Saturday, April 16, 2011

What Is Important at a Wedding?

This is wedding season, and there's so much advertising directed at people to spend money on their party. I usually hate other people's weddings (sorry for being an apathetic guest), and try to duck out of the reception as soon as it's considered not rude to leave.

Yes, that cake is on the floor.
Opera Catering Service in Kuwait, by Chef Omar Addihaoui

I've come to realize most of my resentment comes from the show of too much. A wedding can be a time and money sink, depending on the couple.  At the end of the day, the little bubbles favors in the shapes of cakes, the cake with a live trapezist, awkward toasts, the rituals, the rentals, and the showers... it's just too much. There's nothing inherently interesting or beautiful about any of that. However, times have changed, and the only thing keeping up are the companies trying to sell you M&Ms with your engagement pictures printed on them.
No M&Ms?! Photo credit:
My wedding is almost a month away, and I've managed to keep my budget of $5000 fairly well, although there were some radical changes in the last six months. Keep in mind that this wedding is family only, and I invited 24 people - Less than 20 have committed, including us.

I won't list all of my expenses, but the top five that made up the bulk of the budget:
Food: $700 I'm getting Tommy Bahamas to cater with heavy appetizers since the event is 6 pm - midnight. I could have probably gone cheaper, but I know the food will taste better than the meat-like balls I've tried at some other places.
Photo credit:
Hotel: $800 Since the event is small and out of town for almost everyone, I'm covering one night of the stay for everyone. I figured this would be a better than favors, spa packages, etc.
Dress: $295 I got something online, and it fits perfectly. Plus it's more beautiful than anything I've seen in the stores around here. The only catch was that I didn't do my internet store research - the website is no longer available, so I assume neither is the company.

Everything else was relatively inexpensive to obtain. The venue, which is a cabana right on the beach front, was $40 for the day. A 9" round, butter cream frosting marble cake was $70. I expect beer and wine and decorations to be about $200 each. Accessories and salon trips will be less than $100.

How in the world did I do this?? I figured out the top three things that are worth buying for a wedding.  I wanted a dress, a cake, and the family. Everything else could be reused from somewhere, DIY, or ignored completely. We decided that since this is a night event, lighting would be more important than flowers for example. I ignored these other things:

  • Cake topper - Seriously? $30 for a bling monogram? Great scam.
  • Tuxedos - We are going to be at the beach - self explanatory.
  • Photographer - although I might get a bridal portrait after I come back from the honeymoon. This is one of the most expensive items you can get for your wedding. I will also say that some of the photographers are quite the rip off because they take below average pictures. Good for them for successfully marketing their crappy skills.
  • Redoing my invitations after the initial venue bumped me. 
  • The "wedding" part. I am technically already married, as we signed the papers at the courthouse back in February. It doesn't change anything except referring to Jason as "my husband," and now we're wearing rings. I might change my name after coming back from Europe... No rush.
  • A bridal party for the wedding. I have my sister helping me out, so she's technically my matron of honor.
  • Bridal shower party. 
  • A registry. People are very confused by this, but we don't need anything. 

After a heck of a lot of research, I've seen a lot of different wedding types. Having a good time is independent of how much money is spent during that time. Jason warned me not to be so cheap that I would end up wanting a second wedding to make up for lack of the first. The result is usually these types of weddings, hence the dress and the cake requirement (because sometimes the dress isn't enough as you can clearly see).
No one touches Wonder Woman's man. Photo credit: