How To Plan A Wedding Without Getting Stressed

by Tim P. on 2009-06-2316

Some thoughts of a newly married man who’d like to dispel some illusions about the frugal wedding. Tim Parker from Elementary Finance weighs in on what it takes to get hitched.

Some weeks ago, I got married. While we planned our wedding, my then fiancee did the bulk of the work while I played the good spouse-to-be and did exactly what I was told to do. I suspect it’s like how things usually turn out at most weddings. Now I don’t want to be yet another guy to write the next not-so-great article about how to control your wedding costs. Instead, I’m hoping to tackle the subject of planning a wedding by discussing the stuff I learned from the process.

How To Plan A Wedding Without Getting Stressed

While going through the planning process, here were a few ideas we had that quickly became impractical.

“We’re keeping it simple”.

I think this may rank as the number one most impractical “goal” (or statement) my fiancee and I made. If you want to keep it simple and would like to save money on your wedding, hop in the car and go to the courthouse on an unannounced day and get married there. Or go to Las Vegas. If you decide to have a wedding, you’ll want to get a wedding cake; you’ll also want to have pictures along with a reception, decorations, dresses, tuxes, music, a pastor, and a place to do all of this in. It will not be that simple and will cost a certain amount of money. If you want things truly simple and basic, then don’t have a wedding. It’s a fact that the people who provide these services are far from cheap.

Tip: Set expectations.

“We’re having a small wedding”.

So you want to keep wedding costs down and your guest list short. Perhaps you’re hoping to get away from the traditional practice of inviting all your close friends and extended family whom you haven’t seen in a while. I think this is a great idea. So great, that we tried this. The problem is that if you invite your mother (but of course!), how do you not invite her sister? If you invite her sister, how do you not invite her kids (your cousins)? Before you know it, “immediate family” adds up to 50 people. How much does it cost to feed 50 people? At $20 a head for food alone, your expenses quickly add up to $1,000.

But wait, if there are people you know who’ve got the creative talents to pull off some aspects of your wedding, then why not use some leverage? Here’s one example of what one couple has done for their wedding invitation (warning: may contain an offensive element). And here’s someone else who’s come up with truly unique creative ideas. You’re in luck when someone with talent can lend you a hand. In this case, inviting such people to become part of your wedding can be a good thing!

Tip: Barter services if you can.

“Let’s have a wedding our guests will never forget”.

Do you wish for a wedding that people will remember and talk about for years to come? Many couples work to give their guests a wedding they won’t soon forget… the goal therefore becomes “how to impress the wedding guests”.

But let’s not forget that this event is mainly about the couple taking center stage and hopefully having people help and support them. As the couple, you should be enjoying your special day, rather than stressing about it. Have you seen the show on television called “Bridezilla”? It’s dedicated to featuring many stressed out brides who aren’t enjoying their weddings all that much. But why does it have to be that way? Unfortunately, very often, it is.

Tip: Put the couple first.

“We’ll do it ourselves.”

On your wedding day, you’ll be busy being the stars of your event, so you won’t have time to put the food out, cut the cake, arrange the flowers, and still be able to enjoy what’s going on. So my advice? If you don’t have enough money to get the right people to take care of the details on your day, then work on a budget, prioritize your requirements, try your best to cut back, dial back your expectations and make adjustments. You don’t have to incorporate everything you want in your wedding. This should be your day and you should allow it to be about you (even if it means foregoing the fancy venue and doves)!

Tip: You don’t have to do everything. See if you can recruit others to pitch in.

“We’re flying away for our honeymoon”.

You don’t have to follow “tradition”. I invite you to disagree with me on this. For us, we ruminated upon the $2,000 or more it would take to go on a storybook honeymoon. Then we looked at the shape that our furniture was in and thought about which option seemed like a better idea for our $2,000. It was an easy decision — we didn’t want to take on any extra debt. So we took a rain check on the honeymoon, a compromise if you will. We’d like to enjoy our honeymoon without any money worries, so why not wait 6 months and save our money in order to afford it?

Tip: Make the right financial choices. Beware of the dangers of debt; don’t fall into the debt trap as you plan your wedding.

For some levity, here’s a cool and clever video wedding invitation!

A Cool Wedding Invitation!

Say NO To Debt!

You may think that I’m anti-wedding. I’m far from that. In fact, I believe my bride and I made our wedding even more joyous by making sure that we didn’t have to worry about credit card bills piling up in the mailbox after it was all over. We’re starting our new life together debt free. If the experts are right and marriage is a challenge during the first couple of years, then don’t let debt make it even tougher.

Copyright © 2009 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Todd @ The Personal Finance Playbook June 23, 2009 at 7:40 am

Good article. I once went to a frugal December wedding where they had used greeting cards of a snow covered cabin and covered the inside with construction paper. I thought it was really cool.

kosmo @ The Casual Observer June 23, 2009 at 9:34 am

“… how do you not invite her kids (your cousins)? Before you know it, “immediate family” adds up to 50 people.”


I have a big family. My siblings, spouses, and children would put the number at 30+. Cousins were never an option 🙂 I have in excess of 100 cousins (yeah, just the first cousins – parents were from big families and everyone had lots of kids)

The biggest tip is just to chill out on your wedding day. Something WILL get messed up, I guarantee it. Don’t blow a gasket – just smile and enjoy the day.

Lisa June 24, 2009 at 10:25 am

Great advice you have here. I guess you really took a lot of stuff into consideration while planning your wedding. And you are right though, starting on a marriage with lots of debt is a problem itself.

John June 26, 2009 at 11:11 am

I really like your insight on the part about the honeymoon! When it all comes down to it, the honeymoon is a temporary escape route from reality. When you two come back from the trip and are either in debt or do not possess items you could’ve easily purchased with the money from the honeymoon, things are not going to go so well. Debt and being financially stressed is an extremely terrible way to begin the foundation of a marriage together. To add to your tips, here’s a bridal shower and wedding gift guide I thought would come in handy:

Szenovera July 8, 2009 at 2:55 am

Sounds like one Beautiful Wedding. I love reading stories where the love from the two people shows thru so great. Your happiness shows in your writing. Wishing you many many more years of happiness together.

Maria July 9, 2009 at 10:51 am

Well, you are correct…Weddings make you crazy! Where do you start? How much do you spend? Who do you invite? These questions can only be answered by the bride & groom. I have been in the wedding industry for over 7 years now & have assisted thousands of couples in making decisions on invitations, favors, jewellery, tiararas, favors, etc. and it just doesn’t get easier. Everyday new ideas are invented to make the process more confusing. So here is what I suggest:
1. As a couple (along with parents, if you like) decide what your overall budget will be. And be realistic. If you want 200 people at your wedding, and you want a nice wedding with all the frills, you are not going to get that for $5,000!
2. Know that the venue, food & drinks are going to cost the most. So decide on this first, & then you can nit-pick the small stuff.
3.When it comes to the nitty-gritty details, decide what you need rather than what you want if you can’t afford it. Somethings can be passed on, but invitations, favors & some accessories, like a garter, are a must have.
4.Look around before you buy favors, accessories,invitations. There are lots of places that can help you save money, instead of “steal” money on things you don’t really need just so they can make a buck. With my site, we encourage questions so we can help you save on the big things like invitations, favors & accessories. We want happy customers not dissatisfied ones!

The best advice I can give is be real to yourselves & what you can afford. Don’t let relatives who aren’t contributing to the final bill tell you what to do. This day is about the 2 of you, so make it that & let professionals who you trust give you the help you deserve!

Silicon Valley Blogger July 9, 2009 at 12:51 pm

Thanks for the tips. These are extremely helpful, especially when they come from the point of view of an “insider”. So you work in the wedding business. That’s great… I appreciate comments like yours that have substance: I typically don’t really appreciate empty comments from people who promote their sites, but in your case it’s different since you’re giving us some interesting ideas. Great insights here.

Matt August 17, 2009 at 10:05 am

Nice article Maria.
My girlfriend and I have been engaged for (count em) 6 years!! We’ve been waiting because we’ve never had the money for a wedding. We’d look at what we needed and things we were “supposed” to do but it was always far too expensive. So we waited and saved and got more and more stressed – was it ever going to happen!!

However, we’ve undergone some sort of epiphany since the birth of our son. Now all that matters is that she and I are married. We don’t need the pomp and circumstances associated with the planning of a lavish affair – it’s going to be simple and intimate.
No stress!!!!!!

Tom November 24, 2009 at 12:58 pm

Couples really should think about their budget, and what they really want their wedding to be. After all it’s their day.

PWS February 21, 2010 at 4:50 pm

But I don’t understand why others want to have a grand wedding.

Rebecca April 14, 2010 at 3:30 am

Getting married abroad is a great way to save money. It’s also a ready-made honeymoon in one.
If you get married in a country such as Slovenia, you’ll usually find that for the reception, you’re not charged a venue hire. You literally just pay for the food and drink that you consume and the price is not hyped up just because it’s a ‘wedding’.

Getting married overseas usually means that your guest numbers are slightly less than if you’d have married in your home country. Those distant great-aunts that you’d feel obliged to invite, suddenly aren’t that interested in getting on a plane.

Allan Breeze August 6, 2010 at 3:31 am

I’m amazed at the levels of stress some people put themselves through, 8 wks of stress for 1 day! The marriage is what needs to be perfect, more so than the wedding day itself. Lovely when all goes right though….!

Able October 1, 2010 at 11:21 am

1st what a great video, 2nd it sure is very stressful to plan the wedding; there is just too much to go over and to do. You need a whole team of helpers and enough time to plan and make sure everything is right.

Kristin Hogwood December 3, 2010 at 6:23 am

Great article. I particularly enjoyed the point about putting the couple first. It’s soooo easy for couples to lose sight of why they’re getting married, paritcularly when in-laws get involved and provide money to fund the wedding, the couple can lose control and ending up having the mother-in-law’s dream wedding and not their own. The best weddings I’ve been to have been ones where the wedding had unique and special touches that represented them, it felt ‘real’ and not like a performance or extravaganza. I think the whole thing of wedding blogs, magazines and the wedding industry as a whole can allow things (and budgets!) to get out of control.
Really enjoyable read thanks! <3

Jason Jacoby June 6, 2011 at 10:31 am

Nice site. If you’re getting married, another cool idea is fireworks. They’re an expense you may not have thought about, but they are still more affordable than you might think. It’s the best day of your life, make it magical!

Silicon Valley Blogger April 12, 2012 at 8:01 pm

Here’s a funny story about single women who are proactively planning their weddings even when they aren’t in relationships at all! They are purchasing wedding gowns, rings, etc and deciding on where their honeymoon will be set, all on their own (even without men in their lives). I can just imagine what their potential partners would think of this.

Leave a Comment