Can I Afford a Wedding?

I am in Yuma, AZ. My fiance wants to get married near her family in TN. She has no income, and I am in the military as an E-3. Can I have a decent wedding? Or would we have to settle for a courthouse?


Abel from Lawerenceburg, TN

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November 13, 20080 found this helpful

Well, goodness! Of course you can have a wedding--I guess "decent" depends on what you mean! Decide how much you can afford to spend, and then set priorities! Who says it has to be spendy to be nice? Does your fiancee or someone in her family sew? Maybe someone can make her dress, loan it to her; or she can scour thrift stores for a nice dress (and, yes, thrift stores get some lovely ones!) You can wear your dress uniform, so no tux rental needed.

The reception can be held in a church hall, a fire hall, someone's home, a park, a yard... Let your fiancee make some calls and find an inexpensive place.


Decorations can be simple and inexpensive.

Food can be as simple as a cake and punch; or you can cook yourself and ask family to help. Forget the alchoholic beverages if you're on a budget; and you won't have to worry about anyone overindulging at your wedding as the bonus. You can always have a small amount of wine or champagne for a toast.

You and your fiancee need to decide what you want, and how much to spend. Could she temporarily get a part-time job to help cover costs?

But you certainly don't need to skip a wedding becasue of having little money! Best of luck!

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November 13, 20080 found this helpful

I do not think any one should spend too much on weddings. Go to the court house, save the money, you will need it later.

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By mike (Guest Post)
November 13, 20080 found this helpful

With your fiances permission, Go on "Craigslist" and under "wanted" ask for whatever you need from a wedding dress to candles...whatever you need. People love to help each other if they know what someone needs!


You can even offer to pay shipping if it's a good deal. Have a happy life and make your wedding in her beautiful hair are prettier than a veil for instance!

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By Linda (Guest Post)
November 14, 20080 found this helpful

Join a Freecycle network on Yahoo groups in your area. Everything on the network has to be free. There are plenty of people out there who have extra stuff that they don't use that you have or borrow to use for your wedding. Nothing is too big or too small to ask for on the site. You can probably get everything from a wedding dress to centerpieces. Maybe even ask if someone has a band or is a DJ that would be willing to provide some music. There are a lot of nice people out there. Good luck & congratulations!

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November 14, 20080 found this helpful

I certainly agree with Jilson, you can have a nice wedding. We have 3 daughters, and never spent more than 1500 on any of the weddings. The girls shopped around and each found the "perfect" dress, on sale. They did their own flowers and the church we attended helped put on the reception, at a fraction of the cost a caterer would charge.


You do not need all the frills, band, catered dinner, etc. The important part is that you marry the girl of your dreams and begin life together. Best wishes on your future together.

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November 14, 20080 found this helpful

You are not too far from where I live and actually my husband use to live there. There is a beautiful park near there, the Davy Crockett National Park, I think is the name. It would be beautiful if you want to do outdoors. I don't think you mentioned when your wedding date is. Court house weddings can be nice, most of the time the JOP will go outside in the courtyard for you if you ask.


Either way, do what makes you both happy. It's your day! Personally, I think simple is better and more meaningful. Don't spend too much, you will need the money later! Good luck!

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November 14, 20080 found this helpful

My hubby and I got married in court by a Justice of the Peace and that was 32 years ago. We'd each had brief previous marriages and didn't want to go the big wedding route again. We got dressed up, I carried nice florist flowers. We had friends stand up and had two friends take pictures. It really was nice and I've never regretted it. We went out to dinner that evening with friends and took a very nice honeymoon since we had saved money on not throwing a wedding.


Do what makes you happy and not what you think others will expect!

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By Danielle (Guest Post)
November 14, 20080 found this helpful

My husband is also in the military. we got married on the base at the office club and it was cheap. Have your fiance email me at lilyangel1303 AT

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November 14, 20080 found this helpful

She said she wanted it near her family that is great the family might have a church they go to. So maybe you can do it at the church or at her parents house. Hubby and I had a great wedding and it didn't cost like a lot of money. Just sit down and think what is most important to both of you.

She needs to be with her family find no problem and family with probably help out and TN is a nice place to visit and if you see AJ or Alan Jackson you tell him diet vanilla loves his songs and TN have a cute honeymoon visiting cute towns and maybe eating one of Elvis's fried peanut butter sandwiches. So just don't worry about the small stuff and love your soon to be wife and things will all work out. Above all good luck.

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November 14, 20080 found this helpful

In lieu of gifts ask family members to provide something for the wedding.

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By rabbit10mom (Guest Post)
November 15, 20080 found this helpful

When my DH and I were married in 1970, my mother (who attended our wedding) refused to help us out with any of the wedding expenses. We were married in a local church, had my MIL (to be) play the organ, my BIL (to be) played his cello for the prelude and postlude music, my SIL (to be) was my only bridesmaid, our 2 dads (both ministers) split the ceremony, and the ladies from our church baked sheet cakes to serve our guests (I paid for the cake ingredients.).

A seamstress from our church sewed my wedding dress as her gift (I'd already bought the pattern and material. Her gift was a god send to a busy college student!). The only things we paid for were the very small decorated cake (just for us), candles and flowers for the church windows (Ours was an evening wedding.), corsages for the wedding party, and the small rental fee for the use of the church. Our photographer was a seminary friend of my DH, so we only paid for the prints we selected.

Since I'm a minister's wife and have attended and helped out with all kinds of weddings, I would suggest asking her family to do whatever they can that won't cost money. Their local minister might even be willing to do the ceremony as a gift to the two of you and the organist or pianist might be willing to do the same.

Draw your dearest friends around you for the wedding and make a wonderful memory. The amount of money spent will mean very little to you in the coming years. Personally, too much money is spent on marriages that don't last. Don't go into debt for a wedding.! Pay attention to the relationships that mean the most to both of you and then nourish them in the years to come.

Have a wonderful and memorable wedding! Melody in Eastern WA

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November 15, 20080 found this helpful

I had a back yard wedding. It was beautiful and fun. A minister friend did the service. I bought the flowers and invitations. My mother bought the cake. Grandmother bought my dress. A friend played music on his guitar. My future in-laws all chipped in and cooked the food pot luck style. We did the reception right there, right after the ceremony. It was a house party for all ages. No stress involved in wedding planning when everybody chips in.

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By KJ (Guest Post)
November 18, 20080 found this helpful

Go online and do a search to find lots of tips for inexpensive weddings. I did that with all 3 of my kids. There are a lot of ideas and tips out there.

Some of what we did:

1) Table decorations: we bought ivy bowls from a local craft store. Use a paint pen, and drew hearts and spirals on the outside in your wedding colors. We put shredded iridescent cellophane in them, filled with water and floated a candle inside. Around the neck of the bowl, we tied ribbon in a bow with longer tails. Make sure you cover the shreds with the water - easy to do. Very pretty, very inexpensive - lots of compliments.

2) Mood lighting: We wrapped white Christmas lights inside inexpensive tulle' or nylon netting. We looped it around the reception area and wedding party's table. Depending on your room/location, you can use a little or a lot of it. Since it was pretty cheap, we used a lot. Make sure your power cords are safe, so no one will trip over them or overheat.

3) Wedding party jewelry: I made the brides/bridesmaids matching necklaces and earrings.

Necklaces: Using clear beading string, I 'floated' faux pearls 1" apart on them, and tied a purchased clasp on at the correct length for each woman. I tied a knot on the clear string, added a dab of glue to keep each pearl in place. Turned out great, pretty.

Earrings: Buy earring sets at the craft store and glue on matching faux pearls. Luckily, all the girls had pierced ears, and were very quick and easy to make.

4) Flower girl veil: I made the flower girl a matching veil. I took a white headband from the dollar store, laid out some tulle' to go over it, doubling it, and hand stitched it over the headband. Make sure you don't have too much tulle' layering, as it will be too poofy and look silly. Then I hot glued some matching colored floral ribbon over my stitching. Once the flower girl tried it on, I was able to quickly trim the length with scissors.

5) Flower girl basket: I bought a small basket at the dollar store, lined it with a scrap of white satin. I cut the size to fit inside the basket, and had it slightly hang over the edge. I used the same trim on the flower girls veil, and hot glued both the trim and fabric around the basket's edge. Where the basket's handle met the edge, I tied white bows, leaving a longer tail.

6) Rose petals, not rice. One of my daughters wanted to have the guests throw rose petals, instead of rice, as they left for the reception. At first thought, it sounds pretty expensive. However, we found out it wasn't. We had a local large grocery store do the flowers for the wedding. We were able to purchase large bags of rose petals for only $4 per bag. These are petals from roses that are not 100%, and not perfect enough to use in bouquets or other arrangements. So, the florists take the petals off the flower/stem and bag them. A unique idea.

7) Gift Card Holder: I found a metal, green bird cage on clearance. I covered the bottom of the cage with a scrap of white satin over thin cardboard. As this cage had long, verticle openings, I used matching 1/2" wide ribbon, in the wedding colors, and wove it in/out of the rails. This stopped the cards from slipping through the rails, leaving an obvious opening for cards to slip inside the cage. I also hot glued some small white birds, fabric roses and lengths of beads (from spools) around the outside of the cage. It was beautiful and we had a lot of comments on it.

8) Nursery Help: If small children are invited or expected at the ceremony, please hire 2 babysitters to entertain them in another area (for us it was the church's nursery) in case they become wiggly or grouchy. We did this for each of my kid's weddings, and it was great. It's a small price to pay to keep the little AND big ones happy. If you have 2 babysitters, they won't be overwhelmed if several kids are dropped off. In the wedding programs, we included the info - the nursery was open for children, free of charge. Even if the babysitters didn't have any children to watch, it's still gave us peace of mind to have them available.

9) Wedding programs: Some might think this is frivolous, but I disagree. While the guests are waiting for the ceremony to begin, they can read the programs. Everyone wants to know - who's who - and the programs do that. You can list the bride/groom, parents names, wedding party names, as well as the ring bearer/flower girl, special guests, and the minister.

We included the ceremony (from the church hymnal), so guests could follow along. Include the list of special songs and any vocalists or musicians, if you have them. Some couples have a special Bible verse or poem that means a lot to them, include this too. As well as the name of the reception site, and any directions, if it's hard to find.

We designed our own programs, using a home computer. With all the info our kids wanted, the programs were a few pages long. When we were happy with how they look, we printed out 1 master copy and took it to a copy shop, for cheaper printing, less work on our own printer. When we got them, since they were printed wide on the page, not long - like a regular letter - we folded them in half, and threaded a ribbon through the top to the bottom and tied them like a little book. Doing them ourselves saved a lot of money, but were very pretty and a nice wedding souvenir.

Hope these tips help. Some can be used for other events besides weddings.

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November 21, 20080 found this helpful

My sister and brother-in-law got married quickly so she could be transferred with him (both work for national police force) by a JOP in a friends home. Only a handful of people were there. They then had a large "wedding" on their 5th anniversary when they had money saved up and they invited all family and friends.

However, I prefer small weddings and believe that with some imagination and creativity you CAN have a "decent" wedding on a tight budget. Make a list of the most important things and what your budget is for each and STICK to it. Mass marketing is great at making you want things you don't need.

Also, tell the bride-to-be to look for bridesmaid dresses in white/ivory to save some $$$ (they might charge a little more to order it in white/ivory but it's still cheaper than an official bridal gown). Here's a link to David's Bridal for a search on white bridesmaid dresses:

Centerpieces: be creative! Found crystalware/glasses at thrift stores/fleamarkets, used soy candle wax (find @ craft stores like Michaels) to make into candles. See attached pic.

Table Settings: Mixed china and silverware from thriftstores/fleamarkets. I'll try to find a pic and post it. Most places will include dishes if you have the reception there, but if you wanted to do a backyard thing this is just an idea. Or have everyone loan you mixed dishes/cutlery.

Food: Potluck or family?

ALSO, I've heard that a lot of places will charge more as soon as they hear the word "wedding". When you call around for prices, say you are planning an event/party just in case. Businesses love to make money off of weddings!

And I'm not sure about this idea, but in my province in Canada (and no where else in the country), we hold things called "Socials" to raise money for weddings or the honeymoon. The couple rents a Hall and sells tickets for $10 a person. Family and friends donate "prizes" that they raffle off (raffle tickets are purchased at the Social where the prizes are on display), around $5 for an armslength of tickets. For the BIG prizes (think: big screen tv, leather recliner, hot air balloon ride, texas mickey, etc) the tickets are $5 or $10 EACH. Liquor/Beer tickets are a couple of bucks each (whatever you want to sell it for). People dontate prizes that are usually related to their work (say someone works at Home Depot - they can get tools for cheaper so they buy them and donate them to the couple). Some businesses donate coupons and "gift packs" for free because it's free advertizing. The couple then groups similar prizes together to make prize packages and this is what's raffled off (for ex, a "camping" package would include a folding chair, a sleeping bag, a fishing rod, a cooler, some cans of food, etc; or a "couple's" package with discounts for a theme suite hotel room, discounts for lingerie, a coupon for a massage, something fun like edible body paints, a bottle of wine and some wine glasses, etc). People have made thousands of dollars from these socials, it's normal to make ~3-5 grand up here, and MORE if you know lots of people.

I forgot to say, snacks and a "meal" are provided and usually donated by family/friends. Chips and pretzels are always on the tables and always refilled. Around 11pm a buffet is set up with usually cold cuts, cheeses, pickels etc., bread for making your own sandwiches, pasta salads, etc (like a BBQ buffet). And there is ALWAYS, ALWAYS a dance floor with a DJ. :) The bridal party helps out with the selling of the tickets and setting up the Hall. Also with counting the money after!

Anyway, super long-winded, I know! Good luck to you, and let us thrifty people know what you did in the end!

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November 25, 20080 found this helpful

My husband is in the military. He came back home and we got married in our courthouse for $20-- so that I could go back to the base with him and get a house. His got a little more money with having dependents. If you can get married a the courthouse so that you can claim your wife. You guys get a 1 bedroom apartment off base and pocket the rest of the BAH and save that to have a ceremony later. God luck!

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December 9, 20080 found this helpful

Abel.. I am originally from Lawrenceburg and currently pricing and collecting ideas for a summer wedding..ours will be 4th of July at the park in Lawrenceburg. Most of the stuff I have planned will be well under $1500 but what we have decided to do is buy temporary rings off a site found on ebay and they are anywhere from $10 and up.

The ones we want later are $350 at Kay's in the Galleria. If she'd like some help picking out things or ideas locally send me an email address and I'll email back.. if not has alot of wedding dresses she can choose from for under $$125 many are much less than David's bridal..mines $50 something.

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