How I’m Saving Over $16,000 on My Wedding by Rethinking This One Thing

Wedding Traditions I'm Skipping

Earlier this week I came across this post on the wedding traditions people skipped. The comments were addicting. I’ll play along, I thought, mentally making a list of conventions my fiancé and I are doing without. But then the list started to get long, so I thought, why AM I deciding to forgo all these traditions?

So here’s a fun weekend post because:

A. My fingers hurt from all the typing I did for Wednesday’s post.
B. Come on, who doesn’t like to creep on other people’s weddings?

If you’re expecting a list of tactics on how to make your wedding cheaper, well, this post will disappoint you. Because you already know the ways to make your wedding cheaper. And my set of priorities aren’t the same as yours. Like, everyone, EVERYONE, tells you that no one cares about flowers, and you should just get them from Costco and do them yourself. And yet, flowers are one of my biggest wedding expenses yet!

Come on, guys, look at all the pretty that can be had with flowers! Photo: @putnamflowers

So if not tactics, then what? The #1 way I’m saving money on my wedding is by changing how I think about things. In particular, how I’m rethinking the one T word. Yeah, that’s right.


The 12 Wedding Traditions I’m Skipping

1. No Engagement Ring

I did so much research and looked at so many rings I think I qualify as an amateur gemologist now. But at the end of the day, none of the jewelry really excited me, and I had a feeling that no ring ever would, so I told my fiancé, “Instead of settling just because, let’s just skip the engagement ring altogether.” We decided the wedding band was enough.
Estimated savings: $3,000

2. Not Inviting Every Family Member

We have only 32 guests, including us. Even though neither one of us has huge families, we still didn’t invite them all. People say that if you invite one aunt, you have to invite all the aunts. Well, to hell with that. For example, I invited one cousin, but not her two sisters because I barely talk to them. Basically, if we haven’t talked to someone in two years, then they weren’t invited. One of the main reasons why we have the luxury to do this is because we’re paying for the wedding ourselves, and so it’s much easier  to call the shots.
Estimated savings: $2,450

3. Daytime, Not Evening

Everyone expects weddings to happen in the evening. The more I researched other weddings, a pattern emerged. The ones that inspired me the most were mostly from the past, and were very simple. I loved the idea of doing something a little more old-fashioned and casual by setting the wedding during the day, which used to be the norm. Also, with a nighttime wedding, I feel like there’s more pressure to “entertain” and to “impress” guests. By choosing the daytime option, it’s already less formal, so those grander expectations are automatically kept in check.
Estimated savings: $4,000

4. An Off-the-Rack Dress

Maybe I’ve missed out on a fun experience, but I haven’t set foot in a bridal salon. As someone who mostly wears pants, spending a lot on a one-time dress made me queasy. Oh, and you can question your dress color, too, if you want. Wedding dresses used to be red! But it wasn’t until Queen Victoria chose white for her wedding dress that white became the iconic choice. I look gross in traditional white-white, so my dress is cream-colored, which is much more flattering on my skintone. I also thought a lavender dress would be super pretty, but sadly, a dress in that shade never turned up in my searches.
Estimated Savings: $1,000

5. E-mail Save the Dates

As we had a short engagement, our main goal with the Save the Dates was to get them out as soon as possible. Paperless Post e-mails were the ideal option for uscute designs AND speedy. Plus, we included a section in the e-mail so recipients could send us their mailing addresses. This eliminated having to hunt people down separately for their addresses for the actual invitations, which we undoubtedly would have had to do if we had gone the paper route. 10/10 would recommend.
Estimated Savings: $100

6. A Non-Wedding Cake

Call me naive, but I found out recently that most wedding cakes are partly FAKE, supported by a cardboard structure. I felt the same way I did when I found out that Santa Claus wasn’t real. Betrayed. I looked up a cake I liked, and the “wedding cake” version cost $750. But then I thought, why exactly does it have to be tiered again? It doesn’t. So we’re buying a few of the regular, single-tiered cakes instead.
Estimated savings: $500

7. No Wedding Party

Bridesmaids and groomsmen are yet another thing to coordinate and add stress. We also don’t have to deal with paying for outfits, additional flowers, hair, makeup and gifts. Also, I’m pretty sure my specific set of friends are secretly relieved about this decision because they just want to enjoy my wedding as guests.
Estimated savings: $1,000

8. Getting Ready Together at Home

At first I imagined my fiancé and I getting ready together a fancy hotel, and all the dreamy photos that would yield. After all, don’t we deserve to treat ourselves on our wedding day? But then I thought about our actual home. And how we might move someday. And wouldn’t we regret it more if we didn’t have pictures of us in the apartment we used to live in? The first one we shared? Even though our apartment isn’t as photogenic as a trendy hotel room. Even though our apartment isn’t as minimalist as I’d like it to be. Even though there are unsightly air conditioners installed in the windows right now. At-home pictures, it is.
Estimated savings: $700

9. The Wedding Is the Only Party You Need

Engagement parties, bridal showers, rehearsal dinners, day-after brunchesthe list of events is exhausting. I know traditionally that these events are covered by parents, but since we’re paying on our own, this would mean more expenses and more parties to coordinate. Damn, planning the wedding is hard enough! And for a casual wedding, all of these felt unnecessary for us. As for gifts, I generally don’t like receiving them, with a few exceptions.
Estimated savings: $1,500

10. No DJ

Because I’ve never been to a wedding where one was actually good. Plus, my fiancé and I like making joint Spotify playlists, so this is another fun project we can work on together.
Estimated savings: $500

11. No Wedding Planner

If you couldn’t tell already, I’m Type-A PLUS, so I’m planning everything myself, with some help from the fiancé. And with fewer events to coordinate, the task is infinitely easier. However, I’m not totally unrealistic. We’re paying for a day-of coordinator who will handle all the logistics the day of. Otherwise, I’d be spending my time managing instead of being present at my own wedding.
Estimated savings: $1,500

12. No Fancy Transportation

At first I had imagined renting a vintage car for day-of transportation, like an old Rolls Royce. But then, the more I thought about it, the more I had to be honest with myself: the only reason I wanted a vintage car was for the pictures, and not because I actually cared about arriving in a nice car. So, a regular Lyft ride would work just fine.
Estimated savings: $100

Total estimated savings: $16,350

Despite all the traditions we’re skipping, I don’t think this makes my wedding any less valid or festive than anyone else’s. And I don’t feel like I’m “doing without.” But I DO feel like we’re doing things our own way, and that’s empowering.

The Thing No One Tells You About Weddings

My wise friend once said: The thing that no one tells you about weddings is that you aren’t equipped to plan one on your own. Because most people only do it once or twice, the skills you learn mostly get wasted. So it’s easy to get overwhelmed and feel lost. Then you turn to websites for help. Maybe you go onto The and grab a planning checklist. It feels productive, and you’ve got to start somewhere, right? But it’s also dangerous. Because let me tell you, I have that checklist, and it tells me that by month 3 I should have booked my photo booth already. Like having a photo booth is a requirement. It’s understandable to think that all the items on the list are necessary components of a “nice” wedding. After all, how much of a failure would you feel like if you left all those boxes unchecked? Recognize that the checklist is simply a TEMPLATE, and that means you can cherry-pick what you want to do. You don’t have to do all the things. Really.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Yourself Questions

If you’re having trouble deciding whether or not a wedding tradition is for you, here are some starter questions to ask yourself:

  • What is the purpose of this, and does it represent my values?
  • If I’m doing something, can I explain why?
  • If I decide NOT to do something, will I regret it?

People Will Tell You You’re Doing It Wrong

Fact: everyone judges everyone else’s wedding. Combine that reality with nontraditional choices, and you get comments like this:
“Your wedding is just a brunch.”
“How can you really celebrate during the daytime?”
“You must have a brunch for the day after.”
“You need a dress rehearsal the night before as a gathering point.”

A lot of people are telling me what I “have to do” or what I “should do.” I politely ignore them, because their version of what a wedding looks like isn’t the same as mine. But that doesn’t mean my feelings don’t get hurt. When I start feeling down or second-guessing my choices, I’ve found the best antidote is to rant to a good friend who’s always got my back. Doing this almost always sets me back on track.

Setting Expectations

If you’re doing anything nontraditional for your wedding, I’ve found the very best thing you can do for your guests is manage their expectations. The reality is, most people will expect your wedding to look and feel like all the other weddings they’ve been to. To avoid a jarring mismatch of expectations, we spent a TON of time thinking through and writing the content for the wedding website. We had an FAQ section that answered every single question we thought guests might ask or wonder about. We chose words carefully, so like, using “intimate”, so people knew it was a small wedding. Or “laid back”, so they knew it was less formal. I can’t overstate the importance of communication when it comes to weddings, especially if you’re going the nontraditional route.

There’s Nothing Wrong with Tradition

Make no mistake. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with doing traditions if they mean something to you. If you’re a traditionalist, then all these things I’m doing without probably make you happy, and that’s cool. But if you’re unsure at all, don’t be afraid to question the status quo, because everybody’s different and not everything will make sense for you. Don’t say yes to traditions just because you feel pressured to, or because that’s what “you’re supposed to do.” Your wallet, and future marriage, will thank you for it.

What are some wedding traditions you skipped, and why?

Image: The Luxe Strategist

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