Have you heard? Couples who have cheaper weddings stay married longer! If that’s the case, my Husband, my love, my Bello had better get used to my annoying habit of being bright, happy and perky the moment I wake up each morning. I’m pretty sure most humans would need more coffee than Bello to handle me most mornings… although he does start each day with a particularly strong Italian brew come to think of it. House rules, Lavazza made in Bialetti only!
All joking aside, when CNN published this article last month, I debated telling our wedding story. With the average New York City wedding costing $86,916 detailing how we planned our Manhattan wedding in 64 days for $7,210 seems a little braggadocios. After mulling it over and sharing the facts with a few close friends, their shocked reactions told me all I needed to know. It might actually be helpful to share how we keep the costs down and the stress out of our romantic little day. I will warn you, there are a lot of kissing photos below!
Looking back I am amazed we pulled it off. The real hitch was lack of time, more so than money. After Bello proposed in June, we looked at the calendar and realized, there was only one week left we could make work the same year. August the 22nd became our date and it was the best decision we ever made.
Some might say crazy since we also traveled to Costa Rica later that month, leaving only 64 days to plan. I’m here to tell you it’s entirely possible. The blessing of such a short timeframe, we basically forced ourselves into deciding quickly what mattered and what didn’t.
Here are the simple ways we kept the stress out and the budget low.
- Step 1: We did it our way. If we were not concerned about a detail, it did not concern us.
- Step 2: We understood clearly what WAS important and that boiled down to a short list. First, becoming Husband and Wife. Second toasting our nuptials with food and wine we knew our family and friends would enjoy.
- Step 3: We understood clearly what was NOT important, nearly everything else!
- Step 4: Splurge a little and save a lot. We put our money where our mouth was… literally.
29 People, 1 Room and a Lot of Wine: $4,200
Selecting a Thursday afternoon cut down on costs, dramatically. Few couples are willing to wed in the middle of the week, so a Voce was more willing to give us a deal. We paid nothing for the use of the room, saving thousands of dollars on this one detail alone. We paid only for what we ate and drank, which… was a lot. The single largest cost of the entire wedding, wine. What can we say, it might have been a Thursday afternoon but we had a great time!
Being flexible on the day of the week and keeping our guest list to 29 people was a tradeoff that gave us a world class dining experience and the elevated Central park view we dreamed of.
His & Hers Head to Toe: $1,200
The dress, a simple yet elegant Ralph Lauren bias cut silk gown (on sale at Saks). The Suit a Dapper light gray Tommy Hilfiger (reasonably priced at Macys). The shoes, Stuart Wietzman strappy gems (also on sale) for her, Hugo Boss classic cut for him. Down to the handkerchief we spent less here than most women on hair, makeup, mani and pedi. Trust me in NYC my favorite stylist asked me for $500 which is apparently not unusual for Big Hair on the Big Day. Needless to say, I did my own hair, makeup and went to a corner spot for a regular old mani, pedi
A Picture Is Worth $1000 Words
We had one unusual expense that was of great importance to me, an interpreter. On our big day, I did not want his parents to feel isolated as the only non English speakers in the room. This after-all, would be the first time our parents met. Our interpreter truly helped make our day. We felt as if he was a friend to the family and at the same time was the most professional, adapt and delightful wedding guest. The one exception to this request for me, was that my Husband say his vows to me in both English and Italian. It only felt right to have his parents hear his words in his voice for such an important event.
Out of respect for another close friend I’m lumping the total for the interpreter in with photography. It’s rather usual since photography is rightly so, an expensive part of most weddings. There is a lot of pressure to select the right photographer and the good photographers, as I know from personal experience do everything within their power to make those memories last a lifetime. They understand the importance of their part in the day. These guys and gals, the good ones are kind, hard working people who consistently give it their all.
That said, we were lucky, our photographer and his lovely wife are our friends and consequently we were given a very friendly rate. No grater gift could have been wrapped in a box than our memories being captured so seamlessly through the day.
From here on out the splurging was over, the saving began. The rest of the expenses were around symbolic gestures. In neither of our houses were we raised to believe that a gesture of love should be expensive.
2 No Bling Rings $500
Manhattan does have a lot of bling in the diamond district but we skipped the big gems. His a matt palladium band. Hers a wisp of fairy dust like diamonds rings my finger. Simple not flashy, our symbols of our commitment are something we can wear no matter where we travel in the world.
Flowers Nearly Forgotten $250
Two weeks pre-wedding while brunching we both got calls. Italian Mamma and my Mom both asked “what are you doing for flowers?” It’s not exactly that we forgot, we liked the classiness of the room we had reserved and felt it needed no embellishment. Yet both Mom’s made their ONLY suggestion around the entire wedding that day, “at least get a bouquet.” That they both asked, the same day, we took as a sign.
Right after brunch, we passed a local florist on our walk home. We walked in and within 20 minutes we had selected a simple bouquet for me to carry down the “aisle” and 3 cute petite bundles of red roses for the table. No fuss, no fret all romantic red. Trust me I know how fortunate we are to have Mothers who respected our wishes for our big day and put absolutely no demands on us.
On our big day, the flowers symbolized our respect and gratitude for our Mothers. We were raised with so much love, their warmth was the sunlight that made our lives bloom.
A Sweet Gesture, the Cake $25
As a teenager, my family and I attended a neighbors wedding. The Groom unceremoniously shoved the cake, hard, into the Brides face. My Father was displeased.
Later that night, Dad explained. This tradition had become a joke in so many ceremonies, but in his mind it should never be. It’s actually very touching when upheld with honor. Feeding each other cake, is a symbolic gesture to show how you will provide for each other with tender, loving care.
On our big day, the cake symbolized our respect and gratitude for our Fathers. We were both raised by men of strong respectful yet tender character, who provide guidance to this day.
Legal License $35
While it’s not unimportant, or symbolic but there is no way to save or spend more on a marriage license so far as I know.
What I do know is that we had the worlds best officiant, in one of our best friends. We were joined as a couple by a man who knew us both well, filled the ceremony with love. The words he spoke deeply touched our hearts and brought the house down in tears. Thank you my friend, I will forever be in your debt.
That’s it, that’s the sum total of the money spent. No limo, no horse carriage, no doves, no favors outside of the happy buzz our guests took with them. I did my own hair and makeup. I wore my Grandmother’s necklaces as a barely there tiara, but I knew she was there looking down from above.
Not even an invitation was sent. While we both have friends far, far outside the city, we did not expect them to come or send gifts. We called our family and a few local friends and asked them to hold the date, we followed up with an email and they all showed.
In the end, our parents sent us money. Although we had the cash to pay for our wedding ourselves and were proud to do so, the extra funds enabled us to have a honeymoon. We will forever carry the memory of sitting on our balcony watching the storms roll in over the ocean and chase the dolphins deeper into the bay. Thank you.
One special thanks I do not want to miss, my Sister. She got out her old calligraphy set and polished up her skills in the middle of keeping a house together with two amazingly active young kids.
I sent her this:
I got this:
Thank you Sis. You’re a class act and I love you.
Oh and no, as many people have asked, we were not and are not pregnant. We are two people who know what they want, in love and living life to it’s fullest, grateful for every second.