Here comes the bride, broke and broken

It’s just a big, fun dinner party. No need to get myself all tied up in knots about stuff. Like, for example, hairdressers that want to charge me $25 to put my hair up in a comb for a trial run, and $35 on top of that to put some make-up on me for a trial run (and trial runs themselves being kind of important, because I think it’s pretty important to know what kind of work I’m going to be paying upwards of $80 for on the big day itself).

Or caterers that want to charge me the same amount for a buffet dinner (where all they do is make the food, put it out, and clean up afterwards) as a sit-down restaurant would charge me for a full-service dinner. AND won’t let me try the food first, to make sure that it is going to be what I expect it to be.

Or floral shops that tell me that the flowers I want are too obscure (ivory long-stemmed roses have never been used as bridal flowers before, apparently), and would cost me my first-born child even if they could find them somewhere in the world.

I’m already past the outrage at the bridal shops that wanted thousands of dollars for a dress I would wear exactly once, and the assistants in the shops that ran the gamut from insulting to downright rude, all the while carefully ignoring any ideas that I might have about what I was actually looking for. With no dresses in the shop for someone larger than a size 8 to try on. Everyone wants to pay $700 for something that they haven’t even tried on, don’t they?

Now, let’s move on to the accessories. A small comb with a couple of silk roses on it to be used once - $50. No, really. A well-fitting bra (this one I actually would use again) - $95. A small ivory purse to be used once - $35. Silk slip - $50. Shoes - let’s not even go there. There is not a single pair of ivory shoes in all of Calgary that have a heel under three inches. Tummy control, abdomen control, thigh control, butt control, everything that could possibly jiggle control foundation garments - $35-150. Stay on for 12 hours lipstick - $15. No, I’m not buying all this stuff - I’m just listing all my sources of irritation.

Oh, I forgot about the necessities like invitations - $80 for the paper to make your own (40 invitations worth). Buy the best man’s tux rental. Put on a spread for everyone the night before the wedding for the rehearsal. Put on a spread the day after the wedding for the gift opening. Gifts for all the members of the wedding party (ok, these I’m not begrudging, because they deserve them, and I want to give them something nice. It’s just one more thing to pay for at this point, though.) Wedding bands. Fees for the officiant. Gratuities for the photographer.

And did I mention that I’m having a VERY SMALL, VERY NON-FANCY WEDDING, where I’m doing nearly everything myself?!? Good lord, if I wasn’t at least marginally creative, this tiny little wedding would be costing us $5000. The twenty-four hour Church of Elvis in Seattle is looking better every damn day.






Seriously, though, as someone who’s about to earn her Bridesmaid’s Wings (four stints and counting), I don’t envy you.

Just remember what REALLY matters, though, and you’ll do OK.

My wife and I are kind of hoping that our daughters decide to elope.

How did you get ahold of the “to do” list for my wedding?

Go “non-wedding” as often as possible. Anything with the term “bridal” or “wedding” slapped on it suddenly quadruples in price. My gown cost $175 off the rack at a Sarah McClintock store, and had a lovely back covered with a lacy “lattice”. I made what I wore in my hair, buying a pearl-covered hair band and stitching on white tulle that I bought at a craft store.

And yes, I can sympathize. I was struggling with a sample dress in the changing room at a bridal store when I suddenly snapped. Why buy something with glued-on or poorly stitched on beads/lace/etc. for gobs of money when you can spend less and get a designer dress in a department store, for instance?

Auntie Em, are you psychic, by any chance? I just talked to Jim, and we have decided to put the money for the wedding into a Hawaiian honeymoon after we elope, and have a big pizza party when everyone shows up for the wedding. No, really. {sigh - this is so freakin’ tempting, I can’t even believe it.}

I actually think what’s bugging me the most is the catering. I just don’t feel like I’m getting value for my money with them, and that’s really sticking in my craw. Any ideas about reducing catering costs to something that makes sense?

It’s kind of outrageous that they won’t even let you try it. Our caterer made up a couple of the dishes for us and let us try the food. They also understood our desire for saving money, and went over a full list of options - type of table linens, dinnerware, everything. One sticking point may be alcohol; might it be cheaper for you (and OK with the caterer) to buy your alcohol on consignment from a liquor store, so that anything unopened can be returned?

No, really, do it.

Several years ago one of my couple friends told everyone they were going on vacation, but when they returned they were having a party. When they got back, it turned out their vacation was a honeymoon and the party was a celebration.

We were all happy for them and did not feel cheated. After all, the marriage is more important than the wedding.

I am going for designer ready to wear (probably Ghost, Dries van Noten, Nicole Farhi or John Rocha) when I get married ,which will be whenever the man and I decide we can be bothered. Can’t be doing with all the faffy stuff. I think it’s partly because my parents had a small registry office wedding with minimal fuss, and my mum wore a 1940s style black suit and hat (and looked way beyond mere beautiful), and they are still married, and as happy as eggs.

Catering is the one thing I worry about - the one thing where I can’t really do it myself (yes I’m a good cook, but fuck cooking the buffet for my own wedding).

Fuck on toast. Hark at me carry on. I should bloody well propose to the poor man!

I hsve two words for you - Las Vegas.

Cheap, tacky and funny as hell. (I had an Elvis impersonator at my wedding.) I highly recommend it.


To save $ on a caterer, go for a small, unknown caterer that is just starting out. They’ll do anything you ask (sampling before hand) they’ll work their BUTTS off and will charge you next to nothing (they’ll just be so damn happy to be getting paid finally!) Ask everyone you know, chances are someone will know someone who will know someone like this…plus you’ll get your good karma on for giving someone their start :slight_smile: just make sure you sample the goods first…

For the catering, do it yourself.

You want a pain in the ass, that’s it, but it’ll save you a lot of money.

If your mother in law or your mother is a good cook get them to help.

My mom did this when she married my dad. But this also helps to explain why they were 5 hrs late to their own wedding reception.

Go around friends who are being invited to the wedding and borrow pots and pans and what not. Rent a warming table or whatever and cook until you can cook no more. A lot of things you can make a day or two in advance and then just set up and get hot again.

Granted doing this means you risk killing off guests with food poisoning, but they’ve already given you their wedding gifts :smiley:

I feel your pain. But don’t let the happy occasion be spoiled by totally irrelevant outside influences. You are paying for service - if you don’t like the service, go elsewhere, but stay happy and in a mood where you can enjoy the occasion.

We had a big wedding (against my better judgement) because my wife had always dreamed of it. I had very little involvement in the planning, but I still thought it was way too much headache. After all was said and done, it was a fantastic event, and very memorable. The whole family and all our friends (and parents friends) had a great time, and there are some unforgettable moments now on video for our descendants to see.

You may have a bit of a headache now, but you may also end up with a life-long memory to treasure.
On a totally different note, we are planning a special celebration now, and going through all the same stuff. The caterers are being extremely nice, however. But for the money we’re spending they damn well better be…

Yep. It’ll be seven years ago this September. Don’t regret a thing.

About six months after the elopement (had to wait for summer) we had a huge party for everyone we would have invited to our wedding. We did it all ourselves, and mother-in-law is a caterer. Everyone loved it.

Do it. You know you want to.

Another (entirely serious) vote for elopement here. The whole wedding industry has gotten completely out of hand.

Also–One of the nicest wedding receptions I’ve ever been to involved cold-cut trays from the local deli. Seriously, you don’t neccesarily need to do lots of cooking to do the catering yourself. Another option is a local eat-in place that does catering (sometimes it says so on the menu or whatever, sometimes you have to ask)–often they’ll sell you the food, which you pick up yourself, and lend you the chafing pans, etc. I’ve done this once or twice before with largish (40-50) parties I needed to feed but didn’t want to cook for, and the cost was pretty good, the work not anywhere near what it would have been if I had cooked it. It means you’ll have to have volunteers to pick up the food, set up the buffet line, and clean up afterwards, but it’s definitely an option.

Seconding Bren_Cameron’s suggestions. Restaurants can be much, much cheaper than companies that specialize in catering for special events. Get a friend or family member to be in charge of the last minute things on the day of the wedding, and you should cut out a lot of cost. Others have made excellent suggestions, too, like making your own hair comb. What about getting a purse that you would use more than once? Have you checked the want ads for wedding dresses?

Oh, and my wedding? I don’t have the exact amount, but it was in the low hundreds at most, not thousands. Married 8 years and going strong.

I heartily second DeniseV’s suggestion to go “non-wedding.” I managed to go through the whole process without ever setting foot in a bridal shop or picking up a bridal magazine. And unlike many others here, I had a pretty traditional type of wedding.

Frankly, I think you’ve been caught up in the snare of the wedding industry. You do say in your OP that you are not going to buy all the stuff you mentioned…but I wonder why you have even considered a lot of it. You don’t need a purse. (Your maid of honor can carry your lipstick.) You don’t need a professional make-up job. You don’t need a $95 bra. You don’t need a silk slip.

Concentrate your efforts (and monies) on the things that will either make for a better party for your guests or are personally very important to you. If you really truly in your heart of hearts want ivory long-stemmed roses, then go for it. If you just think it’s a good idea, but aren’t committed to it, then get something else. Your guests won’t care–they like to see pretty flowers, but don’t care much beyond that.

Good luck with everything.

Elopement - yeah! Only be nice to any of your friends who guess beforehand…

One friend of Mr Aspidistra’s got so snarked off with her mother during their extensive wedding preparations that she ended up saying ‘right, that’s it, if that’s how you’re going to be about it we’re NOT GETTING MARRIED AT ALL, EVER’ and cancelling the whole thing.
About a month later…

Them: Hey, we’re having a barbecue at our house on <some date>

Us: Oh, we were actually thinking of going skiing that weekend

Us: (thinking hard) Now, you’re not going to do something sneaky on us like GET MARRIED that day are you? Cos if you are, we’re there

Them: Who, us? Noooo, no, no can’t think where you got that idea from, no it’s just a barbecue, no big deal.

Us: Oh, ok. (we go skiing)

Needless to say, guests who showed up were greeted with a huge sign on the door saying ‘We’re at the church <directions> meet you there in 1/2 an hour’

The nicest wedding I never went to…(sniff)
Oh, and featherlou I am SO with you on the shoe thing. I ended up getting married in gold slippers - looked cute and I got to wear them again. If I hadn’t found them I was seriously thinking bare feet and white toenail polish (hey, it’s a long dress, who’s going to notice?)

Just out of curiousity, how small a wedding are you having ?

Amen. You do not need any of that stuff. I bought a strapless bra for under $40 - had a backless dress and needed to deal with that, otherwise I would have used one I already had. Used my same old white slip that I wear under every light-colored dress or skirt that I have. Plain pantyhose. Undies that I already had. Plain white flats. No purse - I brought a makeup travel bag to the church, and did my own makeup and hair that morning. It wasn’t anything fancy but I didn’t look like some totally different woman either; I looked pretty. Our flowers were bought at the florist in a supermarket - the bridesmaids each carried a rose with a bow and long ribbon trailing off it; I had a large calla lily with the stem wrapped in a ribbon, which I cradled in my arms. The church flowers were mostly potted chrysanthemums in the color of the wedding (burgundy) as we were getting married in a very ornate church.

Don’t skimp on things that really matter to you, but re-evaluate your priorities every now and then. I thought I wanted a beaded sheath dress, but my experiences with trying those on in bridal stores had me finally say ‘screw it’. My dress ended up not being a sheath at all and had comparatively little detail other than on the back, but I loved it.

And if you can, consider eloping - see if there are videography options available, if people really want to see the ceremony. Throw a small reception afterwards in someone’s backyard or a nice park. My husband and I really wanted to do this, but his parents would have literally disowned him, and we didn’t have our hearts set on elopement.