Ask Miserly Moms: A Frugal Wedding

by Jonni McCoy

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My daughter is getting married in December of this year. We are a homeschooling, one-income family. Any economical ideas for weddings? We are thinking of catering the reception ourselves but, would also like to be able to enjoy the wedding.

Also, we would really like to be able to buy groceries in bulk like at a warehouse and stock up on items on sale at the grocery store. It is hard to do because our grocery budget can vary from week to week. We are a family of four. Some weeks we might have $20 to spend on groceries, the most we have would be $60. Any ideas on how to get started on this?
Thanks for your help.

A successful wedding does not have to be an expensive wedding. Success should be determined by whether the bride, groom and the guests enjoyed themselves. Having a wedding on a tight budget does not mean having to give up style or the fond memories. It just takes some planning and shopping around. We can accomplish that best by the use of many resources and being organized. There are many resourceful and creative people who have pulled off weddings with 100 guests, a sit-down dinner, cake, music, rentals, pictures and flowers for under $1000. Some have even done it for $450.

The first thing that needs to be done is to make a budget. Know how you will pay for this day after the honeymoon is over. There's nothing more stressful to a new couple than the sticker shock of their wedding expenses. Do you want to be paying for that special day for 10 or more years? Begin the budgeting process by deciding what you want, then compare it to what you can afford. Start trimming back until you get to where you can afford it.

There are many ways to keep that special day memorable without spending a bundle. At the moment, let's just look at the reception location and food.

First of all, consider having your wedding on a day other than Saturday. Sundays, and Fridays are good alternatives. Many reception locations will offer a discount for an off day. If they don t offer it, ask for it.

Additional savings may be realized by having your wedding in the months of November through April. These months are less busy for most wedding related services and locations. Again, ask for a discount for being off-season.

The time of day can also impact your bill. Having a luncheon costs less than a dinner, having a brunch costs less than a luncheon, and a tea time reception will cost the least of them all. An English tea reception is a fashionable type of reception that costs significantly less than a lunch or dinner approach. Since a meal is not served, it can be the cheapest type of reception with costs ranging from $15-45 per person. Scale this up or down as you have the budget. The teas are usually between the hours of 2 and 4pm, which might allow for a discount on the location rental.

At a tea reception, the food usually consists of a few types of sandwiches (cheese, cucumber, egg salad, ham and tomato), scones, jams, fruits, and pound cake. This is served buffet style, with a tea pourer or two in attendance. That reduces your server expenses. There are usually a few types of tea served, and maybe a fruit punch offered as an option for non-tea lovers. Tea and punch are much less expensive than an open bar.

The location could be a garden, or a hall with an old world look. Avoid a ballroom, as the atmosphere isn't tea-like. Look for less expensive sites like university buildings, publicly owned buildings or parks, community centers, art galleries, a restaurant's garden, or a women's center. Decorations can be simple white linen tablecloths, white china (floral china or silver can be used as the budget can allow), and candles. Add more in the way of flowers and centerpieces as budget allows. Add music and dancing if you can afford it. A harpist, a flute, dulcimer or piano is nice, but if you can't afford it, play some CDs with the same style music. Having delicate background music and no dancing is fitting for this type of reception.

I don't think that trying to cater the wedding your self is a good idea. There is little time to visit with the guests or enjoy the day with the bride and groom. If I had to choose between doing it myself and scaling back the party, I would scale back the party. Provide what you can afford, and don't worry about what others will think. They were invited to celebrate with your family, not review the depth of your pockets.

Jonni McCoy is the author of "Miserly Moms-Living On One Income In A Two Income Economy" and "Frugal Families-Making The Most Of Your Hard Earned Money!"

Visit the Miserly Moms Website at

There is a new way to learn what Miserly Moms and Frugal Families have to say. Get it on tape! Audio cassette tapes are now available for each. They are recordings of workshops given by Jonni McCoy. Each is 1 hour in length and costs only $5 ! For more details, please visit .

The advice given in this column is based upon personal information and experience. For further information on the disclaimer, please visit this address:

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