Trying to manage budgets and personalities

Ladies, I could use some words of wisdom. I think my problem is unconventional but I'm having a really tough time with it.

My FI's family wants to spend more. At first it was a little more, now its a lot. FI and I agreed that we wanted to spend a smaller amount and have the bragging rights to a budget wedding. Honestly it was just out of principle because it didn't seem right to spend money when we live modestly unlike a lot of our friends. And we kind of wanted to show our friends that you don't have to spend a fortune to have fun... Now everyone wants to add all these things in and its just adding up. I am okay with things here and there and honestly I don't know what is bugging me. I would have never thought twice except now I've seen people who live in such rural poverty here in the US, near base, that I just can't bear to look around and think I'm spending their annual salary on my wedding. Now its too late because things are booked so I need to just accept that the wedding is more expensive than we wanted but they are happy. I just look at the spreadsheet and the number is a lot higher than I would have wanted it to be. I mean we're at $300 a head, thank goodness its a smaller wedding or else I would be going crazy. I guess I thought a lavish wedding would be okay as long as I don't lose the things I wanted to be strict about (like the stationary, diy flowers and the dress) and as long as it kept them happy - sort of family relations management. We're still debating to hire a florist because they don't want me to do my own flowers but I already caved in on live music and multiple events for the weekend and the menu.... I guess I just needed to vent to help me get over it! Thanks for listening!
Posted on February 28, 2008 at 4:48 pm
champagnecholly
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champagnecholly

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(15) Comments

TheChicBride
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TheChicBride

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Unfortunately, weddings are expensive. Every little thing you add just raises the cost even more. All it does is make your bank account scream.

You want to hear something bad? Well here goes. There will only be 12 people at our wedding. Our choice of course, we wanted a very small intimate affair. Well this small intimate affair for 12 people is costing us about 10k. Just imagine the cost if we had invited all of our families and friends.
Posted on February 28, 2008 at 5:06 pm
smilkova
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smilkova

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Champagne,
I totally understand your feelings! I just finished grad school and as a student I lived so modestly that I feel terribly guilty for having a wedding whose cost would cover my student loans and debt and more! I was very resistant to the whole idea and fought all the extra costs, but there's simply no way of having a wedding in the Bay Area and not spending AT LEAST 20k. I am addressing all the invitations myself (no calligrapher) and I am making and addressing the place cards, and I had the favors made in Bulgaria (minimized the cost), and we don't have a videographer, or lavish floral decorations, etc. etc.

Just give in and enjoy it - you can still make economies wherever possible, and have some nice touches on top of that! I've decided that I am grateful my FI's parents are helping because otherwise we would have never had a big wedding (of course now I have to accept their ideas about the wedding too or at least negotiate but it's worth it.) So just let go and enjoy it! You will regret it if you don't!
Posted on February 28, 2008 at 5:48 pm
married2mrwright
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09/29/2007
married2mrwright

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Well I am a MAJOR Budgetzilla and have to say I take lots of pride in having a budget wedding and also planning fabulous budget weddings. For me I love the challenge of it all. Don't get me wrong, it can be stressful, but in way it's like hunting or something...I have to find the best deal. I think it's beyond ridiculous what "average" weddings cost...for one stinkin' day! And really, who wants to be average anyway!?!? That said, if you've got the money and want to spend it on a party, great! But I would rather put it in savings, invest in my education or business, upgrade my home, take a fantastic vacation or make a donation to those who could really benefit from it.



Champ-- My advice to you is to just make sure that you're still having the wedding that you and FI want and that represents your values. It cannot turn into just what his parents want...sometimes people have a hard time with simplicity and a less is more approach to a wedding (or life, for that matter).



That said...Smilkova, I respectfully have to whole-heartedly disagree that you have to spend $20K or more for a Bay Area Wedding. I am planning a Bay Area wedding right now on a budget of $10K for 60 guests...semi-formal, traditional church wedding and plated dinner reception with dancing. So, it can be done. Especially if there are no other options (i.e. no one's willing to add more $$$ to the event or to go into debt for it).



Negotiation is the key...and not falling in love with ANYTHING until you know that you can afford it. The wedding industry is laughing all the way to the bank to the tune of millions of dollars because to-be-weds and their families make emotionally based decisions with their money. NOTHING and I mean NOTHING on your wedding day is worth breaking the bank for...everthing is negotiable.



BTW, my BFF had DW in Montana last summer for 300 guests...it cost them $6K. Our wedding in Hawaii, including airfare, lodging, excursions, island hopping, etc. for 12 days was $12K for 21 guests. That was $4K more than I initially had wanted to spend, but that extra $4K was still under the $15K that was our absolute limit. Just because I had the money set aside ($15K) I still gave up things that I felt were not a value (like cake for $12 pp after the cost of delivery and cutting were factored in) and we went with a photographer we really loved for $3K when all of the others on our short list were $5K+. At the end of the day, we had the wedding of our dreams and included tons of extras while still being frugal.
Posted on February 28, 2008 at 8:16 pm
caribear
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05/18/2008
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I understand Champ! I wanted to try to keep it to $20k, still have our family and friends (the closest friends that we consider family), we are DIYing the invites and all the paper products, a fam friend is handling the video, and we are really trying to be budget conscious. I looked at the spreadsheet the other day and we are closer to $25k. I know this is still good in comparison to some other weddings (especially one I went to that was at least $300k), but it is so hard and frustrating at the same time. I also know that I am doing my best and still getting the minimum of what I want and know that in the long run I will be happy. So, I say, think of the long run, if you will still be happy and it is not putting you in to debt, then enjoy it, you only get to do it once (fingers crossed). :)
Posted on February 28, 2008 at 8:36 pm
theDame
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01/01/2008
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perhaps what Smilkova means is there was no way for her not to spend less than 20k on the wedding she wanted.

I think everyone has a different approach. Lori, your approach totally worked for you and would work for anyone who has to stick to a budget. You have to be willing and able to compromise. And it's the right attitude and approach for someone who has a set amount of funds.

But for some people, there are "musts" and I understand this too. Some people feel very strongly about certain choices and that can increase your costs. It's not even about the wedding industry creating this; but most women have elements they've always wanted in their wedding. I think all of us believe we'll be getting married once and so this is the only chance to have ____________ (insert "must " here: horse drawn carriage, Vera Wang dress, magician, whatever...)

For Champ, it seems there's difficulty because she's being pressured into decisions.

Most of us are not wedding planners and so some advice or pressure we get is perhaps, simply in our best interest. I thought about DIY'ing my centerpieces and I asked my groom his opinion. "why do that to
yourself?" was his response. I realized he was right and one of my BFs reiterated it with this point: 'wouldn't you rather be getting a massage or just spending time with FI or your family on the day, in stead of working?" and for me the answer was yes.

and then finally, I don't feel this is just about me/us (the couple) I do want to consider our parents, friends, family in my decisions. I want everyone to enjoy this. I want to make a celebration for all of us.

I guess this long winded response is basically- don't do anything that will make you bitter or have a long term negative financial repercussion. But also accept that certain decisions, certain choices are what they are and let it go and enjoy it.
Posted on February 29, 2008 at 1:23 am
champagnecholly
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09/19/2008
champagnecholly

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Lori - you are totally right, to FI's family more is more. And I am one of those people that tries to keep everyone happy... that's one of my big personality flaws haha. So they only have to say it once or twice and I get bent out of shape and just give in... And if we would have done things our way still, it would have been a $6k bbq at the polo club which is what we originally wanted. I am still aboard for this wedding vision, its just a much higher priced vision than I am comfortable with. We're not going into debt and we're not actually paying for this. I just feel silly having a lavish wedding when we live modestly in areas that live poorly. Its just a hard family thing because our family and friends live very well and they don't really get what we're doing in the first place. Part and parcel of having a modest wedding was that we wanted to covey that less is more, simple is sweet etc etc.

And theDame - you're right, its the pressure to have all these different things. But, again, you're right. FI's mom did have concerns about my DIYing because she thought it would stress me out... except I actually like crafting. And FI's family has had a persuasive argument for the extras because people are coming from out of town... however no matter what people would be coming from out of town because we're military - it didn't matter where they ended up! I also feel like that's a slippery slope you know??

I feel like George Banks in "Father of the Bride" haha, next thing you know I'm going to have a meltdown over hot dog buns!
Posted on February 29, 2008 at 3:08 am
smilkova
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smilkova

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Ladies, I am glad we are talking about this, because it's been bugging me ever since FI and I started planning the wedding. We are having a wedding for 120 people and out budget is 20K! So it's definitely possible - Lori, you are right :) - it's just challenging! That said, it was FI who wanted a big wedding, ceremony, and reception. I had never ever imagined I would have a wedding because as I said it would have been impossible to do on a grad student's budget. I always wanted to elope. But FI's parents are helping significantly to cover wedding costs because their son wants a wedding. So I've come to terms with it - but I am also doing whatever I can to bring the cost down so that I feel comfortable about it! I hope this clarifies my position...
Posted on February 29, 2008 at 3:20 am
theDame
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hahaha Champagne- You've been watching Father of the Bride on AMC too.... funny, but now, anytime ANYTHING wedding related is on tv, I'll tune in. (MY Big Red Neck Wedding anyone?)

You are a good soul and your concern for your community is really lovely. And you've expressed it. Now it's time to let go and enjoy. And feel FORTUNATE that so many people love you and want to create a beautiful wedding and are willing to foot the bill. What a blessing. Right? Stay with that for a second: what a blessing?

My groom wants a few people on the guest list that I completely, wholeheartedly disagree with (1 client- we are having an intimate destination. NO CLIENTS is my feeling. And a friend who I think is a bum and owes him money) We had a few conversations (ok, arguments) and then I said to myself " I am going to oppose this one last time and if he still wants them on the guest list, then I have to let it go, accept it and NEVER complain about it again." It's just not worth the negativity....
Posted on February 29, 2008 at 3:23 am
married2mrwright
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married2mrwright

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Ladies, sorry if I came across harsh, that was not my intention...I just feel SO passionately about budget weddings (and events for that matter). I am all for not stressing out by being an uber-DIY bride either...I mean, I don't expect someone to save a few bucks by DIYing their centerpieces the morning of their wedding. Unless they REALLY want to do it. And then you plan for it and minimize the stress. Actually I have done 3 weddings where the flowers were DIY and done the night before and morning of the wedding. It was well organized and done in a timely manner and was actually stress relief for the bride and bridesmaids. So...I guess you really need to know yourself and what you can do and what you need to hire out.

I am crafty and considered DIYing my boxed basho pocketfold invites. The ones that originally inspired me were about $30/each! So I looked into making my own and shopped for the best prices and factored in the supplies I would need buy, the time it would take to make them all and space for doing so, as well. At the time, I was living in small cottage and also booked up with lots of gigs. So not only was time and space and issue, but once I priced it all out them came down to $9/ea. Not too shabby, IMHO. But then I found this awesome stationary woman who made them for me for $10/ea. I only needed 30 total, so I felt that the extra $30 was well worth spending to have her do them. I don't regret that decision for an instant. But my point is that I found a way to get exactly what I wanted for WAY less than the orginally invitation that I found. I think this is possible in many aspects of planning a wedding, but it means taking the time to research it all and also to be willing to let go of it if you really cannot find a way to get it for less. This can apply to attire, florals, paper, linens, etc. Venue and food are a little more challenging, but I think anything is possible.

That said, I still stand by my advice to Champ that the wedding should reflect her and her FI's values. I understand the pressure to "make everyone happy because they're coming from out of town" but at the same time, how many wedding have you attended where you felt "the bride and groom didn't spend enough money on me!". Me? Never. I have been to all sorts of weddings...from a $100K+ formal affair to a $3K family affair. All were beautiful in their own ways and all have unique touches that made the guests feel special.

TheDame-- I totally hear you on the "must haves"...I encourage my to-be-weds to chose 3 or 4 and let the rest be negotiable. Where people get into trouble is if EVERYTHING becomes a "must have". For some it's the food or photography. For others it's the attire or florals. Again, even if someone has an unlimited budget or free reign financially, I just feel that it's unwise to go whole hog if you really don't have to. Shopping for a good deal isn't that difficult. And it also sends a message to wedding vendors that jacking up prices just because it's for that ONE SPECIAL DAY is not cool.

Smilkova-- Kudos to you for setting a budget and sticking to it. That's awesome. I am sure that you will have a wonderful day and no one will feel that you should have spent MORE money! I know it's a challenge...I guess I am weirdo who actually enjoys the challenge of it rather than feeling defeated by it. If you ever want some ideas on how to get what you want and stick to your budget, let me know. I have some great money saving tips and ideas...

Champ and the rest-- I think it's wonderful that family wants to help pay for the wedding. It is a big deal and (hopefully) and once in a lifetime event. For me, it wasn't. I had a big city, formal affair in my 20's when I was married the first time. And I did bargain shop, negotiate, barter, etc. and we spent $15K in 1997 for 250 guests. We had it all...18-piece big band, custom made attire for all of us, 40-voice choir, trumpet, organ, chi chi food, horse drawn carriage...basically the works. I am sure that most people thought the wedding cost about $50K...so I was proud that we pulled it off for much less. That said, the second time around we were paying for it all ourselves. I was happy to elope, but since this was DH's first and only :-) marriage, he wanted a small DW. Which is what we did and I am glad that we did. No one offered to help us pay and that was fine, because we didn't expect help (My parents each paid $5K for my first wedding, we paid the other $5K and his parents paid for $0).

So...if you're happy to accept the funds offered to enhance your day...then go for it. I know that sometimes though, families offer the money and then try to take control of how it's spent or affect the formality of the event. 9 time out of 10 I have seen this happen...a simple and sweet affair is being planned and then mom or dad or FI's parents throw more money in the mix because they want it to be grand and formal. That's where I think it's sad. Because then the vision of the orginally simple wedding is lost. It's hard to stick to your guns, especially when you cannot use money as the excuse (especially if they offer to pay or give your more).

Here's the deal..if you want cupcakes and simple flowers and chamring DIY invites, then I think you should have them, even if they cost less. If you're given more money, you can use it for colored linens, or more photography, lemonade stand, special lighting or a live ceremony musician or whatever YOU feel it can be used towards to enhance the vision that you have. I just hate to see the person with the money take control of the vision...because like I said, more often than not it means turning a simpler or less formal event into a fancier one.

Champ-- Why does your FI's family want to spend more money? And what is it that they want to add to or change? If it's something like providing an open bar or something, I say go for it. But if it's just to guild the lily then I can see why you're bothered by it. Hang in there...the best you can do is talk to over with FI and see if you all can reach some sort of compromise that you all can live with...
Posted on February 29, 2008 at 6:59 am
MarinBride
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I feel ya, Champ - although I've been pretty lucky in this regard in general, there was a point when my FMIL for no apparent reason was really pushing us to get a harpist (which didn't appeal to us AT ALL), and when various members of his extended family were giving us crap about not having a big wedding (and inviting them). So many people just don't seem to understand that these things cost money, and often a lot of money at that. And, more importantly, some people seem to feel that your wedding should be the way they think it should be, and not the way you want. Pretty much everything we're doing for our wedding is unconventional, and that's the way we want it. On the plus side, many, many people have told us that our wedding plans are the coolest, and many people have said that they wished they had done it the way we're doing it! Bottom line is, as the PPs have said, make your decision based on what you want - this is definitely one instance where you should not be trying to please everybody around you!

Regarding sticking to your budget, it is difficult. Our original target was $15K, and it has grown to $22K - and it's a very small wedding. Throughout the process, our philosophy has been to: 1) not spend more than we have, 2) allow ourselves the luxury of the things that are really important to us (e.g. venue, food, and photography), and 3) not spend money on the things we don't care about (e.g. harpists!). With about a month to go, we feel really good about the decisions we've made.

HTH!
Posted on February 29, 2008 at 9:50 am
champagnecholly
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champagnecholly

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the Dame - My Big Redneck Wedding?! What?! Oh my, have to look this one up. FI bought a copy of Father of the Bride after many many rentals. We have the 15th anniversary edition haha. I know, I just have to let go of the guilt!

smilkova - I'm with you on that one. Its crazy how things can go entirely contrary to what you expected.

Its still within our vision but as Loridecter has said, its "gilding the lily." I believe a wedding is beautiful no matter how much is spent, apparently they don't agree with me! Lori, your first wedding sounded like a serious party, I'm sorry that I missed it! Actually for that matter your second wedding seemed fun too, I'm sorry I missed that one!! I also wanted a smaller wedding because I tend to feel like the bigger, the less its about the marriage and the more it becomes about show, you know?

Aching, for you it was the harp, for us it was the band... They're great and I don't regret hiring them, its just a lot more money than I originally wanted!! I know you have to pay money for these things but I guess I'm in denial about what elements make a "wedding" I'm like the George Banks who envisions a backyard grill-out but ends up with a church wedding. I mean, its going to be beautiful and small/sweet in its own way (fingers crossed) but wow, its not where we started!!
Posted on February 29, 2008 at 12:02 pm
theDame
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theDame

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Oh yes, My Big Redneck Wedding. an inspiration to all who want to have a unique wedding their way!

My favorite so far: the couple who decorated their arch with empty beer cans and christmas lights. ("I think it's beautiful baby" buuuuuurrrrrrppp) And then of course, there's the bride who goes down the aisle on a tractor. It's.... it just has to be seen!
Posted on March 1, 2008 at 1:59 am
married2mrwright
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married2mrwright

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Ooh! And the all CAMO wedding! Hoo-rah! That show is HILARIOUS!
Posted on March 1, 2008 at 5:55 am
theDame
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Yup! Camo seems to be the redneck Monique lhuillier !
Posted on March 1, 2008 at 6:39 am
caribear
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Ok, so I watched an episode of the redneck wedding last night and I just can't believe it. That is absolutely hysterical!
Posted on March 1, 2008 at 8:01 am

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