The Budget & Planning
We got engaged on Halloween, 1996. Since we already had a vacation planned for December 28, we decided "What the heck... let's get married on December 27!" That gave us a whopping eight weeks to plan a whole wedding.

Needless to say, this was a challenge -- but a fun one.

We not only had to put a wedding together quickly, but we had to do it cheaply as well. Neither of us had been saving money for a wedding, and we didn't expect parental support (fiscally, anyway). Here's how we did it.

We chose our home for the ceremony and reception. Not only was this inexpensive, but it is a beautiful, craftsman-style house, fairly large, and it has a great deal of meaning for us.

I bought the first dress I looked at. $175.

My shoes were from Nordstrom Rack, $26 and fit perfectly!

The wedding colors we chose were the colors I already decorate in at Christmas, and we intended to use the Christmas decorations for the wedding. (In addition, I could buy tons of wedding decorations, and then reuse them every year at Christmastime!)

I created the floral arrangements myself with silk flowers. I'll describe the other decorations on the Flowers and Decorations page.

I designed the invitations myself and managed to have 50+ invitations done for less than $25.

We had a late-evening dessert reception instead of a full dinner, so we arranged for lots of cookies (I made some myself); bought mini-cheesecakes, nuts, champagne, cider, and other things at Costco; ordered a fruit plate from Larry's Market; and ordered the cake from Larsen's Bakery (via QFC) -- chocolate with raspberry filling.

I would have loved to have live music (I'm a musician myself), but for such a small wedding it seemed silly to hire a band or even a single musician. Instead, I made a prelude/processional and recessional/post-ceremony tape myself, from cds in our collection. I arranged for one of my bandmates to run the four-track tape deck from the back of the room. After the tape was over, we switched to big band music from our satellite mini-dish.

Photography was a struggle. I really wanted to hire a pro, but we just didn't have much money. Finally, we decided to bite the bullet and hire a pro anyway. As it turned out, I will be designing his web site in exchange for the photography. :) For fun, I also bought a pack of 5 disposable "wedding cameras" with processing included from Kits Cameras, though I didn't expect to use those in place of a pro.

Jason didn't want to dress up at all -- he insisted he would wear shorts and a t-shirt for the ceremony. But he ended up buying a suit -- the biggest thing on the budget, at $500!

Jason had a best man and I had a maid of honor. That's it. We didn't specify what they should wear with the exception of telling them that we wanted them to dress up a little. I don't see any reason to treat my friends as part of the decor by insisting that they wear particular outfits or colors. The photos will look good if they wear what THEY feel comfortable in, not something the bride chose. (No offense meant if you feel otherwise; this is just MY opinion.) Shari wore a black and burgundy dress with a sort-of medieval style. John wore a dark suit with a white band-collar shirt. They looked fine. :)

Including Jason's suit, the two of us spent about $1600 on the wedding and about $1500 or so on the honeymoon. (We bought almost nothing at WDW except food and a couple of photos.) Notable bargains were the dress: $175, the headpiece: $25, the invitations: $21, the photography: bartered, and the rings: $97 (We bought silver rings). You CAN have a nice, inexpensive wedding, with only 8 weeks of planning! I don't think anyone felt that our wedding had a rushed feel to it, or was particularly cheap looking. (Of course, Jason will wear the suit elsewhere, so maybe the full $500 cost shouldn't be tacked on to the wedding budget. Jason didn't own a suit before.)

Jason's parents contributed a large chunk of money toward a honeymoon, paid for the wedding cake ($100) and also bought additional decorations and stuff for the reception. They lent us the punch bowl, candle sticks, a card table, and a table cloth. My mom lent us a large table. The only thing we had to rent were the chairs, and they were only 85 cents each (paid for by Jason's parents).

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© 1997 by Wendi Dunlap Simpson and Jason Simpson