Wedding Frugality: Beautiful, But Cheap!

by Jill E. Hyatt

When I was married four years ago, I set out to have a beautiful wedding that didn't break the pocketbooks of my parents of my fiance and myself.

First of all, since we were not members of a local church, we had to find a place for the ceremony. We had a local park with a gorgeous rose garden and checked into that location. We found out it could be rented for $30: electricity and bathrooms clean and opened for our use.

Second was the wedding attire. In a garden I decided a long trailing gown (which is also usually expensive) would not be appropriate. I went to the local department store (it was also prom season) and chose a lovely sheath dress that was lace over satin with bead work. It cost $250 and didn't even need altering. My mother made the veil for less than $10. I bought shoes for myself and two bridesmaids at a mall shoe store for $24 per pair. I found a local seamstress to sew my bridesmaid's gowns. I bought the fabric and other supplies for her and the total cost was $75. It is worth checking around. This woman was retired and sewed for others because she enjoyed it, not really to make money.

To raise money for tux rentals, I had a garage sale to get rid of all the extras we would have from combining the households of my future husband and myself. This raised more than enough - - about $800. I was able to pay for three tuxes AND purchase his wedding ring AND put some away for our honeymoon. We got our tuxes for a local shop for $25 each plus $10 for shoe rental. How so cheap? Well, we had been frequent customers (past weddings, formal news years parties, etc.) AND we haggled a little on the price. We had only a flower girl and her dress was on a clearance rack left over from Easter for $20. Her basket and head wreath were made by my mother for less than $20.

Next were the decorations and flowers. Because we chose a rose garden for the ceremony, decorating was not really an issue. We wanted to adorn the gazebo and made two large satin ribbons with silk roses tucked in them for less than $10. We rented a few chairs for close family to sit in the garden for $40. We borrowed tables for gifts from a friend. We purchased a disposable runner for the sidewalk for $30. Flowers for the wedding party were a little trickier. I checked around a local florists and priced real roses, which I thought would carry out the theme of the rose garden well. I found out the cost would be enormous and the flowers would wilt quickly in the July heat. AND they cost no less than $300 at a florist!!!

I visited our local Hobby Lobby craft shop to look at silk flowers and they had all their silks on a 50% off sale!!! I re- visited one of the florists and asked if she would put together flowers that I purchased elsewhere. After a chance to think it over, she agreed that the flowers I had found were more realistic looking than she could even buy and she would do it for me. She added the greenery and baby's breath and she charged me only $60 to do all the flowers: bridal bouquet, bride's maid's single rose each, boutonnieres, etc., etc. The purchase price of the flowers at the craft store was about $50. Remember, you can keep silk flowers and decorations to use again!

We then went on an all-out favor-asking craze: pictures, organ, preacher, etc. We asked my husband's cousin to take pictures for us with his really nice camera. The cousin that took pictures was so thrilled to do it he had all the pictures developed and put into an album for a wedding present. He only asked that we purchase the film for him ($15). We asked the secretary where I work to be our organist; she was thrilled. We asked my husband's other cousin to be our preacher; he had married many couples in the family and was happy to help out. Other friends rounded out the cake table, the gift table, etc. This was economical as well as very special. These were folks that would have attended the wedding anyway; why not include them? We did pay the preacher and organist for their extra troubles and hassle ($50 each).

The cake and reception food came from the local grocer, where my fiance also was a meatcutter. Yes, we did know everyone there and that helped when it came to getting discounts -- BUT they said they'd give a price break to anyone that bothered to ask. The cake was wonderful; it doesn't take an expensive pastry chef to put together a gorgeous wedding cake ($60). Deli trays were put together for the reception ($80), which was held in an air-conditioned building ($250). Paper products and a plastic punch bowl (looked great and no fear of breaking Grandma's expensive crystal!) were purchased for around $50. Tables were decorated with rose petals (provided free by the florist for this purpose and for the flower girl to drop). We had a keg of beer ($40 with a refundable deposit on top of that) and some pop ($15).

We had the wedding rehearsal dinner at my house. My mother and I did the cooking. This was nice since many members of the wedding party were from out of town and wanted to see our future home. The food was simple, but good. The cost of this meal was less than $50.

The overall cost for the wedding including the rehearsal dinner and the groom's ring was around $1600! This is what many brides spend on the dress alone! We had a beautiful, very memorable day. Many guests commented on the setting and how beautiful everything looked. They had no clue what a bargain it was. That was a sign to me that it doesn't matter what you spend as long as you like it. The big picture is what is important anyway...a celebration of love that you want to share with others. A future bride can't be shy and take the first price she checks into. You must ask for discounts and shop around. My parents didn't have to take out a loan or drain their savings to get me married off. My fiance and I paid for many items ourselves. We always hated having to spend lots of money to be in a friend's wedding so we really wanted to pay for all the tuxes and bridesmaid's dresses so they didn't have to. That was our gift to them so we didn't have to purchase the traditional gifts. I enlarged and framed pictures for them as well as the others that helped out.

Jill is an English teacher and spends the summers doing enjoyable things like writing!

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