Budgeting for the Wedding

No, not my wedding. Maybe someday, but definitely not anytime soon for Bryan and I. But my older sister will be walking down the aisle in 3 weeks time. Or not: She keeps insisting it will be a casual affair, and there will be no aisle to walk down. But I digress.

My sister and her fiance will be tying the knot in the most no frills way they could imagine. They’re having an outdoor ceremony at a beautiful garden location (where the groom happens to work, and was able to snag a deal), officiated by an uncle. The bride will wear a cute sundress (that we picked up at an end of summer clearance sale for less than $30), and carry local flowers arranged by a friend who works in landscaping at a local landmark (i.e. free flowers!). The happy couple will then bike off to their favorite pub, and buy a round of drinks for everyone (21 and over, of course). The party will continue on from there (maybe hitting a few other bars?) until they make their way to a little historic hotel, where they’ll be staying the night. The next day we’ll all have brunch, and then they’ll pack up for a week-long trip of biking trails and camping.

Simple. Sweet. Personal. Frugal.

But, weddings being weddings, there are still underlying costs for everyone involved. I don’t mind one bit. It’s my sister’s wedding, after all, which is (should be) a once in a lifetime thing. Plus, this will be way cheaper than a traditional wedding, where I’d be looking at an expensive bridesmaid’s dress, plus all the extras, like hair styling, and bridal showers, and bachelorette parties. This will even be less expensive than the Vegas wedding she always joked she would have.

So, what am I looking at cost wise?

Wedding Attire. Their idea is casual, but not too casual (i.e. No jeans). They aren’t having a wedding party, but I’m the witness, and will be by her side through much of the festivities. Her suggestion has been that I wear a light sundress. I don’t currently have anything that’s appropriate in my closet, so I’ll need to go shopping for a dress (and probably shoes). On the plus side, I’ll hopefully be able to find something in all the summer clearances. That is, if I haven’t waited too long. $50-100?

Girls Day. The afternoon before the wedding, we’re having a girls day. What does that involve? Well, we aren’t exactly sure yet. She definitely wants to do mani/pedis. The rest of the day will probably depend on how much time we have before dinner. ~$50.

Food and Drinks. The night before the wedding, we’re all getting together for dinner, somewhere downtown. The day of the wedding, we’re having a “bridal lunch”. I’d imagine there’s going to be breakfast at some point there as well, or at least a Starbucks run. The bride and groom plan to provide a round of drinks and an appetizer after the wedding, but other than that, we’re all on our own. The day after the wedding, we’re all getting together for brunch. There’s a possibility at some point that someone will be feeling generous, and pickup a tab. But I’m not going to plan on that. $100-200.

Transportation. Did I mention that the bride and groom are biking? They love biking, and it’s a pretty serious hobby for them. They’ve encouraged everyone else to bike as well. I haven’t biked since I was a kid, so the idea of getting on a bike, in a dress, during rush hour, downtown, going into a Holiday weekend, is a bit terrifying. Add in alcohol, and multiple stops, and it seems like an accident waiting to happen for someone who is known for being clumsy. Plus, I’m way out of shape, so the idea of hopping on a bike and riding ~10 miles in one evening seems like a bad idea. While there are several people planning to bike with them, the rest of us will need a plan for getting from place to place. And, since there’s drinking involved, and 10-20 people who would need transportation, that plan will likely include hiring out something. My mom and I are trying to figure out what options my sister will be comfortable with. Ex: Would it be weird if we hired out a party bus, and rode around sans bride and groom? Mom and I would likely split the cost. $100-200?

Hotel. I’ve agreed to stay with my sister the night before the wedding. My thought was we’d get a hotel downtown, close to the festivities. That isn’t in their budget, so I’d cover that as part of the wedding gift. We have an Aunt who is coming in from out-of-town, and has offered to see if she can use points to get a room free, or at a discounted rate, at the hotel she and her husband will be staying. The Aunt is part of the “girls day” activities, and we’ll likely have a drink (or two) with her after dinner that night, so it makes sense for us all to stay in the same place. Then there’s the question of whether Bryan and I should get a hotel near downtown for the wedding night, so we don’t have to drive home. Although, Bryan is unable to come to the afternoon wedding, and will be meeting us at some point in the night, so he may not be drinking that night. And my younger sister, being pregnant, has offered to serve as designated driver to get members of the immediate family home that night. $0-250.

Wedding Gift. My sister and her fiance have both been out on their own for many years (we’re OLD, after all), and have lived together for over three years. There’s really nothing they need, so they’ve told people no gifts. That being said, she’s my sister; I’d feel weird not getting her anything to mark the occasion, and I know them well enough to know they’d happily accept something. But their taste and mine are vastly different, so I don’t want to get them a knick-knack or something that will be totally useless to them. I’m toiling over a variety of ideas: They just bought a house, they’re very passionate about supporting local restaurants and businesses, and they love a good local craft brew. I’m considering a gift certificate to someplace local; Likely a restaurant or small brewery (nothing chain!), or maybe to one of the little home shops they enjoy browsing. ~$50.

Yikes! Adding it all up, I could end up spending close to $850! Honestly though, I think I’ll end up spending less than $500. Still a lot, but not out of bounds for a sister’s wedding. I probably spent around the same amount on my younger sister’s wedding over 10 years ago, and it ended up being cancelled the week before! And many of these costs are completely within my control, like how much I spend on food/drinks, and what I wear to the wedding. And hey, at least I’m not having to fly Bryan and I out to Vegas!

Is there anything I’m forgetting?

– Cindy

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