How to Survive Your Own Wedding: Dodging Post-Wedding Debts
A couple of years ago, I found myself crunching numbers for my own wedding. It’s hardly the romantic thing a bride-to-be imagines herself doing. After all, aren’t weddings supposed to make your little girl dreams come true? Aren’t you supposed to feel like a princess on the day itself and, if possible, a year or more prior to the big day?
Planning your own wedding, especially if you know you only have so much money to spend on it, can be a gruelling task. It can drive any woman insane. It can even test your relationship with your fiancé. However, I am happy we didn’t get bankrupt because we held a wedding we couldn’t afford. While I didn’t like the idea of having to compromise while I was the bratty bride-to-be, the mother-and-wife version of myself right now is glad my husband insisted we stick closely to our budget.
If you’re getting married soon, and you’re feeling mighty upset that your prince charming can’t give you everything you want on your big day, these tips might help.
Pick three things
Whether you’re planning to hire a wedding coordinator for the entirety of the planning stage or just on the day big itself so a team can handle the guests while you focus on being the bride, you need to come to terms with one thing: your budget is limited. As early as now, you need to identify three things that are most important for you during your big day. This way, you can spend money on these three things if you have to and just adjust what you allot for the rest of your wedding needs. Choose from:
The bridal gown
The food for the wedding
The performers at the wedding
Choose which among these wedding needs you’d want to spend more money on and you should be more willing to compromise on supplier choices with your husband-to-be. Take note, just because you’ve chosen only three doesn’t mean you’ll have to blow all your money on your wedding gown, for example. Prioritize these three things, but still try to put a cap on how much to spend for them.
Choose a reasonable but good-looking gown
Perhaps because of how celebrities plan their own weddings, most brides-to-be go over-the-top with their own wedding gown choices. You have to remember that not all designer gowns will look good on your body no matter how expensive they may be. At the same time, a simpler wedding gown can look stunning on a blushing bride simply because she’s glowing from happiness, and it’s the right cut and fabric.
While you’re preparing for your wedding day, don’t be afraid to try on different wedding gowns. This will give you an idea on what cut and style works best for you. If you badly want a gown from a well-known fashion designer, but her gowns simply can’t fit into your budget, take a photo of it. Consider having someone else design a similar gown for you based on that “inspiration”.
Or go ahead and brave off-the-rack sales. You might be surprised to find a similar gown and it could actually be “the one”. Whatever you do, don’t purchase a wedding gown that’s far too expensive for your budget. You don’t want to have to spend the first five years of your marriage paying for a dress you only had to wear once, no matter how special that day is for you.
Consider doing your own makeup
Here’s a secret: men actually hate to see their brides look too made up on their wedding day. If you’re used to doing your own makeup on formal events, you might be good enough to do your bridal makeup yourself. You will need plenty of practice, though, and perhaps better-quality makeup just to make sure you look your best.
Of course, this would take some skill, and not all brides are willing to do their own bridal makeup simply because they’re not that good with it, or because they feel too nervous about the big day to risk it. Have a friend help out. Some of your friends might just be makeup geniuses in the making. Choose the best one. Ask her to help you out with your makeup on your wedding day.
If you think you’re skilled enough to do your own makeup but will need moral support, have your maid-of-honor around while you prepare. This should keep your wedding costs down, and make sure your husband-to-be recognizes you as you walk down the aisle.
See what you can DIY
During our wedding, we shied away from professional printers because we thought the cost of having wedding invitations done by pros was too much. My husband and I decided to just print and assemble our own wedding invitations. It was a lot of hard work, and there were times when I had wished we just hired someone else to do it. We also assembled our own giveaways for the same reason.
In hindsight, though, I don’t regret it. The invitations did their job. We had giveaways and I think they were pretty cute. Invitations and giveaways also hardly have any impact on guests if you’re still looking to impress, so they were actually safe choices to DIY. We also saved a lot of money because we chose what materials to use, and we only produced the number of invitations we actually needed.
Another friend who just got married recently chose to make paper flowers for her wedding bouquet. It was a very brave DIY project, in my opinion, but a very sensible one too. Fresh flowers can cost an arm and a leg especially if the wedding date is slated on a season when flowers are in high demand. Almost all June and December brides know this. If you can bake, you might also want to dare baking your own wedding cake.
Just make sure your decision to DIY though doesn’t end up costing more than hiring a professional to do the job. Sit down and assess your skills. If you’re skilled enough, and relaxed enough to create your own wedding bouquet days before the big day, go ahead and do so. If you can’t bake, do not attempt to make your own wedding cake. DIY projects can cut your wedding expenses by half but they can also be stressful, so choose which ones to take on very carefully.
Keep the number of guests down
Actually, you can still have all the trimmings you want during your big day if you can keep the number of guests to a minimum. This will make you less nervous during your wedding day, keep you from spending too much money on “impressive” but otherwise meaningless wedding details, and maybe even allow you to hold your wedding at a location that’s far from home. You can hold a wedding with only 20 to 50 guests, get the best documentation team to shoot your wedding, get a wedding gown you’re happy with, and still have some leftover money for your honeymoon.
It’s a bit challenging to keep the guest list down, though, especially if too many people know about your engagement. If you and your spouse-to-be are planning to hold an intimate wedding, don’t announce your engagement too early. You will also have to be firm with your decision to have a small wedding. Expect some people in your or your fiancé’s family to try to sway you back into the big-wedding idea, but put your foot down. You don’t need to invite 500 people. You just need to have the few, most important ones there to witness your special day.
Ask friends and close family members to help
Some couples find it too awkward to ask family members and friends to “work” for their wedding. They feel like they need to hire professional hosts, performers, and five professional photographers to make their special day “complete” without bothering any of their guests. This is fine if you, again, have the budget for hired help. However, certain family members and friends might be just waiting for you to ask them to sing at your wedding, or to take a few photos to help you keep the memories of the event.
The trick is in knowing who to ask. My brother played the violin, for example, at our wedding, and my mom sang and hosted with one of my best buddies in college. We saved a lot thanks to their talents and their willingness to help us out. If we weren’t brave enough to ask for their assistance, we would probably still be paying for our wedding now. They also felt special because I asked them to play key roles at our wedding day.
In fact, it was only months after the wedding when we found out my sister-in-law also wanted to sing during the event. That would have made the program even more special. Now, we wish we were just a little bit less shy about asking her to do so.
If you think your wedding is costing too much money, it might be because it’s too formal. You may want to loosen up. Go for daring quirky changes. Have a wedding at the beach or the garden instead of a chapel or church if your religion allows it. Or have your entourage wear less formal clothes so you can also choose a more casual bridal gown. The menu can also be more relaxed and less expensive if this is the case. Go for a picnic theme, or a Grecian wedding theme at the beach. Have fun with the program. Have your best friend play the guitar instead of hiring a professional wedding singer.
To do this, though, you will have to go back to limiting the number of your guests. If you invite too many people, and possibly people you’re not really close to, you will just fall back to trying to impress them and spending more money than you have. Choose guests who are there because they want to witness your big day, and not because they’re out to assess your social status. Don’t blow all your money on your wedding day just to impress total strangers.
If you feel like the bratty bride-to-be in your head is taking over your emotions again, sit down and think hard about why you want to get married in the first place. Think about the things you’ll need to spend money on after the wedding to realize your plans. If you put things into perspective, you’ll realize spending a little less on your wedding day won’t make it less special. The effort to save money might actually prepare you for bigger decision you’ll have to make in the future as a married couple.