(Closed) The Economy is ruining my wedding

posted 12 years ago in Money
Post # 47
5398 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

I’m gonna try to make this as short and sweet as possible…

For starters, you are VERY lucky your mother is paying for anything at all.  If you can’t afford your own wedding, you need to make due with what she gives you and that’s it.  I really feel like it’s unfair to have a wedding at $125pp when someone else is paying for it…there really other cheaper alternatives to that which are just as nice.  As far as your FIs family, until they financially contribute, their complaints need to be ignored.  They aren’t paying for a thing, so they have no right to speak up.  Also, you can’t cut the list anymore because of them, but since they aren’t paying, you just have to draw the line somewhere.

Unfortunately, if you don’t really like any of those choices, then honestly I think you should wait until you actually both have jobs to get married.  It’s that or elope and that will make the wedding really cheap.  What’s most important, the marriage, or having a super nice wedding?  Honestly, I think there is a way for you to meet in the middle where you can having your wedding and have it be pretty nice, but don’t be spoiled about it either.  It really isn’t the end of the world if your guests have to sit at tables with white table cloths and napkins, seriously.  

Post # 49
1245 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2009

Nursebride, I’m sorry you’re being pulled in so many different directions. When I read your first post I thought, "Hmm, she needs to get over it and just lower some expectations," but after reading your follow-ups it really seems like you’re experiencing a lot of pressure from all sides to conform to others’ expectations. Have you investigated DIY options yet for your flowers at all? If it’s even an option, have you figured out if it’d be possible to DIY similar centerpieces to what your ideals are? That could save you a serious chunk of change.

Also, how long has it been since your mom put her foot down, so to speak? If that happened recently, maybe she just needs a few days to catch her breath. A more detailed budget breakdown for her, along with a bunch of estimates from local vendors that show her what a realistic price range is, might help.

Regardless, I hope things work out. I know lots of people are telling you to postpone, but if I was in your spot, I’d try to focus on marrying my Fiance as the most important part of the day, and let the rest go. But I know that would be really hard if I felt like everybody else’s dreams for the day were getting fulfilled but mine. Yes, the actual marriage is the most important, but the little stuff becomes really important if it becomes a battle.

Good luck, and I hope you find some of these comments helpful!

Post # 50
10 posts

I feel your pain since I also got married in NY and money was extremely tight given that we had both just graduated.  Would you consider moving your wedding to a non-peak season?  Our venue would have cost us over $130 pp if we had our wedding in the spring/summer.  Instead, we had a daytime, winter wedding and our pp cost was literally cut in half (actually a little more than half).  Also, I got GREAT deals on all my vendors since it was off-peak.  I got quoted prices from the previous years, fees waived, things thrown in for free, etc.  It was the best decision ever. 


Post # 51
33 posts

I hear the economy killing you bit; really I do! My fiance is out of work for the third month now…and he lost his job three days before our first mortage payment was due!  Buying a house and planning a wedding while unemployed truly isn’t fun.  Add in emergency cross country trips to visit dying relatives and our budget is screaming "ouch" at the way we’re pinching pennies.  We also live in San Francisco, one of the most expensive areas in the country!  But I have to say, if you’re bringing your mom to tears, you need to back off and look for other options. We’re managing a beautiful fully catered wedding for 75 people at $4500.  We’ve bartered for some services, chose non-floral centerpieces, and limited the bar to white or red wine with a champagne toast. My fiance also started walking dogs and housesitting to pull in the extra cash we need to make up. Think outside the box on everything and you’ll end up with a uniquely beautiful wedding without worrying your mom will be crying in the pictures!

Post # 52
158 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: March 2009

I’m sorry. There seem to be some discrepancies in your story. You say that $125/person is the starting price in your area and then you say that it includes 5 hours of open bar and ice sculptures. Cut the ice sculptures, get your dress altered, print some invites on your computer at home and be done with it.

Post # 53
378 posts
Helper bee

Does your mom see the absurdity of having ice sculptures when she won’t pay to have your dress altered? And a 5-hour open bar? That’s insane! That right there is going to be soooooo much money. I think you need to sit down and talk with your mom. If she wants to host a big party and doesn’t care about you on your wedding day, you need to re-evaluate what’s important to you and go from there.

Post # 54
293 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: November 2008

OK, because we all know there are some things that you just CANT cut, I think its ok to put some of this on a card (yikes sorry dad) In no way can or should you spend $3,000 for flowers.  Forget that, you can get by for $300, one nice bouquet for you, 1-3 stems for your bridesmaids, a single bloom for your groom.  DONE.  Nobody is going to say a thing if your parents and others dont have flowers-honestly.  What is your mother’s house like?  Can you do it there?  If not I honestly think unless you live in Manhattan or San Francisco you can get the cost down at least to $90/head.  Forget the DJ, get a friend to put your favourite songs on a mac or ipod and have a friend do toasts and announce your first dance.  Alterations YOU MUST have done.  I believe you can do your own hair and make-up but if you cant just charge that part too.  Here is my big tip. DONT register for gifts.  You will likely get cash, which sounds like you need.  Where are you in the country?  If you are in Manhattan you could consider a reception of cake and champagne–an hour of dancing and you are out.  OR if you have any ties to the south…consider a wedding breakfast.  I really wanted a wedding breakfast by choice but we cant do it.  I think the most important thing is you dont DO more than you can afford, make sure whatever you do looks decent, cut everything else.  My parent’s spent 6 figures on my sister’s wedding and the week before we went to a wedding that had only cake and champagne…the whole thing was so elegant…my mom even commented that it was "just right"  I think the key again is not to do more than you can pull off.  

Post # 55
1238 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2008

My cousin lives in the same area you do, so to save money they got married in New Jersey.  You can do a very simple wedding that is classy and beatiful — it just takes patience and planning.  Flowers do not need to be elaborate.  You do not need to feed people at a wedding, do an evening wedding after dinner with champagne and dessert (as ju1244 said).  I have the money to get my hair and make-up done, but I am considering doing it myself because it is NOT a necessity.  Remember it is NOT about the wedding; it is about the marriage.  All you need is a court house to get married.  All the extras are exactly that — extras.  There is no need to stress over it.  Look at your budget and find a way to make it work!

My fh and I agreed not to have any debt when we get married –that means a much smaller/simpler wedding than what we could "afford" if we charged it or got a loan.  If we wanted all the extras we would go ahead and use our credit– then I could get a videographer, wedding favors, elaborate flowers, a professional make-up artist, and a big cake.  However, these are all things we’ve chosen to do without to stay within our budget.  We live in Southern California, a place that it almost as expensive as NY and more expensive than NJ.  We are getting married on a college campus (cost of the venue $350). 

It can be done — but it takes work!

Post # 56
979 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2008 - A tiny town just outside of Glacier National Park

Nursebride, people are giving you very good suggestions on how to make your limited budget work, but you keep saying you can’t do this and you have to do that. Your mother sounds like she has very fixed ideas but honestly, it sounds like YOUR ideas are just as fixed. You pretty much have three options as I see it.

1. Just let go and do it your mom’s way. It will turn out OK.

2. Tell your mom to STFU or whathaveyou and do it your way. It may not turn out OK.

3. Give up your preconceptions and listen to the advice people are giving you. This may mean doing things very differently than you imagine in order to save money.  There are many many alternatives to having flowers at a wedding or having professional hair and makeup. Doing things differently is not the end of the world. 

Post # 57
236 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: June 2009

Sorry to hear that you are feeling so troubled. I am also finishing up grad school and my Fiance will just be starting a new job as we start our marriage – so, money is tight for us as well. I feel you on the economy thing…

But I have to agree with others on the idea that the only essential thing you listed is the dress alterations. Everything else is added stress to you and your budget (at this point). If your mom and Future Mother-In-Law are so set on having a DJ, have a friend’s younger sister/brother pose as one for the night and play off of an iPod. Most HS or college kids will do this for $50 or as a favor to you. Your mom amd Mother-In-Law won’t be the wiser.

If you are this stressed about finances, PLEASE do not get an ice sculpture and 5 hour open bar. I think if you let your mom know that these are not as important to you as your dress fitting properly or having some flowers to hold as you come down the aisle, then she will come around. Tell her how THAT is a wasteful use of money. I am from LA and prices are pretty inflated here as well, but I can’t even imagine there being a place in the world where the LOWEST price per head is $125.  I know you say you looked, but maybe you need to look at other TYPES of venues. I honestly feel that you would probably save more by skipping out on a deposit than paying that much per person. Good luck!

Post # 58
305 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: May 2008

Where do you live?  I live in between NY and Phili, in Northeast PA.  My venue was $40 pp with cake, and excellent sit down dinner.  And I could have gone cheaper.  I’m on your side…really.. but I still cannot believe that is all you could find.

But let’s get off that.  It is already paid for, right?  I wasn’t in such a tight situation as you, but as my wedding planning developed, I learned to let go of what I "wanted"  I mean, I still tryed to make my vision come true, but whoever pays really does get the say.  If you can’t afford to do anything yourself, you really are at the mercy of your mother.  End of story.

So work with her the best you could.  Get rid of the "you are driving me crazy MOM"  and just go with it.  For the things she won’t pay for, start saving, get another job, have Fiance help along with his family.  You should have been saving for this wedding already, so start doing it now, even if it is $5 a week.

Good luck!

Post # 59
305 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: May 2008

And Fiance cannot work because he is studying for the bar!  BS! 20 hours a week at work will be his break from studying.

Post # 60
536 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2020 - The Desmond Hotel in Malvern, PA

I know you have received a ton of suggestions and different views here, and I’m sure you’re overwhelmed (I’m kind of overwhelmed just reading them, ha!!!).  I just wanted to add my two cents.

First, take a deep breath!  You will get through this.  The people who are demanding nicer things need to (calmly and rationally) be told that if they are adamant about certain things, they need to contribute in order to make it happen, otherwise it falls into your hands and comes out of your wallet and you have the final say.  Don’t get upset, don’t get angry, and don’t bring up old fights…. be an adult, show them you’re serious and respectful, but not going to take anyone’s demands anymore unless they’re ponying up some dough.

I’m sure the ice sculpture is part of the package at your venue — how about having a heart-to-heart with your contact there, tell them your situation, and see how much $$$ you could get back if you cut the ice sculpture.  Honestly I am not a big fan of ice sculptures, and I think this is something you can do away with and NO ONE will know that you ever even intended to have one…. but they WILL notice just a tiny bit if you don’t have centerpieces! 

Whatever money you can get back — a little here, a little there…. $$$ back for the ice sculpture, a tiny bit of $$$ off if you cut an hour from your photographer’s package or forego doing an album right away (if that’s something that’s included now), etc. — and then prioritize two things:

1. What you’re going to do with the $$$ that you have after moving a few things around and cutting back just a tiny bit

2. How much you’re willing to put on a credit card in order to have a wedding you won’t regret (without regretting a lot of debt, too)

It sounds like dress alterations need to be the #1 priority, because you deserve a dress that fits on your wedding day!  You are luck enough to be in the middle of NYC and Philly — although expensive in some ways, you also have a BAJILLION resources to choose from.  Find a reputable but affordably priced seamstress, talk to a friend whose mom sews (my mom made her own wedding dress in the 70s, and I’m sure if I was entirely strapped for cash she’d be able to make my dress fit somehow!  There are lots of Baby Boomers with the same skills )

As for flowers and centerpieces, I think ordering wholesale flowers like others have suggested is a great way to go.  Do a little online research to find out what flowers hold up best without water for a period of time, and maybe buy enough to put together one or two trial bouquets.  Yes you’re spending money, but in the long run you can probably make all of your bouquets and bouts for a few hundred dollars, if that.  

For centerpieces, I love Corn’s idea…. I’m not sure what your colors are, but last year I went to a wedding where the bride had filled hurricanes with coffee beans (as one of her colors was chocolate brown) and then had a large candle sitting in them, and small votives around it with a mirror underneath.  If you plan things out carefully, shop for bargains at places like Ikea (a few in the Philly and NJ/NY area!) and save-on-crafts.com, you can do all of your centerpieces for a few hundred dollars.  If you’re still set on having flowers in your centerpieces, make sure you have some reliable friends to help you out and buy more wholesale flowers to create the centerpieces the day before the wedding (and make sure someone has the fridge space to store them).

For your invitations, go with something simple from a craft store or recruit a talented friend to put something tasteful and inexpensive together for you as her wedding gift to you.  Keep it rectangular (square envelopes cost more to mail) and don’t add too many pieces so it’s not too heavy.  I like the idea of hand-delivering to those who live near you — get dressed up and make an event out of it with your Fiance   Your guests will think it’s charming and it won’t even occur to them that you did it to save postage!!!!  

I know it’s not ideal to scrimp a little here and there, DIY a lot of things and put a tiny bit of cost on credit card….. but try to remember that there are some beautiful weddings out there in the wedding world that happened on a tight budget and they were STUNNING.  Read this blog for inspiration:


It’s hard to let go of that "perfect wedding" dream, but remember that a lot of people don’t have anyone helping with their wedding financially, and are still able to put together a beautiful day on a budget.  At the end of it all, you and your guests will remember the love that was present.  Just try to keep it all in perspective and allow yourself to give a little on some things.  I know you want everything perfect and don’t want to give up certain things, but try to think of what will REALLY have the most impact and then rework things in order to balance things out.

Post # 61
438 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: April 2008

I will assume that your venue was how mine was – do you have a minimum amount you must spend on food & drinks?  That is the only reason we had an open bar.  And ours included everything yours does, and it was the same cost.  When you choose somewhere with a minimum like that, there’s nothing really you can do to cut anything there.  Boston ia pretty expensive as well for a wedding, so I know the feeling.  I just think there are other ways to do things if you have to – go farther away from the city, do an outdoor wedding, just avoid big ballrooms/fancy hotel type venues in general.  I just disagree that every single wedding venue in your area costs this much money – there is always something, whether it is exactly what you want I don’t know.  Not everyone spends that much on a wedding is all.  I mean, you are obviously stuck with the venue, unless you are willing to lose a deposit.  And since you have such a pricey place, you have to cheap out on everything else – thats what I had to do.  I definitely think you can get some flowers if you start saving a little – but that price is ridiculous.  It should only be that much if you are getting a ton of flowers or expensive types of flowers.  I also don’t see how you can skip invitations….but maybe you could do some sort of email invitations if you got everyone’s email address?  You just have to be open to different things at this point, because it sounds like the decision making is out of your hands.  My mother argued with me the whole way through planning as well, I know how it can be.  You just need to show her the costs and a budget and really talk to her about it.

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