It seems that everyone is talking about how expensive weddings can be, and they’re right. If you watch We-TV at all, you can see half a dozen shows where brides and grooms are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to over a million dollars because they want that “wow” factor in every facet of their day. If you have a million dollars just lying around, I say “go for it” and have every extravagance you can imagine! But, if you’re like most of us, every dollar has to count and we all have to watch how much we spend.
I played a wedding on Saturday that could serve as a model for perfection on a small budget. My bride and groom were interested in having a beautiful and fun celebration with their friends and family but weren’t interested in going into debt to do it so they made a list of what was most important to them, spent their money there and just didn’t worry about the rest. What they ended up with was this: an afternoon ceremony in the beautiful courtyard (complete with flowering trees and a fountain) at the Mariners’ Museum in Newport News. They hired my flute/guitar duo to provide the music, and customized the music to suit them personally. After the ceremony, they went inside where they had a beer, wine and soft drink bar for guests to enjoy while the bridal party had their photo session. Our duo went inside with them and played a nice selection of jazz standards in the background to set the mood for the party. After the photos were completed, I served as Emcee and introduced the wedding party, complete with a “grand entrance” for the bride and groom.
After that, they shared their first dance together with live music (Love Me Tender) and had a wonderful buffet of hot and cold hors d-oeuvres and a beautiful wedding cheesecake. We left at that time and an i-pod took over because they didn’t feel the need for a large “show” during the rest of the afternoon. They had simple florals and linens, and dispensed with chair covers, overlays, and fancy tableware but from where I stood, no one noticed. They were all enjoying themselves immensely.
In sharing this story with you I’m not saying that you “shouldn’t” have any of the fancy things like larger florals, ornate linens and tableware, or a DJ or band. Not at all; I only wanted to illustrate that you can have the wedding of your dreams without jeopardizing your financial future. It’s always best to have reasonable expectations of the type of wedding you can afford. Set a budget and make a list of priorities, then stick to both. In this couples’ case, the location was important and so was the ceremony/pre-reception music, so that’s where they spent their money first, and even so, they went with a small musical group so as not to over-do. They also wanted their guests to enjoy the bar, so had beer and wine, which is less expensive than hard liquor but still fun. The food was simple, but plentiful and I understand, very tasty, so no one noticed that there weren’t 3 kinds of seafood and a steak.
The main thing I want to say is, “Have a beautiful wedding. Have an extravagant, “over-the-top” wedding if you want. But if you can’t or are not willing to pay for all of those very expensive things, you can still have a wonderful, memorable celebration of the beginning of your new life as a family.”