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intro post - The Anti-Bride Community
piss on tradition, we're doing it OUR way.
intro post
Hi, I just joined and thought I'd introduce myself!

I got engaged about three weeks ago and have already started planning-- it makes me anxious to leave things like this! Plus, it's kind of fun :)

I guess my wedding is unusual because of our budget, which is $1,500. That's going to cover everything except the alcohol, which my parents have offered to pay for. The thing is, not only are we (my partner and I) pretty poor, we're really not interested in spending money on napkins and roses and tuxedos. These things aren't our style. I admit that sometimes I get envious looking at wedding pron at Offbeat Bride, but for the most part, I think that planning a spectacular wedding would just stress me out. And even if we had the money, I'd rather spend it on something else, like travel.

I still need (sane) people to talk to about the wedding, though! This looks like a good community for that.

I've also started a wedding blog at http://thesensiblebride.blogspot.com/ about planning a frugal wedding, if you're interested.
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tiny_monster From: tiny_monster Date: September 5th, 2008 04:46 am (UTC) (Link)
Yay and good luck! :D
awfief From: awfief Date: September 5th, 2008 04:36 am (UTC) (Link)
Hey there,

took a look at your wedding budget -- anything is doable, $100 for food is fine if you're serving hors d'ouvres for 30 people, but not if you think you can serve a spaghetti dinner to 150. :)

My husband and I saved $100 a week for our wedding and spent about $7,000 for our wedding, all in cash. doing it debt-free is the way to be. Having "parental upgrades" like for the liquor, and free reception area, is the way to be. :) Also -- keep saving after the wedding. Sites like INGDIRECT.com (and probably your bank's website too) make it easy to schedule automatic transfers. Pay yourself first, and don't think you're allowed to take from savings unless it's for the wedding.....we've continued to save $100/week after our wedding too, and it's really nice to have a "nest egg".

We got invitations from Costco.com, they cost about $1 each for the standard frilliness (fancy invite, lined envelope, reply card, reply envelope, big regular envelope to put it all into). $65 might be too much -- or not enough, due to postage.

Do you already have a celebrant in mind? $400 is a lot to pay for one (we had a friend do it, and gave him $100 though he didn't ask for anything). You can definitely find one for less $$. If you are set on your celebrant, consider asking if there is a sliding scale, or if you can donate a lesser amount to charity instead of paying their fee. Even if the answer is "no" you never know until you ask!

Beware of "hidden" costs. $100 for food might work, but what about plates and forks/knives? What's your rain plan? How many people do you have, and can your parents bathroom handle that many people?

Definitely designate a friend or 2 to make sure you get the photos you want. Don't assume that "everyone" will take pictures (we had a friend who's an artistic photographer, and asked him to take pics -- again, giving him $100 though he didn't ask for it; and I was surprised that out of 150 people at our wedding, about 3 friends had pictures for us). Ditto with video, ask someone to take video! it doesn't need to be professional, I had a relative do it (check out http://www.sheeri.com/wedding/?p=11 for photos and video of the event -- the ceremony is 16 minutes long, including the processional! I highly recommend lots of laughter in your ceremony, it kept the tears at bay for us)

tiny_monster From: tiny_monster Date: September 5th, 2008 04:46 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks so much for your feedback! I should have pointed out that we live in Australia, so things are a little different here :P I am so jealous of you ladies in the US who can get have your friends officiate! We are required by law to have a licensed celebrant and even getting married at the registrar costs over $300, so $400 is about rock bottom for a celebrant. Boo!

As for the food, I am going to blog about this later, but we are going to ask our friends to bring a plate of food to the wedding instead of wedding gifts. We are only asking this of our close friends, the ones who are more than willing to help. So we will probably buy heaps of bread, cheese and deli meat with our $100 and rely on our friends to help us out for the rest :)

We're planning on about 80 people, so we'll really be relying on our friends and family to help out. Luckily, they seem more than willing!
awfief From: awfief Date: September 5th, 2008 06:40 am (UTC) (Link)
about the registar: wow!

about potluck weddings: make sure you have someone who can coordinate the food. Make sure that they coordinate supplies too -- napkins, plates, cups, plasticware, etc. And desserts, and non-alcoholic drinks (make sure there is plenty of water)! Food coordinator duties include:

- setting up, making sure everyone's dish has an appropriate serving utensil
- cleaning up -- at least taking away the empty plates to give back to their owners once they're empty.
- making sure everything on the list is gotten (hey, you may find that others bring the bread, cheese and meat and you need to buy soda, ice, and dessert)
- making sure there aren't 10 different kinds of cole slaw and nothing else. :)
- clearing stuff away -- you don't want meats and cheeses to be out in the sun too long.
awfief From: awfief Date: September 5th, 2008 05:28 am (UTC) (Link)
Both Tony and I are somewhat traditionalists, and we had a bit more in the budget than you did. Some tips:

ask "how much if I give you cash?" I got 10% off my dress ($550, but I gave $250 cash deposit and $250 cash when I picked it up) that way.

Avoid telling people it's for a wedding. If you must tell a vendor something is for a special event (ie, you want a tiered cake, with some decorations) tell them it's for an anniversary party. Convince yourself that "yes, it's your 0th anniversary". :)

Here's how we did it (keep in mind that we're traditionalists, but had lots of help from our friends, more $$, and both our parents "upgraded" us and/or paid for stuff):

Flowers: I would have gone to the supermarket and spent $10 per table on a flower arrangement + pot/vase, but my mother wanted to do something, so I let her pay the outrageous florist wedding prices. Being traditional, we had roses (in mid-June, so they shouldn't have been crazy expensive).

Tables and chairs, tent, plates/cups/silverware, buffet setups, etc: All rented from a party rental place. It took considerable work to set up 17 tables with 10 chairs each, which we did the day before the wedding. The day of the wedding I had my siblings in charge of putting the tablecloths on the tables, and setting the tables with plates, silverware, water glasses, bubbles and the take-home gift (I have 3 siblings, all married with children, some of the kids helped setting the tables)! A huge tent isn't that cheap, the total rental bill came out to about $4,000, which my mother offered to pay (we let her, but we would have spent that anyway. Instead, we had a fabulous honeymoon, 10 days in Portugal!)

Food: Our favorite restaurant advertises "takeout from 5-50". We figured "if they can do 50, they can do 150, right?" Happily, we were right! My dad wanted to pay for something, music's his thing but since it was basically free, we asked if he'd want to do the food. Again, something we'd have paid for anyway, but we would have gone stingy on the food and spent about $2,500, this way we made sure we had enough and got $3,000 (for 150 adults and about 20 children under 7).

We have a friend who's a caterer, and asked her to help arrange the food. We had a buffet, so basically it was "when the food is brought to the house, arrange it all, set out the appetizers just as guests come, and the food after the ceremony". She was happy to help, though didn't ask for $$, but we paid her $250 for it (she accepted the check).

The hardest part about this was that our caterer realized she wouldn't be able to pick up the food, so we asked people who were good friends of a good friend (but not so good they were part of our "inner circle" invited to the wedding) to pick up the food (using my dad's car and credit card!), and then come and enjoy the wedding. (ie, their "fee" was coming to the wedding, though it wasn't phrased like that).

Dessert: We went to a local bakery, got cake for 75 ppl (at $3 a slice, and that wasn't even with a "Wedding markup"...but since not everyone likes cake, we figured "get cake for 1/2 the # of guests"), and mini-desserts like eclairs, napoleons, etc for like 75 cents each. Total cost: $300, including delivery.

Waitstaff: Our inlaws were a bit concerned about their liability of people drinking on their property and then driving away. All of our friends/relatives are responsible, but it only takes one bad egg....they called their homeowner's insurance to check, they had coverage up to $1 million. Being frank, if one person drove home drunk from the wedding and killed a carload of 4-6 people, $1 million wouldn't be enough to cover lawsuits.

So even though we have friends who are *licensed* bartenders, we hired 3 waitstaff to help set up, clean up (1 hour before and after the wedding and the whole time during) and tend bar during the wedding. Because they were *licensed* and *insured*. This ended up being about $300, but worth every single penny.

awfief From: awfief Date: September 5th, 2008 05:28 am (UTC) (Link)
Music: My husband is part of a jazz band. We offered $100 per person to play the ceremony music, and 2 of the 4 band members wouldn't accept our $$, because they were very close to Tony (the other 2 were the ones who asked "how much to play at your wedding?" which is why we offered). This worked out well because they didn't need Tony to play with them :) (he's piano, they're bass, drums, guitar and saxophone) My dad loves music, and loved them so much he gave the band and extra $50 apiece. which is *unheard* of, we routinely wait until my dad leaves a restaurant table so we can put more $$ down for a tip. he's that cheap.

Photographer: we had 2 friends we designated as photographer, one who is an artist, and another who is just a really good amateur photographer. They both agreed to do it for free, but at the end of the day we gave them checks for $100. Our theory was that if our friends ended up feeling like they were behind the camera instead of enjoying the event, $100 would make any resentment go away, because at least they got paid. One of our friends refused the check, another took it because he actually needed the $$. We were given the film and digital files, and paid for all the processing -- another about $200 (we went with one of the online sites). My brother's wedding present to us was a Picaboo album, we gave him pictures, he made the album, and did a fabulous job (and spent hours on it!). We ordered 1 big album for us, and 3 smaller albums for our parents (mine are divorced, Tony's are together) and it cost us another about $200.

We love kids, but kids don't love wedding ceremonies, and we had plenty of backyard to spare, so we hired 3 teenage girls (from the neighborhood, my MIL found them, daughters of friends and such) at $10/hour to babysit. Parents were thankful for the opportunity, kids loved running around, screaming children didn't detract from the ceremony. $100 total (we only ended up needing 2 babysitters for about half the time, and they were happy to take off when there wasn't work.) We also spent about $50 in supplies (crayons, balls, etc)

Invitations, thank you cards: Costco.com. something like $250 for everything. Tony (my husband) does calligraphy and has nice handwriting, so he addressed most of the envelopes (I did the international ones, because they had to be sent earlier).

My dress: $500, plus $250 in alterations. We had a local recommendation for the alterations person and she WAY overcharged us, but we didn't feel like complaining.

Tony's tux, rented: $100

Venue: Tony's parents' backyard. Free.

Bathrooms: We rented porta potties, but even nice porta potties are still porta potties. We reserved 3 porta potties, at a cost of about $300, and Tony's dad went the week before the wedding to see what the other options were, and the rental place offered a steep discount on a bathroom trailer -- for $500 more, we could get the trailer. Tony's dad paid for it. That was definitely a luxury but I'm glad we had it -- people were telling each other "have you seen the bathrooms? They're AIR CONDITIONED and have RADIO!" Much better than porta potties, and the trailer goes for $1500 normally, but we wouldn't have paid even for the $500 upgrade, because budgeting was tight.

Charity: We donated $1000 in honor of our wedding to various charities.

Gifts: Matchbooks and candle holders and candles with our names and the date. About $200, basically $1 per person. I wanted to do something, and I would have done something like bookmarks that say "in lieu of a favor, donations have been made to the following charities" but when I found the candle holders (oriental trading company!) I couldn't resist.

Wedding party gifts: I gave the girls pearl earrings to wear, which I found on sale at JC Penney for $20 each. Tony was in charge of the guys, he ended up not getting them anything, so I got them an interesting book (sounds lame, but it was a pretty cool book). $20/person, about 10 people, $200.

Hair/Makeup the day of: My mother paid for it, we went to a salon. I upgraded to the "Bridal Package" which included a day-before pampering: aromatherapy bath, massage, facial. $300 total, I think my mother paid for about $60 of it.
nattydotorg From: nattydotorg Date: September 5th, 2008 02:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
There are some other wedding communities on LJ you might want to look into. DIY weddings and lowbudgetbride (I think?)...I don't know their exact names, but if you check my profile, you can find their links there.

I'm also keeping things low budget. We're aiming for a maximum of $5000. Which, is still a lot of money, but considering we're pulling this off in NYC, it's incredibly cheap! Our biggest expense so far has been the venue for the ceremony (The Coney Island Museum, $1000). But we've been cutting corners at so many other places. We found a location for our reception for free, a professional photographer friend of mine is shooting our pics for a minimum fee, we're making our own gifts and putting together the music ourselves, my dress was only $180, afternoon ceremony followed by a later evening reception (aka...not serving anyone dinner), etc. etc.

So it can definitely be done! And, I am definitely finding that because we are doing things low-key and easy-going, I've been so un-stressed about the whole thing all along. Our wedding is a month away (Oct. 4) and I'm not at all freaking out. So it's nice! :)
tiny_monster From: tiny_monster Date: September 9th, 2008 07:56 am (UTC) (Link)
Coney Island Museum?!? That sounds like the best wedding venue EVER!!!
when1wasaboy From: when1wasaboy Date: September 9th, 2008 07:40 am (UTC) (Link)
I -really- admire your budget. We're trying to be rock bottom in terms of cost, too, but we're coming in at about $4500. Which, hey, not that bad, all told.

I wish we'd done it cheaper, but we're having a hard time telling our families "No! We're not doing that!"
tiny_monster From: tiny_monster Date: September 9th, 2008 07:57 am (UTC) (Link)
It is hard! And I do understand the desire to keep families happy. We're really lucky in that our families are low-key and relaxed too. And hey, we have the perfect retort for any suggestions: "Sure! Will you be paying for that?" ;D
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