Saving Money on Weddings: My Personal Experience

Those of you who have read my posts know that I hate to spend money. It’s not that I don’t like stuff. I mean, I’m as red blooded American as any of you; I just hate spending money on it. This is not a new thing with me. I’ve been practicing frugality for quite some time.

It all started back when my husband and I decided to take the plunge and get married. Since this was Mark’s second marriage (and he’s painfully shy), the last thing he wanted was a large fanfare, but I’d been a bridesmaid in too many weddings to be satisfied with a shotgun wedding in front of the justice of the peace, complete with a witness I’ve never met.

After a few weeks of careful planning, it became readily apparent that I could:

  • 1. Not afford a traditional wedding
  • 2. Didn’t have any friends that really wanted to be in my wedding anyway

So, Mark and I agreed to a compromise. We would get married, but on our terms. That meant that I got to say my vows, wear my dress, and even get pictures, but we would only spend $500 on the “wedding”. Believe it or not, I was actually able to come up with a mutually satisfactory solution that not only stayed in budget, but actually left us a few dollars in the bank so that we could take our honeymoon. Wanna know how we did it? I thought you might.

First of all, one of the biggest expenses for any wedding is the dress. I mean, it’s a dress, not a car for God’s sake. Scale back and buy a dress from last year’s rack. Most likely these are the ones that are going to be on clearance and buying one will save you a boatload of cash. Not only are these dresses drastically reduced, you can save even more by honing your negotiating skills before you get there. Often, you can negotiate an even lower price for the dress than it’s marked down price by simply dickering a little. These dresses are just as beautiful this year as they were last year AND are still eligible for all the same tailoring, etc that come with the new ones. I bought my dream wedding gown (the Cinderella type, complete with a ten foot train and TONS of beading) for $200.

Next, I had to find a cake that was cheap and tasty. The main idea that I have here is to call on a friend, family member, fellow churchgoer, or anyone else you can scare up that can cook, if you can’t do it yourself. You can get a great looking and tasting cake for little or nothing this way. Our cake was free.

Okay, so now you’re ready to book the venue. This one’s also going to cost you. Mark and I opted for a “wedding chapel” wedding. Since we live in a tourist-y area, there are TONS of wedding chapels around us with a variety of wedding options we could choose from. Of course, we picked the cheapest service they offered and ponied up $150.00 for the service.

Last but not least, the marriage license. Marriage licenses cost money, unfortunately, thanks to the local government’s obsessive need to dip into our pockets at each and every opportunity. Since I live in the great state of Tennessee, a blood test is not required, so the marriage license that Mark and I got cost $13 and we actually walked away from the county clerk’s office with license in hand.

AS you can see, I managed to spend $363 of my allotted budget, so now for the good part. We eloped, got married, booked a Jacuzzi suite in town and blew the rest of our budget on our honeymoon. We ate well, drank even better and spent several nights playing Galaga and Centipede in the arcade next door. Not very romantic, but we always have a great story to tell.

This wedding was the beginning of a beautiful (and hilarious) happy thirteen years of marriage complete with 2 kids and 2 dogs. Would I trade my wedding story for a $10,000 lavish wedding? Not in a minute.

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