My fiancé and I couldn’t care less about wedding traditions. Our families aren’t particularly conservative, neither of us are religious, and we like doing things our own way. Throughout the wedding planning process, I’ve made it really clear that it’s important to me that we be true to ourselves, and not get sucked into common wedding trends just because we’re supposed to. We were very generously (and completely unexpectedly!) given $10,000 from my parents, and it’s my goal to spend half of that on the wedding, $2,000 (tops) on the honeymoon, and the rest will go straight into our home renovation fund. If my parents hadn’t surprised us with that budget, there’s no way I ever would have spent $10,000 on a single day, so I figure I should treat it like my own money, and spend it only on what counts.
With that in mind, these are some of the major wedding expenses my fiancé and I decided to cut while planning a $5,000 wedding:
1. A wedding band for me
For my engagement ring, my fiancé used diamonds from two family pieces of jewelry that his parents wanted him to use. He ended up designing my ring and it is absolutely gorgeous. Problem is, because of the way the center diamond is cut, I would need a custom-made wedding band that has a cutout in the center so the engagement ring would fit. If I bought a normal band they would constantly rub together, which would drive me crazy. So we met with the jeweler who created my engagement ring, and told him he were looking for the smallest, simplest band possible that would fit properly. He quoted us $600. I was totally bowled over. My fiancé and I started talking about it and I said, “I don’t really care about a wedding ring. My engagement ring is perfect! Why would I wear 2 rings? Maybe I just shouldn’t have a wedding ring?” He responded with “word, guuuurl” and that was that. The $600 that would’ve been spent on a piece of jewelry (that I didn’t really want to wear) will now help pay for a new garage roof instead!
2. A photographer
Honestly, once I started getting quotes from photographers this became my biggest source of stress. We really didn’t want “wedding” photos. I can fully understand if you want your day to be captured professionally, but I honestly do not care at all about having a thousand artsy pictures of my dress, my ring, and people fussing over my hair. Those are memories I prefer to preserve in my mind.
What I do care about is getting some nice shots of the ceremony, some family portraits afterward, and maybe some candids. I’ve never understood paying someone thousands of dollars to follow you around for 10 hours and end up with a million shots of guests talking, and inanimate objects. Not my thing. So, I figured we’d only need a real photographer there for, say, maybe two hours. The rest of the time could be filled in with friends on smartphones, and a friend with my DSLR. I budgeted around $800 which felt like a lot. Turns out, it wasn’t. For what we were looking for, most proper photographers were going to charge around $1200.
While I completely support artists charging what they’re worth, and deserving every penny, that simply wasn’t in the budget. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized I’d be okay with DIYing. I have a Nikon D5100 that takes pretty nice photos. And my best friend K is a talented amateur photographer. Why not just ask her? So we did, and of course, she agreed. I’m pretty picky about how photos are edited so, I’ll edit them myself. For $125, I picked up a pack of Photoshop actions that I’ve been wanting to buy forever.
I don’t care about flowers. I’ve never cared about flowers. If they’re your favorite decoration, I think that’s fine, and you should cut back on something else instead, but when I heard that the average couple spends around $2000 on flowers, my reaction was “fuuuuuuuuuuck THAT.” Instead, I’m drying a bunch of flowering herbs from our garden (lavender, oregano, rosemary, and thyme) and that’ll be my wedding bouquet. My sister has planted a variety of flowers in her very sunny backyard that should be up by mid-October. Those’ll be the centerpieces (my fiancé is going to cut a bunch of Bulleit bourbon bottles into vases which guests will be able to take home if they want). As for boutonnieres, corsages, etc., my motto is “if I don’t know what it is, then I don’t care.”
4. A fancy wedding dress
Going to a bridal shop to try on wedding dresses was one of the most surreal experiences of my life. It was mostly meant to be a way to find out what dress shapes look good on me, and what size I should be, but the more I tried on, the more I got to thinking “maybe I actually do want a floor-length gown with 17 layers of tulle for our barn wedding…” But then I snapped out of it and realized that I honestly do not want to spend $1200 on something that I would wear once, and then not be able to part with, so it would just live in my closet, taking up space for eternity.
Instead, I wanted to find something affordable, that I could possibly wear again. After a lot of research I found this one and immediately fell in love. We’ll see how it looks in person, and I’m thinking maybe after the wedding, I’ll dye it a different color so it won’t seem so wedding-y. It was on sale, and I had a coupon for free shipping, so all told I spent $140 on my wedding dress. That saves me $860 to use for splurging on a backsplash in the kitchen.
At the end of the day, none of these feel like sacrifices. I just had to get a little creative in my thinking so that I was able to come up with different ways of doing things that’ll make me just as happy. In just one month, we’ll get to find out whether they actually work!
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