Saving Money for a Wedding.....

victoria1December 9, 2008

I am looking for ways to make an August, 2009 wedding possible.

I had several thousand dollars saved up (I had been putting all money made from working overtime directly into an account for the wedding), but we fell on hard times, and needless to say, it's gone. I have been going over our budget and I'm afraid there's no way we will save the $5000 we will need to pull this wedding off.

I work 40-60 hours per week as a technician and I'm working on my BS in Biology part time. He is a full-time engineering student and works retail as much as he can, which is anywhere from 15-30 hours per week. I make enough (barely) for us to live on, and he makes just enough to pay for his expensive school books, expensive health insurance (he has medical conditions and cannot be without). I have a pile of loans as well and cannot get any more for a while so I pay for community college out of pocket. I have to stay in school in order to finish (a few years off still) and avoid making laon payments. We live in a larger house that I bought earlier in college when friends and other students were lining up to sign leases (I was living nearly "rent-free"), and now with the economic crisis, everyone has returned to their parents basements it seems and we are lucky to find one renter every now and then in this ghost town to help with bills for a few months at a time. We have had our home listed for sale for several months now, as it is way too big and way too expensive for us to live in sustainably. It has attracted no interest at all and it seems every other house is for sale on our street and nothing is moving.

As for living costs we have:

Gas/electric bill

water and trash bills every three months


medical insurance

car insurance

credit card payment

prescription copays

save for school (about $300/month)

food, gas, etc.

Food and Supplies: I buy bulk baking ingredients which last me most of a year and make nearly everything I can from scratch, except bread which I get at aldi for 45 cents a loaf. I have a garden in the summer from which I can veggies. I make our toothpaste, cleaning products, and laundry soap out of inexpensive bulk ingredients. We have been using baking soda and vinegar for shampoo and conditioner for about 6 months now. I never buy makeup. The only thing I really buy is bar soap, and "personal" items once a month. We haven't bought new clothes except for two packages of underwear in almost a year. We limit going out to eat only to our anniversary, and our only other form of entertainment is a rented movie or a theater outing once every couple of month or so, and even then we try not to spend more than $10 for the whole thing.

Utilities: we have cut back to basic cable and internet, downsized our trash container (we recycle now), and try really hard to save on energy. We closed off empty rooms, covered our old windows with plastic, stopped using the dryer and hang dry clothes, sealed leaky pipes, weather stripped every crack in every door, we unplug everything, turn off lights, are stingy with our water use.

I'm not sure what else we can do. Anybody do anything different?

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It looks like you have cut back on almost every household expense possible. So if it is truly going to be impossible to save $5000 for a wedding, you will have to cut down on your wedding plans and related expenses.

Start planning now to get the best deals. Read wedding websites for ideas on how to do a wedding on the cheap. Have a small wedding. Get ideas on finding free wedding destinations like parks, or even having a backyard wedding. Some churches have reception hall rentals for reasonable cost if you have the wedding ceremony there. If you rent a hall, have the ceremony and the reception at the same place to save money. Make your dress or wear an off the rack formal or buy a used one off eBay. Some bridal shops sell the samples. Can you wear your mother's wedding dress? Make your bouquet with fabric flowers if you are going to carry one, or even carry a single rose or lily, or even flowers from your own garden wrapped in a ribbon, something creative. Borrow things. Ask friends to help out. Make your own food to serve. Have a friend sing or play at the ceremony instead of hiring a professional. Don't serve dinner and just have appetizers and beer/wine/punch. Or even have a no alcohol wedding reception. Have it in the afternoon. Have it on a Sunday when hall rentals are cheaper - Guests won't stay as long either. Have the cake made at a culinary school for free or cheap. Make your own cake or do something unique like stacking decorated cup cakes. Skip the limo. Skip the DJ. Ask a friend to to the reception photos. Google for cheap wedding ideas. Elope. Consider moving the wedding date to when you are both out of school to avoid all this stress.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2008 at 12:51AM
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Yeah, Dilly, I would vote for "elope" too.

Victoria, is having a big wedding right now important? You could do a ceremony on your fifth anniversary and repeat your vows. Lots of couples do that.

It sounds like you are cutting nearly every corner that you can. There are other ways you can make use of the space that you have in your house, however. Could you rent out "storage space"? Most older houses lose a lot of heat through the roof, because insulation is old or missing completely. You can buy insulation that you can blow into the attic yourself. For the average house, though, it runs about $300 for the insulation. Lowe's will loan you an insulation blower for a deposit. The deposit here is pretty steep, but for that you could put it on your credit card. They will credit it back when you bring the blower back. They have insulation you can buy in rolls to lay in the attic, too. You could maybe get a roll each pay day. Be sure to get the kind for attics and not for walls. They have expandable foam in cans that you can use to seal the space behind mop-boards in every room. You'd be surprised how much cold air comes in there.

You might see if you can buy text books used online at places such as You can also sell them there.

You had a credit card payment on your list -- is that from previous spending or is that how you pay for your monthly needs? Nothing wrong with using a credit card for monthly needs as long as you pay the bill in full when you get it each month. But if you're carrying a balance, try to get that paid down just as soon as you can. The interest rate on a credit card is staggering. Some credit card companies will pay cash back -- a small percentage of what you buy. Discover card is one.

For prescriptions, talk to the doctor about whether you can have samples. You can also contact the maker of the drug and if you qualify you may be able to get the prescriptions free.

Think carefully about whether you should sell your big house. You will lose money on it if you sell now. Moving is expensive. There will be deposits and activation fees. Do you plan to stay in the area you're in now after you're out of school? If so and if you plan to have children, owning a big house will put you ahead of the game then. How about your mortgage? Are you paying high interest? Can you refinance at a lower interest rate? If, on the other hand, you REALLY want to sell, is there anything you can do to make the house more attractive? I'm constantly amazed at how buyers will choose one house over another simply because they like the paint job better, or some other little thing that could be easily changed. How's the curb appeal? Maybe you could rent with an option to buy? You would still have to live someplace, though....

Have you compared auto insurance rates lately? You might be able to get by temporarily on a little less coverage.

I applaud you on what you're doing already. It's rare to see young couples being as frugal as you are. --Ilene

    Bookmark   December 10, 2008 at 9:15AM
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Victoria, congratulations on your engagement. I hope you are able to have a beautiful wedding. If you join a church now, you can use their chapel and reception hall free. You will be given a nice shower also. If you jump in and help now with church projects, they will be glad to help you out when the time comes. It is my guess that a member bakes beautiful cakes and other members have many talents to help you pull off a nice wedding. You could do your own invitations on the computer and ask all guests to bring their cameras. Check with cleaners that store wedding gowns. Some brides abandon their storage and you can get a nice gown for nearly nothing.

As for saving money for the wedding, it looks like you are doing about all you can do. Could your guy tutor or put in more hours in a better paying job? It looks like you are carrying an awful lot of the load. When I was in college, they had computer labs, TV rooms and movies free. If they have that at your college, could you disconnect your cable and Internet and use the free service?

You sound very practical and frugal. Someone is lucky to be getting you for a bride.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2008 at 10:37AM
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Congrats on your engagement. There are lots of ways to save money or earn additional monies. It seems as though you are working hard at that angle. If you've had to burn through your savings for living expenses (and I know school is very expensive), it will be even harder to save by next year. It may even put you into debt because so many things need to be planned and payed for in advance, and if you don't meet your goal you'll be in a pickle.

My suggestion is to reevaluate the type of wedding that you want. Why do you want it? What is the most important thing about it? Try to answer these questions as honestly as you can. If you do end up having enough, what would you rather spend it on - one day, or building for the future. What compromises can you make for your wedding? Who are the people that you REALLY want at your weddding?

Start asking around and see what other people have done who have done weddings on a limited budget. My wedding was very inexpensive, but I had everything that I needed. It was a church wedding, reception at my mothers and we kept all of the "trimmings" to a minimum. Only family and the closest of friends were in attendance - maybe about 40 people. It was very stress free, inexpensive and memorable. On the other hand, I was a bridesmaid for a family member. I spent more money on her wedding than my own, and I had a rotten time (there were many reasons for this). A close friend had a wedding and the reception was at the local state park. It was very fun and relaxed - especially to see the bride hit a home run and run the bases in her dress (it cost $100). And their wedding was unique.

Keep in mind that a wedding is a "thing," like so many other "things" that salesmen want us to want and purchase. A marriage cannot be bought, only made, and it can be one of lifes true treasures. What I'm trying to say is that the most critical part of a wedding is choosing the right man - all the other stuff is unimportant.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2008 at 11:04AM
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Not to mention how many wedding albums get thrown in the trash when there's a divorce.

I worked with someone who went several thousand dollars in debt for a fancy wedding and a week on some island. In no time at all they were fighting over the debt they were in. Starting a marriage with debt is a bad way to start a marriage.

The right man is the ONLY thing that matters. All the rest is just pure commercialism and keeping up with the Joneses.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2008 at 11:34AM
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Victoria, I have linked a website where you can find out if you can get assistance with your fiancee's prescription needs. I just saw this on TV and thought of you. I'm pretty sure it's legitimate.

Good luck! --Ilene

Here is a link that might be useful: Prescription assistance

    Bookmark   December 10, 2008 at 1:54PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

I recently helped with a wedding and the bride wore a lovely dress she bought at goodwill for 6 dollars. She removed the sleeves to make it sleeveless and added pearls and other embellishments. The food was done by friends and it was all simple but nice.
Frankly, with what you have going on, I would elope also. But you could have a good time with family and friends if you forgo most of the extras. It's all about the people not the flowers and the place.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2008 at 2:58PM
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Victoria- congrats on the engagement. That is soooo exciting. Try not to let the finances take the joy out of the process.
You can have a wedding without spending a fortune it just takes a little more ingenuity. I work in a Private Club so I know how high the prices can be. I also know how low it can be too.
Many locations can be had for a small fee- State Parks have already been mentioned, historic sites, friends homes, families yards, beaches,and even community centers.
Food can be simple- punch and cake. If it is an early wedding - brunch is an option. ( Eggs are cheap) Mid day you can have light appetizers. Evening- a pot luck buffet or cook out dinner.
One recent bride had a friend take pictures, the grooms father made the cake, did not purchase alcohol, and served a pasta and chicken buffet. She used the clubs centerpieces at no charge, flowers were from SAM's club- her brother tied ribbon around them and her total bill was about a quarter of what it would normally be. Oh- they used an I-pod for music.
Just think about who you and your fiancee are and what is most important to the two of you.
Week after week I watch brides trying to have the "perfect wedding" and most of the time they are STRESS cases by the end of the day.
Good luck!!!!

    Bookmark   December 10, 2008 at 5:57PM
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I can understand the pressure to have a beautiful wedding - just look at all those Brides magazines. It's an industry.

However, I would suggest that you do what you want, not what others (whoever they might be) want. Eloping sounds like a plan - it's what my DH and I did when we first got married. Didn't tell anyone, got married in the lunch hour on a Monday, went to McDonalds for salad, and then went back to work.

A year later, when finances were better, we had a big wedding. However, looking back, I wished we had saved the money instead and I feel guilty that my parents had to pay all that money. My MIL went a little crazy with the bills.

However, all that to say it's the partner who counts, more than the wedding. We have now been married 23 years and I love it - it's a great institution to be in with the right person.

BTW, congrats on your savings so far. Have you thought about tutoring other students? I was a college athlete and used to work as both a college athlete mentor to freshman and as a tutor when they had the athletic study hall. It was easy money and I could study at the same time as the students never wanted any tutoring. I just had to sit there.

Just an idea.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2008 at 11:08AM
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