Frugal Wedding Planning: Setting Expectations

Frugal Wedding Planning: Setting Expectations

It’s funny what happens when you announce an engagement. Everyone starts asking what date you have planned, where it will be, the guest list, the theme, the colors, the flowers, the bridesmaid dresses, the band/DJ… 

It’s been two weeks, people. Slow your roll!

Some married couples we’ve spoken with encourage spending as little as possible on our wedding day. They remember their wedding and think of it fondly, but they agree that it wasn’t worth the massive expense. Years down the road, the memories and photo album won’t mean as much as the thousands of dollars spent that could have been put to better use. They tell us to put that money toward buying a house, paying down debt, or investing for our future.

The Wedding-Industrial Complex is Real

If that’s the consensus from married folk, then why is the expectation to throw a huge party? Why do we give into this fantasy depiction of a fairytale wedding sold to us by the wedding industry?

Neither of us likes to be in the spotlight. Why plan a wedding for everyone else’s benefit? As excited as we are to get married, the wedding isn’t the most exciting part. We’re itching to start our life together – all the stuff that happens after the big day!

And yet, here we are browsing every wedding planning service out there for guidance – The Knot, Wedding Wire, A Practical Wedding, etc. We haven’t even bought into what they’re selling! Why should we use caterers that cost $10,000+ for less than 100 guests? Do we need a videographer, or a calligraphy artist, or stretch limousines to have a meaningful wedding? Will we remember the lavish centerpieces or the DIY decorations? Do any of these “necessities” define our future marriage?

Setting Expectations for Our Frugal Wedding

We have three priorities for our wedding:

  1. Bringing our friends and family together
  2. Celebrating in a setting that’s significant to us
  3. Get married (the point of all of this anyway :p )

Our dream is to see our loved ones having a good time, whether that’s by enjoying a meal, laughing and dancing, or creating new memories together. If we can achieve that, we will call our wedding a success. None of the other stuff matters.

5 Rules for Stress-Free Wedding Planning:

  1. Create a budget and stick to it (no matter what)
  2. Focus on what you want, not what everyone else wants
  3. Ensure the most important people make the list. Narrow down your guest list to your closest circles, then expand from there to include extended family and friends
  4. Prioritize your must-haves, whether it’s an open bar, killer music, or delicious food. Don’t stress about the rest
  5. Have realistic expectations for prep work leading up to and on the wedding day, including set up and clean-up (not everyone can create a Pinterest-worthy reception, and that’s okay)

Wedding sites and advertisers want us to believe we can’t plan a wedding for less than $10,000. We know it’s possible to plan a celebration that suits our vision and our budget. If that means eschewing some of the traditional wedding trappings, then we’re all for it. Forget flower arrangements, bridal parties, gift favors, and chocolate fountains (it hurts to admit that one…).

Give us the essentials we think are important, because that’s all we need.

~ Ms. RW

We’d love your ideas for planning a small wedding on a budget! Did you pull off a showstopping wedding on less than $10,000? What should we consider when shopping vendors or comparing prices? What part of your wedding felt the most meaningful? 

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