Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Nespys' Guide to Frugal Weddings!

If you are visiting from Welcome to the #126 Festival of Frugality!-If I Had a Car Edition over at The Financial Blogger, I want to extend a warm welcome to you! Make yourself at home...pull up a chair and have a cool glass of sweet tea. Stick around if you'd like. And if you find yourself wanting to stay, sign up for my feed (over in the right margin). Otherwise, enjoy your stay while you are here.
Okay, so I guess I've always been a cheapskate money-conscious, as when Nespy and I got married, I've got to admit that we got away with a really nice wedding for a relatively small amount. Now, I can't tell you truly how much we paid, as he paid for some, I paid for some, and our moms paid for some...and I guess it really would not matter, as it was 6-1/2 years ago and prices would no longer be any good.

However, I will share how we kept costs down: (by the way...this was entered in a contest about frugal wedding at Moolanomy. Check it out!)

Ceremony Location: We got married at a church at member cost = $0. We did not have to rent the facility, but only reserve it. This saved a LOT of money, as we looked around at having a location wedding in several different locations.
Ties with a Minister: Okay, so not everyone could pull this off, but my uncle was the minister we used, and he offered his services as our wedding gift. payment to the pastor!

Invitations and Programs: Easy. Print it yourself on cardstock. We did this with a really nice font. We were able to get 2 invitations per sheet and 2 programs (cut lengthwise). To the programs we punched two holes on top and tied a ribbon through them. They were very nice and super simple to do.
Photography: This was purely by referral via some family friends who had recently had a wedding and used a relatively obscure photographer with whom they were really pleased. There were some points of the pictures that could have been slightly better, but overall, the photos were great.

Videography: Also, not something that everyone could pull off, but we did pretty good on this. All of the "good ones" were booked. I was in a panic. Then I remembered--the church had a video crew (the service was on a local channel weekly). I contact them and they sent a skeleton crew (3 people) and they were paid $50 a piece for approximately 1 hour of their time. Easy money for them, cheap video production for us. And it looked good, as they were trained!

Dress: I did have to pay for my dress, although many people buy second-hand, use their mom;s or have one made inexpensively. However, I did buy it during a popular wedding dress carrier's annual (or is it semi-annual) sale, so I got $99 off the total cost and ended up paying right around $500 for it.

Alterations: Okay, I was lucky here too. The only alterations needed were to add the loop and button to bustle the train for the reception. Otherwise it fit.

Bride's Accessories: I pondered veils, gloves, shoes, etc...the works. I never found a veil that I thought would work with my hair and the dress, so I opted for small bobby pins that had satin roses on them scattered throughout my hair. I did not go for gloves, as I could not decide what I would want to do to accommodate the ring ceremony. Shoes were a simple ballet flat, as I wanted to be comfortable and shorter than Nespy in pictures (we're the same height flat footed).

Wedding Party Attire: The bridesmaids dresses were discounted through the same popular carrier (10% off total) since I purchased my dress and accessories there. They worn regular navy shoes, as they were covered by their dresses. Nespy got a bulk discount for tux rentals. The flower girls' and ring bearer's dresses (female ring bearer) were handmade and smocked by my aunt. She also made the ring bearer's pillow. The bridesmaids were simple pearl necklaces and earrings (which all of them owned or borrowed).
Bridesmaids Hair & Makeup: Blessed is my maid-of-honor. She worked at a salon for years. She did the hair of the whole wedding party and my make-up. That was her gift, as she was a struggling college student who had no money to buy a gift. That was better than a gift!
Decorations: Use someone (in the family if possible) that knows what they are doing. One of my friends got married and they rented Greek-looking columns and then purchased simple round glass to top them and placed various sizes of pillar candles on top surrounded by ivy. It was GORGEOUS! For aunt was great at working with tulle and candles with greenery in the windows. Same aunt that made the dresses. Also, same aunt that was the...
Director/Coordinator: She loves doing it and considered it her gift to us. Woohoo! No payment there either!

Flowers: Okay, so this is where we actually spent money. I wanted what I wanted and had a very talented florist in my pocket who could make it happen. This is where we spent the most money. However, we kept costs down by using only greenery in the decor. You can also keep costs down by using seasonal flowers...especially found locally. If you want flowers that are only grown in Asia at a time of the year that is 6-months away from your wedding, expect to pay serious money to have your dreams fulfilled.

Reception: Time and location are everything here. We had our reception at the reception hall of the once again, there was no cost to rent...just reserve. We had an afternoon wedding (2:00), so we only served finger foods. No sit-down dinner needed. Also, we had a Southern Baptist wedding, so no alcohol allowed (and therefore none to buy). The food was delicious, the cakes were beautiful. Which brings me to my next item...
Catering: I was the organist at this church, so I knew many people in the music program. One of those ladies happened to cater. She was wonderful! She made exactly what we requested in our cakes and did a fabulous job with all of the finger foods. Because this was not her main source of income, she was less expensive than a professional cater...and just as good! When she brought the bill, I thought it was either for the cakes OR the food; I was was for both!
See the cute flowers in my hair? I think they cost like $4.00. =)
Music: We did pay the standard fee for musicians for the time and location for the ceremony. However, like I was a Baptist wedding, so no dancing, therefore no DJ or band or musician costs for the ceremony.

Reception Decor: One item that we used was photographs. Some of Nespy as he grew up. Some of me as I grew up. Some of us dating. Some of our engagement photos. We had them scattered throughout and since we were surrounded by our loved ones, they enjoyed reminiscing as well through the photos. Yes, some were slightly embarrassing (we all have that awkward stage, right?), but there is nothing to hide, as they all knew us well. I know some people make centerpieces (think same people who do some decorating themselves) and then send them home with people. That's awesome...they have a beautiful centerpiece and you don't have 25 beautiful centerpieces to dispose of! Also, there has been the trend of using disposable cameras on the tables so your guests can capture the event for you. Nothing like having free photography. And out of several hundred photos, you're bound to get SOME good ones, right (although I guess this could be costly to develop).

Honeymoon: We also had a frugal first-night-as-married suite. Nespy was in the hospitality industry at that time as well, so we were able to stay in a very popular named suite for a fraction of typical cost. After the first night, we left on our cruise. Yes, cruises can be expensive and I will not lie and tell you we were terribly cheap during our cruise, but they can be a VERY cost-effective way to take a week long vacation to exotic locations. =) Go in the off-season. We went in late October/early November to the Caribbean, so it was less expensive than going during the summer (although you might have to deal with hurricanes!).

Memories: We never had my flowers (yellow roses) officially preserved. However, they are currently stored in our china cabinet. Perfectly dried. Leave them along out of the elements for a while, and they will likely take care of themselves. The dress...never preserved. It sits in its original bag in our closet. It is not yellow, does not smell, it not faded. It is perfect still. Maybe it won't stay that way. Maybe I should not even keep it. However, for now, it pleases me.

So, that's how we did it. Please consider any and all of these if you are going to be planning an upcoming event soon. You may can use some or all of them--I just hope that our experience can help someone else out!

And, by the way...this gives me an excuse to post my wedding pics from (what seems like) long ago!


  1. What lovely wedding photos! We did many of the same things to keep wedding costs under control when we got hitched some, ahem, 21 years ago this June!

    I am so excited to read accounts of folks spending reasonably to still have a wonderful wedding, as I teach in a small Christian High School and I watch girls spend more on prom dresses and limos than I spent on my entire wedding for 300+ people. It's such a shame.

    Besides, what will these kids ever have to look forward to when they will have already experienced limos, cruises, $500 dresses, etc. Will anything ever be really special for them?

    My hubby is a professional photographer on the side and the best weddings seem to be the ones that aren't overly elaborate. People aren't as worried about details, fussy about things, etc. Everyone relaxes and enjoys the festivities. Even the photos turn out better as the families are genuinely happy.

    my blog:

  2. Great post! Thanks for commenting on my "Confessions of a Frugal Bride." I agree with you and the above comment, when you're happy about the amount of money you are spending, it's much easier to be relaxed and happy about the wedding!

  3. Aw, you were such a beautiful bride! Great tips! And I wore ballet flats at my wedding, too, for the same reason. LOL

  4. You have some great tips! I love the idea of having disposable cameras at the table for guests. That's a great way to get lots of photos, for fairly cheap. I think having someone you know decorate is a good idea too; I may have to recruit my crafty aunt, lol.