Watch th­ese wed­ding costs

The Denver Post - - LIFE & CULTURE - By Marni Jame­son, Spe­cial to The Den­ver Post

Be­fore I say “I do,” which is the plan a few weeks from now, I’m say­ing “I don’t.” A lot. This is nec­es­sary to fend off the posse of prenup­tial preda­tors who come af­ter brides— who are mostly ( un­like me) young and in­no­cent.

I see right through them. I feel sorry for the unini­ti­ated, who fall for what oth­ers tell them they “should” want and “must” have to the tune of tens of thou­sands of dol­lars that few can hon­estly af­ford.

Take the bridal store. “I’m an older bride get­ting re­mar­ried and don’t want to look like a con­fec­tion,” I said as I en­tered one and tried to set the tone.

The salesladies brushed that no­tion off like dan­druff and threw gowns at me the size of cov­ered wag­ons.

“Do you have some­thing sim­pler?” I said from in­side the middle of a cup­cake.

“Well, you don’t want to look like your guests!” they cried. “I sort of do,” I said. They ex­changed dis­ap­pointed glances and moved to the brides­maid rack, where, it be­came clear, the main job of a brides­maid dress is to look like a back­drop and not up­stage the bride. They’re bor­ing. Be­sides, ev­ery time I see a brides­maid dress, I think: “Some­day that will make a nice Christ­mas tree skirt.”

I ditched the bridal shops and found a lovely dress at a depart­ment store.

I then en­coun­tered the wed­ding pho­tog­ra­phers, who have two tiers of pric­ing: Wed­dings and Not Wed­dings. If you’re go­ing to hire a pho­tog­ra­pher for your wed­ding, the trick is to say it’s not a wed­ding. You will save thou­sands.

“The price in­cludes 200 pho­tos on a CD,” one pho­tog­ra­pher told me.

“I don’t want 200 pho­tos,” I said. ( What sicko wants to look through hun­dreds of pic­tures of him­self?) “I only want a dozen.” He was of­fended.

A pho­tog­ra­pher friend I’ve worked with pointed me to a young, tal­ented pho­tog­ra­pher who hadn’t yet started tripling her fees be­cause the oc­ca­sion was a wed­ding. She’s hired.

“Is it just me?” I asked wed­ding con­sul­tant Jen­nifer Durbin, au­thor of “Party Tips for the Clue­less Chick,” ( Sourced Me­dia, 2013). “Or is there a con­spir­acy to dupe cou­ples into shelling out the equiv­a­lent of a house down pay­ment on a wed­ding?”

“When I first meet with cou­ples, I re­mind them that this is go­ing to be a won­der­ful, won­der­ful day, but it is just a day,” said Durbin. “They don’t want to end it with amoun­tain of debt.”

Once she puts the day in per­spec­tive, “cou­ples sud­denly care a lot less that they don’t have 10 passed hors d’oeu­vres and only have three,” said Durbin, who lives Raleigh, N. C., and doesn’t plan wed­dings but rather helps cou­ples plan wed­dings them­selves.

She helped me come up with th­ese 10 don’ts to con­sider be­fore say­ing I do:

1 Don’t say the “W” word un­less you have to.

“Many pro­fes­sion­als up their rates when they hear ‘ wed­ding,’ ” said Durbin. “I’ve seen hair­dressers who nor­mally charge $ 50 for an updo, charge $ 150when it’s for a bride.”

2 Don’t feel you need a wed­ding plan­ner. “A good wed­ding plan­ner can make the day flaw­less,” said Durbin. “Just know that if you use one, you are com­mit­ting to a much costlier wed­ding.” Do, how­ever, hire a wed­ding co­or­di­na­tor who will help with flow, as in telling the bridal party when to walk down the aisle.

3 Don’t sign up for a lo­ca­tion with­out know­ing the re­stric­tions. Many venues re­strict you to their ap­proved list of ven­dors. “You may love a beau­ti­ful barn set­ting for your wed­ding, only to find out you’re re­quired to hire the $ 6,000 pho­tog­ra­pher that goes with it,” said Durbin. Also, don’t just go for low­price. Some venues are less ex­pen­sive but are plain. By the time you bring in the flow­ers, bal­loons, and arches you’ll need to add char­ac­ter, you might as well have paid for the more ex­pen­sive lo­ca­tion with built- in am­bi­ence.

4 Don’t feel ob­li­gated to in­vite strangers or kids. “If you in­vite un­known guests, the oc­ca­sion can turn into a free for all,” warned my sta­tionery con­sul­tant, who gave me per­mis­sion to not write “and guest” on the in­vi­ta­tions of my sin­gle un­at­tached friends. “It’s also fine not to in­vite kids,” added Durbin, “just let fam­i­lies with chil­dren know ahead of time.”

5 Don’t have your pho­tog­ra­pher the whole time.

Find a pho­tog­ra­pher who charges by the hour, and have him ar­rive the hour be­fore the wed­ding and leave at the be­gin­ning of the re­cep­tion, when guests stop look­ing their best.

6 Don’t feel you need a fancy re­hearsal din­ner. A ca­sual, re­laxed get- to­gether the evening be­fore can be a wel­come re­lief for guests, said Durbin. You can even have the din­ner in your home; bring in food, and hire some lo­cal col­lege kids to help serve and clean up.

7 Don’t have your wed­ding and re­cep­tion in sep­a­rate places. Hav­ing both in one place will save time, in­con­ve­nience and prob­a­bly money, if your ven­dors charge by the hour and for travel.

8 Don’t feel ob­li­gated by tra­di­tion. “There’s noth­ing you have to do,” said Durbin. “If you don’t like cake, you don’t have to have one.”

9 Don’t fall for too many flow­ers. Re­pur­pose bou­quets and flow­ers from the cer­e­mony at the re­cep­tion. Put bou­quets on the cake ta­ble, and al­tar flo­rals by the gifts. Bou­quets are very ex­pen­sive, said Durbin. Con­sider car­ry­ing a few long- stem roses in­stead.

10 Don’t choose out­sized in­vi­ta­tions. Over­sized, odd shaped or bulky in­vi­ta­tions can cost as much as $ 2 each to mail. Ask your sta­tioner be­fore you or­der about mail­ing costs, or take an in­vi­ta­tion sam­ple to the post of­fice to weigh your op­tions.

“As long as you’re hav­ing the time of your life, and show­ing guests that the wed­ding is ex­actly what you wanted, no one will think you skimped on any­thing,” said Durbin. Syn­di­cated colum­nist Marni Jame­son is the au­thor of two home and life­style books, in­clud­ing “Down­siz­ing the Fam­ily Home: What to Save, What to Let Go,” from Ster­ling Pub­lish­ing.

Cour­tesy of dream­stime. com

dou­ble- duty flo­rals: Wed­ding bou­quets are ex­pen­sive. Get the most out of them by re­pur­pos­ing them at the re­cep­tion to ac­ces­sorize the cake or guest­book ta­ble.

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