As I have said before, I have been with Mary Kay for almost 14 years. Over that time, I have had the fun and exciting time of working with brides as they plan their big days but only in the small detail of their make-up. I have also attended many bridal shows as a vendor over those years but it was not until I started planning my own wedding that I realized what a bloody fortune they can cost! Last weekend I attend yet another as a vendor and almost every time I asked a bride when her big day was, more often than not (at least 3/4 of the people) would say something to the effect of two or three years away. And this was because of what they cost!!!
Now am I admittedly bias as I am sure all brides think there weddings were awesome and I am one of those brides. But I think my wedding was awesome in a-whole-nother way. My wedding could have easily cost about $50,000 to 60,000 not including the honeymoon but all in, including the honeymoon and my not at all inexpensive must have Christopher Garren cake, was a little over $18,000 and about $7,500 of that was cake and honeymoon. (I will explain my cake sitch later so you can understand why I pull it out.) So for about $11,000 I was able to pull off a $50,000 to 60,000 wedding and that was in 2012 so not that long ago!!! Now I got EVERYTHING I wanted and my husband and my wedding was wonderful but I also know brides that have pulled off beautiful weddings for $5,000 to $7,500 to $10,000. I even know one bride who did everything for $4,000! In my mind those figures are much easier to swallow.
To put this into perspective for you and what that meant in savings, when I started my wedding planning the average wedding according to Knot.com and WeddingChannel.com ranged between $30,000 to $50,000, not including the honeymoon. Folks, that’s a down payment on a home or a nice brand new car fully loaded!!! Maybe I am in the minority but that is flat out ridiculous, especially for a young couple just starting out. Another statistic is that many young couples are either paying for their weddings on their own or with the help of both parents. A young couple is facing enough with finding a home (or renting), creating a family and blending lives to have to worry about having a wedding with a sticker price of $30,000 to $50,000 or more!!! Heaven forbid that should also be financed via credit cards!
I personally feel if you are willing to do the research, put in the DIY time and give yourselves enough time, that you can have the wedding of your dreams. You still need to be willing to compromise on certain things (unless you are truly lucky and have a truly unlimited budget). Maybe you can’t have cut crystal but you can have a beautiful and ornate glass. And that is why I decided to do this series.
Using my wedding as an example as well as pulling from my niece-in-law who got married in 2011 and my good friend who got married in 2013 weddings, I will be going through various topics that factor into a wedding and the overall costs. These will include the feel, budget, stationary, vendors, décor and venue, clothing, food and beverages as well as the day of the wedding costs such as a day coordinator and transportation.
The first thing I feel that is important in planning a wedding is going out and buying the book Bridal Bargains by Denise and Alan Fields. You can find this at Barnes and Nobles as well as other bookstores and even in Kindle and other electronic versions. I bought this book when I read it could save me money and had the same philosophy as me…$30,000 plus for an average wedding is nuts! I laughed when my niece-in-law gave it to me to help plan because I had just bought it. The book has since been passed on to my good friend, my other niece-in-law who is getting married this year AND my sister-in-law whose son is getting married this year! It has way more tips than I will be giving you here so I do highly recommend getting it above all other books I read while planning.
The second thing I highly recommend is to find out how involved your fiancé wants to be in the planning process as well as his and your family. Just my opinion here, it is traditionally the bride’s day and I really do feel as most women dream about their day since they were little girls, this should remain at the core. However, it is also his day too and his ideas need to be considered and compromised with yours. You would be surprised but a whole lot more men are getting involved in their weddings, the planning and the details. They are not just there to taste cake and show up. And frankly, if the parents are going to help pay, then they should have some say in how the money gets spent. If its really important that second cousin Sydney and neighbor down the street Bob gets an invite, then if they are helping pay, that really should be considered. So coming to consensus on how you are going to handle everyone’s opinion is key. (In fact, with very few exceptions, I have found that the planning of the wedding in our modern times can be extremely challenging to the couple’s relationship. I have come to believe that if a couple can survive the engagement and wedding planning, they can survive a marriage.)
Third, talk about priorities and the feel of the wedding. This is the first place to test how you will compromise. You would be surprised how people really differ in these two areas. In my wedding planning, my husband and I differed greatly on a whole lot! About the only thing we agreed on was that we wanted everyone to leave our wedding still talking about it and having said they had fun! (Its a little silly but I love that over a year later people still talk about our wedding and how much fun they had!) We wanted it memorable… in a good way. My good friend and her fiancé were similar. I think they only thing they originally agreed on was that they wanted to be able to have everyone there. In fact, they couldn’t agree on what year to get married in at first.
Ask yourself (and your fiancé) how do you want your wedding to feel – glamorous, casual, formal, rustic, indoor, outdoor, beach, modern, traditional, intimate or grand scale? Where is your ideal location – in a country club, winery, park, beach, ocean front, fancy hotel, mansion, or barn? What time, ideally, do you want your wedding – morning, afternoon, evening? What are the most important things to have – killer dress, open bar, to die for flowers, an amazing cake, favors people want, lots of dancing, the location of your dreams, the best food ever and/or photographs to last a lifetime? Lastly, ask yourself what is not so important that if it were left out, you would be okay – sit-down dinner, appetizers, video of the wedding, alcohol, a limo, or fancy décor?
For example, for my wedding, I knew I wanted a church wedding but I wanted a historical church versus a modern or post 1950s style church. I wanted the same for our reception site. The last thing I wanted was a banquet hall, country club or hotel. I wanted it to be intimate. I also knew that I wanted a glamorous yet laid back easy going feeling. We both agreed on having a wedding that went from mid afternoon to mid evening. I was opposed to an open bar and wanted to limit alcohol while my fiancé, now husband, was opposed to a no host bar. My fiancé limited the locations as far as distance. We did actually agree on food and photographs being a priority. And the one thing I was not willing to budge on was my cake. For 10 years, I dreamed about having Christopher Garren’s Let Them Eat Cake make my wedding cake (their cakes are amazing one of a kind edible art that were flawless perfection) and I was willing to walk down the aisle in a burlap sack to have my cake. Yes I was obsessed I will sheepishly admit. I should share that ultimately our venue for church and reception led us to adopt a stylized 1920s themed wedding (not mobsters and molls). Ironically not a short 6 months after our wedding 1920s glamour and style starting popping up everywhere including weddings!