There is a lot of bad economic news. Most of it is either accurate or it sadly underestimates how bad things might get before the economy turns around. And you? You're getting married. Well, congratulations. Turn off the TV and the Internet and start planning the event that will join your hearts in marriage.
Before you do anything else, you do need to get realistic about your finances. How much, really, can you afford to spend on your wedding? It seems that most people's reactions to even very generous budgets is that “We can't get married on that!” Oh, yes, you can! Yes! And you can be incredibly considerate of your friends' budgets as well. Because you're not the only ones impacted by the downturn.
One of the great lessons that is emerging from political negotiations is that we move forward based on what we can do, not what we can't do. Focus your energies on the possible and don't take time to fret on what you can't have!
- Clothes: You may have had an amazing dress in your head when you started to think about planning. Those amazing dresses are still available. 1) Wedding boutiques and wedding dress designers have realized that if they want you to buy, they're going to have to drop their prices. 2) Go to the Internet. There are gorgeous dresses, some of them previously celebrated, some of them not, available for a fraction of their cost. Same is true for bridesmaids and groomsmen. There are tuxedos and interesting tie/vest/hankie combinations floating around for the grooms.
- Attendants: You may want to downsize the number of attendants you have, or change your requirements for their participation. What do you really want? Your best friends gathered around you or a phalanx of beauty in seafoam and fuchsia? Invite them to dresses that compliment your wedding colors, or to wear their favorite bridesmaid dress from earlier weddings. (Thrift stores have gorgeous dresses!) Make a game of it. Get together and find yourselves fun dresses to wear at small prices! And the Net is always available. Then take the challenge: what wonderful gift can you give them that comes from your heart? Let go of the $10 million wedding attendant gift. Suggest your men wear dark suits rather than tuxedos if that's feeling like a factor in the guys' decisions to accept your invitation to participate.
- Wedding Time: Move it up! Not only are breakfasts, lunches and teas cheaper than formal dinners, earlier weddings might mean your guests don't have to invest in a hotel room. In this economy, a hotel room can be a deciding factor about whether friends can attend your wedding. 10:30 wedding, done by 3:30!
- Wedding Gifts: Be realistic – do you need gifts? If not, say so. “We have so much richness in our lives, that we realized there is nothing we want from you as much as we want you to be with us as we celebrate our wedding. Your presence will be our present.” People will give or not give gifts as they will, but this will let them feel good about what they can do. And then, go all out. Write them thank you notes for showing up at your wedding!
- Food: The movement in food at the moment is back to slow food. Dig out some family recipes and feel people food from your pasts. Or opt for the smaller meals earlier in the day. Have a tea. You want the food to be good. You want it to be a celebration. You also want to be able to afford it.
- Wedding Ceremony: Put a lot of your focus here. Indulge in a great celebrant. Develop a wonderful ceremony. Craft wedding vows that will inspire your community's support and celebration and serve as the foundation for a happy, healthy wedding.
- Entertainment: Do you have people within your circle who are talented musically? You'll want to offer to pay them. Often, particularly for the ceremony, they'll make it their gift to you. Do not expect it and certainly don't expect it if you're asking them to play the reception. Again, if you have a morning or afternoon wedding, finish early enough your musical group or dj can get out for an evening wedding. Their prices will often come down! Or find games to play that don't require music. Find ways to build community off the dance floor. You'll be surprised how many people will be happy to go to a wedding where they don't have to shout!
Keep looking at how you can make your wedding interesting and fun without spending all the money you've been told you need to spend. I didn't put favors on the list. You can actually get married without favors! You don't have to become Martha Stewart and drive yourself crazy making things you're not good at making. You can find things to do that please you both and you know will please your crowd.
It may be that the formal extravagant wedding is gone for the moment. For some of us, that will be a real loss. For others it may be a freedom. Which crowd do you fall into? But whatever you do, you don't need to use the wedding to pressure yourselves about money. Money brings enough pressure on its own! Have a great wedding and a great marriage!
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