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My Big Fat CHEAP Wedding

November 21, 2008

By Gienie Assink, Springfield Oregon

When planning a wedding, one should take into consideration the total cost and budget for all of those traditional, yet, “interesting” expenses.  At least that would be the smart thing to do.  Weddings have a sense of tradition about them. 

A traditional wedding includes the bride’s white dress, a cake, flowers, and even professional photos.  Of course, incorporating tradition can be pricey, and most would agree, the dress, cake, and flowers, etcetera, are big ticket items.

“Just how much should one pay for a dress, tow hundred dollars, four hundred?” I thought.  “TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS…ITS JUST A DRESS!” I remember saying that just loud enough for other people to turn their attention and look directly at me with gasping awe.

Okay, so that was the day I learned going “traditional” was obviously going to be expensive; however, after months of careful thought, and anticipation, I found planning a big traditional wedding on a small budget was in fact easier than I had expected.

Being only sixteen years of age at the time, my income was roughly about 125.00 per week.  I worked a part time job after school, and the majority of my paycheck went directly into my savings account.  I was engaged, and Tim and I had set the wedding date for July of that year. 

Since we were both in school, we did not have a lot of time or money to spend on an elaborate celebration.  So, I found myself asking around for helpful suggestions on how to cut the cost of such a traditionally exquisite event, but still make the moment beautiful.

After many online searches, and much reading of those bridal magazines, I learned the average cost of a wedding was about fifteen thousand dollars.  Of course this dollar amount made my eyes bulge, and it became hard for me to focus on anything else those articles may have said since the swelling blurred my vision. 

I could not believe people would actually spend that much money just to have a traditional ceremony which only lasted a few hours anyway.  I am proud to say my husband and I spent less than twenty five hundred and that total included our honeymoon.  We found many ways to cut costs in just about every are of expense.

Instead of purchasing traditional, yet incredibly disgusting bridesmaids dresses, we ventured into department stores and focused on clearance racks.  We were fortunate to find the exact number of outfits needed as well as the exact sizes needed, and we only paid 12.98 for each one. 

We saved hundreds of dollars just by purchasing items, and shopping at stores that were not necessarily wedding related.  Why go to a wedding shop that is marked up in price when you can go to the local department store and buy something that would do just as well? 

The idea made sense to me anyway, and planning my wedding became easy when I focused on spending money on what I wanted, not what was traditional.

My wedding consisted of twenty-four attendants and two hundred and fifty guests.  My biggest dilemma was trying to budget enough money to feed all of those people at least one piece of cake.  Most wedding cakes are incredibly gaudy and too rich in flavor to really enjoy.  Such a cake can cost up to about 1.50 per slice when purchasing through a wedding store or bakery. 

Since Tim and I were not prepared to spend six hundred dollars on a wedding cake, we decided to go to the local Safeway and order a couple of sheet cakes.  We only spent fifty dollars and those cakes fed more people then what we had originally expected.

Our cakes were simple, but elegant, not too gaudy and delicious enough to have another piece.  They were just as nice as those overly dramatic traditional ones, if not better, and they were edible too. 

There were other benefits from ordering those cakes as well.  Not only were they unbelievably cheap, they were also incredibly easy to transport from one place to another…effectively cutting the cost of having someone deliver it, and they were fast and easy to cut and distribute to all of our hungry guests.  Did I mention they were easy to consume? 

We saved over five hundred dollars by purchasing our cakes through a place that was not marked up in price just because of the type of event we were holding.

Planning a cheap wedding on a small budget was easier than I had expected.  Even though there was this intense pressure and anxiety of wanting a traditional ceremony, we were still able to think clearly enough to spend our money wisely.  Friends took our pictures, my dress was listed as discounted because of damage; hardly noticeable I might add (and easy to fix).

Our ceremony was simple but elegant, and the extra money we saved went towards the security deposit and first month’s rent for our new home together.  Planning the wedding was easy because I had help and outside resource3s available to utilize. 

I did not have to rely on “tradition” to influence my decision making when it came to expenses.  Instead, I was able to have a cheap but beautiful ceremony, with out any debt. 

Our theme may have very well been, “Go Cheap”; however, it did not look, or even feel like it was cheaply put together.  Even now, looking back nine years later, I have absolutely no regrets.  Cheap is definitely the way to go!

  
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Kay November 21, 2008

As a bona finde cheapskate, you took me back to the memories of my wedding. The two areas that were most important for us were good photos of the day, including candid shots of friends and family and a great ceremony, video taped if possible. One of the most special parts of our ceremony was the final song. We had all our guests say the Lord’s prayer and then still holding hands, all sing, Let there be Peace on Earth. So special and absolutely no cost at all. (Oh, can’t forget those little mickies of champagne in the limo on the way over to the reception. For someone who didn’t drink, those were down in 30 seconds flat…down and gone as were all the jitters and nervous energy from the preparation of the day.) Thanks Gienie, for bringing back my memories!

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