While reading a post on another blog, I learned that one young woman was extremely disappointed that she and her husband had married at the first available opportunity rather than waiting until they had saved more money. She was upset that she wasn’t able to throw the wedding of her dreams or go on a honeymoon.
My husband and I also chose to wed before we had much money stashed away. Consequently, we had a modest wedding and drove to Parris Island (USMC boot camp) for our honeymoon since my husband wanted me to get a glimpse of what being “married to the Marine Corps” looked like. I know, he’s a hopeless romantic. Back off ladies, he’s all mine. We had a blast at our wedding, despite having thrown it together on a shoestring budget. And our honeymoon was a fitting start to a marriage that was to be greatly impacted by the Marine Corps.
When we were planning our wedding, we got a lot of advice form other couples about where we could cut corners and where we shouldn’t. Years later, as I look back on that advice (some we took, some we didn’t), I realize that it was remarkably accurate and insightful. So, for those of you planning a wedding or advising someone who is, here are those words of wisdom shared with me two decades ago but still just as helpful today.
Where To Splurge
Photographer – Years after your wedding, you won’t be feasting on your wedding cake or throwing on your wedding gown to go out dancing. You may, however, pull out your album on occasion to relive that day. Your children will also want to see those pictures when they ask you to tell them about the start of your family. Also, if you are like many people, you will probably display at least one of your wedding photos prominently in your home. Don’t skimp on the photographer and regret the missed opportunity to chronicle your important day in a manner that you can cherish for years to come.
Wedding Rings – I don’t consider myself materialistic so I didn’t take this one seriously. When we married, my husband and I were struggling college students with barely enough money to pay our rent, let alone to spend on extravagant wedding rings. However, remember that these rings are the symbol of your love for one another and you will wear them as long as you are married to one another. Around the 10-year mark I looked at my cloudy, .25 carat ring and his banged up band and wished we had invested a little bit more in our enduring symbols of love. Twenty years from now, do you want the symbol of your love to be the bargain buy ring? And if things don’t work out, if you have a nice ring you can at least afford the divorce.
Champagne (or Sparkling Cider) – People most likely won’t remember the food served at your wedding or the flavor of your cake, but YOU will remember the thoughtful words spoken on your behalf by your friends and family members who toast you at your reception. For this reason, no matter what else you decide to serve in the way of food and beverages, make sure you have something to fill those champagne flutes that your guests can sip after each toast and clink their forks against to solicit a kiss from the newlywed couple.
What To Skip
Limo – This is one of those extras that costs several hundred dollars and really isn’t necessary. Assuming you’re not a child bride, everyone in your wedding party should be old enough to drive or arrange a ride so that they can arrive at the church and reception site without a chauffeur-driven limousine.
One-Time Use Items – I promise that it will not ruin your special day if you forego the personalized champagne flutes, cake knife, or ring pillow. Your champagne will taste just as good out of the glasses provided by your reception hall. The cake will cut just as nicely with an ordinary cake knife. And you can cut costs more by eliminating a ring bearer altogether. If you’re dead set on having your nephew carry those rings down the aisle, a small dish, box or ordinary pillow can serve the purpose of holding the rings on his walk down the aisle.
Programs – News flash: No one is leaving in the middle of the ceremony. Also, since audience participation isn’t really expected, your guests don’t need to know what’s coming next. Although it is nice to acknowledge the individuals who play a part in the ceremony, a small gift or public thanks during the reception is suitable and will cost far less than printing enough programs for everyone who attends the ceremony.
I would love it if my readers who are already married would weigh in with their own thoughts on what wedding expenses were worth the price and which ones you could have gone without. Please let me know in the comments.