@Birdiebaby4: Being a parishioner is a matter of being within that parish’s territory or being registered at the parish. It is not a matter of how often you go to Mass.
That said, typically parishioner discounts are given only to couples who’ve been members of a parish for say a specified amount of time. The general idea is that the parish doesn’t want to be used as a wedding chapel. Thus those who’ve been involved in the parish and weren’t hunting down the parish for a wedding location are given a discount. The intent is not to motivate couples to delay marrying for the sake of getting the discount.
That said, there is no reason a church wedding has to be insanely expensive. A friend of mine spent only about $3,000 on her church wedding – complete with borrowed wedding gown that she did the alterations on herself, two bridesmaid and a cray paper reception with cold cuts in the church basement, and no professional photographer.
Maybe you don’t want to go down that cheaply. Well, I spent about $8,000 on my wedding. (US average is 25K) and here are a few pictures from my wedding.
Not on the picture below: I originally had 4 bridesmaids: my sister, my sister-in-law, and two friends. My sister-in-law without a specific reason indicated she simply had trouble saying no and didn’t want to be in the wedding. One friend was offered a job interview the weekend of my wedding and had to take it. The other friend turned out to be a drama queen and tried to use the bridesmaid position to blackmail me. I was able to replace one of the lost bridesmaids and at the last minute the blackmailing bridesmaid decided she wanted to be in the wedding. As such, I had three, potentially two bridesmaids and four groomsmen. I thus worked it out that one or two groomsmen would be more like head ushers. Since the drama queen ended up not bailing out at the last minute. I ended up doing was having the Best man and the groom come in from the side. The spare groomsmen than ushered my maid of honor and took his seat. Then the rest were all paired coming down the aisle. I only had the best man and maid of honor stand up for the exchange of vows since they were the ones to sign the marriage certificate. I felt visually it looked less cluttered around the altar that way.
In regard to the cost, I did get the parishioner discount on both the hall and the church. The hall also collected decorations over the years. Some of it was from previous weddings. I bought the cupcake tier and when the reception coordinator saw it, she bought it from me. As such, I got completely reimbursed for it. I purchased the flower petals online for a nominal fee (did a lot of price comparison. I asked a friend of mine who worked for a radio station to do our music, he arranged a free wedding DJ for us. One of my regrets is the wedding photographer. I really thought it was insane to spend so much on pictures. Why did I need my wedding photos to look like something out of a bridal magazine. I still wanted something a little nicer though. I searched far and wide and found a cheap photographer. While I spent only about $600 on it, the pictures were actually worse than some of the pictures my guests took. It ended up being a complete rip off. Some of my best photos were taken by one of my bridesmaids. This one for instance came from my bridesmaid’s camera:
If I had to do it over again, I would have researched the cost of having it at my husband’s parish. I would have extended the ceremony invitations and considered having an immediate informal non-fancy reception in the Church basement — a sort of receiving line, but allowing for more socializing. Maybe some finger foods, cheeses and punch but no decorations. Then, if we could afford it, after the “Catholic Gap” I would have had a reception with only immediate family and close friends (more along the size of a groom’s dinner). I would have created a playlist for background music during both receptions. I wouldn’t hire a photographer at all.
That said, that’s all from a lesson learned. My husbandand I are both introverts. We don’t like large crowds. I was a stressed out mess during the reception. I simply hate being the center of attention.
Point being, its the reception that is costly, not the ceremony. Sure, you’re paying more than most brides for the ceremony, but the ceremony is the main event, not the reception. Try to think of the reception as a glorified receiving line and remember not to glorify it too much.
Here’s one priest’s view of weddings today. I read it while I was engaged. Some might find it offensive, but it makes excellent points. http://reverendknow-it-all.blogspot.com/2009/10/rant-on-weddings.html