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Quill

Wedding expenses and expectations - past and present

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A friend and I were talking about weddings; our daughters are exactly the same age and, while neither of our girls are engaged yet, we know lots of people with kids their ages getting married. This friend is frugal, as am I. We were talking about another friend who just got a quote on flowers running $4,600.00. Just the flowers. My friend said, “I had silk flowers and my mom and my aunt made the bouquets!” I said, “Me too! I bought flowers at a craft store on sale and my sister made the bouquets!” Then she said, “Hair, makeup...we did all these things ourselves...” I said, “Yes! The automobile was my FIL’s Cadillac.” She said, “Us too!” It was funny, thinking of all those things we did as inexpensively as we could manage. 

So, what things did you do inexpensively or DIY when you got married? How about now, if you have had a dc get married? I know some of our members here have DIY’d weddings and would definitely not think $4,600 is a reasonable flower budget. 🙂 How have you cut wedding costs (now or in the past) to the bone? 

P.S. I know region makes a big difference in expectations, too. In the Mid-Atlantic, expectations are high. Doesn’t mean I bow to them, though. 

Edited by Quill
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My parents were recently divorced and neither flush with cash. And in that era the bride's parents paid the bills. I remember my mom and I finding my dress on sale at a bridal store for $300. The "Say Yes to the Dress" show drives me crazy. No one should drop $10k+ on a dress! Mom got the flowers and the cake (both single-proprietor small businesses and cheap), Dad did the reception, I paid for my bridesmaids' dresses out of my teaching salary (found them at different stores all on sale), dh and I paid the photographer. I'm all for frugal. Especially after we pay for dds' college educations!

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My wedding (1993) was $500 including the reception.  I borrowed my friend's wedding dress.  My sister wore her prom dress.  Silk flowers, friend did photos, etc.

My DD is getting married next fall and I am big on simple and inexpensive.  I gave her a budget and that is what I have to spend.

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My dress was off the rack from Macy's at $100, I made my own veil from a length of toile fabric and bridal notions purchased at a wholesaler for a total of $2 (and made another later for a friend who liked mine so much). My shoes were $20 and I wore them afterwards. My husband's tux was rented, although I don't remember how much that was. It wasn't expensive.

I made invitations on a laser printer for $40 (cost of fancy paper and envelopes - only 40 guests). The flowers were about $400 - for me, my maid of honor, my husband, best man, and two nice rose arrangements for church. We did no flowers or favors for reception at all.

My BFF's boyfriend (now husband) took and developed photos as our wedding gift, and they turned out very well. I don't remember how much we paid for the limo, but we only had it for 2 hours. Someone gave us a ride home in their car from the reception.

I did have hair and make-up done, which was $100 each plus tip.

We had our reception in a small restaurant during their normally closed hours, and it cost about $40 per person (only 40 guests). 

There was no money whatsoever to throw around, and in a way I am glad that we were in that situation. My sister in law went into debt to have the big wedding she wanted.

Edited by RosemaryAndThyme
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24 minutes ago, Quill said:

:::snip:::

We were talking about another friend who just got a quote on flowers running $4,600.00. Just the flowers. My friend said, “I had silk flowers and my mom and my aunt made the bouquets!” I said, “Me too! I bought flowers at a craft store on sale and my sister made the bouquets!”

:::snip:::

 

Same here, except I got mine used out of the classifieds (used in a recent wedding), tore into them, made our own, and then resold all but the personal bouquets and flowers.  (I just got rid of my bouquet about 10 years ago).  So my flowers cost me $50, 1981 dollars.

I designed and had a couturier make my dress.  I had made and paid for the the bridesmaid dresses; they each got a simple piece of jewelry. One bridesmaid was a professional cake maker, and made the yummiest cakes ever, so that was her gift to us.  Simple church hall reception where my mom and all her friends made the mints and cookies and cakes and punch and sandwiches and finger-foods.  My former piano teacher always gave the gift of the music to our "group's" kids, so that was free.  We made and printed our own "bulletins" (I wish we had farmed this one out--these are keepsakes and ours could have been prettier...this was pre-computer days, and they were a little...plain, even for us).  ETA:  I gave a photographer his first gig; he charged me very little as it built his portfolio.  And I made my own veil, which we had to attach with strapping tape before the wedding as I had put the combs in backwards!  haha)

The after-reception at our house was pot-luck.  

The night before the wedding, I stayed in my neighbor's basement (the piano teacher, above) with my bridesmaids so family could have my bedroom, saving them hotel costs.  No rental cars, limos.  And we took a simple but sweetly planned (by my dh) honeymoon, which involved trains, cars, and the one and only time I ever hitchhiked!

A lot of this has to do with having a strong and lasting community, and simple tastes--and a community that supports that.  All of the children of my parents' "group" had pretty much the same experience, at different churches and all that.  

I think my whole wedding was under $2000, 1981 dollars.  And no one but the groomsmen (tuxes) had to spend to be in it. 

And my fun little story:  one of the bridesmaids wore her dress at one of the the Washington DC inaugural balls for President Reagan's second term.  :0)  (That was gratifying to me--the bridesmaid dress I had to wear at HER wedding made me think I had to learn to yodel and carry milk buckets across my shoulders...)  (I myself wore 2 ugly and 1 beautiful bridesmaid dress--that last one I wore 5 times--once at my sister's wedding and then 4 times as a high school prom chaperone.  It was the best dress ever.)

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Combination of silk and not super fancy flowers. Lots of family doing things (including photography, set up, tear down, etc.). 

Food was catered because my parents didn't want someone to have to miss the wedding in order to make the food. We rented linens, and it was actually cheaper than buying disposable. The tableware came with the rented hall, and we paid a small fee to have the caterer hire a dishwasher (also much cheaper than disposable). 

My dress was a bargain but real silk (light as a feather)--we went to a couple of semi-large bridal places (relative to the area, lol!), but we didn't find "the dress." We went to a very small dress shop, and the first thing they did was take all of their customers to the clearance rack and told them what they'd be able to make smaller, etc. My dress was a perfect style for me and readily available on the sale rack, and even with the alterations, it cost much less than getting one full price (probably half or less than half).

Bridesmaids and groomsmen all paid for their own attire. Maybe that has changed--that was standard when I got married. I did get the dresses and invitations heavily discounted by buying them all from the same person (home business). It saved so much money that we got slightly fancier invitations, lol! 

The cake came from a woman that makes them out of her home--I think she might have made my mom's cake too! 

It probably helps that where I'm from, having your wedding reception at the (nice) fire hall is about as fancy as it gets. 

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My sister, brother, and I all got married all in less than a year from each other.  My parents offered a set amount for my sister and I for our weddings and anything we wanted beyond that we had to pay for ourselves.  They paid for my brother's rehearsal dinner and tux rentals for him, his best man, and groomsmen.  My sister had a good job at the time and was able to pay for some extra stuff she really wanted, but she was (and still is) very frugal.

I didn't have a job at the time I got married, so I had to stay within the budget my parents gave me.  To save money my mom made my wedding dress and the matron of honor/bridesmaid dresses.  They were beautiful.  We did a cake and punch reception which was very typical in my circle of friends and family, so not very expensive.  We had minimum flowers, and I got a discount because it was a friend of the family.  We were going to get married at the church we attended but it was too expensive, so we got married at my parents church since it was free.  The most expensive part was the photographs, and we went with the last expensive option.

I hope my kids will be frugal when/if they get married.

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Oh, gosh, dh and I married way on the cheap, LOL! We'd had DS#1 a bit early, had been together forever before that (not living together or anything, just....dating), and we were BROKE. And also both kind of felt like.....really this is just a formality at this point, making it legal/moral for us to move in together. So, ways we saved money: 

Neither of us had attendants (bridesmaids, etc.) at all
I made my bouquet from silk flowers & ribbon
My aunt made our cakes (wedding cake & groom's cake)
We had the wedding at a non-meal time so we could safely provide only finger foods (finger sandwiches, mints....maybe also fruit/veggie trays? Meat/cheese trays? I don't remember....)
We had the wedding at our church & the reception in our church "fellowship hall" aka gym - this was probably the biggest. Our church let members use the church for no fee (you paid a "love offering" to the pastor for performing the service), so that saved $$$. We didn't do any decorations in the church itself, so that saved $$$. My MIL decorated the reception, but that was all done on a very budget friendly manner (for ex, we had balloons tied to wooden blocks that were wrapped in gold foil paper, and table cloths.....and I don't remember much else)
We didn't hire a photographer, but many relatives took pics during, and we got copies
I bought my gown & veil at a store in the mall....I think I paid maybe $150 or so for both...? 
DH bought his coat/jacket/sports coat at a resale shop and wore it with slacks, shirt & tie....
We made our invitations on the computer & printed them at home

You really couldn't get much cheaper than what we did, I don't think. The only "splurge" was that we did have those little containers of bubbles wrapped in tulle for people to blow bubbles on us when we left, but we bought the materials and fixed them up ourselves....21+ years later, no regrets; it was sweet, and simple, and perfectly "us" in every way.

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My mom and oldest sister did all the flowers and decorations. Mom also made the invitations. Ceremony was our backyard.  Grandpa was the officiant. Pictures were by an aunt.  The reception was at the country club where my dad and I worked we only paid for food and labor by having it on a Thursday.  We did have a pro dj and a cake from a bakery.  Oh dress was $300  

Edited by rebcoola
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Including my dress I want to say we spent about $2k total in 2006.  I bought my flowers in bulk online and had them made into arrangements, which saved us a fair bit on that item alone.  And my dress was $1200 which was too much, honestly.  We did it cheap but I wish we’d gone even cheaper and less formal.

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Yeah, we did the church hall for the reception also--11:00 am wedding, so lunch after, and a very good caterer but no alcohol (church rule but also saved us money). And lunch is cheaper than dinner.

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Honestly, neither you or your friend can predict what situation your daughters may be in, when they are engaged to be married.

However, if you feel comfortable, you could offer to help your friend when she is Mother of the Bride (and vice versa).
Being able to work as a team can really deepen your friendship, and save lots of money!

You may have unique skills which complement hers, & can lead to some easy solutions to those Wedding Planning Stresses.  😀

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My asian Indian teacher’s wedding in the 80s was at a Hindu temple and $5 was considered sufficient for guest (that are not family or very close friends) as the cost was low to the bridal couple. Very basic traditional food was served with plain water.   No one minds and it was nice attending a teacher’s wedding without having to give a high cash gift.

My mom’s Malay friends have community style weddings where anyone can drop by to the reception in a day long event. People typically give a cash gift of $4 to $6 to the couple unless they are relatives or very close friends. Food provided is simple, traditional and not expensive.

In my culture, the guys foot most of the wedding expenses. My in-laws want to have most of the say in our wedding while contributing a token. That doesn’t work out since my husband was doing a full time postgraduate and my in-laws wanted a grand expensive wedding banquet. We stuck to our original plans of having a courthouse wedding followed by three small receptions (my side, his side and our friends). Our friends were definately relieved because we had an informal reception where no one was our parents age so we could talk more freely. We could also get whatever food we (hosts and guests) liked even if it is something like Pizza Hut, KFC and what have you, and get messy popping champagne. We had a simple wedding cake for our reception for friends. It’s very low key, low stress, very jovial party. 

It was also easier to manage because my in-laws could be picky about the food for their relatives without everyone else having only food that my in-laws would eat. My husband’s cousins ate somewhere else before coming for the reception because they knew what my in-laws would pick. His cousins also left early because my in-laws only allowed “diplomatic speech” so conversation is kind of restricted to just polite small talk among guests. His relatives are used to the way his parents does stuff so no hurt/annoyed feelings.

My side just treat it as a fun family gathering and food is more varied as my elderly aunts love to try new food. They are also more blunt and everyone just talk freely. Most just went to buy lottery tickets after the reception because weddings and wedding receptions are auspicious events 

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A friend’s daughter was really smart. She got married 3 years ago near Christmas. The church is already beautifully decorated so she saved a bundle. She also did a tea service reception. It was delightful. Hearty appetizers and plenty of lovely sweets. It was a great experience all around and didn’t break the bank. 

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My wedding.  

Hmm.  It was 1998 and my mom preferred that I elope rather than she face my father (they divorced many years prior).  

My mom hit up my grandfather for wedding funds, and he obliged.  

It was okay, but I arranged most of it while applying to graduate school from college.  It wasn't a celebration.  I wanted my mom to be excited for me and instead it was a time filled with regret for her.  

Money, meh.  Where people are intent on celebrating, it's all gonna work out.  .I pray I do that well for my kid.  

 

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We didn’t have a wedding. We did a big family destination reception...seven years later...after we’d eloped.

So, in 2004, we spent $8500 of our own money. The bulk of that was the venue and food. My cake vendor was amazeballs and went on to be voted a regional fave several times over. My flower arrangements were silk and DIY but looked like iron urns. My hair dresser, a family friend, was a guest and did it for love. My sister did my makeup because she’s a guru. I paid a comms intern from work $250 plus dinner to take pics. I worked in comms/graphic design and DIYd the multi-part invites. My mom and grandma made my dress from a vintage 1954 pattern. I paid for the silk and DHs suit. I made welcome bags and gifts for our guests, breakfast the day after (combined that with DDs Christening). It was great. 75 ppl.

If I had to pay ppl to do all that I did myself or had family do, it easily would have been twice as expensive but plucking vendors from relative obscurity and/or having talented family and friends made my event look like a million bucks when we had nothing of the sort to spend.

I pray my kids will do the same. A) we’d know they’re in it for the long haul, B) our money can help with a first home instead and C) no gifts/showers required!!

Edited by Sneezyone
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Lady we knew did flowers on the side as a hobby. Lady we knew did cakes on the side as a hobby. Had a photographer just for a short time- like 30 minutes before and after ceremony. I made favors and centerpieces. We ordered the most basic invitations from Party City. Did my own hair and makeup. Never would have occurred to me to do otherwise. 

In short I think we were just doing our best to have something nice but “good enough” was the standard. None of what we had would be anyone’s dream wedding package. But it was good enough. 

Would never pass by today’s standards - at least in my world. At the time I thought it was just fine and so did most of my guests, I assume. I know my dc will have a different experience (my oldest three are boys so we’ll be supportive and help as we can but we won’t be the decision makers).

So much of my life is lived by the standard of “good enough”. It works for me but isn’t really up to the things I see on social media. Oh well. 

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36 minutes ago, teachermom2834 said:

Lady we knew did flowers on the side as a hobby. Lady we knew did cakes on the side as a hobby. Had a photographer just for a short time- like 30 minutes before and after ceremony. I made favors and centerpieces. We ordered the most basic invitations from Party City. Did my own hair and makeup. Never would have occurred to me to do otherwise. 

In short I think we were just doing our best to have something nice but “good enough” was the standard. None of what we had would be anyone’s dream wedding package. But it was good enough. 

Would never pass by today’s standards - at least in my world. At the time I thought it was just fine and so did most of my guests, I assume. I know my dc will have a different experience (my oldest three are boys so we’ll be supportive and help as we can but we won’t be the decision makers).

So much of my life is lived by the standard of “good enough”. It works for me but isn’t really up to the things I see on social media. Oh well. 

Re “would never pass by today’s standards”:  this is what is killing me at the moment—fine, spend your money however you want.  None of my business.   Knock yourself out.

But a young woman I know, with a fantastic job and all...but still.... was just in a wedding of one of her high school friends. She was one of 7 bridesmaids.  

After she accepted the request, and within weeks of the wedding, when all the plans were made, my friend found that she “had to” pay for two cross-country flights—once for the lavish bridal party party and two weeks later, back for the wedding.  The bridal party was a weekend event for the girls in a snooty hotel.  Uniform pajamas required.  Add in the cost of the wedding dress and post-wedding outfit ($300), rental car for both trips, hotel for both trips, all meals—this was all at her (unexpected) expense.  

She CAN afford it and her mom helped her out because like, who KNEW????  But for heaven’s sake—it was something like $6,000 just to be IN the wedding.  

The FAMILY should have paid for ALL of this outrageous expense except MAYBE the travel to the wedding and perhaps the dress...that was something that could be anticipated when the bridesmaid invitation was issued   

I was dumbfounded.  This is completely out of hand and ... balkanizing among groups of friends.  

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How much of all of this is for the photo op? I realize it isn’t all for social media consumption - people have always had fancy weddings if that was their culture and they could afford it. But- I have people in my life who put the fake in “Fakebook”. 

Seriously, I know people who stage photos for social media consumption and likes that are just not reality. It’s so far from my style that I remain perplexed by it. But how many of the wedding extravagances are to show off to the hundreds or thousands of your friends that weren’t there? I know people who feed off the “likes” and comments and numbers of followers. These people would prefer an absolutely fabulous photogenic cake than a larger guest list. 

Are you even married if you don’t have pictures of your fabulous bridesmaids weekend?? Matching monogrammed bathrobes?? Lol. I am just a grumpy old lady I guess!

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my daughter got married 10yrs ago.  I wish I could remember the budget we set for her.  I think it was 20K but it might have been less...and told them any extra they could use for their honeymoon.  I don't think they had much left over.   Most of it went to the reception.  We have a large family and he was an only child with dad being a priest.  So everyone they knew got invited, including several priest friends and people from a former parish.   At one time SIL told me he wanted to invite everyone he ever knew.  Um...no.   I put the cabosh on that one.   Also, we found it very hard to find a place in our area that could handle over 200 people.  Then, added to that, the new business model is you can't bring your own catering.  So no DIY food for us.  You have to use in-house.  The reception was the most costly. 

Areas we went cheap.  Dress was bought on sale at David's Bridal for $300.   Photos were done by a new guy and they agreed to only receive the SIM card.  We went through all the photos and picked them out ourselves.   They had a friend do simple flowers.  They spent a little more on music because they wanted a live band and not a DJ. The only thing I wish we'd spent a little more on is the cake.  It tasted nasty.  

My son just got married in Aug.  My understanding is that it was less than 10K in Baltimore.  They called in a lot of favors from friends and made a lot themselves.  Son found a fabulous venue that had never done wedding receptions (it is a museum and had space for conferences).   So, they were able to have church friends do all the food.  It had a small kitchen, fortunately.  It was a fun venue too.  We had to agree to walk around the museum as part of the deal - no problem.    Their parish is one that has a rule that everyone in the choir needs to be invited.  I thought it was a little excessive but since son and DIL are both in the choir it worked out okay.   I don't think it's the whole church though. It was a pretty large wedding. I can't remember the size, but we filled their tiny church to capacity.  

For my wedding:  I used by mom's dress and only paid for dressmaker to size it to me.  We had the reception at my parents house, which I look back on and can't believe we did.  That would be SO stressful.  We invited about 100-130 people.   I can't imagine that many people coming to my house.  But, it saved us a bundle.  We had simple appetizer type foods.  My husband was in a band at the time and we have several musician friends.  Our music was a jam session with our friends.  It was quite fun (and free).   

Both my other daughter's have said they want a small simple wedding.   However, now Middle daughter is dating a only child and they've been talking marriage.  He appears to come from money.  Sigh.  I suspect there will be pressure to "do it right" coming from MIL-to-be if they get engaged.  However, both kids are on their own.  They may be willing to chip in more money towards their wedding, if it's that important to them.  

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51 minutes ago, Patty Joanna said:

Re “would never pass by today’s standards”:  this is what is killing me at the moment—fine, spend your money however you want.  None of my business.   Knock yourself out.

But a young woman I know, with a fantastic job and all...but still.... was just in a wedding of one of her high school friends. She was one of 7 bridesmaids.  

After she accepted the request, and within weeks of the wedding, when all the plans were made, my friend found that she “had to” pay for two cross-country flights—once for the lavish bridal party party and two weeks later, back for the wedding.  The bridal party was a weekend event for the girls in a snooty hotel.  Uniform pajamas required.  Add in the cost of the wedding dress and post-wedding outfit ($300), rental car for both trips, hotel for both trips, all meals—this was all at her (unexpected) expense.  

She CAN afford it and her mom helped her out because like, who KNEW????  But for heaven’s sake—it was something like $6,000 just to be IN the wedding.  

The FAMILY should have paid for ALL of this outrageous expense except MAYBE the travel to the wedding and perhaps the dress...that was something that could be anticipated when the bridesmaid invitation was issued   

I was dumbfounded.  This is completely out of hand and ... balkanizing among groups of friends.  

yup, that has become the norm in my area.  My daughter has outright refused to be in a wedding because of this.  Not only do the bridemaids have to pay for this weekend away at an expensive venue (usually out of state), you also have to chip in to pay for the Bride's trip.  Some of them plan multiple "bonding" trips.    As my daughter said, "Why would I want to pay hundreds of dollars to spend a weekend away with a bunch of strangers getting drunk?"  

I blame it on the social media/cable TV generation.   I imagine that someone like the Kardashians made this a "thing" and now there's a lot of pressure to do this.  Fortunately, my DIL did not do this.  I  think they spend an evening bowling or at an Craft-beer place.  

I thought I was being super special when I took my daughters and  DIL-to-be out for lunch after we went to see her wedding dress.  😉 

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Um, all the things. The make up, the flowers (went to several florists and bought all th flowers—did I mention I was married on an island—we went to the mainland for flowers, as one does). I even cooked all the food. But I’m weird. I don’t expect people to do what I do. Now, we did rent this huge house where the wedding took place for a week, and had our families and various friends cycle through. It was great fun. 

Edited by madteaparty
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I don't judge/ begrudge / look down on / roll my eyes at the $$$ people spend on weddings - as long as they can afford it!!! 

A lot of wedding stuff, in my opinion, depends on culture and tradition.  Some of the things I know people do would be unheard of among the people from my country.  Some of the things we do would be considered rude and tacky in other cultures. 

I think there are many ways to do weddings and the only one is the wrong one (again, in my opinion) - is going into debt for it. 

Oh and we didn't have flowers except for my bouquet .  We had fish bowls at each table and then kids could take them home if they wanted. 

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18 minutes ago, SereneHome said:

I don't judge/ begrudge / look down on / roll my eyes at the $$$ people spend on weddings - as long as they can afford it!!! 

A lot of wedding stuff, in my opinion, depends on culture and tradition.  Some of the things I know people do would be unheard of among the people from my country.  Some of the things we do would be considered rude and tacky in other cultures. 

I think there are many ways to do weddings and the only one is the wrong one (again, in my opinion) - is going into debt for it. 

Oh and we didn't have flowers except for my bouquet .  We had fish bowls at each table and then kids could take them home if they wanted. 

 

Yep. I also don’t begrudge people who host picture perfect affairs. In my extended family, our expression is ‘money or time’. We do a lot of the things that more comfortable people would pay $$$$$ for and have wonderful events but invest a lot of time instead.

My cousin’s wedding (and his wife’s family insisted on a pre-nuptial agreement due to movie-related design proceeds/businesses) was fab and under 20k in Seattle. They did a great job with that budget b/c bride’s Dad was able to call in favors for letterpress invites and a chic boho/underground venue. Groom is a city bartender so low-cost help there too. There was a small wedding party and under 100 guests.

I’m sure ppl might find that extravagant too but, to my mind, it’s high style on a dime. His sister’s wedding was comparable too and there were no crazy destination parties or shower fly-ins.

Edited by Sneezyone

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I can't honestly say how much my wedding cost because some things were given as gifts as we had asked for no gifts. One Aunt and Uncle gifted us a giant King Salmon to feed people. Another Aunt and Uncle gave as our wedding gift some deli trays. The Wedding and reception was on my in law's lawn and other than a few bouquets and corsages the flowers were her flower bed. My dress was $99. 

My mother's gift was making the wedding cake. She had made my sibling's also so she had pans, frosting tips etc. She had to purchase ingredients though. My father and step mother gifted us the flowers. I have no idea who came up with the metal folding chairs. I can't even remember. I'm sure they were borrowed from a church. We had no DJ or dancing. Each set of parents contributed something either cake, flowers, or lawn and drinks for the toast (just cider, not champagne) and we purchased clothes and paid preacher. I have no idea what is involved in a more formal wedding. 

Edited by frogger
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34 minutes ago, SereneHome said:

I don't judge/ begrudge / look down on / roll my eyes at the $$$ people spend on weddings - as long as they can afford it!!! 

A lot of wedding stuff, in my opinion, depends on culture and tradition.  Some of the things I know people do would be unheard of among the people from my country.  Some of the things we do would be considered rude and tacky in other cultures. 

I think there are many ways to do weddings and the only one is the wrong one (again, in my opinion) - is going into debt for it. 

Oh and we didn't have flowers except for my bouquet .  We had fish bowls at each table and then kids could take them home if they wanted. 

I don’t begrudge people who can afford it, but I don’t like the trend of raising the bar repeatedly, which makes it expected. Just like stated up-thread about a bride’s trip. My niece did this for her wedding last year. I’m not sure exactly how it came to be, but one of my niece’s SIL is an event planner, so I think it probably arose from her finger being on the pulse of the trend. 

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If other have the money and can afford it,great.  I have an issue though with expecting bridesmaids and others to foot extravagant bills for all the extras.  I am going super simple for dd and I am planning on the cost of bridesmaids dress coming out of the wedding budget.  Only cost to bridesmaid will be the gas to get to the venue unless we pick her up....and it is less than 15 miles from her house.

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my daughter got married 10yrs ago.  I wish I could remember the budget we set for her.  I think it was 20K but it might have been less...and told them any extra they could use for their honeymoon.  I don't think they had much left over.   Most of it went to the reception.  We have a large family and he was an only child with dad being a priest.  So everyone they knew got invited, including several priest friends and people from a former parish.   At one time SIL told me he wanted to invite everyone he ever knew.  Um...no.   I put the cabosh on that one.   Also, we found it very hard to find a place in our area that could handle over 200 people.  Then, added to that, the new business model is you can't bring your own catering.  So no DIY food for us.  You have to use in-house.  The reception was the most costl

I know this has become common and it is something I plan to side-step. 

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1 hour ago, teachermom2834 said:

How much of all of this is for the photo op? I realize it isn’t all for social media consumption - people have always had fancy weddings if that was their culture and they could afford it. But- I have people in my life who put the fake in “Fakebook”. 

Seriously, I know people who stage photos for social media consumption and likes that are just not reality. It’s so far from my style that I remain perplexed by it. But how many of the wedding extravagances are to show off to the hundreds or thousands of your friends that weren’t there? I know people who feed off the “likes” and comments and numbers of followers. These people would prefer an absolutely fabulous photogenic cake than a larger guest list. 

Are you even married if you don’t have pictures of your fabulous bridesmaids weekend?? Matching monogrammed bathrobes?? Lol. I am just a grumpy old lady I guess!

Thankfully, I haven’t seen too much showboating from weddings on social media,  even when the weddings were high-end. (Although what do I know; I don’t congregate on IG, which is the more exploited by younger folks.) 

IME, a lot of it is competition between the parents for being able to put on a great, nice wedding. 

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My dad gave me a small check, way back in '77. We did our wedding cheaply, and lived off half the check for awhile. The cake was a gift from a cousin.

For my oldest, her wedding got moved up due to some legal reasons. Her sis got her flowers (from the grocery store), did candles, and I paid for the use of the old one-room schoolhouse. I think it was $75. We had just us, sil's parents, and two friends. The big expense was feeding everyone for days as we combined it all with 3 birthdays, and Thanksgiving! Dd wore a concert dress that her dh had picked out several years earlier. 

Next one had a big bbq and a fabulous dress. However, they are adults, well-launched, and they footed the entire bill. It was potluck for the "wedding rehearsal" which involved a picnic under the tents that had already been rented. I paid for the 3 girls' dresses (all ones that have been worn many times over now to concerts and prom) and I paid for everyone's hair. Dd spent a fair amount on her dress, though I don't know how much--I'm sure it was NOT in the $10,000 range though! And she paid for a good photographer. That said, the wedding was in a friend's hayfield, with the aspens behind them. There was a bit of a breeze and the leaves cascaded down all the way through the ceremony. We sat on hay bales with plastic over them. My sister brought most of the wine and beer. Oldest dd and her dh provided the music, along with a colleague of sil's, whom he paid as his wedding present. Dd did have professional flowers, but they were not much. The reception was at the ranch, and the bride arrived in a firetruck! A friend made the cake. We all had a blast. The photos are pretty funny, as the best man was in a neck brace and one bridesmaid was on crutches!

Next one? It will be simple, at the ranch.

Ds'? It will be more extravagant, because that's M's family. It will also be in TX, more than likely, though they are fond of CO. 

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For me, I spent less on a few things - I had a venue for very cheap through a family connection, my dress was under $50.  But mostly I just didn't bother with some things.  No weird stuff on the table.  Flowers were potted mums at the reception, and only a few bouquets in the church for myself and my two sisters.  No favours or anything like that, simple homemade invitations.  No photographer.  By far the largest amount we spent was the food.

I do think the trend to spend a lot is bad.  I don't think it is as simple as "can they afford it".  For most people a lot of their expectations are set by custom or their social circle, and when the expectation becomes higher, that has a big impact on people. People will very often not feel that certain social expectations are really options.  

In my moms generation and social class - so fairly middle class - people had weddings with the reception at home or in a church hall, some variation of punch and light bufee.They made their dresses or didn't have formal dresses, or passed them down. Etc.  Of course their was the occasional splash out, but because the simple was the norm, people felt ok with that for themselves.

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We, myself and my family, did all the decorating (church and church hall reception), flowers, food except cake, and take away gifts. I created printed the programs at home. I had simple bridesmaid dresses made (at my cost). My dress was off the rack and under $200. I did my own hair and makeup. 

We did purchase a cake. I paid talented friends to do the music. I hired a professional photographer.  

I don't regret any of that one bit. But, if I could rewind time and knew what I know now, I might have done some sort of private/family and very close friends only thing. I really don't like being the center of attention, and I was too nervous to enjoy the day as much as I could have had it been more private I think. I never saw that as an option at the time. It wouldn't have been loved by the families. 

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When DH and I got married, my dad offered a set amount of $ and my mom paid for my dress (under $500) and the photographer.  My dad's gift didn't cover all of the other expenses but we were both working decent jobs and decided we could afford the difference.  We went with simple flowers and I remember trying all different avenues to try and get the cost of flowers down - I thought the $1k quote was outrageous.  I think in the end it was $500 and MIL paid 20% of it in secret and had the shop manager tell me he was giving us a discount because she knew I was working the budget and she wanted me to relax a little 🙂 Bridesmaids dresses were off the rack from a department store for $80 each. I loved how everything came together at our wedding and people still talk about it almost 20 years later.  It was simple with a lot of homemade aspects, and very down to earth.  My dad has called me after leaving a few weddings of his friends' children and been blown away by the over the top events and costs.  It would be interesting to see what our wedding would cost today if we went with the same options but in today's dollars.

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My wedding was at a Justice of the Peace in a stip mall.  Everything was done super cheap, used or not at all. The whole thing was $450. No honeymoon, nothing fancy. We were 22 and planned it in less than a week.  I got pregnant so we got married. Money was not something we had to spare. My parents contributed about $50, the rest was on us. I have really odd stories about my wedding, like my MIL who used mums left from a funeral to decorate the livingroom reception (and left the RIP) picks in place. One good thing that came from that day, is that I realized I didn't know how to stand up for myself against well meaning people who couldn't take 'no' for an answer. That has since changed LOL

My sisters wedding was 1981 church wedding in light blue tuxedos, with white roses tipped in blue and ruffles everywhere. Very classic at the time. My mom used to sew so I think the dresses were all homemade by her.  I was 10yo so don't remember any of it, but have done the math and it was definitely a shotgun wedding too. 

 

My daughter got married in June. Her wedding was beautiful and cost us about $5000.  That would have been closer to $10,000 but we had it his grandparents (beautifully landscaped) home, and his aunt (owns a high end florist shop) did the flowers as gifts. His mom did the photographs at a near professional level and linens were gift/free. I spent the day running around as a wedding planner and didn't really get to sit and enjoy, but the wedding was soo pretty, and she was happy, so that was worth it!  

I have had several people say that her wedding was nicer than some weddings they went to that were much more expensive and formal. Part of why I think that is, was that my daughter didn't get caught up in small details. Invitations we ordered online and fitted her personality. We hand made things like place cards. We rented dishes/glasses/tableware and kept to simple designs. We avoided trappings like balloons, party favors and extra decor. We staged an area with wooden boxes and picture frames to complement nature, and filled in with  green plants (instead of florist bouquets everywhere). Her colors were white/black and dark green. Her flowers were tropicals mixed with traditional so there wasn't specific colors that had to be matched. 

We paid for all the bridesmaid's dresses and men's tuxes. We provided cufflinks and were going to provide jewelry, but the girls opted out and went without.  The wedding party paid for their own shoes and things like hair/nails.  They are all college students and I didn't want them to be burdened by a huge expense. Fortunately dd is the first of her circle of school friends to get married, so hopefully that sets the trend for the girls in the future (to keep keep the expense off the wedding party).

 

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I think paying a huge sum for what is essentially a very fancy party, is silly.  someone who is making $15K a MONTH, is going to be willing to spend more than someone who is making $5K a month.  so, there's that.  that said, I'm glad I have three boys - instead of five daughters.  I have a feeling 1ds's gf's father is going to want to go all out if/when the time comes.  he has the money and she's the only girl.  I roll my eyes.

we spent <$10Kfor 2dd's - and that included air travel, car rental, and hotel, for six people to get where we were going. (not includ. the ring dsil bought her. there are members of his family who expect  .  a . lot. . of bling for their ring.  she told him she didn't want an engagement ring . . . at least when he went to go buy her matching earrings - he asked.  "i'd rather have a viola".)

planning weddings for established children (who've never been married - or lived with anyone) is still a whole different ball game. 1dd said if she ever get's married - she wants to elope.  (to avoid relatives)

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Dress was not a wedding dress—was a summery dress that I got at a shop in the mall and was pink with flowers.  Maybe $40 or so?

Cake was small from a local bakery—only two tiers because I expected everyone to eat both tiers (not save one for the first anniversary, though a guest got super vocal and bizarre about the fact that I expected people to eat the top layer and wouldn’t let us cut it and she removed it from the top of the cake and ran off with it to save it for us for our first anniversary, so the guests had teensy tiny slices of cake because about 1/3 of the cake was off limits because of wacko-guest.)

Flowers for decoration were all silk and handmade by me and my mother and put into cheap baskets we got somewhere.  

Real flowers were for me, my one bridesmaid, and the groom and his best man’s boutineers and were incredibly lovely, though I don’t remember what they cost.  Maybe $50?  I remember thinking it was a HUGE expense, but I also didn’t have a lot of money.

Venue—my tiny church and their tiny “hall” which was really just a room that was also part of the church sanctuary—hard to describe, but tiiiiny.  Decorations in the teensy tiny “hall” were helium balloons that filled the ceiling.  My mom and I’m not sure who else got to the church early and used a rented machine to fill each balloon and tie it and tie a ribbon on it.  Their poor balloon-tying fingers!

Food was stuff like a meat tray from Giant and veggies and dip (wedding was at noon).  An old family friend made me a batch of her homemade chicken soup.  Lovely!  

The wacko guest who wouldn’t let anyone eat the cake brought her dulcimer and played the wedding march (actually, it was a complicated version of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and was quite lovely.). 

The pastor had known me since I was seven and was a father figure to me and there was no fee for him or for the tiny church.  

Groom wore a suit that he bought.  Bridesmaid and best (only) man wore “something nice” from their own closets.

I never added everything up.  But it was cheap.  The honeymoon was to three local tourist places all within about a 2 hour’s drive from home.  We stayed overnight in one of the places, but for the other places we just went for the day and came back home.

My only regret is that we didn’t have a better honeymoon.  I look back and think it would have been grand to leave the wedding and head out to the airport for a vacation somewhere new to us.  But we didn’t want to spend a lot of money.  I made about $16,000 per year at the time and DH made less than me.  My parents helped out a bit for the wedding, but we still paid for a big portion of it.  Those were the days when going out to eat meant McDonalds, unless we had money to burn, and then it meant going out to eat at Wendy’s.  (Wendy’s was too expensive most of the time, as they didn’t have a dollar menu like McD’s did.)

Edited by Garga
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The thing that is annoying me lately re weddings is how The Perfect Venue is so important, who cares about making your guests travel hours and hours, book hotels, lose an entire weekend or more. Or, many people just won't be able to make it, exclude most of your support system but hey the photos are pretty! Or, the venue is perfect but expensive so slash that guest list- again, exclude most of your support system!

We had ours at our church, local to 90% of our family and friends. The reception was held a few blocks away, we had a lunch time buffet so that we could afford all our guests.

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1 hour ago, Garga said:

Dress was not a wedding dress—was a summery dress that I got at a shop in the mall and was pink with flowers.  Maybe $40 or so?

Cake was small from a local bakery—only two tiers because I expected everyone to eat both tiers (not save one for the first anniversary, though a guest got super vocal and bizarre about the fact that I expected people to eat the top layer and wouldn’t let us cut it and she removed it from the top of the cake and ran off with it to save it for us for our first anniversary, so the guests had teensy tiny slices of cake because about 1/3 of the cake was off limits because of wacko-guest.)

 

The wacko guest who wouldn’t let anyone eat the cake brought her dulcimer and played the wedding march (actually, it was a complicated version of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and was quite lovely.). 

 

was she a family member?  or just a whackadoodle guest?  wow!   I hope she and the cake were very happy together.  😜

mozart's variations of twinkle twinkle?   we were at a planetarium show, and as people were coming in, they were playing it.  then they asked what it was.  the adults were all like ' it's familiar, but can't quite place this piece of baroque music' . . . trust a child to pipe up with "twinkle twinkle littler star".

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I probably should not even reply - I may be skewing the stats in case you are analyzing replies. We ran off to a certain neighboring state and got married in a summer dress (me) and slacks and shirt (him). Cannot remember the total cost. It was well under $500 because we were poor back then.  🙂

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2 hours ago, Garga said:

 

My only regret is that we didn’t have a better honeymoon.  I look back and think it would have been grand to leave the wedding and head out to the airport for a vacation somewhere new to us. 

 

 

You reminded me of the fact we didn't really get around to eating at our reception. Got to a hotel and realized we were starving and by then the only thing open was Taco Bell. Lol

 

Though we had a hotel room the first 2 nights we then got to his parents late, I really don't remember why we were late but I guess he was worried about waking his parents as they were fussy about stuff like that. We ended up sleeping in the back of his truck in the yard. It's ok. When it started raining we had a canopy to put on. Ha.

We then spent the rest of our honeymoon driving down the Al-Can otherwise known as the Alaska-Canadian highway and camping. 

Sometimes I miss the old days. We worried less and had more fun!

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7 hours ago, Bluegoat said:

For me, I spent less on a few things - I had a venue for very cheap through a family connection, my dress was under $50.  But mostly I just didn't bother with some things.  No weird stuff on the table.  Flowers were potted mums at the reception, and only a few bouquets in the church for myself and my two sisters.  No favours or anything like that, simple homemade invitations.  No photographer.  By far the largest amount we spent was the food.

I do think the trend to spend a lot is bad.  I don't think it is as simple as "can they afford it".  For most people a lot of their expectations are set by custom or their social circle, and when the expectation becomes higher, that has a big impact on people. People will very often not feel that certain social expectations are really options.  

In my moms generation and social class - so fairly middle class - people had weddings with the reception at home or in a church hall, some variation of punch and light bufee.They made their dresses or didn't have formal dresses, or passed them down. Etc.  Of course their was the occasional splash out, but because the simple was the norm, people felt ok with that for themselves.

The bolded matches my feeling. You said this much better than I did. Within my circle with my in-laws, I already feel it will only be my committment to marching along with my oblivious own drummer that will somewhat innoculate me from feeling sub-standard with certain in-laws. For one thing, in their kids’ weddings, there was a crap ton of alcohol, and then there were busses to ferry the drunks to the hotel. I’m not doing that. There will be alcohol - we’re not teetotalers - but no “helpful” staff bringing fresh trays of shots to the dance floor all night at $200 each set. I thought that was so unnnecessary. And no busses on standby in the assumption that so many people will be drunk we must ensure their transportation safety. We all manage to ensure our driving safety at all other parties in our lives. Why someone thinks that should happen on the bride’s family’s dime is beyond me. 

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We kept things extremely simple.

My sister, however, had a beautiful wedding in the most beautiful way possible.
The church she had worked at in her teens volunteered their reception hall (our church a block away didn't have one)
The groom's mother was a florist and donated the arrangements
The bride's mother made all the dresses and cake.
The two sides got up a potluck together, with the groom's family providing the main meat dishes (they had a butcher shop)
Alcohol was not served

I think their expenses were kept at an absolute minimal: Preacher's fee, maybe the fabric for the dresses, cake topper, party supplies/decorations.  Even as a young teen I could very much appreciate how everything fell into place for them. 

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His mom did the photographs at a near professional level and linens were gift/free. I spent the day running around as a wedding planner and didn't really get to sit and enjoy, but the wedding was soo pretty, and she was happy, so that was worth it!  

I have a notion that I may do a portion of my kids’ photography, and then perhaps hire a college student or similar to photograph candids at the wedding and reception. I’m not shabby at it and could do all the posed photography before and after. 

My nephew’s wife is an event planner, which just sounds like someone one to raise the bar of expectations (and her own wedding, while lovely, was well funded by her doctor father), however, one service she does offer is “wedding management” for the day-of. This wouldn’t be a bad idea, probably. Keeps me from running around having to notice every little thing. 

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My grandparents paid for 3 pretty traditional (mid-70s to early 80s) church/reception hall weddings with all the usual trimmings.

My mom and step dad helped my sister with her country club wedding. Her (now ex) husband's parents may have helped as well. I think they paid the bulk themselves. A few DIY/Pinterest/"tips and tricks" were used, but they did fresh flowers... just not tons and tons of them.

My wedding expenses were the chapel, the license, the organist, a cheap dress from Lord & Taylor, and inexpensive rings. My family made food for close family to enjoy at my aunt's house. My MIL insisted on paying for a small amount of flowers (still a few hundred dollars) and taking me to get my hair done (I hated it.) And then threw a party a few week later. I wasn't about to pay for any of that, because I didn't want it to begin with.  My parents gave us a few hundred dollars toward our weekend honeymoon.

Part of our choices were based on preferences (like, I don't enjoy people staring at me,) but we really didn't have any money, either. It's possible that we might have gone fancy if the money was available to us. I'm kind of glad it wasn't because, sitting here at 41, thinking about spending tens of thousands of dollars on jewelry and a party while I'm trying to budget new flooring and countertops would probably depress me more than just trying to find the money for home repairs, lol.

No idea what my kids will do.  I'd prefer to give them a house down payment or student loan help than a party. There's plenty of time to figure that out.

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4 hours ago, LMD said:

The thing that is annoying me lately re weddings is how The Perfect Venue is so important, who cares about making your guests travel hours and hours, book hotels, lose an entire weekend or more. Or, many people just won't be able to make it, exclude most of your support system but hey the photos are pretty! Or, the venue is perfect but expensive so slash that guest list- again, exclude most of your support system!

We had ours at our church, local to 90% of our family and friends. The reception was held a few blocks away, we had a lunch time buffet so that we could afford all our guests.

Yes! This is a big deal to me. I don’t want to slash important people from the guest list so we can have some bougie venue. 

The most recent wedding I attended that I enjoyed most was held at the bride’s parent’s farm. They had a tent in case of bad weather, but the ceremony was in a field with a handmade arch thingy (like a hoopa in Jewish weddings, but I don’t know what Christians call them). A lot of their wedding was DIY and it was beautifully done. All the kids were invited since they did not need to debate over every guest spot. They had fun things like cornhole. 

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8 hours ago, Quill said:

I don’t begrudge people who can afford it, but I don’t like the trend of raising the bar repeatedly, which makes it expected. Just like stated up-thread about a bride’s trip. My niece did this for her wedding last year. I’m not sure exactly how it came to be, but one of my niece’s SIL is an event planner, so I think it probably arose from her finger being on the pulse of the trend. 

But we don’t all have to conform; it’s kind of funny to read this on a homeschooling board 😉 I’ve been to weddings that cost several hundred thousand dollars I’m guessing, where the “rehearsal” dinner (where all guests were invited) was a mini wedding too. It did not make me feel like the bar was now moved. It was those (lovely) people, their party and their world, and what a fun time. Mine with my manicure ruined but crazy little house party on the beach for a week was fun too!

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I honestly don't know how much my wedding cost; I'm not sure my parents ever added it up. My mother had a few non-negotiable, important to her items, so we spent a little more for them. The flowers were gorgeous and the photographer was fantastic.

Things we did inexpensively:

  • Only one attendant for each of us.
  • Dress & Veil were $200 from JCPenney outlet (although we ended up paying $0 due to a windstorm), shoes were $15 from Payless. My aunt did the little bit of alteration needed. Matron of Honor dress came from a department store - $90 (although we had bought a fancier dress for $200 for her - the store screwed up and it didn't fit at all, so we spent $300 all in on her dress(es)). She wore her own shoes. We borrowed jewelry from family members. 
  • The two of us did our own makeup & hair. 
  • My brother did music for the ceremony - on a borrowed stereo system.
  • DH's brother did the service as he's a pastor.
  • Ceremony was in the garden at my parents' house.
  • Reception was a bonfire at aunt and uncle's house.
  • We saved on non-negotiables by doing the following: used Hobby Lobby clearance flowers in borrowed vases for centerpieces and to fill out the flower gardens. Only the bouquets were fresh. Photographer was only there to take photos before ceremony (posed) and during ceremony. A few guests brought cameras for the reception - it was dark so not a lot of pics, but enough. 
  • Caterer was Kenny Roger's Roasters and we had sheet cakes made by a lady here in town. 

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2 hours ago, Quill said:

I have a notion that I may do a portion of my kids’ photography, and then perhaps hire a college student or similar to photograph candids at the wedding and reception. I’m not shabby at it and could do all the posed photography before and after. 

<snip>

Don't forget you're going to want to be in some of them!  :-)   

My husband and I paid for our own wedding; we were old when we got married, had both been married before, and it seemed ludicrous to have parents pay.  My mother gave us our cake as our gift, and his parent hosted a family dinner the night before.  (We didn't have a rehearsal.)  I think it cost $5000 overall, but we had great food and wine, which was the biggest expense.

A friend of mine did the flowers as a gift. She went to a big flower market and just bought a bunch of whatever looked good the day before. The wedding ceremony was in a garden, so all that was needed was 2 bouquets, 2 boutonniere, and flowers for the tables inside the building.  She bought dollar store vases to put the flowers in.  Very simple. It fit my "style," such as it is.  

In the circles I run in, no one is trying to outdo anyone else, so I don't see a bar being raised.  I suppose people who are heavily influenced by social media and advertising are susceptible to this.  Probably my mother in law was a bit scandalized by our wedding - we had it midday and had no sit down meal, though the appetizers were more than enough to count as dinner. We just had a pianist for music; there were no formal dances though some of us did end up dancing when one of my young nieces asked the pianist if she could play "Rock Around the Clock."  I hate that song.  But it was fun. 

I suspect my daughter will have an unconventional wedding and she won't be asking Mom and Dad for much if any money to fund it.  My son.. hard to picture him ever getting married but I expect any woman who would choose him would be pretty low key in that regard.  :-)

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