So you and your Russian bride have decided to take the plunge. Your Fiancée Visa has come through, you’ve made travel arrangements, and, most important, you have found the love of your life!
But then, reality sets in: The ring, the flowers, the food, the photographers, and – YIKES -- the cost! Every wedding needs a budget, and, if you’re contributing to the cost of your nuptials, consider that there are all types of weddings: There’s no guarantee that a $50,000 gala will ensure a lifetime of happiness any more than a Justice of the Peace on a beach at sunset. Just know what you are getting into!
By the numbers
On average, US brides and grooms spend more than $20,000 on their wedding, and usually end up spending double their budget! According to www.mint.com, the typical wedding budget breaks down this way, percentagewise:
Reception: 40%Décor: 10%Ceremony: 10%Photographer: 10%Attire: 5%Videographer: 5%Rentals/lighting: 5%Stationery: 5%Gifts: 4%Group Activities: 3%Miscellaneous: 3%
Bliss at a Bargain
There are many ways to save and still have a memorable wedding. In a challenging economy, many wedding service providers are starving for business, and many will negotiate prices with you. Remember, if you don’t ask, you have no chance of receiving.
Photography for (almost) Free
Make the event intimate by corralling your guests to help out. Trust us; they’ll love to leave a footprint on such a Big Moment in your life. You can ask friends take pictures instead of hiring a professional photographer, for example. Place disposable cameras each reception table and invite guests to snap away. You’ll have enough to create two photo albums: One for you, and one to send your Russian bride’s family. Or ask guests to e-mail you their best pics, and post them to your social media account or blog for all to share.
Get the Look for Less
Wedding gowns are the provenance of the bride, but The Dress need not dress down a year’s salary! David’s Bridal and weddingstoreonline.com are reliable sources for beautiful dresses at a fraction of retail. Look online for deep discounts on tuxedo rentals, too.
Also consider the physical setting. The reception is the biggest expense by far, and the one people remember. Consider cocktails instead of dinner, create a fixed menu. A Friday or Sunday wedding is less costly than one on Saturday. A winter or spring wedding is less expensive than one in June (forget May: it’s considered an unlucky month to marry in Russian superstition!) Try to negotiate the price. According to groomsonline.com, “Time is on your side, because a venue needs business more then you need to book there. You are in the driver’s seat.”
If your wedding draws an international crowd, consider a combined wedding-honeymoon, also known as a destination wedding. Resorts in hot locales from Mexico to the Maldives now combine parties, ceremony, guest accommodations and tours with the traditional honeymoon adventure. Best of all, the resort does all the work! If you are savvy in selecting packages, and book hotels and airfares together, destination weddings can save $20,000 off the cost of a lavish hometown wedding, according to the experts at destinationweddings.com. Just be sure to send the guests off to the other side of the island!
Tips for Making a Budget
Remember to prioritize! Anything you do to save money in one category means you can spend more in another. Have your aspiring pastry chef nephew create the cake, a competent friend play videographer, and you’ll have enough to create special the engraved crystal picture frames your fiancée wants as guest favors.
Mint.com is one reliable place to track spending and set up a budget. Others include Momentville.com, Real Simple, and Microsoft has downloadable Excel templates.
The Best Tip of All…
Talk to your fiancée. Your Russian bride, like brides everywhere, likely has planned her dream wedding down to the last detail since she was a little girl. This is her time. However, the sad truth is that money conflicts are the number one reason couples fight, so discuss her expectations and yours from the get-go. It’s the recipe for a lasting marriage!
Why see dollar signs in your eyes when you should be seeing stars?