Sunday, June 29, 2008

Confessions of a frugal bride? Try Miserly!

I read Sue Stocks’ story "Confessions of a frugal bride" this morning in the News & Observer of how she came in well under the $28,000 average cost of weddings. She’d find me downright miserly.

After 5 years of living together in Los Angeles, Jon Batson and I married in October of 1994, six months after making the decision to make the leap.

Both being artsy folks, me graphic design with interior design and theatre background and he a singer-songwriter with film, TV and theatre background, we knew lots of talented people. Once the announcement was made friends literally flocked to help and be a part of our ceremony.

Here’s how it went…

First Challenge - Finding a place outdoors in Los Angeles with a waterfall that did not want all the money we could make in our lifetime. Amazingly we found
Pickwick Gardens in Burbank. We met with the ceremony coordinator, checked out the facility and it was perfect for us. Outside, gardens, flowers, waterfall, space for the rehearsal dinner, floral arrangements, bridal lounge (including champagne), canopy, chairs for 200 guests - a great package for $600. That’s right there are no missing zeros $600.

I decided on an eggshell and burgundy/mauve color scheme and went to work. Marti, one of my best friends in LA is an event planner so she was a great help. We decided to cover the poles holding the canopy in silk flowers wrapped around cream-colored tulle to add color and drama. The tulle was cheap, cheap , cheap especially at the wholesale fabric place downtown. For the flowers I scoured the local craft store, found what I wanted, read the label to determine the company they came from, placed an order and got them wholesale.

I picked a dress that fit the occasion and could be worn easily at another formal event. Jon already owned a tux as did all the groomsmen – remember this was LA. The gals liked and looked beautiful in their multi-use burgundy dresses from the supplier in the garment district. Gifts for the wedding party folks I purchased wholesale as well – silver boxes for the ladies, and silver key chains for the guys.

We sent out the invites (postage was only 29 cents back then). At their own expense family flew in from the east coast for the big event and stayed at the hotel near the Media Center in rooms I had negotiated down to the big convention rate. Ok, so I knew the events manager.

The rehearsal dinner was a blast. There were 30 of us - family and friends. At one point I noticed my mom staring at one of the guests I asked her about it and she commented that he looked so familiar. I told her it was an actor friend of ours Michael Fairman. Dad picked up the tab, which was an unexpected boon.

The day of the wedding Marti zipped over to the flower mart for my bouquet of dendrobiun orchids, bridesmaids flowers, boutonnières and the corsage for my mom, then sped over to the facility to direct the team of volunteers who put the tulle and flowers up and took them down after the ceremony. Charli’s gift was the most amazing chocolate cake with butter crème frosting. Her husband needed a wedding for his portfolio and took the photos we wanted under her direction.

Joy Graysen, Rozlyn Sorrell and Juanda Marshall were the vocalists. When Rozlyn sang people came out of the buildings because they thought Whitney Houston was performing. Jon wrote and sang "One Rose" to me. For music Enya, Handels’ "Water Music" and the traditional processional were our choices and Joe worked the board; Stan, the borrowed video cam; and David was our Minister. After our vows we wowed all 200+ guests as we and the bridal party did the tango a la True Lies as the recessional. Many of the guests joined in.

After the obligatory photo session we all went inside to one of the rooms the facility provided us to use. The staff had decorated the cloth-covered tables with live flowers and the trays of canapés were delicious.

Oh, did I mention this cost us nothing. Turned out the facility needed the grounds to set up for another function and had to provide a place for us to go. Now true, I found that out 10 days before the wedding and was so "upset" I could not have the cake cutting outside that they gave us the room, set-up, dance floor, food and cash bar as a way of making amends.

From start to finish the entire event cost us about $2,000. Mom and Dad could not believe it. They said it looked like a $15,000 wedding. He gave me a check and paid for the morning after breakfast too, or maybe it was my Uncle, I don’t remember.

Everyone had a great time and talk of it still. In fact when I was a bridesmaid at my friends’ wedding there a few years later the same coordinator remembered me and told me the staff use our wedding as an example how to put on a great show on a budget.

Keep Creative!