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Fancy Weddings on a Budget

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If you watch those celebrity-stalking shows (I don’t, but maybe someone does), you hear about extravagant weddings (to be followed by highly public divorces). Imitating that lifestyle could be a little cost-prohibitive for some, but thankfully Bankrate.com and MSN Money are here to tell you how to have a fancy wedding without breaking the bank (most likely the Bank of The In-Laws).

The article offers tips on saving money on the bride’s gown, the wedding cake, jewelry, favors, and other random wedding necessities. Here’s an excerpt:

Instead of expensive candleholders, you can buy really cheap juice glasses and put candles in them. You can hit the stores after Christmas and buy jewel-toned candleholders on sale. You can also buy red cut-glass dishes in Target’s kitchen section and put water in them and float candles. Don’t be afraid to spray paint votive cups in your chosen color, either.

I haven’t had to seriously think about a wedding yet, and I’m glad. A friend’s wedding cost $30,000. Is one fantastic day a legitimate reason to go into debt?

But here is a serious question for those with experience with weddings. I’ve heard that cash gifts from guests often recover the price of hosting a wedding. I can’t imagine this would be remotely true. Please let me know what your experiences have shown.

My solution to the expensive wedding is simply to elope, but that certainly doesn’t make most families — or most brides — happy. Honestly, I have no idea what I will do when this issue becomes a reality for me.

Updated August 9, 2011 and originally published April 25, 2006. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes, also known as Flexo, is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about him and follow Luke Landes on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar FMF

We had a small wedding (75 people) that we put together and paid for all on our own (for a few thousand $ — the most expensive part was the reception luncheon). We probably broke even when you count the gifts we got.

I can’t imagine someone spending $30,000 and breaking even — unless there are some really rich relatives/friends involved.

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avatar Tim Freund

We selected a small city owned reception spot because of its charm (it’s a refurbished barn from the 1800′s), its size, and its price. A small hall keeps the guest list short, and feeding people is expensive.

Small guest lists are good for another more personal reason as well. You will be spending time with the people that matter most rather than introducing yourself to strangers. “Nice to meet you” should not be your most uttered phrase on your wedding day.

Eloping would be great — we were planning on a mountainside ceremony in Greece. Here’s an obvious hint: even if the bride loves the idea, her mother will not.

It looks like we’ll get by for around $8,000 and no wedding induced debt. We won’t know about breaking even until November, but no one close to me who has claimed the break even possibility has actually gone through the wedding experience themselves.

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avatar Paul

We made a very strict budget from the outset. We planned on spending $7,500 for everything (rehersal, wedding, reception, clothes, gifts). We paid for everything ourselves, with money that we had saved, plus a little help from my mom. At the last minute, we added two busses to take people to and from the wedding and reception — so our total ended up being about $8,500. But it was money well spent — it poured with rain the whole day, and the location was out in the country, down dark twisting roads.

We got about $5,500 in cash gifts, plus all the other stuff. I’d say if you included the retail value of the non-monetary gifts we got, we probably came pretty close to breaking even. But more important to both of us is that we didn’t go into debt, and we still had plenty of money left over for the 20% downpayment on our house. I’d much rather not pay PMI for 10 years than have custom printed napkins at the wedding…

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avatar Gigi

I’m planning on a large wedding all because of his family. He’s Greek and I’m not. Most of the Greek invitees will be restaurant owners and will probably give quite a bit. But even so, it’s looking like it will be around 300 people.

http://imnotgreek.blogspot.com/

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avatar Amanda

There is no way in this world that we could profit off our wedding with cash gifts (or all gifts for that matter!).
That being said, we are doing the fancy wedding thing mostly because my parents want it. I am all for eloping – it seems almost more romantic too me! Use the money you may have spent on the wedding for a down payment instead!

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avatar Jocular Jarhead

After it was all said and done, I think our wedding cost about $22,000. We received about $6000 in checks and maybe another $2500 in actual gifts. I can’t say that we made out, but it did pay for the honeymoon!

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avatar Inchoate Random Abstractions

My best friend’s wedding cost approx. $40,000 (500 guests and a lavish, afternoon reception). She and her husband are very down to earth, but they both come from fairly wealthy families. When all was said and done, they more than recouped the cost of their wedding. But I want to emphasize that their relatives were *very* generous in terms of cash gifts. I think she said that she received several checks in the amount of $1,000.

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avatar Mike

Here is my post on an average wedding cost – http://fanellifinance.blogspot.com/2006/03/wedding-costs-ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.html

Pretty amazing, and I have to say I am getting married and our budget is right around the average. The good part is all parties involved, my fiance’ and myself, my parents and her parents have saved up, and probably won’t go into any debt, only because we have been planning and saving for a year! Wish me luck!

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avatar MsMiniducky

Having gone through the traditional wedding scenario several times over the years with various aunts and uncles, it IS possible to break even. It’s traditional for guests in most Chinese-varietal communities to give at least $50/head, and much more if you’re immediate family or wealthy.

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avatar CatherineMedieval

I and my fiance are planning a Medieval Wedding. wedding party in medieval attire we hope guests will be in middle ages attire as well. we both on a stict budget, we have 2 yrs to plan. our date is October 30,2010.

what i have decided so far. Grooms attire “Templar Of Knights,” Bridesmaids “Maiden Dresses”

My fiance and i have been together for alittle over 7 yrs, we have a 4 yr old together. Ring barrier ” Richard the lionheart.” So far i made Save-A-date Out of Scrolls. i’m still trying to figure out how make invitations out of Scrolls with reply scroll.

Ive brought most of my wedding favors on clearance. whats really hard for us right is saving, we both do not have parents that are living to help us along. and Looking for a place to have the wedding at is stressfull, we already had 3 places tell us no, its right before halloween, these places are giving tours.

any ideas would help out alot

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avatar Kathy H

I truly don’t think you will recover the money you spend on your wedding from gifts. It really depends on the guests you invite and where there from. I was amazed when we moved down South that the folks gave more registry type gifts than cash gifts. I have always given cash $100 to $200 but guess everyone has their own ideas on what a gift should be.
There are so many ways to keep your budget in tact and if you want a wedding – you should follow your heart and not elope. Best of luck!

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