Oh how time flies. My wife Sally and I are coming up on our one year anniversary and as we reminisce on our lovely life together I thought now would be a good time to tell my readers how inexpensive a wedding can potentially be.
Being more stylish (but also more frugal) than the average couple our first task after deciding to tie the knot was figuring out what to wear. I have been dressing well on a budget for years and understand the basics when it comes to a quality suit. Call me a snob but I will never (again) wear a synthetic rental. Not only are suits from places like Men’s Warehouse overpriced, they are also ill fitting and poorly made.
I had been wanting to buy a tuxedo for years and finally had an excuse to do so. I regularly scour thrift stores but figured Ebay and Etsy would have a better selection for my specific need. I spent a few weeks searching these sites until I found an awesome Brooks Brothers tuxedo. The suit was my size in the shoulders and the waist but was a regular in length and I’m a long. After sending a few messages back and forth with the seller I understood the sleeves had enough fabric to be lengthened. I pulled the trigger and a week later I received a black-shawl lapel – made in USA – canvassed Brooks Brothers tuxedo for about $250. It had only been worn a couple of times and would have cost $1000 more if I had boughten it new.
My mother is a great seamstress and lengthened the jacket sleeves, in addition to tapering and hemming the trousers. I paid a “professional seamstress” $40 to take in the body of the jacket. To round out my outfit I purchased a slim fit Boss tuxedo shirt on Ebay for $50, a handmade bow-tie for $12 on etsy, and onyx cufflinks from a garage sale for $1. I already owned a pair of versatile Allen Edmonds Park Avenues that I bought from Ebay for $50 the year prior. My father let me have his old boutonnière to round out the outfit. My tuxedo was similar in price to renting one from Men’s Warehouse but is of significantly higher quality. If properly kept it should last almost a lifetime.
Like many women, my wife likes those reality TV wedding dress shows. Fortunately for me she used them more for design inspiration and not as a price point. We were willing to splurge (relatively) on a dress but in the end the dress found us. Hung up high on a wall in a thrift store on a weekend trip to Sacramento was a beautiful gown. I was defiantly hesitant about buying a wedding dress second-hand but after seeing her in it there was no way we were leaving it there. The dress fit perfect without any alterations although Sally asked for a “sweetheart neckline” which my mother created.
My fraternity brother dabbles in photography and after a phone reunion he was gracious enough to do our engagement and wedding photos “pro-brono.” Pretty awesome guy if you ask me. My aunt baked a delicious chocolate and cheesecake two-tiered cake.
For an inexpensive venue we chose the San Francisco City Hall. Not only is it beautiful (it was modeled after St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City), it was also less than $200 for the booking and marriage license.
During the ceremony the judge doing the proceedings kept complementing my wife on how beautiful she looked in her dress and asking what designer produced it. She giggled and told the judge it was “vintage.”
For rings, we bought each other simple platinum wedding bands. My wife’s is channel-set with diamonds on top. After much research Costco turned out to be the best value and most trusted storefront. They only charge 14% above cost and the ring comes appraised at more than it was purchased for. My ring was the simplest platinum band possible from Blue Nile. I combined a coupon code with a rewards credit card to save even more.
Afterwards the ceremony we had lunch with a dozen friends and family members at a local restaurant followed by a week-long honeymoon at a friend’s Lake Tahoe cabin. It was our family-friend’s vacation home and she was kind enough to let us stay for free.
In the end not only did I marry the love of my life, I was able to do it on only a few weeks salary. Excluding our wedding bands, the wedding and honeymoon were done for under $1000.