ASK ELLIE: Wedding costs and a future Bridezilla

Sep 21, 2021 at 09:12 am by Ask Ellie

Dear Ellie:

I am planning a wedding for May 2022, and the expenses are far exceeding my expectations. Of course, I want it all, the big dress, amazing photographer, full sit-down dinner, venue, honeymoon, etc. My parents made it clean what my budget is and that I have to match every dollar, and they are not paying for my honeymoon at all. Is it wrong to charge wedding guest for the catering and bar. I think this would be a great idea, so I get what I need that day, and my guest get a great dinner.

Murfreesboro Bride


Dear Murfreesboro Bride:

Your parents gave you a budget, stick to it and pay for your portion. I actually feel you should be paying for all of it, as your parents are not obligated to throw you a party.

NO, NO, NO, it is not appropriate to charge guests to attend your wedding. You may find you will have zero guests. You call your guests actual guests and that is a good thing. You don’t charge guests, they are guests.

You don’t mention the groom at all, what are his thoughts?  Is the groom participating in this event.

If you are truly interested in saving money on a wedding, here are a few thoughts. Ask yourself what is most important to you and your spouse. Is it the destination, the venue, invitations, the flowers, cake, food, open bar, photography, etc. Find that one thing that is most important and stick to that one thing, and then build your wedding, and your party around this.

I would recommend never compromising on two things: the photographer and the vows. This day cannot be done over, so it's important to document it the first and only time it will happen. For your vows, I suggest you write your own and that they come from the heart. This is your declaration of love to one another. Everything else is up for compromise.

You are going to wear your dress for less than half a day. Then you may box it and save it in the top of your closet for what purpose? Rent a dress. You can get a far better dress by renting one rather than buying.

When you buy your wedding cake, don’t go to all the tastings, this adds costs. We all know what cake tastes like. Also, go to a bakery and order cakes separately and put them together yourself.  If you do a little research on how to do it, this will save so much money. Calling a cake a wedding cake just adds costs. Recently I bought a three-tier cake from Sam's Wholesale club for a party, costs was $68 and was three flavors, and delicious. It’s cake. it shouldn't cost a fortune.

For bridesmaid dresses and groomsmen clothing, these are your friends, be good to them. Make sure the girls like the dresses, and they can wear them again. For the men, make sure they are not wearing an ill-fitted rented tux, or better yet, go with a nice suit they can wear again. JCPennys has wonderful online pricing for dresses, and you can return the sizes that don’t fit with ease. 

Do NOT tell your bridesmaids they must lose weight or wear their hair a certain way. Unless you are paying for hair and make up, these are your friends, let them love you. 

For flowers, Sam's Wholesale Club has the best wedding flowers by order. I have used them for many occasions and have never been disappointed. Or if you want a girl's night before your wedding, Nashville Flower Market sells flowers in bulk for a fraction of the price and you can create your own arrangements.

For music, do you want people dancing at your party? Then hire a DJ over a band, or have someone make you a mixtape flash drive or Spotify playlist.

For invitations, you can do your own, this is personal and beautiful. Canva is an easy-to-use source for graphic design. If you use a designer and printer, price it. You will pay what you want for invitations, so check out many places.

For food, if you want a full party, then you need food. If you want a short reception, then cake, water, coffee and punch. This is entirely up to you.  To have it catered, call a restaurant with a catering truck.  Your food will be fresher with a food truck, they are bringing the restaurant to your party. They can also discuss with you, paper or glass, table coverings, and other food necessities. 

For your venue, if you are not going to have alcohol at your wedding, have you thought about a community park for an outdoor wedding. The city or county would love to rent you park space for your day, and the price is pennies, and sometimes free. People can spread out and have a picnic atmosphere. If you want a big luxury house, then be prepared to pay for the luxury, and save for the expense.  

Destination weddings ask a great deal from guests, so be prepared for many not in attendance. 

Register for gifts because people will want to buy you a present. DO NOT REGISTER for CASH – this is rude. Do not register for people to pay for your honeymoon, this is also RUDE. What is great is to register to a charity, and ask your guests to make a donation to a charity rather than a present  And if you set up a GoFundMe account for your wedding or ask for Venmo donations, please ... you lack the maturity to get married, the world is not all about you, not even on your wedding day. However, registering for a $1,500 lawn mower does make sense if you have a house, and many friends can contribute to the gift, or guests can buy gift cards. 

Bridal parties and Groom parties – YES, you must attend these parties. Mom does not have a party in one state and the bride is too busy to attend. The rudeness in this far exceeds comprehension.

Pay your deposits. If you don’t pay your deposits, you will not have the photographer, catering, and other things you have ordered. You must pay all the bills prior to the event, and on time. 

Try to relax, while this is a special day, it is one day out of the rest of your life together. Things will go wrong, try to roll with it.  You are dressing up pretty, and are with your family and friends, why are you stressing?  Be a beautiful bride, and a lovely hostess, not a bridezilla.

Your loved ones will want to celebrate you, but just keep in mind that people do have their limits of celebration they can handle. Be kind.

Good luck with the planning,


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