How to be a DIY Bride and Host a Fabulous Wedding

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How to be a DIY Bride and Host a Fabulous Wedding
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The released their annual, all-things-wedding survey and I was blown away by the average wedding costs for 2013 (from 13,000 bridal respondents).

The average spent on a wedding in 2013 was just under $30,000. No?


If you believe the Knot.

It doesn’t stop there. Drilling down into the data, you’ll find that Manhattan, NY is the most expensive place to wed; topping the charts at $86,000. This doesn’t include the honeymoon. The breakdown includes expenses like:

  • $1200 on wedding dresses
  • $1,100 on the rehearsal dinner
  • $5,500 on the ring

Of the top five most expensive places to tie the knot, my fair city – Chicago – earned the #4 spot (only $48,000).

I wonder…are the parents of the bride still paying for all of this?

In case you care, Idaho is the most economic locale; weighing in at the bargain basement price of $16,000. Whoa!

Full disclosure: I did have a grand wedding with all of our family, friends, and even a few of my grandmother’s neighbors. I even rounded up a few of the neighborhood kids, dragged them down, and put them to work. They performed to the Lion King’s Circle of Life before Youtube reception dances were all the rage.

Myer’s Castle in Dyer, IN

I’m not against fabulousness or going in on your big day. The question is – can you afford it and how does that price tag impact your future family’s goals?

I wonder how much of that $30,000 is financed and following the new couples home after wedding day bliss has faded? That little detail wasn’t included in the survey. We did pay cash – up front – for all expenses.

We found ways to have the grand wedding within our budget.

  • No flowers or decorations required (except the bouquet) because we married outside. A peacock even made an appearance for no extra fee.
  • Friday evening (or brunch) receptions are cheaper. We discovered this by accident because all Saturday dates were booked.
  • Select basic meal and drink packages and ix-nay the horderves. (They wouldn’t allow us to cut the alcohol. We didn’t want guests drinking and driving, but they charged us for a basic bar package anyway).
  • No chair covers and a opt for a basic cake. The pictures were still fabulous. Cake was also the only dessert!
  • We traveled outside of the city. 30 minutes (to Indiana) in rush hour traffic was a minor inconvenience to bring the price down.
  • Flyer miles paid for the honeymoon travel. Puerto Rico may not have been my first choice, but that’s where ATA flew and we had a wonderful time.
  • Day of wedding coordinators were my gal pals (and one guy). They came complete with walkie-talkies, code names, and project management spreadsheets. Fun times!
  • If administration is not your gift and your budget doesn’t support a wedding planner’s fee, enlist the help of a friend or family member with good taste and a bend toward frugality; preferably one who’s already had successful experience with wedding details.
  • If you don’t have a David’s Bridal body (let’s face it – the $99 dress doesn’t flatter every figure), consider a local dress shop to make your dream gown. My great-aunt recommended a local seamstress that she’d worked with before. My girlfriend from Columbia translated and I had a custom dress for $650 in less than 2 weeks. I would advise working with someone who has an established business. My first referral (from grandma) cashed my $200 deposit and disappeared. We’ve never heard from him since.

I feel like I married eons ago, before bridal glamour shows and the Housewives franchises encouraged us to abandon all reason. Wedding planning expert, Kim Moss of Black Bag Productions Online, joined our latest Midday Money Show podcast to help me understand how weddings can cost $30,000. She dished how to be a DIY Bride and still throw a fabulous wedding. As December is the most popular time to pop the question, this seems like a great time to explore weddings, budgets, and more.


In case you’re curious, we spent about $13,000 for our wedding. Would I do it again, knowing what I know now? I plan to…for our 20th anniversary celebration – which is closer than I care to acknowledge. I want to return to the castle again (we might only do brunch though)! It will, of course, be paid for in cash.

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