We've been married a little more than a year now. Looking back, I am very proud of our decisions regarding our wedding arrangements.
First of all, we did not buy everything at once, have a conventional wedding cake, hire a wedding planner, DJ, hair dresser, makeup artist, or photographer. We kept our eyes out for used or discount wedding decor and supplies well in advance (Craigslist and frequenting craft and antique stores for clearance items was a great help).
Another great help was that Stevie and I were not too particular about what we wore. We knew we wanted low-key rather than over the top fancy. We also planned our wedding date for a warm time and wanted an outdoor ceremony since we both love the outdoors. A great benefit of an outdoor wedding is that, if you choose a pretty location, there is very little decorating you have to do for the ceremony. And too much of it distracts from the natural beauty anyway.
So this is what it came down to...(all figures are rounded up)
I bought Steve's ring on Ebay and he got mine there as well. They were both used but in excellent condition. They even match! His is 14k black hills gold and my set is 18k black hills gold with a small diamond on the engagement ring. All we had to do was get them resized. This all totaled around $300.
I got my dress at an antique store. It's a hand made wedding dress from the 60's and happened to be in wonderful condition and even has a little train. It was a very lucky find, but second hand dresses, whether vintage or not, are easy to come by. Since my dress was yellow, Stevie just got a nice linen button up in a pale yellow and wore khakis with it, all from Goodwill, I do believe. We went barefoot for the ceremony. I bought a matching yellow clip for my hair and let my friend Heather fix it. She did a great job. And I don't wear makeup. Total for wedding attire: $30
For invitations, we bought some high quality colored printing paper, used a fancy font, printed and folded them ourselves, and sealed the envelopes with very elegant, high quality craft stickers. These things were purchased from Michael's as well. We made the wedding programs similarly on glossy white card stock. It was a little time consuming but we enjoyed working together on it and researching the proper names and such to use was easy with Google. The total was no more than $20
We got some flowery decorations and a white arbor from Michael's on clearance and got little vases, flowers and decorative stones to make our own simple center pieces from a dollar store. Table cloths, white plates, cups, cutlery, napkins, and serving platters for the reception also came from a dollar store. Some generous family members volunteered to bring different things to eat, and there was plenty of good food for everyone! We had my aunt's lemon bars, Stevie's mother brought some very nice home made cheesecakes, my mother brought brownies, cookies, drinks and fruit bowls. It was easy to find someone to cover chips and dip and little finger sandwiches. The most expensive thing was the white folding chair covers. Those I purchased in bulk from Ebay. Total for decor and reception supplies: $180
For reception entertainment, we made our own mix CD. It was special too because we got to choose exactly the songs we wanted that had significance for us and arrange them how we liked. It included George Harrison, Fleetwood Mac, Duran Duran, The Clash, The Bangles, The Byrds, Bread, The O'Jays, etc. Most of the music for it I got through Swap or already had beforehand. We brought our own stereo system to the reception.
The venue for our event was a local park where there is a pond and a pretty old red barn beside it, and there is also a very nice, big old house on the park that can be rented for the day. We used it's fireplace room for our reception and had the ceremony out beside the pond. It was very convenient not to have to drive to another location for the reception, and the house had a large kitchen with a fridge and range and there were of course restrooms as well. Along with the rental fee for the house for the day, you could rent folding chairs and tables. It was $0.25 per chair and $1.00 per table. City parks sometimes have a lot to offer! Total for venue, tables and chairs, for the whole day: $150
Fortunately, my family all loves to take pictures at events and I am not picky. My sister has had a growing interest in photography for some time and has a very nice Nikon Digital SLR. We simply asked several people to take pictures throughout the occasion and then share them with us later, at which time we decided which we would keep for an album or whatever. Most of the pictures were rather candid, which is the way I personally prefer them. We had my dad set up his video camera and tape the whole ceremony. We used the same arbor from the ceremony to pose for pictures under/in front of, just moved it to a different location than beside the pond. There was also a very nice dock over the pond that would have been nice to take pictures on had we wanted to.
Our guest list was admittedly short, around 50 people. This is what we wanted because we desired an intimate and rather private wedding ceremony. Turns out having a small guest list also means having a smaller tab!
Finally, the person we got to marry us was a very kind professor who we both had philosophy class with. I had formed a sort of personal friendship with him and came to find out that he was a bishop. And although he did not practice any longer and could not sign a marriage certificate, he was able to perform the ceremony and did a splendid job too. The fact that he could not validate a certificate didn't matter because we were handling that through the justice of the peace ahead of time. We offered to pay him (the professor/bishop) for his services but he would not accept anything. It was very special because Steve and I both have tremendous respect for him and were honored to have him perform the ceremony. Basically, if you are married by a justice of the peace at the courthouse, you can have anyone you want perform a ceremony for you before or after.
As for our honeymoon, we stayed in our new house and hardly left it for anything for a week. We did whatever we wanted, ate out at some nice places a couple of times, and had absolutely no packing, travel, hotel arrangements, etc. to worry over. And no classes or work, of course.
So the grand total for our wedding, including rings and honeymoon, was under $700. And then we sold all of the decorations and got about $150 back. And then there was the money given to us by various people as a wedding gift, too! All in all we are very satisfied even now with the decisions we made. It was simple, inexpensive and relatively hassle-free. We knew that we did not want our wedding to start us out in debt or be a major stress to plan, causing arguments and tension. And I still think that no other ring could have suited me better!
The first is just the text from our invitation. Most of the photos my sister took. Click photos to enlarge.