Literally, if you don’t have any money and believe me, there are plenty of couples who have willingly swam with the shark lenders to get through college and have fallen into the abyss from easy credit. You may still be faced with incredible loans at the age of 30. Even though statistically, grocery food and clothing is still cheap according to the inflationary indexes, contemplating a wedding for many couples is daunting to say the least.
We have all heard by now of the few gutsy couples out there who decide to put their weddings on TV by raising money using raffles and promising free advertising for the willing vendors to volunteer their services and products works.
However, the vast remaining out of fun creative ideas and dollars, the choices seem few and far between. Below, please find how one couple dealt with the dollar dilemma.
Lance and Julie were a sweet couple, living in the Greater Los Angeles area. Both in their early 30’s but had some lingering debt they were still working off from their college and past credit card safaris.
They had to face the cold hard facts that their childhood dreams of a wedding were unrealistic and a more practical approach was needed now. Their first inclination after they both had used up the gift money of their parents over the years to make a sizable dent in their debt was to go to the courthouse and get married, save for a honeymoon some day and at first, that was fine with both of them.
When Julie told her mom of their plans, her mom dropped her jaw practically to the floor. Her only daughter was getting married at a courthouse, with no parents and no friends to witness the event. Oh that was not going to do for this gregarious mother of the bride. After a few more gasps and sighs, Julie relented and said “well if you and dad and the family want to figure this out for us, perhaps we could do a small wedding ceremony in a restaurant and have a brunch after in the same room”. Julie and Lance absolutely didn’t want their families to do anything that would be a problem or create financial stress for anyone.
Lance went along with the plan reluctantly. This was his second marriage and having a formal religious ceremony would have posed some friction since Julie and Lance had different faiths. Lance was trying to avoid stress and wanted to simplify their arrangements. He was for plan “A”, but it was clear that Julie was on to plan “B”. Julie wanted to make sure that lance’s religious preferences were acknowledged so after some discussion, they decided to have both a minister and Rabbi to officiate at the ceremony.
Both Lance and Julie spoke to their families and together this is what they came up with. Even though both sets of parents were divorced and remarried, there wasn’t much extra $$$’s sitting around. Julie’s father and step mom decided to offer $5,000 toward the honeymoon and wine for 35 guests. Julie’s mom and stepdad could contribute close to $3,500 to cover a hotel room for the night, fees for the Rabbi, parking, photographer, florist, and fees for a mini coordinating service package for 4 hours on the wedding day. Julie’s older brother paid for the food and beverages that came to about $50 per person out the door for a brunch menu. A boom box was used for the music. There were no personal flowers for anyone including the bride. There were only lovely low centerpieces on the guest tables. Julie’s mom made the Chuppah cover and the florist provided the four poles to create the Chuppah. The wedding cake was made by one of Julie’s friends.
Lance’s parents gave him an undisclosed contribution that helped Julie and Lance with special activities on their honeymoon and gave a donation for the minister. Lance bought a new shirt and tie ($100.00) and Julie decided to buy a short white lace dress for $400 including alterations. She borrowed jewelry, and bought a new pair of silver slipper flats ($50). She did her own makeup and worked it out to have her hair cut and blown dry where and when she usually does so there was no extra fee for the wedding day.
They designed their online invitations and response cards using Paperless Post to save on postage, addressing, while using an online website to keep in touch with their intimate group of relatives and friends. For a little over $11,000.00 Julie and Lance stuck to their priorities in the end; a spiritual ceremony with family and their closest friends with them, and a great honeymoon. This plan worked for Julie and Lance because their parents listened to them, volunteered where they could, and honored what was important to their children.
For some brides getting married without a bouquet would have been unthinkable. Another bride would have sacrificed perhaps a night at the hotel to have her bouquet. It doesn’t really matter how you spend the money as long as you are spending it where it counts for you. At the end of the day, you want to be able to say, we did it in a way that was meaningful for us and valued and appreciated by those who attended.
For those couples that want to have a BYO wedding at a house of worship accommodating a larger group of guests and family, there is usually the opportunity to use the facilities after the ceremony for a potluck dish reception in a multi purpose room. A no liquor or spirits policy cuts down on the cost and may leave open some dollars for a professional DJ or trio for music during the reception, and make it possible for a videographer to simply capture the events of the day too.
Whatever their hot buttons may be, with an honest conversation between bride and groom about their priorities and discussing any issue that may prove challenging will go a long way to making it possible not only for better communication by acknowledging their differences, but will lay the ground work for conflict resolution for the long term. Once the bride and groom form a united front to their families and friends, planning and making decisions in the future in any area of their lives, will become easier over time.
By Tobey Dodge, The Wedding Connection
Tobey has been one of So. California’s leading and most respected wedding professionals for over 20 years in leadership roles for ABC, ISES, and other special event groups. She has personally coordinated 800 weddings and is often called upon to act as a mentor for the up and coming talent in special events. She has been the keynote speaker for several wedding Shows and Professional Associations, a Platinum wedding show participant, and achieved a Certified Special Event Professional designation in 2000. Her weddings have been featured in People, Inside Weddings, and the Los Angeles Times newspaper.
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