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50-Plus Finance: Planning a wedding without breaking the bank

David Leto
by David Leto , Dimespring 30 (@50PlusFinance)

Recently, my first-born daughter got married. It was the best day of my life.

I have always been concerned about if I would be able to give her a great wedding and how I could pay for it. I must admit, I was stressed out not knowing how I could get the money together for all the wedding expenses. Trying to give her the same wedding I had would be impossible because my in-laws were quite wealthy and no expense was spared. I felt bad I could not offer her the same thing.

INFOGRAPHIC: The real cost of being in a wedding party

Part of the problem was I didn't know if I needed $5,000, $10,000 or $20,000 to pay for everything. To my shock, I checked online and learned the average wedding in 2012 cost $28,427. I felt terrible because there was no way I could afford that.

There had to be a solution to getting the costs down to a reasonable level. I spoke to my daughter to see what she thought and to find out what type of wedding she wanted. The bride is Catholic and the groom is Jewish so this only complicated the matter.

I spoke to the parents of the groom to seek some help with the planning process and, eventually, help with paying for the wedding. Luckily, they are great people and wanted to help in so many ways. My son-in-law's mother was actually a party planner, so I hit the jackpot there. She proceeded to look into where we could have an interdenominational wedding. I checked out places to have a nice reception.

The guest list was finalized and we knew how many guests were attending. The town where my daughter lives has a nice dinner yacht that cruises the Intracoastal Waterway. Normally, the dinner yacht wants you to book the whole boat. This was out of the question. The cost would be enormous plus we didn't need all that space.

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But on Mother's Day, you can book just the number of seats you need. This became the solution to the reception problem and wedding location at the same time. The place where the boat docks has a beautiful park with a huge gazebo. It’s perfect for a wedding, but the cost to rent the gazebo was $250. The city office that scheduled rentals said they don't rent it on Mother's Day, but told us that we could just use it anyway.

The groom’s mother found someone to perform an interdenominational ceremony for $200. The seats on the boat were priced at $42 each. The flowers, wedding gown and incidentals came to another $800. In total the wedding costs came in under $4,000. 

The wedding went off without any problems. It wasn't odd to have it on Mother's Day, and all the guests had a great time. The happy couple started off their marriage without incurring any big wedding debt, and I didn’t have to take on any debt either. It is possible to have a wedding you can be proud of and still save money.

 

David Leto writes about family, finances, and retirement planning for the 50-plus person. David is a member of the Dimespring 30, a community of bloggers sharing their thoughts, experiences and attitudes on personal finance.