A mom stopped me last summer after reading a newspaper article that stated the average cost of a wedding was now $25,000.
“Jill, did you read that article about the cost of weddings these days?” I replied that I had seen the article to which she referred. She continued with, “I know your daughter is getting married next month. Please tell me that you can do a nice wedding for less than that.”
I responded that indeed we were spending far less than half of that number. “After the wedding, why don’t you write an article about doing a wedding on a limited budget?” she asked.
I promised her I would.
The gifts are unwrapped, the pictures are in albums, and the dress is cleaned and preserved in a box. We’re feeling a sense of normalcy again. Erica’s wedding is our third in three years. Each of our adult children have described their wedding day as a perfect day. Honestly, I’m not quite sure how they could have been any better even if we’d spent more money.
We’ve lived most of our married life with a limited income. We have shopped at Aldi, practiced “delayed gratification,” and limited our kids’ activities simply because we often couldn’t afford registration fees or lesson tuition. When it came time to plan a wedding, we proceeded in the same manner. It took some extra effort on our part, but we determined that we had more time than money so we used our time to comparison shop and consider all possible ways to accomplish whatever task was before us. In the process, we found that there are many ways to have a beautiful celebration on a limited budget. Here are some tips we can now share:
Shop clearance racks: A full price wedding gown was out of our budget, but we found many beautiful gowns on the bridal shop clearance racks. Our oldest daughter eventually chose a beautiful $1200 gown that we found on the clearance rack for $279. Erica chose to wear my wedding dress (which was my mother’s wedding dress, too!) and alterations were less than $200.
Shop outside of bridal stores: The average tiara in a bridal store is around $100, but stores in the mall carry tiaras, too. We found Anne’s for less than $10 and it was beautiful! Jewelry can be purchased in the same manner. Even the Dollar Store has a wide range of wedding supplies that don’t look at all like they came from a “discount” store—the throw away garter is a perfect example of what can be purchased at the Dollar Store.
Take advantage of tux store offers: Many tux rental stores offer free invitations with tux rental. This saves hundreds of dollars. Erica and Kendall chose to forgo the tuxes. They did dress shirts, ties, and pants that the guys bought themselves and could keep and wear again.
Borrow what you can: Rather than renting a limo for the drive from the church to the reception, we asked family friends if we could borrow their convertible. Another friend offered decorations she still had from her daughter’s wedding. The church had silk greenery we were able to use and candle stands and white pillars were also borrowed.
Serve appetizers at the reception: Rather than a meal, if you time the wedding just right, you can serve appetizers or simply cake and punch.
Make anything you can: The wedding party can be more than just pretty faces on the wedding day. Let them help address invitations, make bouquets and bows or table centerpieces.
Purchase flowers yourself: Some florists will use your silk flowers and charge an hourly rate for assembling corsages, boutonnieres, and bouquets. We found silk stems for half price at Hobby Lobby and purchased the remaining flowers online at wholesale prices.
Attend Bridal Shows: Not only do you garner ideas for your wedding, but you can sign up for giveaways as well. After one bridal show, we won $70 off tux rental.
Ask friendsto be a part of your day: Rather than paying musicians, you might ask musician friends to be a part of your special day. Ask friends to help decorate the church or set up the tables for the reception.
Do without: What items that are considered “traditional” do you really not need or even care about? Anne determined that she didn’t really care if she had an aisle runner at the church. That was one less thing to purchase.
The most important part of planning a wedding is letting the bride and groom create a day that is their very own. With a little bit of effort and creativity, a very special day can be created on any budget!
It was a beautiful wedding. That’s about all I can think of to say today. I’m pretty exhausted today and just soaking in the reality of being here at home with my husband, my two boys, and the reality of a new normal.
Motherhood…it’s the only profession where your primary responsibility is to work yourself out of a job. What a concept. What an experience. What an incredible profession.
It’s wedding day at the Savage’s. At 6pm tonight, Erica and Kendall will officially start their new life together.
We started off the day with all of the girls going out for breakfast and then on to get our nails done together. (Picture l-r: me, daughter Anne, friend Erin, Erica, friend Katie, my mom, and my daughter-in-law Julie.)
Now it’s on to get hair done, get dressed, and start pictures. It’s raining here….please pray for the rain to let up for pictures!
Well, we’re in the midst of wedding plans around here. Erica and Kendall’s wedding date of September 25 is fast approaching. It’s honestly been a pretty relaxed process mostly because Erica and Kendall are pretty simple and easygoing.
The colors are purple and brown.
The reception will be an hors d’oeuvres reception to save on money. We get to go to the tasting today! I’m always up for eating food that someone else prepares!
The guys are wearing dress pants, shirts, and ties…no tuxes for this simple, money-conscious couple. Their reasoning: “Why would we want our friends to have to pay $120 for a tux they don’t even get to keep?“
The girls have the prettiest purple knee length dresses that they have all agreed they would definitely wear again.
The wedding cake will have alternating layers of white cake with banana cream filling because that’s what Kendall likes and chocolate cake with chocolate mousse filling because that’s what Erica likes. We got to taste the cakes yesterday….mmmmmmmm!
And then there’s the dress.
Erica has decided to wear my wedding dress…which was my mother’s wedding dress.
Every time we go for a fitting I get a little teary just looking at her in the dress and thinking about the three generations who will have worn that dress.
In fact, when I look back on my wedding, that is one of my fondest memories: wearing my mother’s dress and carrying her Bible that was incorporated into my bridal bouquet.
What is one thing about your wedding that you remember fondly?
Passing On The Traditions By Jill Savage (first published in 2007 when my oldest daughter was getting married)
She opened each present with a sense of excitement about what new appliance, linen, or home décor gift might be hidden beneath the wrapping paper. This bridal shower signified the reality of a fast-approaching wedding date. It’s hard to believe that my oldest child is getting ready to begin a family of her own. Our summer days have been spent selecting flowers, making decorations, and addressing invitations.
When a child leaves home and begins their own family, they start from scratch in some areas (like setting up their kitchen) and in other areas they carry their heritage with them (like wanting to make cookies taste just like mom’s). While friends and family have showered Anne with gifts that will help her set up her first home, I’ve tried to give her gifts of a different kind. The best gifts a mother can give to her daughter are the ones passed from one generation to the next. They are gifts from the heart that will make her house a little bit more of a home right away.
If you have a daughter getting married, you can get creative in your gift-giving with:
Recipes—A recipe box is a wonderful shower gift. A recipe box filled with the family’s favorite recipes just might bring a tear to the bride’s eye. Sit down and go through your recipe box and pull out your family’s favorite recipes. Take time to copy each recipe on a new recipe card and place them in the appropriate category in the box. This gift will not only encourage her in the kitchen, but also start a tradition that can be passed down through the years.
Birthday List—Up until adulthood, a child depends on her parents to tell her when it’s her grandmother’s birthday or her brother and sister-in-law’s anniversary. Once she’s on her own, the responsibility to remember birthdays and anniversaries is hers. If you type up a list of the family birthdays and anniversaries and give it to her as a gift, she’ll be equipped to remember important family celebration dates. If you want to go one step further, contact her future mother-in-law and get the dates for her husband’s family, as well.
Card File—In our home I keep a greeting card file so that cards of all types are on hand when we need them (birthday, anniversary, thank you, congratulations, sympathy, etc.). If one of the kids has a birthday party to go to, they “shop” for their card from the card file. Since this is tradition Anne has known, a card file complete with a few cards in each file made for an appropriate gift.
Gift Wrap Box—A big “under the bed” box filled with a variety of wrapping paper, gift bags, ribbon, and bows gives a new bride a head start on gift giving. If you include scissors and tape, she’ll have all she needs!
Celebration Supplies—Do you have decoration or celebration supplies you’ve used throughout the years? At my wedding shower my mother gave me a box of cake decorating supplies—some new and some old. Another mom I know gave her daughter a “Happy Birthday” banner they used in their home. Find a box and fill it with party supplies from the Dollar Store. If possible, include some items that were used throughout her childhood.
Christmas Decorations—A new husband and wife start off without much in the way of Christmas decorations. A shoebox filled with their hand-made or personalized ornaments you’ve collected over the years will allow them to bring a homespun touch to their new Christmas traditions.
A wedding is expensive enough without adding on costly gifts that might just break the budget. With a little bit of creativity, time, and thoughtfulness, you can give gifts from the heart that would be considered priceless to a new bride.