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guest post - to be a frugal bride, be a flexible bride

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A nice guest post to start the week. Amy at My Daily Dollars blogs about her day-to-day battle with her debt. As she pays off close to $9,000 of credit card debt, she’s also saving for her upcoming wedding. Fortunately, her new frugal habits are helping her have a lovely, frugal wedding!

Wedding season has arrived once again. In past summers, I blissfully ignored all the wedding magazines, chuckled at a few episodes of whatever Bridzella show was hot, and sent off a gift or two. After a flurry of weddings in my early 20s, I wasn’t too involved in all the drama past idle daydreams about my own wedding day.

Now, in my early 30s, its 60 days and counting until I’m at the epicenter of the wacky world of weddings. Yes, I bore my friends with the minutiae of how I stuffed the wedding invitations. Yes, I read magazines, and planners, and websites. Yes, I even had a near-bridezilla meltdown about my dress.

During all those years, one thing I never daydreamed about was the budget. In my 20s, I had grandiose dreams about cocktail receptions, designer shoes, and string quartets. How I would pay for it all never entered into the fantasies.

Now, determined to start my marriage on the right foot financially, I’ve set the wedding budget at $4050. My parents are helping, and I’ll have the rest paid for by the wedding date. And, one month after that, I should have close to $9,000 in credit card debt knocked off.

How am I doing it? I’m flexible about everything about the wedding except for the budget and the groom.

In My Frugal Wedding series of posts, you can see how my thinking has evolved from fanciful to sensible. In “5 Tips for a Wedding Under $5,000,” I discovered the most important thing. This wedding is about the beginning of something, a marriage; it’s not an end in and of itself.

If relatives are grumpy that they didn’t get an expensive meal, it doesn’t matter. If the typeset of my invitations doesn’t match the RSVP cards exactly, it doesn’t matter. If we serve wine and beer without a signature cocktail, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that I am committing to share my life with a wonderful, supportive, interesting man. All the rest is window dressing.

Armed with a firm sense of who you are and what you want from your wedding, the next important step is to set a budget and stick to it. I have every budget category written in my planner, and I treat each category as a final purchase. That way, when I’m looking for photographers, I keep thinking $500, my photography budget, not $4000, my total budget.

If you think about the big number, it’s so easy to go over budget. What’s $80 for disposable wedding cameras compared to $4000? But, what’s $80 for cameras compared to a $70 budget for wedding favors? Too expensive! By being flexible about everything except the numbers, I’ve done a nice job staying under budget for each category. That will give us more wiggle room for the unexpected costs that may come closer to the big day.

So my advice for a frugal wedding? Stick with the right guy and the right budget. Be flexible about everything else.

Ten years from now, you won’t worry about the color of the bridesmaid dress matching the color of the jordan almonds. You won’t care if you served roast beef, chicken, or a choice of sushi rolls. Heck, you probably won’t even remember what the invitation inserts looked like. After that one day, two things will remain: your debt and your husband.

Pick the right guy and the right budget and be flexible about everything else!

Image by Manassas Cakery

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10 comments for “guest post - to be a frugal bride, be a flexible bride”

  1. Great post. When planning my wedding, I asked three questions: 1) Do I want it? 2) Will it add to or detract from my guests’ comfort and enjoyment? and 3) Can we afford it?

    Sometimes I didn’t particularly care about, but I knew they’d make it more comfortable for guests. Many things I didn’t care about AND I didn’t like as a guest myself anyway. Guests need decent food (not expensive, just tasty) and places to sit. Preferably tables too, since eating is a balancing act without them. And not to overheat or freeze. And to feel welcome…but that you do by talking and whatnot.

    Glad you’ve got your planning under control and best wishes on your marriage. I hope the wedding goes smoothly as well, but even if it doesn’t that’s ok with the right guy (see my blog tomorrow for a little on honeymooning…).

    Posted by Mrs. Micah | June 2, 2008, 8:03 pm
  2. Is the other question: will my mother kill me if I don’t do this?

    Actually, I reckon my mother would be ok about being unconventional, but it is easier to get sucked in to spending money, without realising that neither you, nor anyone else cares about matching stuff.

    Thanks for a great guest post Amy.

    Posted by plonkee | June 2, 2008, 9:01 pm
  3. I had a very frugal wedding too. My first saving was to invite only 9 guests. I bought an ivory bridesmaid dress as my wedding dress and we had only minimal flowers. We had no wedding cars and my sister took the photographs. It was a lovely private occasion and very special. It was one of the best days of my life and I do not regret that I spent so little, although a few relatives still think they should have been invited.

    Posted by Rachel @ Master Your Card | June 3, 2008, 10:07 am
  4. A friend of mine had a really expensive wedding full of the very traditional things. It was nice, but when she told me how much it cost I was absolutely floored. It was nice, but certainly not tens of thousands of pounds nice!

    She and her husband, 3 years later, are still paying for the wedding and have gone deep in debt with the wedding being a major contributing factor. It’s put a huge strain on their relationship and her sanity as the more fiscally sensible one.

    Even before they got married, I was always of the opinion of it’s important not to start out married life with a huge debt from the wedding. Seeing how they’ve done things has panned out has cemented this idea in my mind even more.

    I’m really happy to see others voice against spending a king’s ransom for a wedding as well and giving others tools on how to avoid doing so. Thanks for the great guest post!

    Posted by salil | June 5, 2008, 8:21 pm
  5. Great post Amy! It is really important that one should realize that marriage is just the beginning and not the end. So it really is important that there should be a flexible budget.

    At the end of the day you don’t wanna be neck deep in debt repaying your debt that was a result of a lavish wedding party.


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