Disclaimer: I love all weddings equally.
Let’s face it: weddings are quite the money pit. The average US couple spends $20,398 to culminate their eternal union. No matter what way you cut this five-digit figure, it’s an exorbitant amount to spend for just several days of celebration. Almost reckless, even. Or, at the very least, socially irresponsible. Unless you are a diehard believer in the trickle-down effect.
From my perspective, which is that of an immature penurious male, it seems like there are sundry ways to cuts costs, and I mean CUT COSTS.
Forget About Paying For Location
I’m not suggesting you have your wedding on the street or inside your house, but why pay for a romantic spot that means little if anything to you? It blows my mind that couples will spend thousands to exchange vows somewhere they’ve never even visited! But for some reason this makes sense to the lovebirds because hundreds, if not thousands of couples, have consummated their love in the exact same impersonal and meaningless locations.
Instead of getting married in the nave of some stuffy church, or at the top of some building with breathtaking views of downtown; instead of paying for three hours at the botanical garden, or some overpriced historical landmark, why not choose a spot that is actually relevant to the life you’ve built with your loved one?
Do you have a favorite spot you visit to sit and watch nature, maybe with a bottle of wine, block of cheese, and mountain fresh bread? What about a storied tree that has witnessed your passion for each other grow? Or a secret and enchanted location with low traffic and scant footprints?
Oftentimes the places that come to mind are free to use. Granted, they may not come with seats and tables, but those can be gotten inexpensively.
Make Your Own Invitations
How many wedding invitations have you gotten in the mail and loved so much that you want to keep forever stored in a drawer? I have gone so far as to take pictures of each one, but they all end up in the same place.
Some are elaborate and diaphanous with their vellum paper and fancy initials layered like geological strata.
Others are self-made and without the frills. Take a look at this post on How to Make Handmade Paper.
Although both serve to communicate a momentous occasion, namely, your wedding, in the name of this post, the latter is the way to go.
Rent That Dress
Rather than convince yourself you must buy a wedding dress and have it tailored to your figure, why not rent one for around $50 per day? On the downside, you won’t get to keep the gown, but what are you going to do with it in your closet after the wedding is over?
If it’s acceptable for grooms to rent their tuxedos, why not keep things symmetrical and rent that dress?
Of course, there’s always the option to do without tux and gown. Don’t feel pressured to conform to the standard that the little plastic couple atop wedding cakes set. Get married in clothes that say who you are. Get creative if you have to. Make it personal and, most importantly, make it reasonable.
Crop The Photographer
With digital cameras and snappy fingers, everyone is a photographer. If you don’t already own a camera, invest in one before the big day since it’ll probably come in handy for the conjugal life and its vacations. Put someone you know in charge. Give them a small token of appreciation once they take x amount of photos, where x is some large number.
Also, ask everyone to upload the photos they take to a flickr account devoted to your wedding.
That way everyone gets to see the photos without a corporate watermark or size restrictions. They can also download them and print them reasonably.
Or they can enjoy them online to minimize printing and paper costs.
Scrap The DJ
Unless you have a close friend or relative with turntables, a DJ is superfluous and strange. Put together a comprehensive playlist. Like the location and the dress, make your playlist relevant to the life you share with your loved one.
Microbrewed Beer and Two-Buck Chucks
I know an open bar is great, but it’s also gratuitous. While your guests will attempt to get their money’s worth in drinks, most will not come close, and those that do will be a wedding spectacle, if not poisoned. Depending on the magnitude of your party, get 2-3 kegs of really tasty beer and several cases of two-buck chucks. That’ll do the trick and then some.
Have it in Jackson, Minnesota
If you must have a special and impersonal location, if you must buy a dress, if you must have a photographer and DJ and an open bar, then go ahead and do it all in Jackson, Minnesota.
These are the average costs of weddings by select US zip codes:
Chicago, Illinois, 60622 = $16,981 and $28,302
Miami Beach, Florida, 33140 = $24,325 and $40,541
Ocean Beach, California, 92107 = $21,418 and $35,697
Houston, Texas, 77024 = $16,216 and $27,027
Jackson, Minnesota, 56143 = $9,944 and $16,573
Blue Hill, Maine, 04614 = $17,899 and $29,832
Phoenix, Arizona, 85003 = $15,910 and $26,517