Inexpensive, unstressful weddings


Reading about other people’s weddings I find myself thinking that all that fuss and bother isn’t worth one day out of your whole life. :frowning: As I have daughters who will probably want a wedding, I was wondering is there anyway to have a stress free, fun, inexpensive wedding?

All the stories that I hear just sound depressing.


I totally agree with you! But the solution my daughter came up with was to have her Wedding during the Easter Season, while the Church is still decorated for Easter (no flowers to have to buy, although a donation to purchase the flowers for Easter would be in order), have a 7 p.m. evening Nuptial Mass with a dessert bar at the reception. How much simpler and inexpensive can that be?

My own Wedding was the weekend after Christmas so the Church was still decorated for the Christmas Season - we had a very small wedding to boot. I am not into all kinds of Brides Maids etc. Our reception was in the Church Basement put together by the Altar and Rosary Society - I think the biggest expense was the cake!

Talk to your daughters about what they want and start talking up a small wedding;)

Brenda V.


Maybe there is, but you’ve already had yours.

We all hear stories about the fireworks concerning holidays and grandchildren, too, but that doesn’t mean you have to live out of state from your parents and in-laws. It means that you have to identify what is really important in life, and then stick to it.

Teach your daughters to value simplicity and to be gracious to all. That’s a good start. Then hang on tight. Oh, and maybe mention to the daughters what your financial realities with regards to big parties, even the most important big parties of their lives. Explain that if they feel strongly otherwise, they’d be well-advised to start saving now. :wink:

In spite of the fireworks, most families do survive the weddings.


Oh there’s plenty of ways to have a nice stress free wedding, I’ve been to a few, and been in a few.

My favorite ones was a cocktail reception with hor d’ourves and then a justice of the peace marrying them in the same place. Another one was my ex boyfriends mom’s remarriage (her husband had died several years earlier) She didn’t want anything crazy. They got married in Martha’s Vineyard on the beach where they met, then they had a reception at a local seafood restuarant. I couldnt eat anything except cake and champagne, which was probably why I liked it so much :slight_smile:

I’ve been in big weddings that were not that bad either. The parents just sat down the bride and groom and stated what the budge was give or take a few hundred. They got flowers that were in season, good food, and limited themselves on **** they didn’t need. No videographer… just pictures and only for the ceremony. They bought cameras and put the names on them as favors. Guests were asked to use the whole camera to take the pictures of the reception of people they knew or things that caught their eyes. They got them all developed, and sent the duplicates to the person who took the pictures Getting the pictures developed cost less than what the photographer was going to charge for the reception part of the wedding. They didn’t go crazy with the cakes, or the band.

There’s ways to do it. There’s ways not to do it. You have to do what’s best for you, and get what’s important and then shortcut your way around everything else


my family tradition favors small weddings, so that is what we had, evening wedding, small reception at home with punch and cake. One daughter followed suit, the other two married into large families with different traditions. Just “close relatives” meant over 200 guests, and we decided we would rather be able to invite all those we wanted to a plainer meal, than serve a grand meal to a smaller numer of guests. We split expenses with both families, at their insistance. We chose simple menus and were complemented in both cases for the elegance and suitability of the menu. Both were morning weddings followed by wedding breakfast in the old Catholic tradition. Rates for everything, halls, music, caterers we found much less in the a.m. than evening.

One dress was homemade, the others were purchased as excellent bargains, bridesmaid dresses in all 3 weddings were department store models not special orders. All 3 limited the number of attendants. All 3 weddings were during holiday times when church was already decorated so flower expense was minimal, just bouquets and corsages.

We decided in all 3 cases that we would eliminate the largest single expense after the meal, alcohol, for personal and family reasons (you just don’t put at least half my family in contact with a bar and expect them to behave). We limited offerings to champagne toast and light punch such as mimosa.

For my brothers and sisters, one reception was a picnic at a favorite state park, one just family at a nearby restaurant, everyone ordered and paid for their own meal off the menu, one was a backyard reception–deli trays, salads, cake, beer, soda, one in the parish hall served and catered by “church ladies” for a small donation and cost of food, one eloped. Music for all those that had it was recorded.


I also think there is a difference between staying in a budget and being cheap.

I HATE weddings with no booze or a pay for your own. Especially when I was single… ugh I felt like a piece of meat for all the slimy single guys who assumed I as an unattached bridesmaid would feel depressed enough to want to hook up with them. I needed the liquor to get me through those. :slight_smile:


We had a small wedding. Being staunch Protestants, it was booze-free other than the champagne (with ginger ale for those who didn’t even want the champagne) and there was no dancing, but we had a nice ceremony, and a lovely dinner. The money we didn’t spend on alcohol went towards the limosine and the hotel room, because, after all, it was supposed to be all about us. :smiley:

Not inviting anyone who wanted to drink and/or dance helped cut the list down to those who just wanted to be there to share our happy day - our parents, siblings, and closest friends.

My brother also had a beautiful wedding with not too many guests. He and his wife don’t practice any religion at all, so they were married by a Justice of the Peace in a beautiful Japanese garden, and we had dinner in the tea house afterwards.

One of my god sons had a really nice, very small Catholic wedding, with a short but very decent ceremony at the Church, and then dinner at a near by restaurant.


It is absolutely possible!!

We had the most beautiful wedding with 60 invited guests. We were married during the feast of our parish’s patron saint, St. Therese, and so the Church was already filled with red roses! So all we had to do was flowers for me and my two Friends of Honor, and the moms and grandma. We did our own flowers, they were amazingly gorgeous, and exactly what I wanted.

We had a Saturday noon wedding, so it was a luncheon with only beer and wine served, no liquor. This saved us a ton, and there is no reason to have hard liquor at a luncheon.

We had a wine/fruit/cheese reception as our guests arrived, then an exquisite luncheon menu of either a salmon entrée or Amish chicken. A choice of two salads, then wedding cake and sorbet for dessert.

My best friend made the beautiful cake (she does this on a regular basis, and had worked for one of the premier bakeries in the area).

Our reception was at a restaurant in a business district that does not get much business on the weekend, so they were able to offer me a good price and close the place for us so we had the entire venue to ourselves! And with a beautiful view as well, an entire bank of windows looking out on the river, no box with no windows of a banquet room.

We didn’t have dancing for anyone but the two of us, only our one dance together, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

My gown was not expensive, my DH wore a beautiful vintage 1940’s double breasted tuxedo borrowed from my step dad, and he looked like he stepped right out of a Hollywood movie.

Our wedding budget was $6,000 - and we didn’t go over.

We still get comments from people about how perfect and beautiful our wedding was, and how they loved the luncheon and not being trapped for 7 hours with the same people in one room.

Yes - it is very possible to have a beautiful wedding on a budget. It takes planning and creativity, and doing things yourself and not hiring everything out. I did not compromise on one single thing - everything was perfect, and on budget.



My husband and I lived in a ho hum town where we had both just moved, no friends yet, so we went to Santa Fe, which was close, in the next state, invited only our close families, and had a small wedding and reception in lovely historic venues.

My wedding dress cost only $24. Flowers $25. The main cost was hotel rooms and meals.

However, in retrospect, I wish it had been a bit fancier. I feel cheated, kinda. At least on the dress, it would have been nice if my parents had sprung for a nice dress, which they could easily have afforded.

So don’t go too cheap. But it can certainly be inexpensive.


Sorry, I plead justification on this one. My family and his family are too involved and important to not get invited. We are the oldest and the first in both families.

Together we have more than a 100 cousins. And we’re not talking about that one cousin out in Hawaii that we saw a decade ago, these people are part of our lives.

Even if I cut it to just immediate family members, that is still 23 people, plus two witnesses. And I would live in constant fear of my aunts coming to kill me for not letting them be there. :stuck_out_tongue: :stuck_out_tongue: Besides that, I still haven’t found a parish that will witness me, a groom and two witnesses for a cheaper rate. That means I can have 500 people or 5 people for the same price. Ridiculous!

Now, if we invite only family, we come up with a guest list of almost 280.

What about some of our best friends? What about coworkers? Adults only, tack on 150. Kids, tack on 280. And this doesn’t count acquaintances. These are friends, like people we grew up with, graduated from highschool with, see weekly. At least with coworkers we can keep it down to maybe 20-40 people in just our departments.

Fortunately, we have the same friend group and we work for the same company. LOL! Imagine otherwise!

So, yes! I am stressed out! I want a big happy gathering, lots of food and music. There will be tons of kids and everyone knows everyone excepting coworkers. It is going to be a huge bash with big expectations from both sides of the family.

I need a big ceremony site and a big reception site. Those cost $$$ quite a lot of money!

:thumbsup: So at times I am downright depressed and sad! But on my wedding day I will be happy and with God’s blessing, the rest of my married life!

All of that being said, I want to point out something I consider very important: the money isn’t really the stressor. I am doing this simply and cost-effectively. It is customary for family members to help. Grandma is a prof. cake maker, friends are catering, my nana is bringing the food, my friend owns a decorating business, etc. I am purchasing my dress on eBay for less than a $100. The reception will be completely casual. The bridesmaids are getting pretty but much reduced prom dresses purchased from a department store ($20ea).

I would say trying to make it simple and not splurge money is what makes it so depressing and stressful!! I would rather dump 30K on this and do it the big huge fancy way, pass it off to a professional planner, KWIM? Of course, I don’t have 30K and if I did, I wouldn’t spend it on a wedding…

Anyways, good luck to the people out there involved in weddings!


You asked about inexpensive, stressfree and fun weddings and whether they can exist. You have received many great answers about how to have an inexpensive wedding - so many great and creative ideas!

But an inexpensive wedding doesn’t always mean an unstressful one. I think that most of the stress comes from the fact that 2 families are coming together - both with very different ideas about money/priorities/family/travel/religion/tradition/decorations/ food/etc…

I speak from experiance - I would have loved to have a simple wedding with 200 +/- people in the evening, with a punch/dessert reception. My inlaws were actually the ones who wanted the Wedding Extravaganza of the Year and all the hoopla that comes with that.

My wedding did end up being inexpensive (around $6000 - 3 years ago) and fun - but it was not 100% stressfree. I say 2 out of 3 isn’t bad!

Be aware that it is not always the bride who is the drama queen and the one responsible for the stress - it might just be the sister of the bride or the mother or the feuding aunt and uncle, etc…

Someone suggested instilling in your daughters a desire for simplicity and a grateful spirit - I might add Conflict Management and Resolution Skills! :smiley:


**Cheap weddings are quite easily done…I got my dress on EBAY for 300.00, as well as my favors.

My bridesmaids dresses i got at Macy’s at a year end clearance and had a coupon for an additional 20% off so they came to $5.00 a piece ( they were Jessica Mcclintock too!)

Shoes which were Kenneth Cole originally 150.00 got for 10.00 at DSW shoes

Engagement ring off of EBAY (antique platinum with diamonds) 400.00 (appraised at 2000.00) and white gold ring made to match (300.00)

Invites -parents are artists so that was a minimal cost(under 300 including stamps)

Flowers-$3000.00 but got it for around $900.00 or so because my mother is a florist and gets everything at cost and labor was free;)

The two things that i didn’t want to skimp on too much and spent most of money on was the food and the photography…I cannot stress enough the importance of a good photographer and making sure you see their work…Also I can’t stress this enough MAKE SURE YOU GET THE NEGATIVES! (i used to work in a professional camera lab, where i dealt with so many brides and heard so many sob stories about horrible photographers)

I believe the food is important because to me its almost your way of thanking the guests for coming and showing your appreciation.

I think any wedding is going to have some stress just because of everything involved and so many different ideas. My SIL decided to make invitations and spent money on all the supplies only to find out that she couldn’t get them to look quite right (and she’s extremely crafty!) and then still had to pay to get some printed because she was running out of time…

But we made all of her centerpiece vases which were mason jars with antique buttons and ribbons attached…**


This is where we were: we could keep the list down to 30 or it was going to leave 300 in the dust. Mom & Dad would have been crushed to keep it at 30, and so would the relatives, so we had the big one. Still, the stress lies mainly in the desire to have a “perfect” wedding. If you’re willing to stay flexible and not get extravagant, you don’t have to be a basket case when it’s all done.

It does help to live where nice-but-not-Hollywood weddings are the norm.


My boyfriend and I kind of wishes we could simply go to a priest and get married within a few months with a handful of witnesses.

I don’t want anything big. Something simple, yet elegant. Which isn’t hard with the beauty of a Catholic Church! A wedding doesn’t have to be stressful I don’t think. I hope so anyway!:stuck_out_tongue:


planning the small wedding (30 immediate family) was stressful because it was all done long distance, we did not meet groom’s family until the (very nice) rehearsal dinner they did the night before. that was actually a lot more work than the wedding itself because they did it all themselves, in community room of DD’s apartment complex, and were completely worn out for the next day. If spending a little more money means a significant stress reduction, I would go for the spending every time.


in many parishes you can exchange vows during or after the Saturday evening Mass or even a regular weekday Mass and not have to pay a fee for use of the church. certainly worth asking about.

90% of the stress comes from these MTV wedding productions which are actually contrary to Catholic teaching on marriage, and draw focus away from celebrating the sacrament which has just occured, to expense for the sake of expense.


Two good, inexpensive weddings:

1.) After the Mass at mid-morning, the couple arranged for the pavilion at the local park. Her dress was simple, summery. He wore a suit and tie, no tux. They each had one attendant. There are companies in our area that will come out with burgers and hot dogs (also pork chops and chicken- but that’s more expense), and grill them for you. They put out galvanized buckets with ice decorated with ribbons and bows for pop, beer and wine. They had chips, dips, and veggie trays. They invited people with kids. There is a small zoo in this particular park, as well as swings, slides and what-not. They had balloons. The dj couldn’t get too loud, but everybody in the park wished them well and was dancing. And aside from the “ceremonial” cake, which was one double-layer from Jewel with the top to cut, they sliced up cakes from the Sara Lee outlet- excellent cakes from Market Day and for restaurant use, look fancy, taste fabulous (Bailey’s Irish Cream Cake was among them), cheap compared to a bakery. If the whole thing cost them $2000, I’d be surprised.

2.) There is an inexpensive caterer in our area named Lee n Eddie’s The company will do the whole wedding for as little as $7.95 a person, based on a minimum of 50 people. This includes all the tableware, the chafing pots, buns, pasta, meatballs, italian beef, wedding cake, jello, salads. All the couple supplies are the beverages. It is buffet, so people serve themselves (the couple will need a few friends or hired help- responsible teens- to set up and clean up).

Everybody thinks guests like big weddings. If it costs the bride and groom all that expense for a big wedding, just remember that it costs the guests, too. A lot of people don’t have the right clothes and have to buy them. There’s a sitter to arrange. There’s travel if necessary. There’s the matter of making sure the gift is commensurate with the reception- even if this is not the couple’s intent.

I like an enjoyable wedding. I come to wish the couple well. I am just as happy with a good hot dog and garden veggies as I am with filet mignon. I would think people would welcome a scaled-down wedding.


I know our guests really did enjoy the scaled down event. They loved that they were not gone for the entire day, they still had their evening to do as they wished, did not have to deal with drunken idiots at the reception because everyone had been drinking for hours and hours, and that it was more about the mass than the party. I still get compliments about the food and how good it was.

It really comes down to personal taste, and what the budget can bear. Some couples don’t see their wedding as anything but a big blow out bash, and that’s ok too. But going in debt to throw a party is never a good way to start a marriage.

BTW - we just got married this past September, so this was not a long time ago, just for financial comparison.



We just went through two family weddings in the past year (a nephew on my husband’s side and a niece on my side). They were ridiculously extravagant, and I know they set back each family tens of thousands of dollars. It was obscene.

My sister-in-law (mother of the bride) was so stressed out trying to make everything perfect, and she somehow got others involved in her little web of despair, which caused a lot of very hurt feelings. (Thank goodness I didn’t get involved!)

Stress-free weddings do exist. Unfortunately we are being brainwashed to want all the silly and unnecessary trappings we see on TV shows like “Whose Wedding Is It Anyway.” The vast majority of weddings do NOT have a wedding planner!

When my husband and I married we wanted a small, intimate wedding. We had 75 guests and did everything ourselves (except for the food, the cake, and the invitations). I made my dress and the dresses of my maid of honor and flowergirl. My mother and I handmade all of our table centerpieces. I made my bouquet and the baskets my sister and niece carried. We decorated the hall ourselves. We found servers and bartenders ourselves. We provided the music.

Everything was arranged long before the wedding, so the day of the wedding all we had to do was show up and have a wonderful time!



Start now by teaching your daughters the kinds of values that would embrace a small, inexpensive wedding.

When they are older talk to them about their dreams and hopes regarding a wedding, then sit down with the real numbers of what those things cost. You simply say $xxxx is the budget and let them plan around that-- and you do not have to pay for everything or anything at all, they can save and pay their own way.

The stress mostly comes in from personalities-- mothers, mother-in-laws, brides, etc. Have a family meeting at the beginning of the engagement, set the budget, set the guest list, and set the expectations. All should go smoothly from there.

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