(Oops, I accidentally posted this earlier, but I wasn’t done!)
Wedding planning continues apace up in here (where “here” = my brain + a ridiculous Excel spreadsheet). It’s still in the research phase at this point; no deposits have been made yet, aside from my dress, which is in! They said it wouldn’t be in until September, so I’m really surprised and excited to see it. I’m also going to take a look at bridesmaids dresses when I pick it up. I have a dress in mind, which I hope will be as cute in person as it is on the website. Oh, and I’ve asked two of my best friends to be my bridesmaids, and they both said yes!
As I mentioned last time, I asked Twitter for advice on how to plan a wedding for under $10,000 without eloping. Based on past research, I wasn’t sure it could be done easily, despite the fact that ten grand is a hefty chunk o’ cash. Here are Twitter’s suggestions, and my personal response to each in the context of my wedding. Everyone’s individual weddings sound lovely, and I have had so much fun hearing about them and looking at pictures. I’ve planned this particular wedding out three separate ways, IN DETAIL, using several people’s ideas. I think every idea mentioned is valid; I just had to decide whether or not I thought it would work for me and M.
Idea #1: Elope. I’m not gonna lie, elopement has frequently sounded like the most attractive option! I have seriously considered taking off to a gorgeous resort somewhere tropical, getting hitched, and rolling right on into the honeymoon. We’d save a lot of money, time, and stress. However, while the idea of exchanging vows alone is romantic, the thought of getting ready all by myself, without my mom or my friends, makes me want to cry. I want my closest people with me on my wedding day, and I want to celebrate it with as many more of them as I can. In other words, I think we’d still end up having some kind of reception, and between that and wanting people with me on the day itself, this option isn’t the one for us.
Idea #2: Destination wedding. This one has been at the top of my list. I would LOVE to get married in Hawaii, and A’Dell was awesome and sweet enough to send me a lot of details about her (beautiful!!) wedding in Maui. This was one of the three options I planned out in detail. I love that it combines the wedding/honeymoon, I have ties to Hawaii, Matt’s never been there, and it would be so much fun to have a small wedding in paradise with my nearest and dearest … but it’s a lot to ask of them, too. It would be especially tough on some members of our immediate family, who have small children and not a ton of disposable income right now. Plus, once I crunched the numbers, the wedding I wanted in Maui, with as few as 20 guests, was going to cost me and M an amount only a couple thousand dollars less than it would to have it here with over 100 people. I also looked at Vegas as a destination wedding; I found a site that offered an entire ceremony/reception package for 50 people, for $5000. I really, really wanted that to work, but the more I investigated it, the less I thought I would have been quite happy with it. Plus, the package was only available for weekdays, and although Vegas isn’t terribly far from SLC, people would have to take off work to attend. That’s one thing when you’re getting married in Maui, but it seemed a little weird to me for Vegas. (Really, the whole thing fell apart when I realized that the lesbian Korean Elvis impersonator that Kammah mentioned, Elvis Herselvis, has essentially retired.)
Idea #3: Small guest list. Quite a few people on Twitter went this route, and most of them seemed to have had thirty or fewer guests. This allows for smaller venues and catering needs, but leaves larger costs like photography. For us, this would be really tough to pull off UNLESS it was a destination wedding. We’d hit thirty people on the guest list just with immediate family, most of it his. Since I’d been an only child for so long, I’ve elevated some of my best friends to the sibling status, and I’d be really sad not to celebrate with them. (See idea #1.)
Idea #4: Enlist your friends and family. This was by far the most popular suggestion. Lots of people on Twitter mentioned friends who did photography, catering, cake baking, flowers, hair and makeup, invitations, and other things I’m probably forgetting. I joked on Twitter that I needed more talented friends, but of course I was only kidding. My friends are incredible and talented in myriad ways; unfortunately for me in this particular situation, few of their many talents lie in the wedding arena. I have a friend who is an amazing graphic designer, and I will likely ask for her help with a few things. She’s one of the busiest people I know, though, and I feel bad adding to her plate. She would be a spectacular photographer, too, but I want her as a guest at the wedding, not working during it. My mom will probably make my veil and my ring bearer pillow, and I have a family member in mind to act as the officiant. Beyond that, I’m out! I don’t know any budding caterers, bakers, etc. I do expect to enlist the help of some of my girlfriends for a couple DIY efforts, though. Speaking of which …
Idea #5: Do it yourself. This is an area where I think you need to be a bit careful, because a DIY project can turn on you and end up costing more than it would have to enlist a professional in the first place. BUT, chosen well, a DIY project can also be a money-saving godsend! I’m definitely going to look into printing my own invitations, and programs and menus (if we have them). I don’t dare do my own hair or makeup, but I would consider doing my own bouquets and centerpieces, and I am going to make some decorations. The reception site I have in mind lets you do whatever you want for catering, and I thought about providing our own food for an app-heavy or buffet-style reception, but I think the logistics are beyond me. I don’t have good options for storing or transporting cold or frozen foods, or for keeping things cold or hot at the reception. I don’t have serving plates or utensils. I could check into rental equipment, I suppose. Food is usually such a large component of the wedding, and I think it would stress me out beyond belief to try to deal with it on the day. It’s still up for research/discussion, though.
Idea #6: Get hooked up with a location. See Mama Bub’s comment below, about using someone’s backyard as the ceremony/reception site. I would do this in a heartbeat if a) I knew someone with a suitable backyard; and b) I wasn’t planning a winter wedding. I’ve also wracked my brain for connections to warehouse space, barns, people who own restaurants, etc., but I can’t think of anything. Mama Bub is absolutely right; the venue is likely to be the single most expensive item in the wedding budget, followed by food/drink, and photography.
Idea #7: Figure out what’s most important to you, and cut out/cut down on the rest. Every couple has different priorities. For some (brides) it might be a designer dress; others might have their hearts set on elaborate cakes, or live music, or gorgeous invitations. Some want a huge bridal party, others a huge guest list. It’s been really interesting to me so far to see what I do and don’t care about most. For instance, it turns out I have my heart set on giving out favors, but I’m probably going to forego RSVP cards/envelopes and have people RSVP online. I don’t care about having a limo, but I want a photobooth. I think I’ve found enough areas where I’m comfortable scrimping, to offset the areas where I want to splash out.
I think that just about covers everything I heard out there. Here’s a question I haven’t yet seen addressed, though: is it appropriate to haggle with vendors? If so, when is this applicable, and how should it be handled?
Many thanks to all who have given advice! Keep it coming!