Watch these wedding costs
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.
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.