I Was Shamed For My Wedding Budget, But Have No Regrets

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CHRISTINE STODDARD

My father likes to joke, “The bigger the wedding, the bigger the divorce.”

My little sister and I are sitting at a craft table in her apartment’s living room, poring over a bounty of beads, rhinestones, pearls, and other supplies I’ve gleaned from Craigslist, Michael’s, and my art bin.

This sister has the task of making half of my bridesmaids’ bouquets, plus all of the groomsmen’s boutonnieres. I’ve asked her to fashion the bouquets out of dyed dried plants, and the boutonnieres out of a sturdy craft paper.

But first, I have to show her what I’ve pictured in my mind.

Once I do, her nimble fingers realize exactly what I wanted.

From a stylistic standpoint, the best weddings reflect the true tastes of the bride and groom. The colors and themes are unified throughout the ceremony and reception because every choice is deliberate.

Weddings are personal not only because of the personal relationships they celebrate but because personal taste is so plainly on display.

Even with a small budget, brides and grooms have many options for putting these tastes on display.

I know because my husband and I had a small-budget wedding and, by all accounts, it was very “us.”

My husband and I were engaged a little over a year for a few reasons:

1My husband proposed in mid-March and we weren’t ready to pull off a wedding for that summer

2I had a hectic work schedule

3I had to move cities

4We were paying for our wedding, honeymoon, and first apartment by ourselves.

We intentionally set a small wedding budget that we could pay upfront because we knew we had other dreams we wanted to realize, both in the near and not-so-near future.

None of these circumstances are unusual.

What stood out and posed an extra challenge was our age.

We were young, at least by Millennial and urban standards. When we got married a year ago, most of our friends in their mid-20s weren’t in a committed relationship, let alone on the path to engagement.

My husband and I felt like pioneers for walking down the aisle before our same-age acquaintances.

Which meant we had to get a little creative.

The ceremony took place outdoors, mere yards away from the reception. My bridesmaids and I made everything from the centerpieces to the wedding favors.

 

We chose a historic house for our venue. Run by the Colonial Dames of America, the house was nestled in a quiet neighborhood in our college town, overlooking the river. Since the Dames are a nonprofit, the venue was surprisingly inexpensive.

In another effort to cut costs, our ceremony took place in the morning, and our guests enjoyed a small lunch buffet, rather than a seated dinner. The ceremony took place outdoors, mere yards away from the reception.

My bridesmaids and I made everything from the centerpieces to the wedding favors. What we couldn’t make, I ordered from Etsy or commissioned from a local artist. Rather than hiring a band, we had a harpist play during the ceremony and just blasted our iPod during the reception. A family friend took our photos, which we edited ourselves.

Our wedding was a simple, beautiful, and meaningful way to commemorate our then-eight-year relationship and the life we were building together.

We received many compliments about how artfully chosen every detail was, reaffirming what my husband and I knew: It really had been a perfect day. We didn’t need validation, but we welcomed our guests’ genuine words.

That’s why something one of those guests recently said surprised me.

He was with my husband and me at another wedding, one much larger than our own. At some point during our conversation, he teased us by staring right at us and saying, “Well, this wedding’s really nice. A lot nicer than another one I went to last year.” He cleared his throat.

My husband and I laughed nervously, because it was an awkward moment and we didn’t want to cause a scene. In that instant, this person’s words stung. It felt like an attack on our personal taste and our relationship.

Regardless of your budget, you and your partner should approach wedding planning as a team, the same way you will your marriage.

As is often the case, I thought of a dozen clever rebuttals long after the time for a response had come and gone.

But, really, it doesn’t matter. My husband and I have a strong marriage. That’s what matters.

Some people think that the size and budget of your wedding reflect how much love you and your partner have for each other: The bigger the wedding, the bigger the love.

On the other hand, my father likes to joke, “The bigger the wedding, the bigger the divorce.”

I don’t think either is necessarily true. Some people simply have the luxury of a bigger budget than others could never afford or would never want to spend.

Regardless of your budget, you and your partner should approach wedding planning as a team, the same way you will your marriage.

Set your budget as a team. Balance your tastes as a team. Negotiate and compromise as — you guessed it — a team.

On our one-year wedding anniversary on May 9, I looked through our wedding photos with glee and nostalgia. My husband and I looked so happy. The same giddiness I felt that day overwhelmed me as I scrolled through the pictures.

Then I thought of all of the days that had passed in our marriage since our wedding day. I reflected on all of the other wonderful days, all of the other moments that made me giddy.

A wedding, whether small-budget or big-budget, is just one day.

The story appeared on Ravishly. Read more from Ravishly and follow us on Twitter & Facebook!

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