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My Frugal Life: Big Wedding On A Budget

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My husband and I were single until we were thirty, so we agreed that a "full blown" wedding was not what we wanted. Instead we opted to save our money for a honeymoon trip to England, and to put together a more economical wedding. We planned a small invitation list, about 50, that included a few friends and relatives.

Were we ever surprised when many of our friends and co-workers "invited" themselves to our wedding with comments like "We thought you two would NEVER get married", and "This we gotta see! When's the date?" The guest list grew to almost 200! Well, we couldn't afford hurt feelings OR a big wedding so this is how we solved it.

We made a list of all the components : location, food, flowers, music, , decorations, invitations, cake, dress, beverages, etc. Then one by one we decided what we could scale back. As we were doing this my best friend, (who was going through a nasty divorce at the time) called in tears and said she could not afford to give me a gift or even attend the wedding. Of course I was crushed, by her absence, NOT the gift! LOL. A solution came to me and it also provided the solution to our ever-expanding guest list.

My friend is an excellent seamstress and the dress I had purchased from a vintage shop needed repair. I suggested that as her gift she fit it for me and I would pay her a token sum as well so she could attend. She was THRILLED, and so was I!

Next I approached other friends and made like suggestions. In place of the usual gifts or money, would they be interested in pooling together for the wine? The cake? The flowers? The response was tremendous!

One friend, a florist, supplied the flowers at wholesale and donated her talents as designer. Another did my hair . Several others bought the cake and champagne. We had opted for a champagne and dessert reception to keep food costs down and had chosen 8 p.m. for our June date.

Another close friend, who lived on a lake, VERY generously donated her garden for the ceremony and reception and relatives rented the tent. We got the chairs from the local Fire Auxiliary at 50 cents each, with the understanding that we would pick them up and return them ourselves.

My colors were pale yellow and white, so we covered the tables with snow white sheets that we pinned under and put wide yellow florists ribbons criss-crossing and cascading down to the grass. In the middle of the tables, to hold the ribbons and the bottles of champange, we put small styrofoam coolers, covered in pale yellow satin and filled with ice cubes. These were surrounded by wine glasses from the dollar store. Flowers finished the festive wine tables. The dessert table was buffet style, the goodies made by a young woman starting her own catering business. She gave us a GREAT price because we let her put cards on the tables.

Our photos were taken by my new brother-in-law, mostly candid shots, which really were so much fun to look at later. NO VIDEO! The music was a student string quartet that played waltzes and hymns throughout the evening and our wedding song, The Sleeping Beauty Waltz, whenever my new husband gave me a kiss.

There were no disappointed guests, no "rubber" chicken dinner and no tacky jokes. There WAS a very happy party, a delicious reception and a FABULOUS honeymoon in England.

One of the guests had taken her own photos and sent them to a local paper with the story about our wedding. The paper ran it on a FULL PAGE!


Today, 30 years later, many of our former guests still say it was the best wedding they ever attended. ( Me too!) Oh, and by the way, my total cost for my dress, husband's new suit and 200 guests was 2500.00!

By PlumCottage

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By Georgetta Ruth [49]02/03/2014

Wonderful ideas. You should post the pictures. I am a sucker for happy endings.

By Marg [3]12/10/2011

What a beautiful story! I'm totally in love with the idea :D

By Judy = Oklahoma [57]11/30/2011

I know there are some people who would frown & say this was tacky or rude. I however, think it was an absolutely fabulous idea!
When a couple is marrying & they pretty much have everything they need, it's hard to figure out what to give them (and I for one, don't like contributing to wish lists where the sky's the limit, with items that are hugely expensive - like big screen tvs, vehicles , furniture, etc.). I would much rather contribute towards making the wedding a happy & memorable event for everyone.

By SuzyQ82 [2]11/30/2011

This rocks! I love that you had such a frugal wedding and that everyone pitched in, how nice. This was a happy read for me, thanks for sharing with us.

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