While many people dream of a certain type of wedding, perhaps with hundreds of adoring guests, fine food and a luxurious setting, the reality is that many couples prioritize these aspects over actually having a good time and celebrating with loved ones. The average cost of a wedding in the USA is upwards of $25,000, and many people happily spend that much when they don’t even have a house to live in together. Here are five approaches to consider for a fun but inexpensive wedding which flies in the face of expensive expectations while prioritizing celebrating your love with friends and family.
Decide on the Guests, Then the Venue
Most people do this the other way around when planning a wedding, deciding on an expensive venue such as a country house or landmark building, and then figuring out how many guests they can afford to host there. However, few people seem to consider that this is valuing location over people, and may mean that certain friends are simply kept off the guest list for the sake of having a nice location to party in. Additionally, a far-flung location may seem exciting, but will mean fewer people are likely to be able to make it.
Take Advantage of Free Venues
Many people spend vast amounts of money on venues, often tens of thousands of dollars or more, when they have beautiful gardens to take advantage of in the summer. While the specific size of your garden and the number of guests will dictate if this is possible, most people probably know a friend or family member with something suitable. While marriage laws vary by state and it may be necessary to figure out the logistics of obtaining a license, the planning and cost of this will be far lower than booking a hired venue. Also, you’re free to decorate as you want and won’t have to plan so far in advance to beat quickly booked-up venues. It may also be simpler to have the legal ceremony at the register office and then celebrate properly at home.
Have Friends Fill the Traditional Paid Roles
While even your best friend is unlikely to jump at the chance to spend all day serving drinks or cooking food, many will be happy to lend a hand. In fact, the planning of these types of roles is often way over-complicated in weddings. With the money you’re saving, simply having a buffet-style food and drink service may be possible as long as you realistically consider how much you need for the number of people attending. Bands, cake makers and florists may possibly be recruited amongst friends, which means you’re likely to spend less but support your buddies’ businesses while you’re doing it. If you don’t know people personally who can fill these roles, consider contacting your local university to see if there are music or photography students who would be willing to provide their services for the day for a fair rate, but still lower than most professional services.
Make it Inexpensive for Your Guests, Too
As etiquette expert Miss Manners often laments, many people basically charge entry fees to their weddings by means of issuing a gift registry or, even worse, asking for money. While it may seem like missing out on gifts is essentially losing out on money or stuff for the new house, consider that making your wedding a financial burden for your guests is a poor way to go about making the day enjoyable for everyone. Instead, consider asking for wedding help rather than gifts, perhaps enlisting those much-needed services such as cake making in lieu of cold hard cash. Also, consider skipping the expense and stress of demanding your bridesmaids all pay for their own designer dresses and go for nice off-the-rack pieces, or have fun making your own if you have the skills.
Have a Fun, Simple Honeymoon
Finally, it’s important to remember throughout the process that there’s a difference between ‘cheap’ and ‘inexpensive’ or ‘frugal’. Spending $25,000 when you don’t have your own home, or are planning on having kids but without savings to support them, is certainly not frugal. However, that doesn’t mean you need to be cheap and skimp on the things that matter. It’s important to remember that the idea is that you’re celebrating, but not being ridiculous with a budget you can’t really afford. When planning the honeymoon, for example, consider sticking closer to home. Does your state have nearby beach resorts or national parks, or perhaps do you know someone with a spare vacation home they’d be willing to lend? There are many ways to have a beautiful and romantic honeymoon without blowing your savings on an island getaway.
Overall, the philosophy of not paying more for your wedding than you can really afford is that you have enough independent thought and uniqueness to identify that you can enjoy yourself more than most people do when they spend a lot more. Many even look at the average price of a wedding and use that as a guideline for their own celebration, without really considering how much they can actually afford. By prioritizing the people involved and looking for alternative, less expensive options, you can have a fantastic celebration without the punishing price tag.