Three weeks ago, I got married to such an incredible man. I love and adore him. We met on eHarmony over 7 years ago, broke up for a year (because men) and then got back together. He asked me to marry him in Paris in front of the Eiffel Tower and six months later we got hitched. I share that because as we enter the holiday season and for whatever the reason, you may have to plan a small or large event, I wanted to share how I had the wedding of my dreams for less than $4,000.
Let me start off by saying that I was sad during parts of the wedding planning process because when you become an adult especially after you have lived a little, it is easy to become cynical. It actually takes work to stand in grace and not become jaded. I was sad because a lot of people don’t buy into love stories and beautiful weddings. And if we’re getting real for a moment, my now-husband would have been more than happy getting married at the Broward County Courthouse with three or four of our closest friends! When we discussed the budget, we originally decided that we would spend $5,000. I for one thought that was perfectly reasonable and then my incredibly practical guy calls me on a Friday evening and does that thing some men do when they really care about the person they’re with, and attempt to deliver bad news, but don’t quite know how to say it.
Gill says, “Hey LAW, I love you, but I really don’t think it is a good idea to spend $2500 each on this wedding.” I have quite a bit of debt from my business so the practical me understood, but if you know me, you know the practical me is about 5% of my personality. The other 95% is a combination of rainbows and unicorns. The rainbow/unicorn part of me is also pretty dramatic and so I burst into tears and said, “Well what do you want to do? How do I plan a wedding on a smaller budget than $5,000?” He said, “I was thinking closer to $2,000. He is a practical guy so I did my best to understand. Initially, I did an awful job and needed the weekend to wrap my head around it. Once I considered his thoughts and feelings, I realized there are better ways to spend money than on a wedding. In fact, once I got my head around it and I knew my mom would be able to help us a little bit, I realized that while it was going to be tough, what really matters, in the end, is a union between two people. Everything else is extra, but I enjoy extra. My very essence is extra. If you look up extra in the dictionary there is a picture of me with purple lips, big natural hair, a big skirt, and the best costume jewelry anyone has ever seen!!! Ugh.
Beyond my extra, I was able to begin planning the wedding that I really wanted for Gill and I. Now did he need any of what took place on our wedding day? No, not at all! But I like to think that there is a part of my sweet husband who appreciated the love and celebration that took place. So a few tips when you’re planning an event especially when you put your heart and soul into your community events, church events, worthy causes and programs that matter.
1. Write out exactly what you need, not what you want. Whether it is a holiday party, your wedding or a small affair, remember that you and everyone else will not remember embroidered napkins or a 6-foot cake, but they will remember having a good time, some good food and perhaps some dancing and laughter.
2. Get it donated and by it I mean as much as you possibly can. Your job when you’re planning events is not to live up to the Joneses. It’s to create experiences that mean a lot to the people that you are serving and also to you. Try to get items donated or at a very low cost. Say your budget to the vendor right away and then see if they can work within those confines. Ask whether there’s anything that can be donated. Thank them through letter writing or on social media. People love to be acknowledged and a sincere thank you goes a very long way.
3. Remember that in the end, having fun is the number one goal. Even if you feel everything is resting on your shoulders, it is important to note that if you can’t have fun you shouldn’t play the game. I know that sounds trite, but why plan an event that is supposed to be a good time, productive, engaging to a community and or make it impact if there isn’t going to be some sense of fulfillment or joy.
I have tons of stories from over 10 years of planning 10-person to 5k person events with no budget to multi-million dollar budgets. If questions come up, shoot us a note.
Enjoy the next few weeks if you get into the spirit. If you do not, may the next few weeks move quickly.
All my love,