Wedding Planning – Why The Stress?

I’ve come to the time in my life where more and more of my friends are getting married. Good for them. As one who has gone through it myself, I’m a big fan. However, once the conversation moves to the planning portion, I’m at a loss. Once they start talking about the various hardships involved with choosing napkins, locations, etc. I can’t help but laugh quietly to myself. Then I think of this video, and laugh even harder.

So here’s my little secret: I planned my entire wedding, and I did it exactly how my wife and I wanted, for less than $1,000 (rings included). So for those who think a wedding is impossible for under $30,000, ditch the magazines. They’re lying to you.

So how did I do it? Here’s a quick breakdown.

  • Got married on a public beach (free)
  • Purchased inexpensive rings
  • Purchased a very nice dress that wasn’t a “wedding” dress.
    • Bonus: it can be worn again!
  • Had my father (a minister) do the service
  • Had only immediate family at the service
  • Had 4 separate receptions*
    • One for our friends at a local bar the night of the wedding.
    • One for my side of the family the following day (hosted by my parents)
    • One for my wife’s father’s side 2 weeks later
    • One for my wife’s mother’s side a few months later (planned around people coming in town)
 *This was due in part to my wife’s parents having been divorced for almost 20 years and both remarried for about 18 years. As such, my wife has 2 complete families.

Now, I understand that my experience can’t translate completely to you. But think these few things over.

  • Decide EXACTLY what you and your spouse want first

Sounds easy enough, right? But remember, everyone else is going to have ideas for you. My wife and I decided what we wanted our wedding to be, before anyone else had a chance. Once we knew that, we could go ahead with the rest of the planning.

  • Spend your own money whenever possible

There’s a reason for this. My wife and I didn’t have much money at all (still don’t, in fact) when we got married. She was still in law school, I had only recently began working a job that paid decently, and we were planning on purchasing a home. So every penny that went towards the wedding was money that couldn’t go towards the house or something more important, like student loan payments. Also, if someone else is footing the bill, they’ve got the (somewhat) justified reason to request that the wedding have / do certain things. Which leads me to my next point…

  • Tell your family to (politely) butt out

You’ll have everyone tell you it’s “your day”. Then, they’ll proceed to tell you exactly what they think “your day” should be. Ignore them. You want to get married in a big church? Go for it. Want to get married in Vegas by a drive-thru Elvis? Rock on, do it. Don’t think that just because your mother wants something, you have to do it. Unless that’s what you’ve done your entire life. Which in that case…well…good luck.

  • Pull favors and cut corners wherever you can, with one exception

As you can see above, we didn’t spend a lot of money on things that are traditionally expensive. In my opinion, the only thing worth the money is getting a good photographer. After all, the pictures are the only thing you’re really going to remember years down the road. And if it ends in divorce, you’ve got something tangible to burn.

{ 4 comments }

Kat May 4, 2009 at 10:27 am

I couldn’t agree more with your post! 15 years ago my husband and I did the traditional wedding, nice church ceremony, big wedding with 200+ guests (I have a huge family), big reception and bar bill for my parents, etc. etc.. My dad gently encouraged us to elope… then he bribed us to do so, offering $5000, a trip to Vegas and a refrigerator (don’t ask). We declined, thinking that the big traditional wedding was what we should do because that’s what all of our friends and family would want and expect. I did cut corners where I could, and we had a nice time – but looking back, we should have taken dad’s offer! Don’t get me wrong, we had a really good time, but we could have had just as good of a time for a whole lot less money and stress!

Severl years later I helped my sister plan her second wedding for under $5000. It was a beautiful back-yard ceremony at a bed and breakfast, followed by a late lunch right there and a night of just hanging out with the friends and family – no huge reception of pomp and circumstance. We had an amazing time, and it was beautifully simple and simply beautiful. It was exactly what she wanted, and my dad was pretty happy too!

And about the photographer suggestion – BOY are you right on that! That is one of my biggest regrets in life! My wedding pictures SUCK! I hired a friend of a family member and I have better snapshots from the disposal cameras that we gave a few people! By the time my sister’s wedding came around, I knew better than to let her skimp on the photos, and she found a local semi-pro that took some AMAZINGLY creative and beautiful pictures! This is the one thing that I tell anyone who is getting married. Forget everything else (because nearly everyone else will too by the way) – you won’t ever forget anything about the day if you have great photos.

Kat Argonza May 6, 2009 at 5:31 pm

I’m engaged and trying to convince everyone we should just elope. I’m just not into weddings, I suppose. I think they’re so overrated.

Heather May 18, 2009 at 2:52 am

I just had my wedding. We planned for 1.5 years. It was on the beach in a friends backyard. It was beautiful. But if I was to do it again I would go to Vegas and send invitations to everyone stating meet us in Vegas.

I say this because the amount of planning that went in to one day was unreal! Now, I’m in what I call the aftermath, and anything that wasn’t exactly how we planned is so disappointing because of the long planning we did. We planned everything and still things weren’t done. The ceremony was on the beach and the chairs were suppose to be at an angle facing the water, instead they were facing down the beach. The whole point was that my husband and I wanted our feet to practically be in the water.

Then my dress and the bridesmaid dresses weren’t done when we went to get them on Friday the day before the wedding. My dress was in pieces. I had to have it sewn overnight. The bridesmaids wore dresses of their own or borrowed from friends. I got my dress 10 minutes before the ceremony causing me to not be able to inspect the ceremony setup until I was walking down the aisle. Hence, the wrong setup.

The coordinator forgot to put flowers down the aisle. No biggie you might think except that it was planned so that we could smell roses as we walked down the beach to what was suppose to be water, but instead was the coastline.

OH, I missed my rehearsal dinner b/c of the dress situation. I was being fitted as the worried family and friends had dinner. They didn’t enjoy it because they were concerned about what was going on with the Bridal gown and the bridesmaid dresses.

The money for tipping the vendors went to the cleaners instead. The person in charge of that goofed and so we tipped the cleaners more than we actually paid to have them clean and now we’ve got to take out more money to tip the vendors.

The list goes on and on and here I am sitting up missing out on sleep writing about it.

JUST go to VEGAS!

Less stress, less money, less chance of mistakes happening. More enjoying!

norcross May 18, 2009 at 8:34 am

You said it better than I ever could have. Fortunately, my wedding was a simple affair, and didn’t have the details that yours did. But I actually have some friends who did exactly what you recommend. His family is in Florida, hers in Canada, so they went to Vegas.