Friday, April 14, 2006

Our Wedding: Families and Food

Susan asked if we began our marriage frugally. The answer is YES--within reason. My mom insisted we have it catered and professionally photographed.

Of course, if I could do it again, I would spend half as much as our $3,000 budget. (I still feel guilty that my wedding cost as much as a used car. Almost $1000 of that was booking a June photographer when my freelance journalist cancelled the week earlier.)

The budget breaker was that I have a huge family, and I had never even met his.

There were certain standards I felt I had to uphold, in order to avoid embarassing people I didn't even know:
  • ordering engraved invitations, not thermographed
  • using a caterer who could provide real silverware and dishes, not plastic
  • having live music and an abundance of real flowers, not fake.

We were able to work within these limits for an afternoon wedding with 150 guests.

What helped our wedding budget:

In our small Southern town, lavish weddings with dancing and alcohol are not the norm. Punch and cake in the church hall are perfectly acceptable. Our church did not have a pretty place, so an aunt offered her home and garden for the reception.

We hired a local caterer who provided women to serve and clean, coffee and punch with real cups, a giant bowl of strawberries with whipped cream, ham biscuits, finger sandwiches, vegetables, cheeses, nuts and mints.

Her total package was $900, which included a delicious cake. I instructed her to ice it as naturally as possible, so that we could decorate it with fresh flowers and a tiny sterling basket as a topper.

Instead of copying a hotel wedding, I wanted everything to look homemade. We used a collection of family silver, serving pieces, and lace tablecloths for the buffet--all of which cut down on rental fees.


DonnaB said...

I enjoyed these posts about your wedding. I like how much of your family was involved in making it a special day.

Mom2fur said...

The weddings here on Long Island can be just ridiculous. I've already discussed with my 21-year-old daughter (who has no plans to wed in the near future) that she isn't getting a $10,000+ wedding and she totally agrees with me. I think--as you have shown--that you can do a really beautiful, tasteful and memorable day without going into debt! (I mean, really--what the heck is the point of spending $5000 on a dress you'll never wear again?)

Kathryn said...

I'm enjoyed these pictures and posts. Its always fun to see how others saved $$$ on the event. We got married in July 2004 and spent $1500 on the wedding and honeymoon. Of course, we cooked the luncheon, sewed the dresses (bride and flowergirls), and made the invitations. My bridesmaids wore dresses from Chadwiches. We did not have a cake. Since we are in SC, and our guests were mainly from out of state, we had pork BBQ and rolls, baked beans, fruit salad, sweet tea, etc. For dessert we had an ice cream sundae bar. It was pretty simple, but we had all the essentials--bride, groom, friends and family, good food and fellowship.

Catherine at Frugal Homemaker Plus said...

Meredith, you have inspired me! Frugal weddings are my new Friday series!

Your wedding looks like it was beautiful!

Shannon said...

We had a *homemade* wedding too, which was just the way we wanted it. My dad and I did all the food the night before and early that morning. We got married in a cabin two days after Christmas - it fit everyone we wanted there, but was small enough to feel cozy. And my granny decorated with Christmas trees, white lights and lace. It was beautiful. My only regret is slowing down to enjoy it even more:)

Mary Ann said...

We were able to keep our wedding costs way down by doing a lot of things ourselves. Looking back, I was too concerned with what people would think if we didn't have this or that- I could have saved even more. We spent approx. $1500 for about 200 guests, and that also included renting a church for the wedding and reception. We had a dessert reception with a lot of homemade treats that were family favorites. Our photography, music, cake, food helpers, etc. were all gifts to us. (We did have to buy our pictures, but at a reduced price.) I made my dress($100 for dupioni silk) and the flowergirl dress(used fabric I had on hand for hers)and used my mother-in-laws headpiece and my sister-in-laws veil. The headpiece actually matched the trim on my dress and looked like I bought it specially to match. I wore white sandals that I had worn as a maid of honor in my sister's wedding several months earlier.She and I also used alot of the same decorations and things. Made sense and cut costs. We decorated the front of the church with white and ivory candles, silk greenery, ivy and ficus trees. My husband's parents offered to buy the flowers(included in the $1500), but I still only got some small bouquets for me and the 3 bridesmaids, boutennieres and the mothers and grandmothers all carried a single yellow rose. Just for those few things, it was expensive! I tried not to think about the cost and how the flowers would be dead in a few days.:-) We loved our wedding and our guests have commented over and over on how beautiful it was. It is possible to have a lovely wedding on a budget.

Jenn @ Frugal Upstate said...

Wow, I thought I did good at approx $5000. Of course, DH and I opened a joint money market as soon as we got engaged and each made a direct deposit from our paychecks of equal amounts into it to go tword paying for the wedding-and we were engaged for 18 months!

For us the most important thing was having a very nice party. We had a sit down dinner with just one choice at a local rest that is really nice. Also we had an open bar for beer, wine and soda (mixed drinks were cash), A dj, a local "amature" photographer who gave us all the negatives for the photos, homemade centerpeices etc.

A good friend's mother made our silk flower boquets and corsages as our gift, and my sister (who was aghast at me ordering the plainest invites possible) bought our invites as a gift (we got one with a floral border) My mom paid for a horse and carriage at the rececption because she wanted it there :)

I got my dress at davids bridal, wore dance shoes I had dyed white, and borrowed my veil from a friend. DH wore his military Mess Dress uniform.

I had all my sisters and dh's sister as bridesmaids. I bought fabric and sent it to all of them saying "make or have made any dress you want, I just want it to be long" So they all got to have a dress that was in a style and shape that they felt was flattering, but they looked unified because of the color.

My cousin, on the other hand, got left 1/4 million dollars from a great aunt on her father's side-and used it all on her wedding. It was goregeous, and you felt like you were at an event thrown by the rockafellas when you were there, but dh and I get ill thinking about the waste of money. I mean $150 a PLATE for dinner, not to mention everything else (there were I kid you not over a dozen roses on every single table)

Anonymous said...

What a priceless picture of you and your Grand dad..I have enjoyed reading about your wedding.. thank you for sharing it..

Anonymous said...

Meredith, Thank you for sharing your wedding memories ~ I have really enjoyed reading all about it! Everything was beautiful! How long did you have to plan the wedding? You were married in such a lovely time of year.

We were married in 1993 and only had a few months to plan. My parents spent $3000. I have a few regrets. I wish we had waited until it was warmer (we had a snowstorm and it was Feb. in the midwest!) Also, I would have rather had a smaller wedding (less people)~ I didn't realize how overwhelmed it would make me and I just wish it had been more simple. Like you, the ceremony I remember, but the reception is all just a blur.

A neat way how God provided our honeymoon: my husband was working as a contract ferry pilot between the US and Europe. The pay was not so great and he was waiting for his "big break" into the airlines. The week before the wedding we didn't have the plans for the honeymoon nailed down yet, and his boss needed a plane picked up in Finland. He gave us an all expense paid honeymoon and even said "Take your time!" We spent 9 days flying our own private twin- engine plane through, Finland, Norway, the Shetland Islands, Faroe Is., and Iceland. It was incrediable ~ only something God could arrange!

Ok, now share how you and your husband met!! :) Many blessings Dana

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful series of posts. I have no idea how much was spent on our wedding (my parents paid) but I do know my mom made the bridesmaids dresses, I found a sale gown, we did the food for the reception (all but the cake ourselves) and a few other measures. You mentioned the photograph and just doing the digital route-if I had a regret from my wedding that would be it. My MIL hired a family friend who was not a professional-now I scrapbook and I'm dreading the day when I try to take those photographs and create a nice memory of the day. I look miserable in most of them (I was happy I swear), my sister looks like she has a black eye in one (poor light) and most of the group shots have someone cut off. I know that I had a beautiful wedding and was very happy that day but I wish I had pictures that matched to show my children and someday my grandchildren. So, don't regret that money!