytime you feel like giving me something nice and expensive.)

Anyway, that post motivated me to jot down some tips on how to have a nice wedding that is reasonably priced.  (Kevin at Invest It Wisely – are you out there?  :))

Money Saving Tips:

1.       For you ladies out there, shop around for that dress.  In my opinion, the biggest waste of money is on the wedding dress.  It is only worn for one day, and if you are like me, you will end up spilling mostaccioli down the front of it anyway.  (I am such a classy girl.)  Nobody cares or will even notice if your dress cost thousands vs. hundreds of dollars.  Go for the most inexpensive dress that looks good on you.  Shop everywhere.  If you have a relative that has the talent to make a dress, then by all means, go for the homemade dress.

2.       Barter and borrow!  For instance, one of my wedding invitees also made our flowers.  We paid for the flowers, but she made my veil as a wedding gift based on a picture I gave her.  It was perfect!  If a friend has a veil that goes well with your dress, then borrow it.  Borrow a purse, shoes, whatever!

3.       For the men – oftentimes you can get your tux for free, depending on how many tuxes will be rented by the wedding party.  Or, you can even take the high road and give the free tux rental to someone who is financially strapped or is traveling a long way to attend the wedding.   Just try to get a tux or two for free.  It never hurts to ask.

4.       Have your wedding on a night other than Saturday.  Our wedding was on a Friday night, and that knocked 3 dollars off the per-person cost.

5.       Don’t feel like you have to get a giant wedding cake with waterfalls and lights.  I was just at a wedding a few months ago where each table had its own type of cake.  These cakes tasted way better than the traditional wedding cake, and I am sure it was cheaper.  Does it really matter if you are cutting into a giant, 6 tier cake, or just a nice, reasonably sized cake?

6.       Does someone have a nice car?   Is that person willing to drive you from the church to the reception?  You can save a ton of money by not getting a limo.  (However, limos can be really fun…)

7.       Plan that honeymoon well in advance.  (Assuming you have a long engagement.)  Does someone have a lot of frequent flier miles?  Maybe they would consider donating them as a wedding present.  Someone have a timeshare in the Bahamas?  Maybe you can swing a good deal on accommodations.  Be creative!  However, do not fall for any internet or mail scam offering a great deal to a ‘resort’.  Investigate any honeymoon ‘deal’ thoroughly!

8.        Consider making your own invitations.  With all the computer software available today, you may find it is much cheaper to create your own invitations, and it might even be fun.  (You could even buy some wine and invite the bridesmaids over to help you out.)

Wedding Tips in General:

You don’t have to do anything the ‘traditional’ way.  If you just want to go to a small chapel and invite immediate family and your best friend, then that is ok.  It is YOUR day, so you get to make the rules.   Who cares if cousin Susie invited you to her wedding last year?  DO WHAT YOU WANT AND WHAT YOU CAN AFFORD.

You should hire a photographer, unless you know someone that has an excellent camera and is willing to take all the pictures that day.  Regardless, you need pictures.

You may also want to consider hiring a videographer.  I can count on one hand the amount of times we have watched our wedding video, but I am still glad we have it.

Music is very important, and make sure there is a variety of music available to appeal to all ages and tastes.  You may love country music, but maybe 60 percent of your guests hate it.  Yes, it is important to enjoy your special day, but you don’t want to look at the wedding video a year later and realize that your guests were actually bored out of their mind.

If there will be a long span between dinner and the end of the reception, consider bringing in some extra food for the end of the night.  The last thing you want is a bunch of people hitting the road after drinking a bunch of free liquor.  Pizza anyone?

Remember, a wedding is something you prepare for well in advance, but the day itself goes by in the blink of an eye.  Don’t be nervous, just focus on being with friends and family, and enjoy that you are starting a new chapter in your life.  The one thing you don’t want to do is start that new chapter heavily in debt.  Yes a wedding is important, but it can be done at a reasonable cost.

What wedding tips do you have?  Was your day ideal?  Did you go in to debt?

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{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

Nicole November 5, 2010 at 7:40 am

We were actually anti-professional-photographer. We dislike the way that photographers at these things often destroy moments so that they can record moments that never existed. That upset my MIL so she made sure someone was taking pictures and someone was videotaping, but at least it was unobtrusive. (She also forced a tux on DH and his brother, which made everyone else look underdressed, but she’s mellowed out since then.)

Also, if you’re having an outdoor wedding, you don’t really need things like centerpieces or flowers (other than a bouquet) etc. So we didn’t. We gave up on wedding favors too. Nobody noticed. Turns out there are a lot of things you don’t actually need.


Kris November 5, 2010 at 1:29 pm

Nicole, very true. You definitely don’t need all those extras to make it a nice day. Did your pictures turn out nice?


Nicole November 5, 2010 at 8:42 pm

Really well, actually. Very casual and real. Though there is one amazing picture of me throwing the bouquet and EVERYBODY running away from it (including Maggie), except one woman jumping up to grab it. (The bouquet catcher, incidentally, got married 10 years later to a gentleman that then had a massive crush on the woman avoiding the bouquet who got married to another man a week after my wedding. Personally I think the catcher got a much better mate!)


Kris November 6, 2010 at 11:27 am

Nicole- it is so funny what pictures reveal that you never notice in real life. I have a similar picture where someone is actively avoiding the bouquet. Almost doing gymnastics in fact.


Roshawn @ Watson Inc November 5, 2010 at 9:13 am

And the wedding aftermath ensues!!!

Kris, we definitely used some of these tips (my wife shopped around for the dress, we planned the honeymoon well in advance, and we made our own invitations). Although the costs of the wedding was still a tidy sum, I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way. BTW, we didn’t go into any debt for the wedding, so we could afford all we did 🙂


Kris November 5, 2010 at 1:30 pm

Shawn – you did better than we did by not going into any debt. (Probably because you were careful!)

Some people want so many ridiculous things so their party can be like no other party. If only people focused so much on their marriages.


Money Reasons November 5, 2010 at 9:13 am

Where was this article when we got married? We could have used it, great tips!

We paid for our wedding ourselves (my wife’s parents were going through a hard financial time back then). So we just did without for a lot of things (like caterers and alcohol). My wife’s mom and sisters cooked the food. My wife’s mom did double and even triple duties…

My wife got an inexpensive, but still okay looking dress.

The most expensive thing that I bought during our wedding entire wedding was my wife’s engagement ring (incredible expensive for me at the time, but incredible embassassing for me now because it is so cheap compared to everybody elses).

Hmm, perhaps someday I’ll have to blog about my wedding experience… I think we went to frugal (or cheap) with it.

Actually, as a guy, the wedding didn’t bother me much (although having alcohol would have went far… I should have asked my parent to help 😉 )… I just didnt’ want to go into debt!!!

Ironically, my family paid for the honeymoon, and it was great! We went skiing in Vermont! That was a blast and made up for our lacking wedding reception…

Someday, I’ll have to apologize to my friends about our lame wedding reception…


Money Reasons November 5, 2010 at 10:07 am

Geez, sorry for the long comment! As I was replying, I realized that my wedding experience could be a good post in itself 🙂


Kris November 5, 2010 at 1:33 pm

MR- you do what you can, don’t worry about any apologies! What is more important is the wedding itself.

I bet my engagement ring is pretty darn similar to your wife’s. I wouldn’t trade it for the world though. I know my husband worked super hard for it, and that is what matters. But that is just me. I know a lot of people like to upgrade their ring.

Look forward to your post!


Money Reasons November 5, 2010 at 8:36 pm

lol, you got my wife figured out too!

I’m always trying to get her to upgrade it but she never wants too, because of the reasons you specified!

I’m probably going to post my wedding next week, although I’ll have to tread carefully, just in case relatives read it someday…

It wasn’t as bad as I make it sounds, very practical and a bonus was I didn’t go into debt 🙂


Kris November 6, 2010 at 11:25 am

MR- If your wife is like me, she really doesn’t want a new ring. However, I am sure you could think of something else she would really like that you could just surprise her with one day.

Still waiting for the post…


First Gen American November 5, 2010 at 9:37 am

House parties are great. Of most of the ones I went to, those were always the most fun, so we did the same. House party.

Regarding Nicole..there are a lot of bad wedding photographers out there and sometimes they monopolize too much time. I remember one wedding, the wedding party was gone for almost 2 hours after the ceremony doing pictures. That totally sucked.


Nicole November 5, 2010 at 10:22 am

What’s worst is when the reception is supposed to follow the ceremony and it is over a meal time but the photographer is holding things up forEver. That seems to happen a lot at expensive fancy weddings. My college roommate at least had Hors d’œuvres on platters being passed around during her 2 hour photography break.


Nicole November 5, 2010 at 10:25 am

ooh… I could go on… I also hate it when the photographer precedes the bride up the aisle (backwards, of course) and when the photographer is all over the place in the aisle blocking views and making clicking sounds during the vows. Also an expensive wedding problem. I really hate being a guest at fussy weddings. They’re interminable.


Kris November 5, 2010 at 1:35 pm

I agree Nicole. Sometimes the photographers appears to be the star of the show…


Kris November 5, 2010 at 1:34 pm

I would die if I had to be gone for 2 hours for pictures. I am about as photogenic as a rock though, so I am not one for posed pictures. I much prefer the candid pictures, although I do appreciate the giant family picture we have. It is the only one with all of us together, so that was one good thing.

A house party sounds fuuuun!


101Centavos November 5, 2010 at 9:55 am

Great post, Kris. Would that more couples follow this path to a saner, more economical wedding day. We paid for our own wedding, and to my frugal heart, $5,000 seemed exorbitant at the time. I guess I knew little about the extravagant but “essential” items insisted on by modern-day bridezillas. As Nicole points about above, turns out there’s a lot of things that aren’t needed.
By the way of music, we hired an opera singer to sing arias before the ceremony.


Kris November 5, 2010 at 1:36 pm

Andrew – 5k isn’t bad at all, I think you did a great job. (Unless you have been married for 70 years… 🙂 )


etinca November 5, 2010 at 11:05 am

We had good experiences with the prof. photogs at both my wedding years ago & my daughter’s recent one. We were clear (with both) that we wanted them to be unobtrusive & respectful of the time.

My daughter and I were amazed that she picked out her dream dress & it was about 1/4 the cost we expected. So don’t think you have to settle for something you don’t really like – but you might have to shop around.

You might be able to pull off telling the caterer and florist you’re having a fancy party without raising the word ‘wedding’ or ‘reception’ – the costs can be surprising lower. Also, keep in mind that these days most people don’t seem to eat as much at parties as we did in the good old days; we found the cake serving estimates way too high (we didn’t want a lot left over) & went conservative, & had just the right amount left over.

And we were able to use the wedding venue decorations as part of the reception decorations, with the florist getting them relocated while photos were being done. And were able to hire a coordinator that just worked the week of the wedding through the reception – we made all the plans & arrangements, she confirmed everything and monitored the day & timing so the wedding party & bride could enjoy herself!


Kris November 5, 2010 at 1:37 pm

Etinca – You have some great tips, I never thought of disguising a wedding as a party.

I still like to provide plenty of food, need something to sop up that liquor! (Always have plenty of rolls! :))


Car Negotiation Coach November 5, 2010 at 2:01 pm

Kris, Great tip on using points for your honeymoon. We actually had our wedding and reception at a Marriott and so I got a big chunk of points just by paying for my wedding using my Marriott card. We went to Hawaii on points and the way I figured it, it would have been a $5000 vacation….that we got for free!


Kris November 6, 2010 at 11:22 am

CNC- I think you did the best by getting to Hawaii for free! I always hear about people being able to do that, but we have never accumulated enough. Great job.

I have been married almost 20 years and still haven’t gotten to Hawaii. I am envious!


Barb Friedberg November 5, 2010 at 2:48 pm

I may be the least sentimental woman around, but el carino and I were extremely “practical.” We had horsdoerves in a restaurant for the reception on a Sunday afternon. We walked from the wedding service to the restaurant. Friend did the flowers and it was REALLY economical. We’re still married today after many years (and the money we saved has compounded nicely over the years)!!


Kris November 6, 2010 at 11:24 am

Barb- it is so funny. I read hors d’oevres as ‘horse doves’. I was wondering what horse doves were, and then why you brought them in a restaurant! It all makes sense now that I read it again!

Sounds like you had a great day too! No big wait between wedding and reception, nice cozy meal, and now have money saved from it.


Little House November 6, 2010 at 2:40 pm

These are all great tips. My sister is getting married next year so I might have to send her a link to this post. 😉 When I got married, we had a very tight budget to work from. My dress cost less than $300, it wasn’t a traditional wedding dress, instead it was a white bridesmaids dress that looked great on me. We also went out of state to save some money; California isn’t known for being budget friendly! I really like to “think outside the box” when it comes to saving money.


Kris November 6, 2010 at 11:54 pm

Little House – Sounds like you did perfect. I think my dress was $495, but that was 20 years ago, so I probably did overspend a little. We had to alter the heck out of it too because I am a bit short.


bigzee November 21, 2010 at 11:22 am

Some great tips listed here, I always thought big cakes were a waste, as a guy I have very little idea about wedding dresses but I know girls spend a lot on them. I didn’t know the day the wedding is held made a difference to the price so definitely will check that out, when I’m getting married that is 🙂


Kris November 22, 2010 at 4:27 pm

Big Z: I would do things so much differently if I redid our wedding. But, it was what it was I suppose.

Good luck with your in-the-future-nuptials, and thanks for commenting!


Jamie December 2, 2010 at 7:01 pm

I found the above link, 10 ways to save money while I was doing research and then came across your site as well. I never realized how much work this was all going to be!! Maybe if I had a mother alive when I was growing up I could have been somewhat forewarned. Thank goodness for the Internet and sites that post info like you have here. Thanks for helping make it somewhat more bearable (yikes!!)


ann @ wedding favors March 31, 2011 at 1:19 am

I like the idea that your wedding was at night. For me that’s romantic especially if you lighted candles around the place.


Hilary August 6, 2013 at 4:59 pm

Thanks so much for sharing this great information! I have been looking for wedding venues in Barrie… Any suggestions on where I should go?


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