Small is beautiful.
That’s my wedding philosophy, which follows on nicely from the BS-free motto.
The wedding journey has been interesting so far. Reaction to our engagement ranged from “oh yeah, about time” to “uh, so you’re engaged? But you haven’t set a date? YOU’RE NOT PLANNING A WEDDING YET?”. My guy friends got it (unsurprisingly). Bless their hearts.
I’m pretty sure we come off to others like the kind of people who would elope or just do the registry thing. I wouldn’t have minded eloping, but T would insist his mother attend. We would have to pay for that. Then it wouldn’t be fair to leave my parents out. And I personally did NOT want a wedding only attended by the parentals. So that led into the next logical step – a full blown wedding.
A registry wedding would certainly be cheap, but I’m not ashamed to say that I would actually want the photos and the gathering of friends all in one place. To do it “properly”, as such. And unfortunately we have no family property as so many brides on forums and in magazines seem to have, sadly – so we marched onwards with the knowledge that we’d be starting from scratch.
To keep myself from going insane, I think of it this way. At the heart of it, there are only a few key expenses. The core things are:
Photography. Budget weddings often skip this but getting a pro or semi pro is important to me. T and I have very few (good) photos of ourselves together so I’d like our wedding to be documented. The lovely Amanda will be shooting us. Blogging FTW!
Dress. I know what I want – now I just need to GET ON IT.
Food. (We’ll get to that).
My plan is for a $5k wedding. $1800 is already accounted for by venue, celebrant, photographer (our amazing venue is also ridiculously affordable, costing just under $500), plus of course official paperwork costs (which I think will be about another $150).
Here’s what we’re NOT spending on:
Flowers. I see budgets recommending to set aside 10 percent of the budget on flowers. Are you effing kidding me? Personally, I plan to have zero blooms at our wedding. I have no patience for things that make me sneeze and serve no practical purpose. There’s zero romance in that. People are probably going to find our lack of decor a bit plain, but that’s how I roll (and that’s why I chose a sweet venue with character). They don’t have to like it.
Music. I don’t want a live band, and I’m not sure there’s one in the world that could do justice to my, erm, eclectic playlist. I’ve got all the songs in a YouTube list – now to work out the hardware logistics. Also, I have no idea where we would FIT the band in our venue.
Then there’s the smaller things.
Rings. I know roughly what I want; it’s just a matter of finding it – a vintage ruby ring along the same lines as my antique engagement ring. It doesn’t have to be a three-stoner, but it does need to be subtle and rounded off (no remotely sharp edges, thanks). I don’t wear any other jewellery, so it needs to earn a place in my life. I don’t want a plain band, but nor do I want anything I’ve seen new in stores … I’m more or less the opposite of a magpie. I hate bling and secretly find your super shiny ring repulsive, while you probably think mine is pathetic. I’ve already been to a couple of antique shops and not found anything – I’m not sure what I’ll do if I don’t find a ring I like before the wedding.
Guest book. As life would have it, I recently ran a sweet Moleskine/Milk Book giveaway through work, and was offered a free one for myself. So I made up a swish photo album with all the semi-decent photos of us as a couple that I could find.
Decor. As I said, I’m nixing flowers. Any centrepieces will probably be something edible, like chocolates. Not sure if I’ll bother with table linens. (I will need to double check that they’ll have enough furniture at the venue for us.) I quite like the idea of getting colourful disposable plates/cutlery (the less cleanup the better, even if I do overstep my daily landfill contribution in the process).
Celebrant. We found a lovely, salt-of-the-earth type West Auckland woman who’s also very affordable and has sent us through a bunch of short and sweet ceremony examples. Win.
One thing I am struggling with is the culture thing. Old-timers probably remember it’s always been a fraught issue of identity for me. My auntie surprised me by offering to hold a traditional tea ceremony the day before the wedding – I’m such a banana that I only heard about these in the past year thanks to other Asian bloggers getting married themselves; I knew my parents definitely wouldn’t be suggesting any random cultural traditions. Anyway, we’ll probably do it, and laugh a lot at ourselves along the way (I have NO idea what to expect, and I’m guessing jeans are probably not appropriate dress).
But the one thing I do hold on to is the food. Oh, the food. It took me about 20 years to realise, but nothing will ever top Malaysian food in my book. This is the only ethnic thing I care to integrate into the wedding. At first I agonised over this – just because all the mixed race weddings in blogs and in magazines incorporate something cultural doesn’t mean I have to. But you know what: I want to, and I also kinda FEEL like I should. I spent so much of my life denying my ethnic/cultural heritage as a first generation immigrant and insecure teenager and while I want to have an otherwise very white wedding, having it be totally Euro would be a bit of a disappointment if for no other reason than I’d really like to eat my favourite cuisine on the day. My mum has suggested one place not far away, so I’ll need to check them out (hopefully over the holidays – they’re presumably non-Christian immigrants, so I’m sure they’ll be open throughout).
Still haven’t decided anything re: my bridal party, but seeing as it’s really not a huge deal – really, whoever ends up being in it, all they’ll have to do is turn up, which they were going to do anyway … and maybe stand up the front instead – I’m okay with leaving it a bit longer to get sorted.
It was a year ago to the day we were finalising all our arrangements!! I am so glad we went small and did it the way we wanted in Thailand – would not have changed a thing 🙂
I definitely agree the the things you need to spend money on (and not skimp on) are food and a photographer. That’s where most of my money is going. I’d like to say that my wedding is going to be a budget wedding as I am a PF blogger, but that’s not the case at all. We are keeping it relatively small, but I there are so many things I just can’t cut out to save a buck. Also, make sure to budget for a honeymoon, and possibly a hotel for the night of. Me and my BF live together but are going to a hotel on the night because we just thought it would be strange going to our crappy apartment afterwards. Also, unless you are doing it yourself, hair and make-up services might be good to include too.
Is he going to wear a ring? Maybe this is my American-ism coming out…
For rings I have a band with some engravings and then a somewhat ornate antique ring which I wear maybe 30% of the time? I like that the band is simple enough that I wear it 100% of the time.
In theory, yup (though I’m not sure how that will work out in practicality). I’m not fussed about it.
Try searching Etsy for “ruby ring.” Some stuff that comes up is a little much, but quite a few are vintage or vintage-looking, low-key, and highly wearable.
I love title of this post. It sounds like you guys have pretty much everything figured out and planned for. I’m with you about the photography – should I ever get married, that’s the one thing I really wouldn’t cheap out on. What are you guys doing for transportation (or is that even something you have to plan for)?
You will LOVE a small wedding! Closest friends, less stress, less cost, and less room for disasters! 5K is a good budget, especially if it can be split up between families and you guys!
It doesn’t matter how low key the wedding is. You will remember it forever. Nowadays, cameras even on smartphones are good enough!
Just a thought, if you don’t find a ring you like before the ceremony – just use your engagement ring! Have a couple of friends who have done this and it worked well.
Yes, I did think about doing that! A good plan B (don’t think T will like it but I’m the boss).
Are you going to do favours for your guests? I found it to be a huuuuge pain in the butt trying to decide what to do for favours. I ended up making chocolate covered pretzels, which were a huge hit but took forever to make!
Congrats! Doing a wedding for 5k is impressive. I think if you keep the ring cost low, you can do it, as that seems to really bust the budget for many. I never figured out why people would cheap out on photography — if you’re doing the whole she-bang, even a simpler event, you want nice pictures!
Also think incorporating your culture would be a nice touch.
We also did without flowers. I’m pretty sure nobody noticed. And a friend made mix dvds for music, though these days it would be an mp3 playlist.
If you do the tea ceremony, wear a red dress. It’s the most appropriate. Most people wear the traditional Chinese dress but if you have a red dress (or red top and skirt), it’ll be fine too. Whatever it is, do not wear white, black or any dark colours!
The only thing I can think of that wasn’t on your list is hair and make-up… If you aren’t hiring anyone, you should still be prepared to add costs if you intend to buy any new make-up or tools for yourself. Otherwise, I think you’re ready to go. 😀
[…] Bullshit Free Bride: Boiling It Down To The Essentials by NZMuse. It’s always interesting to hear stats about the average American wedding cost of $25,000. NZMuse looks forward to a wedding 1/5th the cost that’s small and cozy. […]
Heads up! Highlighted your post in the latest Yakezie.com post. Can you shoot me an e-mail with the post about a foreigner’s guide to Auckland? I enjoyed that one but can’t find it!
I’m still on the fence about when and if we’re going to do something but as much as I’m against the Juggernaut-Do-Everything traditional style thing, I do want some elements of the tradition because they have meaning for me. Or I’m leaving some out because though they had meaning for me, circumstances are such that they won’t be respected/observed in the way that held that meaning. I would imagine that you could explore what the customs are and what they meant and make your decisions from there. For example, the tea ceremony is one way to formally thank your parents and other important family members for the role they played in your lives up to now and that’s something I wanted (though, not the audience…)
As for the ring, agreed you could use your engagement ring for the ceremony if you don’t find your right one in time. It was funny but we skipped a ring exchange entirely because we didn’t have rings! 🙂
And this might be weird coming from me, or not if you look at it that way, but maybe consider arranging for someone to do your hair and makeup even if you’re going with an easy style if you don’t like fussing with either? A friend, if not a pro/semi pro? I hate doing my hair at all times so really appreciated my stylist who made me sit still for another 15 minutes while she did a quick styling on it. I was only going to get a trim and leave it be but I liked that it actually looked nice for photos without my having to worry over what and how to do it. Just a thought.
I also didn’t care much about flowers (we had them for the wedding party and the grandparents, but not as decoration), having a band, or much of the other decoration/”extra” stuff. We did end up with a DJ for the reception, because a family friend did it basically for free.
I also think having a good photographer is a great idea! Your pictures will be a great way to remember the day 🙂 I did go for the smallest package possible from my photographer, because I didn’t feel the need to have a bunch of large prints to lug around, but having the small ones is really nice. It was so fun looking at proofs, too! We also decided to go with a videographer, because we had so much fun with my family watching my parents’ wedding video (one of the first ever done in our city!) on their 25th anniversary a few months before we got married… though I haven’t watched ours in the 3 1/2 years since we got married… maybe at our 5 year anniversary or something 🙂
I discussed that topic at great length with my SO. Because it would have been quite complicated for my parents and friends to attend it (800km distance, no direct flights). And even worse for us to organize. We both don’t like too much people around. At the end we decided to make it as small as possible but still in a way that we will look back with joy.
We had it at restaurant that was a former abbey. Only me, my wife, the registrar and a photographer. Afterwards we made photos in the park behind the abbey which we send to family and friends. In the evening we had a fancy dinner for us two. It was an amazing day.
All together we spend about 1000€. Most of it for the rings (700€), 100€ for the dinner and the rest for registrar, documents and location.