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Girly Post: Wedding Planning--Atrociously Expensive?!?!

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Mara

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Oct 30, 2002
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31,003
Well since the proposal is over, I have thrown myself like any good engaged woman should into planning the wedding. First we were considering August 2004 but then since that was too far away and by then I would have driven myself insane with planning options, we are moving it to May 2004 in order to spare my mental state.

Let me just say...it is just ridiculous how expensive anything associated with ''wedding'' is! Especially here in the bayarea where they terrorize you anyway with costs of living and working...this is just another way for them to stick it to ya. But since I''m a local, born and raised, so we just deal.

Anyone else found that it costs $3k to set foot on a nice property to have your wedding but if you were having an 8 hour business meeting on that some property, same patio or room, the cost is mysteriously much lower, such as around $500? Do they have to do special wedding rituals before you get there? I don''t get it!

Then there is catering. We were jazzed to find an outdoor place that was $1k for rental fee, but catering was $90 per person! Compare that against the place that was $5k for rental but only $4k for catering. Somehow those two very different starting out numbers end up equalling out.

Phhhffftt.... That is the sound of my original excitement deflating into nothingness.

I am finding loopholes here and there but what frustration getting there.
Anyone else feel my pain?


BTW theknot.com is a great resource for help, if they have a local board for your area. They do for mine and I have found some great lower cost florists and cakemakers that the girls on there have recommended. Yah! Something positive!
 

fire&ice

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jul 22, 2002
Messages
7,828
Mara, You echo the words of many brides. It sounds like you are taking a sensible approach in trying to find lower cost alternatives. Brides need to keep track of every penny spent. It adds up quickly. Brides also need to keep a level head. Sounds like you are. Some brides turn into "Bridezilla" (a term I heard on Oprah). Thinking they absolutely MUST have that 20K gown.

The wedding biz programs brides to think it is their special day so why not the best. Just as an example, when I met with the florist, she quoted me an unbelievable price. I asked for a breakdown on the flowers. In the bouquets she had $100.00 orchids (for each flower).

Another "gimick" is the wedding photographers. They price out these expensive packages. I hired a fashion photographer (with a list of must have shots)whose work was far superior to the "wedding photographers". I also loved his "candids".

Dress advice....borrow one, buy used or (in my case) wore my mom's. I had a friend wear her favorite Aunt's dress.

From your posts & diamond selection, you seem the kind of women who can think outside the box. Continue to do so. Brides need to be creative.

Have fun & Good Luck.
 

Sierra Nevada

Rough_Rock
Joined
Sep 17, 2002
Messages
63
One way you can trim costs is in the flower budget.

For my sister's wedding we saved thousands by getting flowers from a wholesale vendor. They say they do not sell to the public, but my experience is that they do as long as the purchase is large enough to make it worth their while. We decorated the church, reception, and the honeymoon suite with a variety of flowers like roses,orchids,gardenias, stock,freesia, gerbera daisies. We also got all the bridesmaids together the night before for a flower party and made my sister's bouquet, other bouquets, corsages,etc. It was so much fun and everyone commented on how lavish the flowers were.

This works best if you don't want terribly complicated arrangements and have plenty of loving helpers. We stuck with full but simple arrangements of flowers all in the same tonal range to tie them together. We used books and magazines to get ideas and learn techniques. The bouquets were really not hard to make, just time consuming. We spent about $1000 dollars on flowers and sundry supplies and it looked like we spent $7000 ( the quote my sister got from a florist).

P.S. where I live weddings are also $$$$$ and $90 a person is just about as low as you would find, and that would not include alchohol or anything too special food wise.
 

Mara

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Oct 30, 2002
Messages
31,003
Yes I am all about finding alternative ways to do things. I had the cake budget at $1k because my girlfriend who got married last year had a $1k cake and it was a very simple cute little thing. Then I find out that very good bakers in our area (recommended by girls on the knot) make pretty much the same thing for around $300! (haven't told my friend she got ripped off yet)

Found a few lower cost florists...which is a very good thing. I am an avid gardener so we will most likely supplement whatever we get with big potted plants and/or bulbs for the venue, so I am really just pricing out the bouquets. Also we are considering having a grouping of large ivory pillar candles in glass vases on the tables instead of flower bouquets and then just putting one lone flower on each person's plate..that saves a considerable amount of money--esp as we have an IKEA locally where they have awesome candles for cheap and their glass vase/pillars are cheap too. Plus our wedding will be an outdoor evening wedding, so the candles make more sense and I love candles.

The photographer scam is SUCH a ripoff. I have friends who paid $3k, $5k, $8k for their photographers and that did not even include any pictures. I found a great digital photographer that we will most likely be using who is around $1500 and they do everything online for your albums which is great as we are a digital couple anyway. Nowadays digital photography is much more versatile than film, the quality is just as good (depends on the photographer too), and you don't have to pay the costs for film processing which can add up. I don't like formal shots anyway, we are most likely choosing a more artsy guy who hand colors in his digital photos.

For the dress I found some awesome online Vera Wang sample dresses for 75% off but I still can't really justify spending that on a dress, so I will probably have this $15k Badgley Mischka slip/sheath organza dress I really love replicated for around $500, and we will hand finish it off ourselves over the next year (with about 60 organza pearl-centered orchids hand sewn onto the chapel train and skirt bottom).

Thank GOD I am not one of those people who *has* to have X Y or Z especially since we are paying for about 80% of the wedding ourselves. We want to get a house soon so as many corners as we can cut and still get quality is really important to me. Those brides who are trained to think 'its my day' must have the parents paying for the wedding...but even then it just seems foolish to waste $30-60k on a one-day wedding!!! My most important thing to me is the venue..I want it to be classy and simple. I don't like indoors clubs or that type of thing..we love the evening with candles...so that is pretty much what we are doing. Our reception and ceremony are over 50% of our budget, but that is alright. I'd rather have the ambiance and the mood be right and then skimp on the dress and photographer (don't need him for 8 hours, having for 4 instead) to get the party going the right way!


Thanks for the tips! I like the flower idea..maybe we will consider it. The big SF flower market is local if I got myself motivated to do that. I've taken flower arranging classes before and m flowers are really simple (hand clutches)
It really is a big marketing scam. Too bad I don't know anyone local here with a big mansion and a lawn. Here in the bayarea you're lucky if your yard is the size of a postage stamp!
 

Sierra Nevada

Rough_Rock
Joined
Sep 17, 2002
Messages
63
Sounds like you are really on top of things and have your priorites in perspective.

I'm not familiar w/ SF but where I am located there are some lovely reception areas available throught the national, state & local park services that are more affordable than the private sector venues. They have everything from rustic lodges to ante-bellum mansions listed.

Our local historical society also has several properties available, some with great gardens available. And the local bird watchers and garden clubs may also have something. These places don't seem to advertise and the bridal books and wedding planners for some reason don't push them.
 

andrea

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Dec 9, 2002
Messages
154
WOW

Am I ever glad I live in the midwest

I spent about 1K on my dress (with all of the alterations, and veil)
Our reception hall was VERY elegant, and the plate per person was only $25.
And the flowers were pretty cheap, and we even had them on every table.
Fortunately, we had a photographer in the family

If you want to come to IOWA to get married, I could hook you up. LOL.

All total, I think we spent between $10-12K.
Still, I think back to what we could have bought for that much if we would have gone to vegas

BUT, by the same token, I'd do it all over again. The night seems to go by all to fast, AND what a great night it is to have all of the glory to yourself.
Don't sweat it. One thing at a time.
Concentrate on the important things first, and the rest will fall into place.
Personally, I love planning weddings, or at least helping.
Good luck, and keep us posted on your milestones
 

PuddyKat

Rough_Rock
Joined
Nov 4, 2002
Messages
91
Yikes!! Is this what I have to look forward to? Can't we just blink our eyes and have everything turn out magically?
Both my fiance and I are procrastinators. We haven't even thought of the season let alone the month we want to have our wedding! We better start moving! We are paying for our wedding ourselves so I can relate to all the expenses that you've looked into. Sigh.....

Puddykat
 

justme

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Dec 5, 2002
Messages
184
Mara - Yep can definitely feel your pain - glad I'm past that!

Here's my best helpful hint.

We used a small, intimate french restaurant for our reception and dinner. Asked them to close to the public and serve just us. Had a great dinner (preselected menu, preordered by guest on RSVP) Dinner cost $55.00 per person including gratitity. Wine & Champagne served all evening, 4 piece string quartet played during the entire time. (We got the quartet from the local university - a student group)

The restuarant won because they were totally booked for the evening, we won - BEST wedding food ever, price reasonable. And guest experience both food, ambiance and music they won't normally expect for a wedding.

Give it some thought.

Justme
 

Mara

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Oct 30, 2002
Messages
31,003
Yes we too went through the whole...what do we really want to do? Take the money and run, travel Europe for 5 months and get married in a church in Italy, run to Hawaii with our best friends and close family for a beach wedding, drive to Vegas for an Elvis gig...we thought of all the different ideas. But it really does come down to..I'm a girl and I've been thinking of my wedding day like many other girls for a long time. I want to wear the white dress and have all my friends and family around me. My FI doesn't care..thank GOD he is so mellow...he told me its whatever makes me happy (though he did like the Elvis idea!!).

We are considering having a string quartet play the entire night as opposed to a DJ, esp cuz Greg plays in a few different orchestras (tuba, trombone, and sax in some jazz bands), so it'd make sense and he'd love it, but they are really expensive! He may try to hit up some of his friends to play for cheap, and/or I may check out that university idea...thanks JM!


I thought about a small restaurant as well, it's a great idea...there are a few I could consider, but I'm just not really an indoor party person. I really love the outdoors and the idea of an outdoor evening wedding n a big lawn with mountains and trees surrounding or a brick coutryard surrounded by a quaint hotel seems so amazing. Also anything here associated with wedding is $$$$ and apparently according to some of the vendors, regardless of the fact that our economy is tanking (and it is pretty bad here in the Silicon Valley), weddings are on the rise and people are still spending lots of money. So unfortunately we can't even take advantage of the downturn like we thought we could.


It takes innovation and imagination and I have alot of time to work on things. Right now with the way things are, our budget is looking pretty good. As long as I stay within on most of the items..I will be fine. I've priced out the top 3 venues and we can squeak by as long as we skimp on a few other things which are not as important.

If I can pull it off and even come in LOWER...that would be great. It's my personal mission, I love to bargain hunt (why I love eBay!), we'll see how diligent I am once I start looking at the pretty dresses etc etc.
 

AGBF

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jan 26, 2003
Messages
21,381
Mara,

I envy you this time in your life. I was totally clueless about everything and my wedding was thrown together partly by my parents, partly by me, in a little over a month. I would change a great deal of it if I could. (Never mind that it was almost 26 years ago!!!)

I *did* want to mention that I tried to get married in both Italy and France but found it too daunting. My husband (then my fiance) and I were living in Paris and he was an Italian citizen. Getting married in France or Italy made sense. But the paperwork required was so onerous that I didn't want to tackle it! Each country wanted every document known to man officially translated into its language.
 

sketch

Rough_Rock
Joined
Mar 17, 2003
Messages
15
Well,

this is certainly a forum that lends itself to wedding talk.

My fiance and I are closing on a house 1 Month before we get married. So our budget for the wedding is currently at 1500.00. I'm sure it will go up. But we're doing our best to make it fun and cheap.

Mostly I'm worried about spending just enough to make the occassion fun for all the relatives and friends who will be travelling just for us.

So we're having a combination house warming, wedding reception and my brother and I will be doing BBQ chicken and ribs. Then a friend of ours is throwing a party that night for us at his place.

The next day we're thinking about organizing some kind of activity for the families to get to know eachother. Golf...or maybe river rafting or both?
 

jackieblue

Rough_Rock
Joined
Jan 21, 2003
Messages
69
I *almost* missed this one since it wasn't in the Bride Talk area.

Mara, I truly feel your pain. I want to start a sociological revolution by changing the rules to *discourage* two people who are planning to begin a life together being required to blow their nest egg on a one-day party that they must capture on video since neither will really remember what happened. Plus, the stress and tedium of planning such a huge important event that everyone you know will attend can really drive a person over the edge. I am a little older so no parents were involved in the planning and the financial issues were all to be ours. It sounds like you are doing a great job of cutting corners. There is a huge time investment involved, but a lot of money can be saved.

We became engaged last summer. I wanted to elope, FH wanted the big shindig. For more than 7 months we planned and planned and cut and trimmed and scraped and scrutinized and...well...I will spare you the tale of the amazing wedding we almost had and tell you that we scrapped the whole thing and we're going to Vegas with a handful of family and our closest friends instead!! We kept the same date. Just to put this in perspective, the *deposit* we got back from our photographer (*one* deposit, *one* vendor) paid for both of our round-trip airfares (and we're in the eastern US), our entire wedding including extra flowers for special guests, and the wedding cake delivered by the bakery to the dinner site. The only additional expenses (other than luxuries like pool cabanas and hair appointments) are our hotel room and the dinner we're treating everyone to after the ceremony. Can you believe that?? Now we don't have to put off building our dream home.

One thing it sounds like you're "on" to is the fact that the word "wedding" makes every vendor triple her/his prices. I got so paranoid after dealing with some people, that I was almost completely through booking a "family party" at the restaurant I am using before I finally broke down and told the guy it was for dinner after a wedding. I figured my upcoming questions about having the cake required full disclosure, and we had already come up with the pricing by that time. Any mention of "wedding" gets you that special price list that assumes you have a money tree in your backyard.

Anyway, I am very sorry, I am in total agreement that much of this stuff is a complete ripoff, and I wish I could start a revolution to encourage everyone elope and have a picnic with friends and family to celebrate.
take care,
-jackieblue
 

Mara

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Oct 30, 2002
Messages
31,003
JB--yes it's all such a big scam


I WISH that I was one of those girls who could just say SCREW the big party, its going to be us and our 10 closest friends and immed fam in Hawaii...who comes is there and who doesn't isn't. But I can't...I tried..I did...but I'm not. I envy you, really. While I will love our wedding, which in no way will be big compared to many people's weddings (ours is 90 people), I am sure that at the end of the day..we'll be happy that its over, glad that we are finally married, and just looking fwd to the big vacation!! Then when we get back, we'll start the saving for a house..when if I was 'one of those girls' we could have it already. Oh well. In another life maybe.

That said, its alot of fun, I have to admit. I used to buy bridal mags for fun sometimes and just look through the ideas, don't we all? But now I actually have the license to buy them...the license being the engagement ring settled safely on my litle finger. It's funny how that ring lets me wander the Bridal book aisle at Barnes and Noble and not feel like Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction trying to land a man, funny how I can buy the bridal mags at the store and feel proud. All because of that piece of metal and stone on my finger. Girls are SO WEIRD.


We are just starting to visit venues now, narrowed it down to 3 offline and then will see them all in April to make the decision. Asked my maid and matron of honor and one of my bm's to be in the wedding. Meeting with a photographer this weekend in SF. We have a year from now...our wedding is in May 2004, so I am planning on just taking my sweet time. Once we get the venue all settled, that is the most important part. But I'm ready...I'm a planner at heart, and I actually SUBSCRIBED to a few bridal mags (bought for something like $5 for a year on eBay!) so now I will get them delivered to my home monthly, ooh.

Congrats on your impending (past?) wedding in Vegas. My girlfriend is doing that this month, actually in 3 weeks, and it sounds so cool. But again....you only get to do it once for the official thing...so we are sticking with the big party, and the friends, and the family, the cake, the flowers, the photographer, the white dress, and the large payments at the end of the day. Ain't love grand?!


Boy sometimes I wish we were married already. Plus then I'd have another ring with diamonds on it! Hee. But nah I don't think I'd trade this next year for the world. I've waited too long, being the girl that I am!
 

Lanee

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jan 29, 2003
Messages
534
Mara, I love your posts! You are my hero. It's interesting you said you feel like your ring is your license because though I am ecstatic about getting married I fell like I can't think about plans until I have the ring. However, I think I just want to run away with him and come back as a Mrs. By the way, I think I want to design my own ring, I wish I could draw.
 

Mara

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Oct 30, 2002
Messages
31,003
Lanee--Its so true...when we were planning the ring and all that, I thought...no way do I want to PLAN anything yet, it may be jinxing the real thing. BUT of course being a girl...I did a bunch of pre-engagement secret wedding internet surfing with only my best girlfriend as a witness to the crime. Hee hee.

I actually like all the ideas..I wish we could get married in 5 different ways and have them all be the REAL thing. Kind of like that day where you re-live it time and time again til you get it right. We'd do Italy, Vegas, Hawaii, local wedding and east coast wedding (for his fam).

We actually just went through the whole 'oh my gosh this is expensive' crisis and chopped our budget down $5k (from an already pretty lean budget!!). So now we are having a Friday evening wedding (8 hours for HALF the price of a Sat wedding!), and possibly a really nice buffet vs sit down (saves us around $2k), and the half day photographer package instead of full (saves $600). So all of that combined is the $5k. Pretty nice. That's $5k we don't have to save for the wedding and take away from our house dp. So we feel better now. It all can be very overwhelming. That Vegas flight can look good at times!
But then I see all the bridal mags at the house and think...NAH!

When are you getting the rock, Lanee? Get to designing that thing!!!
 

Lanee

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jan 29, 2003
Messages
534
Mara, look for my other posts. I am working on it, I started today. I have a sketch but I'm so torn. I was also thinking of ordering a simulant for the meantime and I can keep it for travel. I am looking for suggestions in that realm. I thought it will give me a chance to where the shape I want and see if I'm going to want to stay with it. I already have a round so I thought I would do a fancy shape but I'm scared if I don't get the dream ring, I'll get bored with a square.
 

Lanee

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jan 29, 2003
Messages
534
I need to add, I'm so impressed with your planning skills. I can't believe you were able to cut 5K, again, my hero!
 

TheDiamondangel

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Mar 12, 2003
Messages
239
What really gets me about these catering places is that they charge only $25 -$50 per person for "christenings", "showers" and "meetings" are even less than that. But put the word "wedding" in there, and the price doubles. My cousin's wedding shower was held on a sunday afternoon in a catering hall that usually does weddings. The food was awesome, and the price per person was only $35 a head. What's the difference then if they are serving pretty much the same meal just with a bride and groom???


We had been planning a large wedding and were shocked at the prices of weddings in northern NJ. We wound up getting married in the church with just our families, and had a home wedding at my husband's grandparents home...just like his grandparents did when they got married. Then we went to Hoboken and did the bar crawl in our wedding clothes. We had such a blast! Everywhere we went people were cheering, congratulating us and buying us drinks. I don't think we could have done it any better!
 

Lanee

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jan 29, 2003
Messages
534
The difference is you want it so bad when you're a bride and they take advantage of that. You can hold a business dinner at any decent place but your wedding is a once in a lifetime deal so they take advantage of that.
 
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