When I first started thinking about the wedding, we had what seemed to me like a gigantic (incredibly generous) amount of money from my parents to pay for it.
It turns out, weddings are insane. And though I definitely think they are less expensive in France than the States—a number of times I’ve seen an American wedding photographer called “reasonable” for services costing over $2000—a French wedding was still expensive.
So we did a few sensible easy things to make things cheaper.
1) Wedding invitations online at vistaprint and planet-ecards. The American ones I had delivered to my parents’ home in Texas where my lovely mother addressed them and sent them off. The French ones came to our house.
2) A photographer whose full-time job wasn’t photography. This was a stroke of luck, because I really did love his pictures, and I expected him to be more expensive, quite possibly out of budget for us.
3) Vin d’honneur invitations printed on our home printer. I found a website with printables that allowed you to modify them and save them as an image to your computer. We shelled out to get a new color cartridge for our printer and some card quality paper and then printed four to a sheet. We cut them with scissors—very high-tech, I know. This also allowed us to e-mail them to people we were worried we might not have seen before the wedding.
4) Table centerpieces with water and candles instead of a million flowers. Though these were done professionally by our florist (turns out flowers burn or sink if you don’t have fancy bits of wood and twine helping them out), this plan reduced our flower budget enormously. Also there was just one bouquet (mine), one boutonniere (his), and one flower crown (also for me, don’t forget, it was all about me).
5) No DJ.
6) Wedding dress off Zalando. Here’s a tip if you’re looking for a little white dress for your wedding: wait till May to look for it. I started looking in October and there was nothing, I mean nothing in stores because it was just out of season. So I went to Zalando where white dresses are always available and found something I loved. But come May, there were white dresses everywhere in the stores and I did feel a bit dumb for having stressed out about it.
7) Renting the village hall. Stroke of budget- and stress-reducing genius. We could afford to rent it for Friday + the weekend and so had lots of time to set up and break down.
8) No bridal party. Not entirely true, because I did have my handy helpful witness Laurel, and J’s witness also helped out, but we didn’t have to get multiple bouquets and multiple hair-dos and make-ups.
To be fair though, if any of these things really had mattered to me or J, we would have found a way to make it work. But we really did not feel any desire to get married in a castle an hour away from the civil ceremony, or have five witnesses each, or hire someone expensive to design our invitations. What we did want was a fabulous five-course meal, and that did take up almost half our budget.