The Frugal Bride—Are You Getting Married? Save Money and Still Have a Great Wedding!

A Lovely Wedding Can Be Frugal!

A wedding is one of the biggest events most of us will ever be involved in. It is also one of the most emotional. And of course we want our guests to have a wonderful time, and we want to create happy memories that will last forever. But—we may not have enough money to go around. What is the frugal bride to do?

When I got married in 2000 I only spent $1200 dollars. I recycled the rings from a pawn shop (after we smudged them with sage, that is.) I used a dress that I had bought awhile before but never worn, a frothy shell pink number with lots of lace. We got married in the empty field next door. We served homemade food to our guests, and my friend who is a baker made the cake. The minister cost $250, so we had to pay that. The only thing I splurged on was the flowers—the bouquet and one big beautiful arrangement.

The first thing you need to do to plan a frugal wedding is break down all the components. Venue, food, drinks, music, flowers, other decorations, officiant, wedding attire, rings, and whatever else you want to include. Then think each element through, with one question in mind—“How can I get this taken care of for little or no money?”

Do you have a dress in the family that would suit you? Wearing a family heirloom at your wedding could be very charming. Does someone you know have a lovely cutting garden? Maybe they would donate the flowers. Know a baker? Perhaps they would do as my friend did and make you a pretty wedding cake. Is someone in your family a remarkable cook? Let them run the lunch or dinner plans. Do you belong to a church, temple, or other congregation? Many times the group will provide the space for the wedding and the minister or rabbi will officiate free of charge for members. Why not ask?

Go through the list and dig up every source of help you can. When you have run out of free or discounted helpers it is time to take stock of the things you must pay for. This is one of the reasons planning ahead is so important. You can’t get good deals at the last minute unless you are very lucky, and who wants to rely on luck at a time like this?

Because it is your wedding, and that is a most important occasion, it is totally with-in the frugal plan to splurge on one or two elements. The only requirement is that you give due consideration to every detail before you open your wallet. It may be the wine or the dress or the rings. Whatever it is, think it through carefully, spend what you need joyously and without regret, and whatever else—enjoy your day!


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For Some Frugal Fun Try Playing Some Homegrown Music with Friends

Music is Good Frugal Fun

It seems that in many cases things we do ourselves for entertainment are more frugal than things we pay to watch others do. Do it yourself pastimes are almost always more fun than being a mere spectator too. Take music for example.

I love concerts and clubs, but some of my fondest musical memories involve garage jam sessions, singing by the campfire, and impromptu dueling guitars popping out at a dinner party. I know that you all have experienced something similar. Playing music with friends is free, it’s fun, and it builds community. At community meetings it breaks tension and brings people together. It would not be a big stretch to call it therapeutic. It may be true that professional musicians sound better technically. Maybe your skill level isn’t as high as you would like and you feel embarrassed. Don’t let that stand in your way. In a casual home environment no one cares about that. They will be having too much fun singing along even if they are out of key.

So next time you are sitting around bored, pull out that old guitar or keyboard and noodle a little. Learn a few songs that most people know the words to. If you don’t play an instrument but have always wanted to, figure out what instrument you would like to learn and look for a used one. This is one of the items with a small up-front cost leading to years of pleasure. Then, next time your crowd gets together for a potluck meal, bring your instrument, and encourage others to join you. You may find yourself getting more popular overnight, and everyone will have a great time. There is no down side to homegrown musical fun!

Frugal Entertaining-Throw a Potluck

The Host Should Provide Something Substantial

Summer is Here!

Here we are, finally, enjoying the lazy days of summer. Longer days and sunny summer weather practically call out for a party. But it is difficult for many in these hard times for one person to foot the whole bill. Don’t let that stop you. Throw a potluck instead. People won’t mind. In fact, these days most folks are so trained to bring a contribution that it is hard to stop them. Over the last couple of years I have thrown several parties where I was specifically doing all the cooking, and everyone showed up with a dish to share anyhow. I say don’t fight it.

The Role of the Host

Even though it is a potluck, if you are the host you should provide something substantial. We usually provide the main protein. This could mean running the grill and providing regular and veggie burgers with the trimmings, or cooking a turkey and a ham plus a tofurkey. This way, you still get to retain some of the graciousness of being a host, but with less expense and less work. Either way, guests all bring their own bottle, assuring both that everyone gets what they want, and that you don’t pay for it.

Organizing It All

The first thing you need is a list of categories. Perhaps appetizers, sides, salads, veggies, and desserts. Some people take a free form approach and tell the guests to just pick what they want to make. Often this works out well, but you may end up with seven pasta salads and no vegetables. There are other ways to break it up, including alphabetically and by astrological sign. Don’t always go straight through the alphabet. The A-F crowd gets tired of making appetizers and might enjoy a chance to make dessert.

Rules for Guests

If you are a guest at a potluck, bring a dish big enough to feed about ten to twelve people. If you like to cook, thing of this as a chance to really show off. If you are not talented in the kitchen, make something simple- say a cheese plate if you are doing an appetizer, or a simple green salad if salads are your assignment. Just don’t bring something from the deli counter. A potluck is about sharing and creativity, so make a little effort. Transport your dish in a container you are not attached to, and don’t forget serving implements. Be on time. A meal is a time sensitive event, and you don’t want to inconvenience your host or throw off the rhythm. And finally, help clean up. Your own mess and a little more. I wish all of you a summer filled with wonderful meals shared with good friends.

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