6 keys to reducing costs on that special day

My Story: Frugal Wedding

contributed by Paula

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Our two daughters married in back-to-back summers of '98 and '99. From a young age, each of our daughters has been shown love by their family members, not of gifts of money, but of time and talent. We told our girls that their wedding day would be special, not because we spent a lot of money, but because of the gathering of God/family/friends to witness their vows of commitment to spend the rest of their lives with the one they love. Hence, we only had two rules. First, if it came down to a choice between people or stuff, we would encourage them to choose people! Secondly, we would not be going into debt to host the wedding and we would not encourage anyone else to go into debt, either! Here's how we gave them large frugal weddings:

  1. The maternal grandmother of the bride(s) has done custom sewing for many years; she has made wedding dresses, sewn for quinceanaras, and she has made all of her granddaughters' high school prom dresses. Her wedding gift to both girls was to custom-design and construct their wedding gowns; she made all of the attendants' dresses (13 total for both weddings), and mother-of-bride dresses, also. She also made the ringbearers' pillows, garter, and bridal bouquets/veils. My oldest daughter, who is 5'11", chose a very simple and tailored dress. Youngest daughter's dress bodice was covered in 20,000 beads hand-sewn by her grandmother! This gift of love from their grandmother demonstrated by her willingness to construct the clothing worn by the female members of the bridal party saved us (the parents) close to $10,000! Her cost: Less than $750; each bridesmaid paid $25 for her dress fabric.
  2. Paternal grandparents are weekend caterers, so their gift to each granddaughter was to purchase and cook brisket/sausage for 400 at oldest daughter's reception and 250 at youngest daughter's wedding supper. Paternal aunts cooked all of the trimmings like potato salad, beans, etc. The food was so good at the first daughter's wedding that people asked us if they were on the guest list for second daughter's wedding! Volunteer ladies from the church served all of the food, while the church youth group cleaned up afterwards for a nominal donation.
  3. One paternal aunt has done custom wedding cakes for many years. Her gift to both brides was their wedding cakes and grooms' cakes. She owned all of the fountains, pillars, serving pieces, etc. and graciously offered those for her nieces' use as well.
  4. The maternal aunts/uncles/cousins all sing and play music professionally, so their gift was utilizing their talents during the ceremonies. One uncle sang The Hawaiian Wedding Song in Hawaiian, while his wife performed the traditional Hawaiian dance! The memory of From This Moment by Shania Twain sung in five-part harmony still brings tears to my eyes!
  5. One groom was working in law enforcement at the time of his wedding. A co-worker's wife was a professional photographer. After showing samples of her work and furnishing references, she voluntarily donated a whole day to photograph all of the wedding photos and asked only that the couple pay for the cost of printing the photos at her discount! This was such a blessing and the pictures turned out wonderful!
  6. We are members and have attended our church for 25 years; there was no charge for using the church, commercial kitchen, and reception hall.

I could go on and on, but the whole point of this post is that you can have a beautiful wedding on a budget! Yes, it takes a lot of work and support from family/friends, but your wedding day should be a day when people who love you help to make your day perfect! We knew that our daughters' wedding days were our turn to utilize the wonderfully talented network of our family/friends, but we also knew that, at some point in time, we would have the opportunity to share our talents in return. I have voluntarily made wedding/groom cakes, catered a sit-down meal for 50, made all of the garments for the female members of several weddings, constructed all of the table decorations, sung/played music for many weddings, and been on clean-up detail at receptions of family/friends. These are gifts that I give to folks I care about! That is wedding frugality at its finest!

Hope these ideas spur you on to great creativity and encourage you in your pursuit of a beautiful, memorable, and frugal wedding!

"My Story" is a regular feature of The Dollar Stretcher. If you have a story that could help save time or money, please send it to MyStory@Stretcher.com

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