This post is tangentially related to both “Dr Yes” and the upcoming “Bridezilla” tale (which will happen in April).
How to have a free wedding:
The important thing to note is that weddings are expensive because of one thing: expectations. Yours, your fiance’s, your Mum’s, his/her Mum’s, the two Dads, your other relatives, and your friends – in roughly that order. The most important thing is to not ruin any of those crucial relationships. Keep that in mind every day, and be careful to both ask and observe what people expect from your wedding (most people don’t realise what they expect until it’s not there). Make sure you give people plenty of notice of the date – which may have to change (long engagements are also good for scrounging – the more time you have, the more likely you are to find/be given something really excellent), especially if they need to travel.
A “perfect wedding” is a myth. It is most certainly NOT the most important day of your life. Spend your time and money on your marriage, not your wedding.
The dress: Get it from a relative, or someone else’s cupboard. Do not lose or gain weight after you’ve found one that fits. (Cheap option: scour op shops. Mine was $200 from Vinnies.) Be careful of the dress because adjusting, ironing and dry cleaning are all expensive. If it doesn’t come with a veil, make a wreath of live flowers/leaves on the day.
The venue and MC: If you go to a church, you can almost certainly use both church and preacher for free. Otherwise, use a JP (justice of the peace). There are a LOT around. I had friends decorate my church with a huge amount of real ivy (it was a big job, though – thanks boys!) and had friends bring their own swords (seriously) for the ushering (and a grand entrance).
Paperwork: Don’t change your name. It’s difficult and costs around $100 (because you need to buy a form to prove you’re married).
Reception: Have guests bring a plate for afternoon tea. I love the communal feel of this method – and it’ll save you literally thousands. If you must have a reception, be aware that it’ll almost certainly be your biggest expense. Search for creative options – do you know a chef? Can reception be very small, or just dessert? Do you know someone with access to lots of cheap wine? Can you have a lunch reception – perhaps outside/a giant picnic?
Cake: Have a special friend make your cake as their present – or make it yourself the day before. (Be careful – people freak out when they’re involved at all, so give them a lot of reassurance.)
Engagement ring and wedding rings: You really need to have inherited jewellery for this, or to be ironic (eg plastic rings – that’s hard to pull off though). Otherwise, scour op shops for cheap rings – no-one will know your tin ring isn’t white gold. Keep in mind that “diamonds are forever” is an advertising slogan invented by diamond sellers. Stay strong as the industry pressures you to spend spend spend.
Flowers: Pick them – this is a great job for friends that are close but not bridesmaids. (Or a poor friend/s who wants to give you something special.)
Hair and makeup: Bridesmaids can help one another.
Outfits: Have a theme rather than buying new dresses (or make your bridal party buy their own). Eg. everyone wears red. Scour all the bridesmaid’s cupboards for outfits that will work together (good for a massive girlyfest). The groomsmen will all have black trousers and shoes, so that’s a good start. In my wedding, all the girls and I went barefoot. Shoes are evil. Remember that. (We also all had white sandals, so we wore those after the ceremony.)
Bridal meltdown: A wedding is probably the most stressful thing in the world – especially when you’re poor. Give yourself a break – your favourite food, days off, dates with your fiance (who’ll probably also need a break) without talking about the wedding, etc. Have a gift registry (if you’re poor it’s WONDERFUL) and put at least three non-useful items on it.
Honeymoon: See if you can housesit somewhere – ask around (even if it’s in your own town – just don’t tell anyone you’re so close, or it’ll be hard to resist the real world). Or borrow camping equipment and camp out. The most important thing is to have a break and to relax with your partner, so as long as you’re not at work it’s all good. Some people will give you money, and it’s very legitimate to spend that for your honeymoon. If you’re brilliant, you’ll housesit for a day or two before the wedding, so you have food and normal clothes from day 1.
Cars: Borrow it/them. The owner may like to drive. (Be considerate – I have a friend whose car is constantly getting borrowed. If in any doubt, tell them it’s their present to you.) I borrowed a BMW 🙂
Hens and Bucks nights: house parties, camping, bonfires, slumber parties, etc – they’re all free. Whatever YOU like to do will be done. So enjoy! This is your chance to force people to play monopoly, to dress as ducks, or to play with barbies – take advantage!
Invitations: Make them (this takes a long time though!) If you’re lucky, you know someone with beautiful writing style (perhaps use them just for relatives and close friends, or make it their present to you, or something).
Photos: With digital cameras and a willing friend/s, this is so easy (then you email photos to people as thank-you gifts – easy!) If you have friends take hundreds of photos, you’re guaranteed to get some great shots (and you can throw away the rest).
Music: Burn mix CDs and use whatever sound system comes with the venue/home.
Thank yous: Use photos and personal messages.
And that’s it! A free wedding. But I recommend you pick one thing to spend money on, because spending money is. . . well, it’s the most strongly-held wedding tradition in the world. And “tradition” is another word for “expectation”.