Like many other engaged people planning their weddings, I too at first fell victim to the dreaded adage, "But it's our wedding, we HAVE to include [insert tradition I don't necessarily understand but think we need]." Eventually I got tired of that phrase. And THANK BALLS because I would have driven myself insane. Truly. Because there is no fucking way you can include all the elements of a traditional wedding for 150 people in Los Angeles for under $10,000. Sorry, not possible. We've tried. So we had to scale back in certain areas, which in turn forced us to focus on shit that actually matters. Which, quite honestly, was the BEST thing that could have happened to us during this process. The realization that you don't NEED to spend your hard-earned on a tradition you don't necessarily connect with will SET.YOU.FREE.
Here is what I have learned these past 8 months of planning. So to the freshly engaged: pay attention. You may not like what you read next, but it may help you in the end.
- You don't need to buy your dress 12 months before the wedding. More likely than not, you are going to feel regret. Even if it's slight. You will feel it. Wanna know why? Because the wedding blogosphere is filled with lots n lots of pretty pictures. And unique, oh-my-balls indie designers that you've never even heard of. Or you'll be enticed by the next hot designer on Etsy. And then your favorite designers like Anthropologie will come out with a bridal line out of no where, but since you've already bought your dress, you can't even tempt yourself. It would be too cruel. And if you're like me, your bride-style is going to surely change as you go through this life-changing process that is planning a wedding. And as a result, the ivory, heavy satin mermaid gown you've been dreaming about since you got engaged isn't exactly in line with your current dreams of how you want to look on your wedding day. I have grappled with this dress issue for months now, and I think I am finally starting to recognize that I *definitely* should have waited to buy my gown. I bought it then because I didn't think I could get the dress I wanted for under a $1000. Then I found the Watters dress for $799.00 and jumped at the chance at buying it because I thought I wouldn't have any other viable options. Boy was I wrong. So now I am tasked with the notion of trying to sell my dress, and replace it with another. Don't worry, I have my replacement in line and it is going to be more "me" than I could have ever imagined for myself. But it's still going to be a pain in the ass to sell the original one.
- If your budget is tight, fuck the dessert. Or wait til the last minute and pick up some pies from Costco. If your wedding is going to be anything like ours, you may realize that the time during the reception when everyone is supposed to eat said dessert, that they will be too drunk or too busy dancing to even care, or even notice. Fuck, I'd be happy with passing around a bowl of Skittles. At least that would be portable and dance-floor friendly. Sure, maybe you'll miss a great photo-op of you and your hunny cutting the cake. But ultimately, your sanity and your thin budget will thank you in the end. And I promise you won't give two shits. I could care less about the dessert right now. I told Mike to ask the front office ladies at his school to make us some homemade soul food desserts, like sweet potato pie and peach cobbler. And they'd do it for cheap. So there ya go. Dessert: DONE.
- Don't feel like you need to provide everyone with a sit-down dinner. Sit-down formal dinner receptions have been the way of weddings for years, and therefore us soon-to-be-marrieds think we need to provide that too... even if our budget doesn't allow us to throw down that kind of cash. We were originally in this boat... thinking we had to feed people plated dinner at a table with an assigned seat. But in the end all we really wanted was for the food to taste good, be authentic, and showcase some local LA flavor. So that's where the idea to get a taco truck was born. I realize this option isn't open to everyone. But there were many options other than formal catering companies. You just have to get creative. I found an authentic Mexican joint that charges 6 bucks a person for an unlimited amount of the most delicious tacos you will ever eat. Sure, your guests will have to walk their asses over to the serving spit, but in the end who gives a fuck? 'Cause when more people are up on their feet and mingling, the better the overall party will be. And your single friends will thank you for the forced social interaction.
- Don't feel like you need to provide everyone with chairs. For the ceremony AND for the reception. I know that sounds nuts. But listen up. You got young people coming to the wedding? They can stand, or sit in the grass. Got old people coming? They get a chair. DONE. Not only will this encourage a more mix n mingle type of reception, it will also save you an assload of money. I decided it was more worth it to me to get 80 pretty wooden folding chairs, than 150 plastic chairs that will be used for only a portion of the whole wedding. Seriously, any time I have been to a wedding where the dinner was served buffet-style, I was barely in my seat the whole night. So for our wedding, we just got a few extra cocktail tables and are going to use the lounges already in the venue for extra seating. And, oh yeah, hi, we're serving street food, so our guests will be eating with their hands anyway.
- There is NO NEED FOR SAVE THE DATE CARDS. Email your guests. Tell 'em on Facebook for fuck's sake. But goodGOD do not spend time and money on this if you don't have it. Every Save the Date card I have received in the mail in the past literally told me information I already knew. Chances are, if you're inviting these people to your wedding, they probably already know the date, or have asked you personally in advance so that they can arrange travel plans early should they need to. And lookie there, you've just saved yourself a $100+ and your guests won't even notice its absence.
- No one gives a shit about favors. That's all I got.
- Quality of the booze does not matter. People like free booze, and will forgive you if it isn't high end or top shelf. We got boxed wine that had a great rating (89 points). But since it was boxed, it was cheaper. And since it was purchased during Bevmo's 5 cent sale, it was HELLA cheaper. I recently attended a party where we blindly drank red wines and ranked them. And surprisingly, the 2 Buck Chuck generally came in 1st or 2nd place. But if you are totally opposed to serving boxed or Chuck for the whole night, just serve the slightly better stuff first, and pull out the cheap when everyone is too loaded to even notice. That's our plan. Homemade delicious American Pale Ale first. Boxed wine second. And if you're feeling really dirrrty, go for the Triple Crown and whip out the shots of Popov at the very end of the night.
- You don't need an 80-piece invitation. One sheet with all the right info will do the trick, and it will save you a balls-load of cash. And seriously no need for reply cards. Give 'em a website they can RSVP on. Guests: INVITED.
- If you can't afford a wedding ring to accompany your engagement ring, it's not the end of the world. Get a wedding band when you can and just keep wearing your engagement ring til then. No one will even notice. And if your budget is shaping up to be tighter than originally planned, this is one of those things you can let go of. I know it's a hard one to let go of because it's a great excuse to blow some dough on shiny pretty jewelry, but it's O.K to hold off if the current budget doesn't allow it. I am literally waiting til the last minute to see if I can get a wedding band. Otherwise, my engagement ring is rollin solo.
- Spend the bigger dolla on what is most important. For us, that was the venue. The original price of our venue was nearly 1/3 of the budget. But the venue choice allowed us to save costs elsewhere. For example, being able being able to bring in our own food and booze has been HUGE. There was no way we could have afforded those pre-fixed per head prices that hotels and other establishments charge.
What's on your "Shit That Doesn't Matter List"?