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Budgets | Manolo for the Brides - Part 5
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Paying For a Wedding With a Can-Do Attitude

Please forgive my terrible pun in this post’s title, but the temptation to make it was irresistible. You see, Andrea Parrish and Peter Geyer of Spokane, WA have decided to pay for their upcoming nuptials using naught but the proceeds collected from the recycling of aluminum cans. According to their web site, they’ve collected 25,781 cans thus far, and have inspired others to donate the proceeds from their recycling excursions to the tune of 56,571 cans. Parrish and Geyer have a ways to go, however, before they can finance their relatively inexpensive July wedding. They’re planning a modest affair costing around $4,000, which will require them to collect a total of 318,648 more cans.

paying for a wedding, Andrea Parrish and Peter Geyer

While it is a pretty insane idea — though a wonderfully create one — I must say I do like it a lot better than the “pay for my wedding just because I asked you to” schemes or the “pay for my wedding” registries. Parrish and Geyer are putting some real effort into paying for a wedding in an offbeat way. And is having your living room stuffed with bags and bags of aluminum cans all that much worse than having it stuffed with wedding favor boxes, ribbons, silk flowers, and seating chart mock-ups? All right, maybe it’s a little worse, if only because donated cans might not be entirely clean.

Like the idea? If you’re in Spokane, you can drop off your cans for this quirky couple at the Instant Sign Factory or they’ll gladly pick them up from your place (if you have enough to make it worth it, I imagine). For those not in Spokane, Parrish and Geyer recommend that you recycle your own aluminum cans, buy yourself a coffee or beer, and if you’re so inclined, send the leftover cash to them.

(Photo via)

A Different Kind of Proposal

Once upon a time, my dad told me that he’d give me and whoever I decided to marry $5,000 that we could spend as we liked, provided I eloped. When The Beard and I did decide to marry, that offer changed to $2,000 to put toward a “real” wedding, since my dad’s wife at the time wasn’t going to see me married without all the proper proceedings. Honestly, we probably would have put that original sum toward my wedding budget because I like weddings and The Beard is his mother’s only son, but the thought of having a few thousand more dollars in the bank to put toward a house might have been tempting!

asking parents for money for a wedding

According to a New York Times blog, the newest trend where parents and budgets are concerned is asking for money for big ticket items in lieu of a contribution to a wedding. A down payment on a home is one popular way to spend the spoils, though others might include a much-needed new car or a blowout six-month vacation.

if you’re thinking of asking your parents for cash instead of a wedding contribution, bringing up the subject if your parents haven’t offered first can be difficult. Ms. Martini Bratten [editor-in-chief of Brides] recommends that couples first find out if their parents plan to contribute to the wedding before broaching the subject and not to be shocked if parents are perplexed by the proposition. And if parents make the proposal themselves, choosing whether to take the money or not can be hard as well, though Ms. Martini Bratten said she expected many brides would probably still opt for their dream event.

Asking for money to put toward a wedding budget is difficult enough for many brides and grooms without having to find a way to tactfully say something like “On the assumption that you’re going to help us pay for our wedding, might we just have the cash instead?” I suppose it would get a little easier if your parents have already said they’ll give you such-and-such an amount, and slightly more easy if you want to spend that money on something responsible, like a graduate degree or a flat in the nice part of town.

It might be harder, on the other hand, to ask moms and dads for money when you are planning a biggish wedding and your spouse-to-be’s parents have already indicated that they’ll help pay for it. In that case, it might be awkward for both sets of parents, particularly if there is bad blood between the families and one thinks the other isn’t contributing enough to the happiness or survival of the kids. And I think that asking for cash would be especially difficult if you and your spouse-to-be are well-off enough to pay for a rather nice wedding on your own and plan to do just that, but would like some additional funds for big expenses.

In my case, The Beard and I approached all of our parents to ask (with no strings attached) if they were planning to help us pay for a wedding. At the time, it never occurred to us to use the money so graciously given to us for our wedding for something else, and the thought of asking whether it would be all right if money given for one purpose might be used for another makes me feel a little itchy. That’s why I’m wondering if any of our readers chose to use parent-gifted wedding budget funds for other purposes… if so, did you ask your moms and dads if they’d be willing to hand over cash instead of writing checks to vendors? Did proposing the idea feel weird?

Wedding Budgets: What Not to Do

It struck me today that we haven’t talked about the big M here at Manolo for the Brides in quite some time. Obviously I don’t mean matrimony, since that’s our bread and butter. No, today I thought I’d write about money. Let’s face it — when most of us are planning our dream weddings in our heads, influenced as we are by blogs and magazines and pictures of lavish weddings on wedding photographer we sites, budgeting is not usually at the forefront of our thoughts. Which is where it ought to be, really.


Sometimes it’s easier to remember what not to do than an endless list of what one should do. In that vein, I’ve put together a short list of DON’Ts that can help you put together a practically perfect wedding budget. (Feel free to add your own DON’Ts in the comments!)

DON’T underestimate how much a wedding costs in your area. Maybe you’re getting married in an inexpensive locale. Maybe you’re getting married in Manhattan. When you’re sitting down to create your wedding budget, plug your zip into Cost of Wedding to see how much the average wedding will run there. People where I live apparently spend between $23,560 and $39,266, which isn’t to say you *must* spend that. But be realistic in your estimates.

DON’T assume that you have to pay full price. Ever. If there’s one thing I stress over and over again in my book iDo: Planning Your Wedding with Nothing But ‘Net, it’s that you can almost always get a deal by shopping around. And you know, it never hurts to ask for a discount from wedding vendors or retailers, especially when you’re buying something in bulk or spending a lot. The worst they can say is no.


Becoming a Bartering Bride

Budget brides, say I, consider becoming bartering brides. Twistie touched on the topic a while back, but I’ll admit that I’ve been kind of a skeptic when it comes to bartering for wedding services and accessories. Bartering suggests a more casual arrangement than one might typically have with a professional wedding vendor, and what if one doesn’t have that much to offer in exchange?


Kerry Coryell might say don’t sell yourself short. She put off her wedding a decade ago when her mom got meningitis and she became her mom’s full-time caretaker. Now that she’s finally able to plan her that long awaited wedding, she’s not going to let a little something like a lack of fundage get in the way of her dreams.

About a month ago, her girlfriend Rebecca Dever sent her an e-mail with a link to photos of a fairy tale wedding shot in Cabo by Lake Forest photographer Bob Ortiz. One of the photos even captured teardrops of happiness welling up in the eyes of the bride as she said her vows.

Kerry’s first thought: Why is my friend torturing me? Her second thought: Why can’t I have a wedding like this? But then Kerry had another thought. It was actually the same thought, but with a more positive spin.

Why CAN’T I have a wedding like this?

In a revelatory flash, Kerry recalled her dental victory. She went to her computer and banged out [a Craigslist] ad. It’s quite possibly one of the longest ads in the history of Craigslist (three pages printed out), but here’s an excerpt: “I am not at all superficial and my clothes usually come from garage sales. I never ask for anything for myself… but this day… just this one day, I want it to be mine, without limits, without settling. I hope you can help me.”

In exchange, she writes, she can sew you drapes, make you a homemade piñata, baby-sit your kids, organize your closets, mow your yard, put on your garage sale, walk your dog, cut your husband’s hair. The list goes on. The ad was posted nearly a month ago. To those who have sent her comments pointing out that the Justice of the Peace costs 50 bucks so get over yourself and your fancy wedding, she has a message:

“I would never tell anybody how little, or big, to dream.”

But overwhelmingly, the responses Coryell received have been positive. The morning after she posted her ad, a DJ wrote her saying that he’d be pleased to work her wedding reception for free, no actual bartering required. That DJ found her a videographer and a ceremony musician. Offers rolled in for tanning, teeth whitening, fake eyelashes, flowers, a caterer and a minister… and that photographer she loved so much?


An End to Bridezilla? Or Just Sour Grapes?

Bridezilla is a term that’s always annoyed me, not so much because it exists, but because it gets used as a bludgeon against women who don’t necessarily fit the definition at all. It gets pulled out to shame women who just want people to show up on time, and it gets used to trivialize truly reprehensible behavior.

There’s one thing, however, that’s clear about the term: bridezilla is an attitude of entitlement. Period. That’s what it’s about.

And so I have to kind of wonder at this article by Lauren Beckham Falcone for the Boston Herald. Her claim is that falling budgets for weddings equal an end to bridezilla.


Look, I know that we here at Manolo for the Brides are all about keeping to budgets and keeping the wedding day in perspective. We remind people often that there are alternatives to nearly everything expected in a wedding, that just because it’s expected doesn’t obligate you to have most wedding items, and that a little imagination can work wonders on the smallest budget. We’re fond of reminding you that things like ice luges, reception gowns, and live orchestras are not necessary for a nice wedding.

But there’s one thing we’ve never done, and that’s conflate a large budget with bad behavior.


What Cost a Wedding Gown?

No matter what the economic situation, one thing is for certain: people will still get married, and most of them still want at least some of the trimmings. Chief among these trimmings for many brides is the wedding gown.

It’s no mystery why this should be. The wedding gown is an iconic piece of clothing filled with emotional meaning.

The fact also remains that it’s one extremely expensive piece of clothing.


Yet Another Tacky Idea to Help You Have a Wedding You Can’t Afford!



youbuyMYWEDDING offers a unique service where you can invite your wedding guests to help by paying money for your wedding day expenses instead of buying items from a more traditional gift list – which helps you to have a wedding you can afford and also to avoid starting married life in debt.

Ahahaha, this is a joke site, right? With a name like youbuyMYWEDDING, it has to be satire… Or not. Brides and grooms are supposedly getting older and older, which means that everyone you know who’s getting married probably already has a toaster oven and a spatula set. What they might not have is $30,000 to pay for what is now considered a moderately-priced wedding.

Don’t you just love it when entrepreneurs come up with shady solutions to problems that aren’t really problems*? As you can see, brides and grooms in the UK (who are willing to let 4.75% of their gifts go to administrative costs) can ask their loved ones to contribute to their weddings by paying for things like the wedding gown, the bridesmaids’ bouquets, or the very champagne they’ll drink at the wedding reception. It’s just like a honeymoon registry in almost every respect, except that it’ll make everyone on your guest list look at you a bit funny.

On the surface it sounds very practical and modern and even a little progressive in these woeful economic times, but lordy, it’s not at all in keeping with good etiquette. Were I to receive an invitation to a wedding that I was being asked to pay for, I would give the bride and groom the gift of an RSVP card reading “Declines With Regrets.” That’s just as good as ponying up some cash for the cash bar, after all, because the couple then has one less mouth to feed!

*Don’t have a ton of money to spend on your wedding? Budget wedding tips abound here and elsewhere on the Internet!

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