These days, paying for a wedding is not as simple as my parents handing over a determined amount of livestock. And thanks to the recession, it’s not even as simple as the bride’s family paying for the wedding and the groom’s family paying for the rehearsal dinner. We are certainly not the only ones of our generation paying for our own wedding.
Fortunately, our parents have both offered to contribute financially to our wedding, so Matt and I will be paying for at least 2/3 of the grand total. Now that I’ve moved to Wisconsin, we have more income and fewer expenses so we can afford to put a lot of money aside for a wedding. However, even just saying that phrase makes me cringe. Since we’re so in debt, it makes me question why we’re paying thousands of dollars to tell our family and friends that we love each other. Here’s a little secret, I think they already know! But we do want to celebrate with our family and friends since they are a huge part of who we are as a couple and since we plan to only get married once, I refuse to settle for a courthouse wedding followed a few Applebee’s appetizers – not that there’s anything wrong with that!
With debt in mind, every single aspect of wedding planning has come down to price. No, it will not be my dream wedding by any means but I would rather pay for a marriage than a wedding so I’m willing to make a few sacrifices now to help us later.
Just because we will be cutting costs and sacrificing a few extravagances doesn’t mean we can’t have an absolutely awesome wedding. If we’re going to pay to have a wedding, I am determined to make it representative of us and I want all of our family and friends to have a wonderful time celebrating our relationship.
The most obvious way to save money is to make the wedding smaller. Matt has a large family that he is very close with and since family and friends are so important to us, we find it nearly impossible to keep the invite list under 220. That being said, we’re still determined to make it an affordable, yet classy affair.
Matt and I have been scouring venues and vendors for the best prices, finding coupons and groupons, and altering our plans to get the same idea with a more affordable price tag. The only problem is, just because it’s a “good deal”, or cheaper than other options, still doesn’t mean we can automatically afford it.
So we made a handy-dandy Excel spreadsheet – shocking, I’m sure.
We researched average prices for a Wisconsin wedding, with a breakdown by each item we might need to purchase. After combining a few sources, it adds up to about $30,000. That is at least $10,000 more than the maximum we want to pay.
So here’s our super-obvious strategy:
- When we look up vendors, we use this spreadsheet and always make sure that we’re coming in under budget every single time.
- We find friends and family to use their talents as gifts or for a small price.
- We find alternative ideas that are much cheaper.
- We cross off aspects of the wedding that are not important to us or that we won’t need to incorporate.
So far, it’s certainly been difficult but it’s definitely possible. I am seeing more and more groupon-type sites offering discounts on photobooths and photographers. I see coupon codes galore for graphic design websites that make affordable invitations. Yes, it might take a bit of extra work to find the best deal but let me tell you, it will be worth it.
People will eventually be throwing expensive invitations in the garbage and they won’t remember the $1,000 centerpieces that took hours to perfect. So when it comes to the price tag, I simply ask myself “Will this genuinely help everyone have a great time or is it just pretty/tradition/etc.?”
After the wedding I will do a final breakdown of what we spent and how/were we found deals to save money. In the meantime, we will continue hunting for deals, DIY-ing, and stretching every penny to make this the most fun and memorable wedding we could have hoped for!