Friday, April 14, 2006

Our Wedding: Looking Back

Though I remember every detail of the ceremony, I don't recall much of the reception.

Except that it was hot. Freakishly humid for Tennessee.

After cutting the cake, we changed clothes upstairs and left in a shower of birdseed.

Even cheaper than making little bags: my aunt put an antique-style birdbath next to the front door and filled it with a beautiful mix of petals and seeds, along with a silver scoop.

We honeymooned at a quiet lake cabin borrowed from a relative and ate a basket of gourmet goodies packed by another aunt.

As you can see, a frugal wedding is as much a gift of others' generosity as it is careful planning.

Almost 10 years later, we are *still* thankful for the many ways my family helped to send us off in style.

I have few regrets about our wedding. The ceremony was the most meaningful part to both of us, as were the many weeks of (intense!) premarital counseling through our church.

We were able to invite everyone on our list without cutting people because of a high price per plate. The overall look was not tacky.

If I were doing it again, I would hand-calligraph a master invitation and have it reproduced on pretty paper. I would drop the live music in favor of prerecorded. I would have two or three people with digital cameras assigned to the pictures.

***If anyone reading wants to share the ways you made your wedding inexpensive, leave a comment below or the link to your post. It's always fun to read about weddings!

8 comments:

Sarah said...

We got married in October 1996, and I think our total spent was somewhere around $8000. DH was very involved in the wedding planning, and we each identified what was inportant to us and what we could cut corners on. For DH, a full sit-down reception with alcohol for his Italian family was a priority. For me it was a professional photographer with no pre-set picture limit. We made silk flower bouquets for me and 4 bridesmaids for less than $100 for materials. My wedding gown was on clearance at David's Bridal for $325. My cream shoes came from Sears, and I will wear them on Sunday for Easter! Our invitations came from a mail order catalog and were much cheaper than engraved ones from the stationery store. Thanks, Meredith! This brings back some good memories!

Michele said...

Because my husband is from New Zealand and his family couldn't make it to our wedding, we decided to have a small wedding. We got married three days before Christmas and discovered that getting married during the week saves a lot of money! The photographer only charged an hourly rate instead of an all day rate for Saturday. Also, because we had a small wedding of just close friends, we asked each family to bring a specific dish for the reception that I knew was fantastic. It was a great wedding and we don't regret a thing, although if I had to do it over again I would have happily had several friends with digital cameras take the photos because trying to get reprints of the photographer pictures are very expensive.

Amber said...

Ways we cut expenses on our wedding:
- Picked wildflower daisies from the side of the road and made our bouquets with them (those are my fave flowers)
- Had a potblessing reception (we don't call it potluck at our church)
- Had a friend from college take our wedding pictures with our cameras
- We made our own invitations, ring pillow and decorated a plain basket for the flowergirl

Those are just a few that I can think of off the top of my head.

contrary1 said...

Your wedding sounds like it was lovely. My best wedding memories include the money saving things we did.
I think the no tux bit is a great tip, we used that for everyone. Started because I could no way picture my dad in a tux. We chose brown suits for the guys, it looked fine, they were comfortable and of course, could use the suits afterwards.
I did my own flowers, my mom (a cake decorating teacher) did my cake, I sewed dresses and had a friend play the organ at the church.
We had the ceremony in the afternoon (cheaper than evening) and had a potluck dinner at my parents home in the evening.
Our goals were inexpensive, relaxed and fun for the guests.
Met all 3!!

Linda C. said...

My husband and I had a lovely (and relatively inexpensive) wedding, and I do have a few tips. My family self-catered the reception at a fire hall. Some cheap muslin covered the coke machine and the bingo sign, and best of all the hall had its own china so all we rented was goblets. Seasonal flowers and gathered fall leaves made a beautiful display.

The major thing that I learned is this: if you are going to hire someone (caterer or DJ, for example) tell them it is for a party, NOT a wedding. I think that caterers and so forth see parties as possible repeat business, where weddings are once and done; the prices we were quoted for parties were half of the price for the identical service for a wedding.

The DJ wore a nice respectable outfit. When he saw it was a wedding he said he would have worn a tux and brought a mike to announce the wedding party. We thought: and who would have paid for that? And I specifically didn't want the wedding party announced. If you don't know who the bride and groom are, you're at the wrong event.

Nancy said...

I posted some of my comments re: "cheap" wedding planning on your thread about your dress, but wanted to add here, too.

We had a lovely and rather inexpensive wedding and were told by many people that it was one of the most beautiful and meaningful ceremonies they'd been to. That meant a lot more than just "beautiful wedding," if you know what I mean.

Looking back, though, there ARE things we would do differently. We (DH and I) wanted a rather simple reception - we talked about a brunch or hors d'ouerves only or bread and soup (it was cold October) or even a potluck (which I see from here that many people have done) - but my mom had this big thing about how if people were going to travel hours to get to the wedding, we had to feed them a full meal. I wish we had just said "nonsense!" and done our own thing. We didn't spend a lot on the meal (most food bought in bulk from GFS and cooked by us or ladies from our church) but still - it wasn't quite what we wanted. Ironically, a year later, we attended the wedding of DH's best man - we drove 2 days each way - guess what they served at their reception? Hors d'ouerves.

I also wish we'd been clearer with our photographer about wanting candid shots (or had some friends circulate with cameras) and had found a better videographer. The one we had was free (a man from our church) but not as as professional as we wanted - I cringe watching our wedding video.

Ultimately, though, it's not the wedding but the marriage that counts, y'know?

The(un)PerfectMother said...

For my first wedding...... (Unfortuntly, or not unfortuntly, depending on how you look at it, we have divorced)

Both of us were in the military, so we utilized the Old Post Chapel. It was gorgous, and could only seat 50 people, max. Cost=FREE, although we either had to pay 50 bucks to have someone clean it afterwards, or clean it ourselves. We paid the 50 bucks.

Organ Player for ceremony=50 bucks.

Photographer=$500 bucks (Only kept the proofs and what was in the package for 500 bucks.)

Reception....... a friend of ours invited us to us her home... cost, free.

My cake= $100

Dress= $400
Tux= FREE (because I had like, 7 groomsmen.....)

Invitations = $100

Flowers= my mothers present to us, all the flowers, corsages, and bouquets

food = now, here is the kicker. It was Oklahoma, at the end of May. It was hot. When we got to the reception, we cut the cake in our wedding clothes, then changed into tshirts and shorts. And then we had a bar b que, with hot dogs and hamburgers, some chicken, and my mom made some Gumbo. Including drinks, we only spent about $400 on food.

Presents to bridal party=another gift from my mom

So all in all, we spent what, about 1600 bucks on the wedding. It was gorgeous as well!

Carrien said...

HI Meridith (I'm just scouting your archives for bridal shower ideas for a friend :)

My frugal wedding was so much fun, and inexpensive. Though I think you win on inexpensive.

MY dress was ivory silk that my husband bought in India for $50. MY grandmother's friend made it up for $100. We used some of the silk for a ring cushion as well. I got the chapel length veil at a Bible's for Missions Thrift Store for $2. I sewed pearls from my mother's wedding dress, that my grandmother had put on to hers for my something old.

MY bridesmaids were told blue, long and sleeveless and each bought a dress they liked and would wear again. All the colors of blue looked quite pretty because...

The GH wore his clan tartan (Scottish, several shades of blue) as a great kilt. [His parents bought that kilt, which was I think $800 custom milled in Scotland] IT was the biggest expense, but he still wears it often and all his brothers are welcome to use it when they marry as well as our sons, etc. It is the family tartan.)

The hall was free. Our church was a soup kitchen during the week so we had to remove a lot of posters but my friends and I made it pretty. My brother made an arch out of willow branches for the front of the church. My mother made heart shaped centerpieces out of willow branches and dried flowers.

I paid $25 for a yard of blue cotton to use as an aisle runner. We raided friends gardens for petals to scatter.

The live music was free. {I am a musician so I called in all of my friends for favors} The pianist wore a 14 century style tuxedo. The men went down the aisle to bag pipes. The women to a song that I wrote for the occasion and my friend sang.

I paid $275 for the flowers, at Safeway. The woman there came highly recommended and I had an unusual picture for her to work off of, lots of branches and foliage around it. She did all the bouquets and corsages. We used the bridesmaids bouquets at the reception on tables and during the photo shoot.

My friend took the photos for free. Rae of journey mama actually.

The reception was sandwiches and wraps, and it was potluck. (I have a very large family, there was no way we could have invited 400 or so and purchased the food too, they were happy to be invited and contribute.)

MY mother and cousin decorated the cake.

We got the communion dishes at a thrift store.

The plates and everything were from the soup kitchen and free.

The men wore light colored linen pants, white shirts, and blue linen vest that my MIL and GMIL sewed for them. {Since everyone in our large wedding party besides my brother was one of her sons she didn't mind. It was cheaper than buying them all suits or renting tuxes.) The Boy still wears the vest that his uncle wore at the same age to our wedding.

The one thing that didn't work was getting my BIL's to DJ a dance. It would have been fine if we had the technology we do now, but we didn't have enough music. Now we could just set the GH's itunes and let it play and it would be great.

My mom's friend made us wine for the reception.

My dad, a graphic artist helped us make the invitations. We printed them ourselves. A decade alter that also would be cheaper and faster since we used a photo and postcard format.

My aunt made programs for me.

Aside from the kilt, which we also used to make a tie for the GH's father, who performed our ceremony, and a sash for his little sisters, the whole cost was about $1000.

You are right. A frugal wedding is as much the gift of family and friends as it is careful planning. It still brings a smile to my face to think of all the people I loved pitching in like that to make our day special.