I am sure you have seen the statistics – the average wedding in America now costs over $25,000.
That is just INSANE!
I, personally, am on a mission to change the mindset of Christians about how to celebrate weddings. I believe that we can have God-honoring, beautiful, poignant ceremonies RICH with meaning without wasting thousands of dollars and putting ourselves or our parents into financial debt.
This is going to require us to think outside the box. It is going to require us to not cling to tradition so much. But why are we doing things simply for the sake of tradition? We are believers in Christ! We are free from traditions and free to follow Christ and honor Him.
I would also like to see Christian brides making decisions with their grooms about the wedding and reception. I don’t want us to ascribe to the world’s idea that “the wedding is MY day.” “It’s all about ME!” No!!!! The wedding is about both of you. His ideas and desires and feelings are just as important as yours. Check out this post for some of the dangers of a bride being completely in charge of the wedding plans.
I am about to completely buck tradition and just focus on having a spiritually MEANINGFUL, materially simple wedding. I would suggest spending MUCH more time preparing for the marriage than you do planning for the wedding.
DO NOT GO INTO DEBT OR FORCE ANYONE ELSE INTO DEBT FOR YOUR WEDDING
Have a modest budget. Stick to it. There are a lot of things that people expect in a wedding because that is “how it is done.” We live in difficult financial times. People will get over it if you don’t spend thousands of dollars on flowers or pictures. It will really and truly be ok! You can have a beautiful wedding without destroying your financial stability.
My Daddy told me that I could have $5000 for my wedding and I could keep anything that was left over. We did our wedding for $4000. Yes, that was in 1994. But still, we had over 300 guests and had our wedding at our church where Greg’s dad was the pastor. Many people did things for us for free as gifts. Allow people to help you if they are willing to volunteer. Looking back, we could have spent much less than $4000.
Check out Craigslist, ebay, consignment shops, garage sales, the flea market, or choose one of the less expensive dresses at a department store. You can add beads and lace if you want to. Keep in mind that if the gown is not modest, you can add panels to it or a lacy shawl or jacket of some type to make it modest. You can seriously find a beautiful dress for $100-$200. Maybe even less! If you have a friend who is your size getting married the same year, you might even be able to split the cost of a dress. My twin sister and I did that! Or, you could wear a dress that is not specifically “a wedding dress” – if you are getting married outside, a white sundress might work very nicely. Think outside the box. Choose something you love. But don’t make the wedding just about the material things. Concentrate mostly on your groom-to-be and preparing for a godly marriage.
I got married 19 years ago, but I made my veil with a barrette, some artificial white flowers and veiling material and some thread. It took 30 minutes and cost me $20.
Be kind to your friends and relatives! It’s easy to pick out elaborate bridesmaids dresses that cost $300 and shoes that cost $120 and then some people have to also spend money on a hotel room for two nights and travel expenses. That is a lot of money!
You could choose a beautiful dress from Chadwick’s catalog, or JC Penney’s, or Sears or somewhere. And each bridesmaid could order her size.
Or you could just ask the girls to all wear a specific color dress of their choice (as long as it is modest – you may want to set parameters there).
Or you could have a “rainbow wedding” and ask each girl to wear a different color dress of her choice. You could specify a certain length if you want to.
Or you could just ask each girl to wear a “Sunday dress.”
You could ask them all to wear white shoes or black shoes or a certain color dress shoe – instead of them having to buy new shoes specifically for your wedding.
I have a real problem with spending thousands of dollars on flowers. That is just wasteful and unnecessary! I know of one couple who spent $20,000 on fresh flowers. That could have been a HUGE downpayment on a house. Or $20K could buy a nice car. Or it could pay off a huge portion of student loans or credit card debt. I don’t believe that spending exorbitant amounts of money on flowers honors God and I don’t believe it is a wise use of the resources God has given us.
Honestly, flowers are unnecessary. If you want to have some simple flowers, you could seriously buy some inexpensive bouquets from the grocery store the morning of the wedding. Or you could cut flowers from your garden or pick bouquets of wildflowers depending on the season in which you are getting married.
There is no spiritually sound reason that you must have a $400 floral arrangement at the front of the church, or that you need a $100 bouquet. If you really love flowers, you and your attendants could each carry a single rose with a ribbon.
But there is no reason that you HAVE to have flowers. That is an optional thing.
Some couples borrow ferns from their friends and church members and arrange them in the church for the ceremony and place a white ribbon in each one. That is a very inexpensive option if you would like to have some greenery.
You can easily use a CD or put the songs you and your fiance like on an MP3 player or something and have all the music you need. Or if you have friends who sing or play instruments, they may be willing to sing or play as a gift to you. That is what we did!
Choose music that honors God’s definition of marriage.
(also choose vows that honor God’s design for marriage, godly femininity and godly masculinity)
If you are a church member, some churches don’t charge their members to use the sanctuary, or there may be a reduced charge. If you also have the reception at the church in the fellowship hall, the cost is usually much less than having a reception in a hotel or other venue. You could opt to have your wedding outside, even in your yard, possibly, depending on the size of the guest list and the time of year of the wedding and the size of your yard. Of course, then you will need a plan B in case of bad weather.
It’s possible that you might be able to book a local park or the ampi-theature at a local River Walk for a reasonable price.
You don’t have to have your wedding on a Saturday. Some people have their weddings on Friday nights. Some have them on Sunday afternoons. That might lower the cost for certain venues as well.
Depending on how many guests you are expecting, you can save money by having friends/relatives make a cake, or make multiple cakes and put them on different cake stands at various heights. Or you or your friends/relatives could make cupcakes and arrange them on a tiered platter.
You could easily spend many hundreds of dollars on a professional cake. But you don’t have to! You can chose to do things differently. People will still be able to enjoy cake but you can spare your budget. You could even have petit-fores instead.
It is VERY easy to spend THOUSANDS of dollars on food, a DJ, an open bar, a dance floor…
These are not required!
There is nothing wrong with just having light refreshments and cake. You don’t have to have a sit-down dinner. You could have something simple like nuts, candy, crackers topped with your favorite cheeses/sausage and fresh fruit.
You can have music for your first dance on a CD.
You don’t have to have a dance during the reception. We didn’t! And everything was fine!
There is no reason to have a bar at all. If you have your wedding reception at the church, like we did, you can just have punch. Everyone will be just fine! If you are concerned about not having alcohol, have your wedding in the morning or mid afternoon instead of the evening.
THE GUEST LIST
Since you will have a set budget, you may not be able to invite all of your high school friends or all of your college friends or all of your coworkers. That is ok! Keep the guest list down and that will also help you cut many other expenses. Try to allow your family to come and closest friends – but beyond that, be flexible.
You can spend thousands of dollars on a professional photographer. I do love wedding pictures! Depending on how much you love pictures, you may want to splurge a bit on this area. But you can have a family member or friend do pictures for you if you are on a very tight budget. Or you can have a professional photographer, but you can chose just a few pictures to print instead of getting 2000 pictures. You really and truly do not need a picture of every single relative individually with the bride and groom. And you don’t need 30 pictures of the bride with her bridesmaids and the groom with the groomsmen. You can choose just a few pictures to print and keep depending on the agreement you have with your photographer.
You can ask a techno-savvy friend to video the wedding for you if you don’t mind a few bumps and mistakes here and there. It is wonderful to have a video of that day. But this is also an area where you could save money by not having a professional. If you do have a professional video your wedding, you may want to get multiple quotes first and be sure to stick to your budget!
You can have very simple party favors that you and your family prepare – like small bags of M & Ms or simple bars of candy or hershey’s kisses on the table.
DECORATIONS AT THE RECEPTION
If you have tables where people will be sitting. You can sometimes borrow tablecloths from the church. There may be a fee. You can use confetti, ribbons, inexpensive candles, candy, borrowed greenery, etc. for decorations.
There are tons of sites about having a frugal wedding. Check them out and refuse to give in to our materialistic culture. Celebrate your new marriage in ways that are very meaningful to you – but without all the consumerism. Remember that greed = idolatry in God’s eyes. Let’s focus on the eternally valuable things much more than material things.
Above all – be sure that you display the love, peace, patience, joy, grace, mercy and forgiveness of Christ to your groom and his family and your family and friends and those working with you on your wedding. Please don’t scream, yell, pressure or try to control others. Say what you want pleasantly and cheerfully, but then be flexible and able to roll with changes in plans and reductions in budget. Be ready to roll with weather problems and things not going perfectly. Build up your sense of humor and focus on the big picture – your marriage – more than a few hours on one day. Weddings aren’t usually perfect. That’s ok. Embrace the idea that things will go wrong and be ready to laugh when they do.
THE MOST IMPORTANT FOCUS
Read some GODLY books about marriage and try to have premarital counseling with a trusted pastor if at all possible. If you can find a godly mentoring couple, that is also a great idea, to meet with them multiple times and talk through specific issues and how to prepare for marriage.
If you are from a very dysfunctional background or divorce situation or you have suffered any kind of abuse as a child or teenager – please get REAL help for that BEFORE the marriage so that you can be as whole and healed as possible coming into the marriage.
THE BIBLE – read every passage on marriage many times together and pray and talk about learning to follow God’s design not the world’s design for marriage.
His Needs, Her Needs
Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs
Intended for Pleasure (read about 1 month before the wedding, it’s about God’s design for sex)
The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace
For Men Only (for grooms) by Jeff Feldhahn
For Women Only (for brides) by Shuanti Feldhahn
Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas
Sacred Influence (for wives) by Gary Thomas
Also, study godly femininity and godly masculinity:
Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge
Wild at Heart by John Eldredge
Radical Womanhood by Carolyn McCulley (a study of the history of feminism and how it has affected us all and how to become a godly woman in the midst of this culture. This is a really important book to help you learn to identify cultural lies that have poisoned your thinking and may cause stumbling blocks for you as you seek to be a godly wife)
Feminine Appeal by Carolyn Mahaney
check out the website “ladies against feminism”