In the past 7 months, I’ve gone to two weddings. The first back in October 2011 was quite extravagant, while the second this past weekend was very minimalistic. I’m assuming I’ll be planning a wedding of my own in the next couple years, so friends’ weddings are a great way to figure out which parts of a wedding are important to me and on which parts I would be fine cutting costs.
Wedding #1 had gorgeous invitations and matching save the date cards. Wedding #2 had simply a post card with a picture of the bride and groom for the save the date card and a very basic, brightly colored invitation. #1 was clearly more expensive than #2. Did I care? Not really. But did I notice that #2 looked cheaper than your standard wedding invitation? Immediately. The question then becomes, do you care if your friends and relatives receive an invitation that they will immediately recognize as inexpensive?
I’d like to find some middle ground on this one. I’m thinking the way to go may be an inexpensive invitation that’s in a more formal color scheme or has a fancier looking design. Anyone who really cares about appearances will still be able to tell that it’s a cheap invitation, but I just don’t think I care.
This one is a little harder to analyze because I really have no concept of how much either of my friends paid for their venues. Friend #1 told me that her venue was less expensive because she got married a little off the beaten path… but it was still at a frigging castle, so I can’t imagine it was cheap. Wedding #2 was at a garden, which was a lovely setting. The reception was in the visitor’s center, which was nothing special, but there was plenty of space, big windows with a gorgeous view of the gardens and it wasn’t missing any necessities.
I’m sure I’ll get a better sense of venue costs when it’s time to start planning my wedding, but I thought both weddings were in beautiful locations, and I would also like to have my wedding in a beautiful location. I once went to a very small wedding in the backyard of a huge house, and that was beautiful too. The trick here will be finding a sufficiently beautiful location that’s relatively inexpensive. And I have no idea if that will be hard to find yet.
For wedding #1 I had to choose my dinner selection when I sent my RSVP. Unfortunately, I made the wrong selection. The salmon was over cooked and it came on a bed of unsalted risotto. They did also serve hors d’oeuvres between the ceremony and reception which I really liked. Wedding #2 had a small buffet and no hors d’oeuvres. There was a salad, vegetables, mashed potatoes, salmon, portabella mushrooms, and a carving station with beef.
I like to eat. I went to a wedding a while back that had a buffet that spanned three huge tables. That’s my kind of wedding. And it probably cost less than the food at wedding #1. Unfortunately, my boyfriend is adamantly against having a buffet. He wants everyone to be served their dinner. This one will be a battle. In my mind, buffets are both better and cheaper.
Wedding #1 had wine (and maybe beer?), but no hard alcohol, which I’m sure saved a bundle. But wedding #2 saved even more by having absolutely no alcohol, not even champagne for a toast. It was a religious choice, but I’m sure they appreciated the reduced bill as well.
I’m not much of a drinker, and my boyfriend doesn’t drink at all, but I think I’d still like to have at least some alcohol at our wedding, because I know the guests will be appreciative. Wine, beer and champagne seems like a pretty good plan. When it comes to hard alcohol, having an open bar is out, it’s far too much money to spend on something my boyfriend and I won’t even use. But on the other hand, a cash bar has always seemed a little tacky to me. We may settle on wine/beer/champagne plus a cash bar.
Here’s the thing: I’m sure wedding #1 had gorgeous centerpieces that cost a bundle, but I can’t remember what they were. Wedding #2 made centerpieces out of bowls of fruit that matched the color scheme of the invitations/cake/groomsmen’s ties. They probably spent $3 per centerpiece, and it generated a lot of conversation. Every single person who sat down at our table after me said “hey, cool centerpiece, I wonder if it’s ok to eat it?” We had this conversation about 4 times throughout the night until we decided to eat it.
I’m definitely a fan of the fruit centerpiece. It was a very unique touch and saved them a lot of money I’m sure. I’d like to do something similar.
Both weddings had pretty standard wedding cakes. I think it would be fun to do something non-standard like cupcakes, but I don’t think I’ll win that battle. What’s most important is that the cake tastes good. You can ooh and aah over a beautiful cake all you want, but you’ll have already forgotten how it looked when you take a bite of bad cake.
It seems like a live musician for the ceremony and a DJ for the reception is pretty standard nowadays. I’d like to have live music for the reception, but I’d be willing to go with a DJ if it would save a significant sum of money.
I was a bridesmaid at wedding #1 and damn was that expensive. The wedding party consisted of 5 bridesmaids and 5 groomsmen. The bridesmaids bought matching $300 dresses and the groomsmen rented matching tuxes. Wedding #2 had a 4 person wedding party: one bridesmaid and 3 groomsmen. The groomsmen rented tuxes and were wearing matching ties, but the bridesmaid was not really matching anything; she clearly was able to get whatever dress she wanted that vaguely matched the color scheme.
I am a huge fan of the small wedding party without matching dresses. I don’t even really want a wedding party because I don’t want to deal with the drama of deciding who to ask and possibly offending someone who thought I would ask her. Maybe we’ll just end up with a best man and a maid of honor. And I absolutely will not mandate that she wear a specific dress. If I end up with multiple bridesmaids, I’ll probably just have them all wear black.
I have absolutely no idea how much either of the brides spend on their dresses, but I will absolutely be looking to cut costs as much as possible with the dress. I do not need to get married in a poofy princess gown that cost $2000. Hell, I’ve got some white dresses in my closet that I’d be happy getting married in.
Wedding #1 had two photographers and a videographer. Wedding #2 had one photographer and no videographer.
I think wedding #2 had it right. Having a wedding video seems really cool, but how many people ever actually watch their wedding video? If it’s not hugely expensive I may be able to be convinced, but I don’t think a video of my wedding is worth a thousand dollars. I was there. I’ll remember it.