Alternative Wedding Ideas for Big Savings
I got married in May and I couldn't have been happier with how the day went. At first, there were things I really wanted (or thought I really wanted, based on what I knew weddings were supposed to be like) that would have cost us much more money. But we decided on some frugal alternatives that ended up making the day better than I could have imagined. Yes, those other things would have been nice, too, but considering neither of us are made of money, the alternatives made me just as happy and made the day just as perfect, without spending the fortune. Here's how we saved loads of money by opting for alternatives over tradition.
At the first store I walked into, I tried on a dress I thought I loved. It was a bit above my price range and the lady was a little pushy, so I decided to browse another store. I ended up taking the floor sample of another dress, one I really loved, and because it was the floor sample (50% off), it met my budget! Don't get sucked into buying a dress that's more than you can afford. Just because it's your wedding dress doesn't mean it's a free pass to overspend. You still have to pay for it, and once the day is over, you'll wonder why it was so important for you to get that dress. Take your time and look around. Be open to used wedding dresses or floor samples, as well as renting. Don't bother looking at dresses beyond your price range -- sooner or later you'll find a dress that you'll absolutely love. There is a "perfect" dress at any price range.
I know someone who spent thousands on a pair of Manolo Blahniks to wear on her wedding day. Even if you have a dress that doesn't cover your feet, it'll still be overshadowed by your hair, makeup, and dress. Unless you're loaded and have the money to burn, it's not worth spending a fortune just for the shoes. If you're willing to spend that much on shoes, go ahead and get a pair that you'd wear down the streets of New York City, a la Carrie Bradshaw. For your wedding, a cheap pair of strappy sandals (I did flip flops), would truly make little difference.
It was a no brainer for us to not register for gifts. Cash is what most Chinese guests like to give (we're practical like that), and for any friends who asked, we confirmed that we weren't registered anywhere and asked for cash gifts if they felt inclined to give something. Cash means we don't get anything we don't really need. Saves us the hassle of having to return anything.
We skipped the "walk down the aisle" production. That saved several thousand for space rental and decorations. Instead, we took a weekend trip to San Francisco and got married at their beautiful City Hall. On the wedding day, we went to Caltech to shoot pretty photos. Skipping the ceremony also means I didn't need bridesmaids, and all the costs associated with it (and my friends didn't have to "work" at my wedding either!).
The Centerpieces and Favors
We skipped the fancy centerpieces. Flowers and vases are expensive -- even if you try to DIY. I bought 20 baskets from downtown for $2 each, and filled it up with candy and cookies for the guests to snack on while waiting for the food. We also skipped the favors. We decided guests don't really want or need to bring something back with them that has our name and wedding date on it. Instead, we placed note cards with markers and stickers for guests to write us a note, so we can have keepsakes from each of the guests.
We skipped the DJ, and asked two of our friends to be MC's to faciliate a game that involved audience participation. Traditionally, the guests request a bride and groom kiss by tapping their chopsticks against their plates (it makes quite a racket). We made it into a kissing raffle -- everytime the guests started tapping on the plates, we picked a couple's name out of a bowl and that couple had to go up on stage and kiss. Then we would imitate them. It lasted throughout the evening and everyone was entertained.
There's no beating the price for a Chinese wedding banquet, and the food is delicious. They provide the seat covers, free. They provide a sound system and microphones, free. They provide a screen (for slide shows), free. There is no corkage fee (we brought Two-Buck Chucks from Trader Joe's). There is no cake cutting fee. It's not necessary to put up a lot of decorations because it's a restaurant -- it's already decorated (unlike most banquet halls in hotels). Our menu: 10 course meal plus dessert.
We skipped the honeymoon. We both like to travel and know that we'll plan a trip for the two of us when it's a good time (and a good deal). Granted, we dated for 8 years before getting married, so we don't necessarily need that time away.
The most important thing to remember is to not make the wedding bigger than the marriage. I'm very proud that my wedding didn't cost a fortune, yet I thought it was a perfect day. There's nothing I was left wanting for, nothing I felt I sacrificed.