Editor’s note: I’m liking how the timing of these posts are turning out. From first date etiquette to how much to spend on a wedding, you’ll find it all here!
The wedding industry relies heavily on emotional appeals. I detest when people appeal to my emotion (It’s so easy it’s unethical!) What do I look like, a silly little girl? People who are making money from weddings fully realize they are making money from people’s dreams.
That’s why, when planning a wedding, it’s better to start with a reality and build up the dream around it. Before deciding you have to have a small destination wedding at a fairytale castle, you need to know how much you can afford. When you don’t start with a number, when you don’t begin from a place of reality, you are only going to end up severely disappointed or in an atrocious amount of debt.
Planning a wedding is often so disconnected from preparing for a marriage. I have made it a point to make sure our wedding fits in with who we are because I want it to be a natural transition to marriage. I want it to show how much we value our place in our larger friend and family community, to bring to life the spiritual beliefs we both hold about marriage, and to seem like a natural outpouring of the love, grace, and joy that already exists in our life together. In other words, it is important to me that this event, this one single day (however important it may be), comes from the reality of who we are. The last thing I want is for our wedding to feel like a dream. You can wake up from a dream, but you can’t wake up from a marriage.
Not yet knowing all of this, we started planning without a number. Tim and I are both dreamers and skilled internet trollers, so at first we were stoked on the idea of a small affair at the Fairmont Chateau (fairytale castle) in Lake Louise, Alberta. It was going to be a gorgeous winter wedding at a fabulous hotel, our guests would eat like royalty and go on sleigh rides while we took pictures on picturesque mountaintops. Now, for those of who who’s reality this fits, I’m jealous! But we also love our people and wanted to throw a huge party when we got home. When we got the number ($10,000 from mom and dad) we realized we couldn’t get all that, the idea did not fit our reality. So we moved on. Luckily, we weren’t too emotionally involved with Alberta, Canada.
Once you have the number, you can design the affair. Let’s say you have $1500. Just because you have a small budget does not mean eloping is your only option. It is an option (and it’s a good one!), so it a courthouse wedding with a small reception. However, you can still do a big affair with this number, just find a public space in the Summer, a friend willing to officiate, an ask your guests to bring a dish. Who doesn’t love a potluck BBQ? Some might say this is redneck, but in the Northwest, we call it hipster/homemade. Design your affair to fit your budget, and you won’t be disappointed.
Start with the Important
Besides wanting out wedding to feel “real” we also wanted to invite EVERYONE. In my Irish Catholic family, weddings are hotly anticipated, I can’t deny my family that by running off to Canada! We will also have a lot of people traveling to Portland who have never been, so we wanted to make sure it was an urban evening that highlights the best our fair city has to offer. Portland is like the third person in our marriage, we simply can’t cut costs down by holding it in my hometown! We also really wanted to do it on New Years Eve (DIVAS)!
So how are we going to have a big swanky city New Year’s Eve party for lots of people for only $12,000? Well, we found a significant place to cut costs, and that was the food. I mean, we love food, but we don’t need fancy food. Sometimes I find catered food a total waste of money (thanks for the boiled chicken and lettuce!) so we decided to go a little low-end and provide…. pizza! Local, delicious, Portland style pizza, that is. Add alcohol (beer and wine that is, let’s not get crazy), and we have a great place to start! We are saving almost $5,000 by going this route and if if means we can have more people to enjoy our swanky pizza party, it’s fine by me! The savings also means we can have a live band (our friends, who are charging us half their normal price) and a decent photographer.
What about you? What did you simply HAVE to include in your wedding? What can you do without?