Category Archives: Wedding on a Budget

What’s My Best Path to Wedding Savings?

I got nontraditional bride which sounds about right. Great, unique savings tips for your wedding!

We have something different lined up for hump day this week.

Femme, by different do you mean amazingly fun?

YES, I DO!

We’re in the thick of wedding season, and while my three-year wedding anniversary has come and gone, I still get a lot of inquiries on my wedding posts. So many, in fact, that I’m lucky enough to create new content around it every once in a while.

Today, I thought it would be fun to put together a little quiz to see which kind of bride you are (or were,) including tips on how you, specifically, can save money on the big day and make smarter spending decisions.

I’m including all the results and resources below, giving you a way to view additional content if you’re not 100% happy with your results.

Here’s your task:

  1. Take the super fabulous awesome quiz.
  2. Read your results and get your free resources.
  3. Come back and let me know if you think your results were a good match or not by leaving a comment.

Men, you can do this, too. It’s aimed at brides because this is primarily a women’s finance blog, but there aren’t any questions about dresses or corsets. I promise you’ll be fine.

Ready….go!

Make your own quizzes here.

The Eloping Bride

Want to find out the best ways to save money as an eloping bride? Check out this quiz.

You want your big day to be about you and your partners’ lovenothing else. And we think that’s beautiful. A nice side effect is that you’ll run into a lot less planning stress. And need a lot less money.

RESOURCE: Save money on airfare by getting married quickly at the East Coast’s Vegas.

The Destination Wedding Bride

Want to find out the best ways to save money on your destination wedding? Check out this quiz.

You only plan on doing this once, and you want to do it right. You want to get married to the (wo)man of your dreams, and you want to do it at a place of your choosing.

If you have a destination wedding, you’ll have to consider your family members’ ability to travel, both through the lens of health and finances.

Get a Destination Wedding & Honeymoon for Free

Destination weddings aren’t as expensive as you’d think they might be. In fact, places like Sandals give them away for free routinely.

No, you don’t have to enter a contest.

No, you don’t have to give up your first-born.

All you have to do is book three nights at one of their resorts, and then you get a free wedding including venue, flowers, and cake. You have to pay for the officiant and the processing of paperwork, but everything else is taken care of.

Then, if you have family members coming in, you get your room for free when you bring guests. The number required is different for different times of year. September 1 through Christmas your room is free when you have at least five guest rooms booked. January 2 through August 31 you have to have eleven guest rooms booked, and then yours is free.

Free wedding. Free all-inclusive honeymoon. Pretty sweet deal.

Here’s the resorts where you can get married:

  • Jamaica
  • Bahamas
  • Antigua
  • St. Lucia
  • Grenada
  • Barbados

You can learn more about the deal here.

The Nontraditional Bride

Want to save money as a nontraditional bride? Check out this quiz.

You buck the norms at every turn, so why should your wedding day be any different? You know that the most impactful way to cut your costs is to limit your guest list, so you only invite who’s really important. Your venue choice is likely to be outside the norm, and you dress however the heck you want–even when you’re walking down the aisle.

RESOURCE: Get married without an officiant–not even a judge. Just the two of you professing your love and commitment to one another.

The Modern Chic Bride

Want to save money as a modern chic bride? Check out this quiz.

You and your partner love and respect each other in every aspect of life: as lovers, as friends; professionally and spiritually. Your big day will represent that deep mutual admiration with class from the dress to the venue.

Class can get expensive, though. Don’t be afraid to get outside of metropolis areas when searching for your venue to save some cash, and remember that everything is negotiable.

RESOURCE: Cut your catering costs with these veteran tips.

The DIY Bride

Want to save money as a DIY bride? Check out this quiz.

You are a bride on a mission, and that mission is SAVINGS. You’re willing to craft, call in favors, and even borrow your sister’s wedding dress in order to make your big day happen. You’re smart for doing so, as you’ll be able to use all that extra money for other financial goals like buying a house or starting a family.

Just be sure to run your numbers before you start that next DIY project. Surprisingly, sometimes paying someone else ends up being cheaper than doing it yourself.

RESOURCE: Make your own free, printable place cards for the reception.

The Traditional Bride

Want to save money as a traditional bride? Check out this quiz.

Decorum and tradition are important to you. Your partner may have asked for your hand, and you plan on getting married in a church (or other place of worship.) Your reception may or may not be opulent, but there will definitely be a three-course meal and dancing.

Following tradition, your parents may be paying for some part of your wedding, though you’re likely making a big fiscal contribution. This is your big day, and a big day for them. While that may make planning a little heated at times, in the end, you’ll figure out a way to make it beautiful for everyone involved.

RESOURCE: Why You Shouldn’t Set and Forget Your Wedding Ring Insurance

The Country Club Bride

Smart ways to use your money when you're planning an expensive wedding.

You’ve been planning this day since you were a little girl, and mom and dad did not disappoint. They’re following the tradition of paying for your wedding, and you are all lucky enough that they have the means to do so in a big way.

A great way to thank them is to point out different ways they can be smart with their purchases–and assure them you won’t mind that they’re cutting dollars out of the budget.

RESOURCE: Leverage Your Honeymoon with Your Wedding Spending

 

Easy & Unique Mason Jar Centerpieces

The marble mason jar centerpiece is gorgeous--super easy and unique! Love it for a modern wedding.

When I got married the first time, we lucked out and found a novice florist who was willing to contribute centerpieces for no cost other than word-of-mouth advertising.

When I got married the second time, we went with the simple, standard candles that the venue provided.

I’m not walking down the aisle again, but I still love the thought-process behind planning gorgeous, frugal weddings. And as wedding pieces are some of our most popular content, I know Femme Frugality readers like reading about them, too.

So over the weekend Homme Frugality and I put on our creative hats and messed around with super simple and frugal ways we could made easy, unique mason jar centerpieces without dropping a ton of cash.

For materials, we obviously got some mason jars. You can get mason jars at an affordable price from Paper Mart. We raided our closets and found some marbles and candles. We hit up the reuse store and got some fabric and ribbon for super cheap. And we’ll get to the part about the candy. (I know–chocolate makes it hard to wait.)

frugal marble mason jar centerpieces

Light Up Marble Mason Jar Centerpieces

We weren’t 100% sure what we were going to do when we found the marbles, but they reminded me so much of Katie’s wedding theme with polka dots and bright colors that I knew we had to find a way to incorporate them.

You can see the end result above. We love the pattern the lights made on the wall and how the light shined through the marbles at the top. We saw room for improvement, though, so here are the instructions on how we would have liked to do this centerpiece:

  • Get a mason jar and a circular, glass tube. It should be big enough to fit your candle, but keep it as small as possible so the marbles will fit around it.
  • Put the tube with the candle into the center of the mason jar. Carefully slide marbles between the tube and the mason jar.
  • Light candle. Look at the awesome.

With the glass tube, you’d be able to make all of the marbles light up instead of just the ones at the top.

frugal mason jar centerpieces for wedding

Lacy Mason Jar Centerpieces

This one was super easy and turned out really pretty. For a more traditional wedding, just get some lace and ribbon that matches your wedding colors. Carefully use a hot glue gun or superglue to wrap the lace around the outside of the jar. Use the same method to secure your ribbon around the lip of the jar. Insert and light the candle for a quick and gorgeous centerpiece!

Personalized M&M mason jar centerpieces for wedding

Personalized M&M Mason Jar Centerpieces

While chocolate is always a good thing, the reason we picked M&Ms for this centerpiece is that I went to a wedding not long ago where they had personalized M&Ms for the centerpieces and party favors.

They were adorable.

You can get them with messages and images printed on them. They had four different “prints.” One had the bride’s face, and another had the groom’s face. The remaining two designs were the date of their wedding and their names printed together.

It was so unique and fun. You can even order them in your wedding colors exclusively. For 2017 they have a promo going on where you get 10% off all orders $50+.

For this centerpiece, we literally just filled it up with M&Ms and wrapped some lace around  the top. Simple, but different and fun.

 

How did you do centerpieces at your wedding? Were your frugal? Let us know in the comments!

 

 

 

This post is in partnership with Paper Mart.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year to Buy Wedding Jewelry

best time of year wedding jewelry purchase

It happened right before Thanksgiving.  I got a card in the mail from a jeweler that had somehow found out I was getting married.  Come in to the store and we’ll give you some free earrings, no purchase necessary.  All I had to do was come in between Black Friday and Christmas.

So I did.  Of course.  While I was there, I figured I might as well look at wedding bands as I hadn’t yet gotten one for the fiance.  He hadn’t gotten his ring size yet, but the jeweler showed me the selection and told me I should definitely buy before Christmas.

She told me during the holidays jewelers freeze their prices, regardless of how gold or silver performs in the stock market, and then they put on all these fabulous sales.  After the holidays the sales stop, and they resume pricing their products based on the current value of gold/silver, etc.

I walked out with a coupon, but ended up not going back because the prices were far outside of my budget.  This is my second go around with the whole marriage thing.  The last time I got married was before the housing bubble burst and the price of precious metals comparatively skyrocketed.  So what I had been expecting to spend versus the reality I had just been confronted with had really hit home.

About halfway through the crazy holiday shopping season, we were out as a family at the mall buying the gifts that we still needed to fill in.  We stopped at a different jeweler to get him sized.  He saw some rings he liked, and the prices here were a lot more affordable.

I asked the woman waiting on us if what the other jeweler had told me was true:  would prices go up after Christmas?  Was this really the best time of year to buy?

She told me yes, and confessed that they would continue to have 40% off sales, but that it wouldn’t be on as wide of an array of products and that they would resume following the stock market when pricing their products.

We looked around the mall a bit, and found that the jeweler we had started with had the best prices for their selection.  So we headed back.  I handed the girl at the counter the business card of the woman I had been talking to before; I wanted to talk to her again so she could get the sale she had earned.

She took the card from me, put it under the desk, and started to show me Tungsten rings.  She was talking the fiance into it, too, despite my vocal protests that I didn’t want to spend that much money on a ring that (in my opinion, which may be completely wrong,) is a fad.  On top of that you can’t resize it.  I wanted gold or silver, and I wanted it in my price range.

She refused to show us the rings I asked to see, and lost a sale.

Time went on.  It was the night before Christmas Eve and I was freaking out because I was going to miss the best time of year to get these sales.  So I went on-line, fully intending to price compare and find a store that had a good selection for when I went in person on the morrow.

Of all places, I found it on Sears website.  A ring almost exactly like one he had seen and liked in a “real” metal, and in my price range.  And it was a comfort-fit, which is a bonus the fiance won’t even understand, but he’ll unknowingly appreciate it.

It said it wasn’t available in store because it was shipped by the original jeweler directly.  I checked out the original jeweler, and they had the ring for less on their website. Plus I found a coupon code for 5% off (which can be huge when you’re spending hundreds,) and free shipping.

I held my breath as I pressed the “Complete Purchase” button. I had gone mad. I was purchasing jewelry on-line based off an internet picture, and then having it shipped to my house hoping the mailman wouldn’t just leave it out on the street.

But I did it anyways. I was not going to have to go out on Christmas Eve.

So a few days ago it came.  All my fears were laid to rest.  It was exactly like the pictures.  (Though I can’t take a good one.)  The post office actually left me a note requesting that I pick it up rather than leaving it in the mailbox or on the street.

I couldn’t be more surprised that I didn’t hit a snag or problem. It’s at least as beautiful as the pieces we saw at all those other stores, and so much more affordable.

If you’re comparing pictures online, it’s a good idea to look at sites like James Allen. They provide a 360 degree view of their products, so its easier to see what you’re getting than with simple 2D pictures.

Since I had already seen pretty much the same exact men’s ring before, it made it easier for me to create a mental composite from 2D. Had I not, or if I had been shopping for an engagement ring with a diamond, the 360 degree view would have been something I mandated from my online jeweler.

I did some price comparison after the holidays.  I didn’t save any money by freaking out on Christmas Eve.  I didn’t spend more, either, though.  Prices on the products I was looking at were pretty  much the same.

I did some research independent of jewelry store salespeople and found that the best time of year for jewelry spans pretty wide:  October to February.  (Valentine’s Day anyone?)  So I did well.  I just didn’t need to stress quite so much about my timeline.

 

This article originally ran in January of 2014.

5 Engagement Rings Under $1,500

Need to show this to my man! 5 engagement rings under $1,500!

It’s here, everyone! We are now in the midst of the most wonderful time of the year to buy wedding jewelry. Deals abound. Hunnies are getting ready to propose over the holidays.

It’s the perfect storm of practicality meets savings.

If you’re shopping for an engagement ring on a budget, here are five beautiful picks under $1,500 from my favorite online retailer: James Allen. I like buying rings online because it saves you money and helps you get more bang for your buck. I like James Allen because they go above and beyond to help you view rings and diamonds at 360 degrees and they throw in all kinds of freebies like engraving, shipping and 30-day, no-questions-asked returns.

Vintage Infinity Engagement Ring

vintage-1450-1

Displayed here in 14K white gold, you can also get this band and setting in rose gold or yellow gold. The infinity symbol that encircles the band serves as a reminder that your love and promises are eternal. Paired here with a .70 carat, princess-cut diamond, the final price comes to $1,450.

View this band.
View this diamond.

Presentation Solitaire Engagement Ring

solitaire

Don’t underestimate the elegance of simplicity. This 14k gold band, also available in all three shades of gold, comes in under budget so that you can splurge on the .71 carat oval diamond with super high clarity. Total price is $1,460.

View this band.
View this diamond.

Engraved Vintage Solitaire Engagement Ring

proverbs-1430-1

This one is my favorite. As a woman, I would gladly take the smaller .53 carat size in exchange for the excellent cut, color and clarity, but the real deal breaker is the gorgeous band. It’s beautiful in all colors, but personally, I’m crushing on the 14k rose gold displayed above. Total price is $1,430.

View this band.
View this diamond.

Rope Solitaire Engagement Ring

rope-1500-2

If engraving isn’t her thing, but she does want a unique aspect to her band, check out the Rope Solitaire Engagement Ring. It’s subtly different, but still simple. This one is also displayed with a high quality .53 carat diamond. Total price is $1,500 on the nose.

View this band.
View this diamond.

2mm Comfort Fit Solitaire Engagement Ring

marquis-1440-2

Comfort Fit rings are beveled around the edges so they won’t cut into your fingers at all. This one is 2mm thick, and perfect for displaying the unique marquis cut diamond which is .70 carat. Total price is $1,440.

View this band.
View this diamond.

Which engagement ring would you pick?

I’m interested to see which way you guys lean. My favorite is the third option, but they’re all pretty dang beautiful—especially for those prices! If you’re already married, how low did you manage to keep your budget?

 

 

*This post contains affiliate links. You do not pay anything additional for using these links, but they do help keep this blog afloat. Thank you for supporting Femme Frugality, and I hope you have the happiest happily ever after!*

How to Get a Non-Clergy Wedding in California

Over two years ago, I wrote an article about self-uniting marriage. Saving on clergy fees? What kind of frugal bride wouldn’t be interested?

The response to it has been huge, and has inspired many readers to successfully petition against their county clerks to get married without an officiant based on our Constitutional right to freedom of religion.

A couple of months ago, I started talking to a reader in California who wanted to get a “non-clergy” marriage in their state. (“Non-clergy” is the same thing as self-uniting—just different choice of words.) We bounced ideas off of each other, and the couple did the hard work that led to successfully obtaining the type of marriage license they wanted so they could dedicate themselves to each other in the way that best celebrated their understanding of God (or lack thereof) and Love.

As far we know, this is the first instance of a successful secular, non-clergy marriage in the state of California. The reader has been kind enough to share their experiences with us today. All involved hope that this story paves the way for other couples.

Photo via Thunderchild7 under CC by 2.0

Photo via Thunderchild7 under CC by 2.0

By way of background, the Pilgrims had scarcely arrived and established their fundamentalist, theocratic colony when they started persecuting anyone who didn’t worship the same God in the same way. The first people hanged for heresy in Massachusetts were Quakers. There’s a statue of one of them, Mary Dyer, in in front of the State House facing Boston Common.

But over the years, Quakers and their quirks — including not having clergy — have come to be accepted as “respectably” religious.

“Most states make some kind of special allowance for legalizing a Quaker wedding when there is no pastor to ‘officiate,'” according to the Friends General Conference, the main network of clergy-less Quakers in the USA.

Since the Constitution prohibits disparate treatment for different religions, or for religious and non-religious beliefs, that should mean that it is possible for any couple in any of these states to marry without clergy, as Quakers do.

Easier said than done, as I found out in California.

Befriend the Quakers

In the District of Columbia and Colorado, any couple can elect to “officiate” their own marriage, without being asked about their religion.

To see a full list of states that allows this practice, check out our list of states that allow self-uniting marriage.

In other states, the procedures for “Quaker marriage” vary. You will either need to read the law, or ask Quakers in your state. Don’t expect local officials to have a clue, especially in areas with few Quakers.

Even if you aren’t a Quaker, you could start by contacting a local meeting of the “Society of Friends” (Quakers).  Ask nicely, and they will probably be happy to help. Explain that you aren’t a Quaker, but want to marry without an officiant, as Quakers do, and ask them how Quakers register their marriages in your state. Is there a special form or procedure?

Get to Know the Law and Get Some Help

Once you find out the procedure Quakers use in your state, your next task is to get local officials to allow you to follow that procedure, even though you aren’t a Quaker. In some states, such as Pennsylvania, there have already been lawsuits over this. In other states, you may be the first person to ask. Start by asking nicely.

You might have to get a lawyer involved. But don’t assume that local officials will be hostile. They may just not understand: many people can’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t want to pay some stranger to “officiate” over your own wedding.

Being the first in your state, county or city will take more work, may take more time and might require you to face publicity and/or postpone your wedding. But it will set a precedent that will help the next couple.

If local officials refuse to let you follow the same procedure as is followed by Quakers, you could ask civil rights groups that have been involved in this and similar issues, such as the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the Americans United for Separation of Church and State, or the ACLU chapter in your state.

Femme’s note: It took about a month to hear back from them, but a reader in Pennsylvania who ran into problems with her county clerk managed to get a self-uniting marriage license in Berks County with the help of the ACLU.

We asked all three. For each, we filled out a form on their website, and an intake lawyer called us back 1-2 weeks later to get more information. All these groups get more worthy people asking for help than they can handle, so don’t be surprised if they decide not to take your case. Specialized groups such as FFRF and AU may be more likely to take on a case like this than a group with a wider focus like the ACLU.

In our case, AU offered to have one of their staff lawyers write a letter to the county clerk explaining why we should be allowed to have a “non-clergy wedding” (the term used in California law, Family Code section 307) if we state that our “religious denomination” is “atheist”.

That letter persuaded the San Francisco City and County Clerk to allow us to have a “non-clergy marriage” with 2 witnesses and no officiant, which is what Quakers do in California.  If you are in another county in California, and the clerk balks at allowing an atheist “non-clergy wedding,” see if AU will send a similar letter to your County Clerk.

Confidential Marriages in California

We had a second round of even more arcane argument, however, because we wanted our marriage to be “confidential” rather than “public”.  California is unusual (maybe unique among the states) in having two different ways that marriages can be recorded: public or confidential.

A public marriage is just that: Anyone can buy a CD for $10 with all the public marriages in
California for a given year, including parents’ birth names, dates and places of birth, etc. Who would want their mother’s maiden name and other information invaluable to identity thieves in such a public database?

A confidential California marriage is like a sealed court record: it is kept in the county clerk’s office and available only to the married couple. You can get a certified copy you can show to anyone who needs to see it, e.g. to show eligibility for health insurance as a spouse. Anyone else needs a court order to get a copy of a confidential marriage record.

So in California there are two ways to “solemnize” a marriage (by an officiant or “non-clergy”) and two ways to record a marriage (public or confidential.) That makes four possible combinations.

But the state of California, in its infinite wisdom, has prepared only three marriage license forms. Apparently they developed the forms for confidential marriage and non-clergy marriage separately, and never thought about the possibility of someone who wanted non-clergy solemnization and confidential recording. We were being foiled by poor forms design!

This is pretty cool---have a non-clergy marriage in California and you don't have to pay for an officiant!

San Francisco Recognizes the Inconsistencies in Marriage Law

Everyone we talked to agreed that the law allows this, but they kept saying “no” because they couldn’t figure out which forms to use. We were treated politely and pleasantly throughout. I’m not sure how it would have gone in other California counties.

For what it’s worth, the San Francisco County Clerk, San Francisco City and County Attorney, County Clerks elsewhere in the state they consulted, and the state vital records office all said they had never heard of anyone asking for an atheist non-clergy marriage or a confidential non-clergy marriage. But they all agreed that the law is unconstitutional as written, so that some accommodation needs to be made. They also agreed that the state and local websites need to explain these options better – many counties don’t mention the non-clergy option, or don’t explain it properly– and that the forms and maybe the law itself needs to be clarified.

Success! And how you can get a non-clergy marriage in California, too.

After a month of negotiation, and less than two hours before our appointment at City Hall with an officiant we didn’t want and didn’t want to pay for, state and county officials finally worked out a way to use the existing forms for non-clergy, confidential, atheist marriage.

If you have trouble with this in another California county, tell them there is a procedure that has been used for this in San Francisco. They could check with either the San Francisco County Clerk’s office or, perhaps better, the office in Sacramento that was involved.

California Department of Public Health – Vital Records
Birth and Marriage Registration Section
(916) 445-2236

Interested in a personal contact? Shoot Femme an email if you’re facing this problem as a Californian and she’ll get you connected to the appropriate people.

In the end, everything went smoothly. We filled out the application form at the County Clerk’s office at City Hall, and were given a non-clergy marriage license. We filled that out with our two witnesses — at a time and place of our convenience — and brought it back to the clerk’s office. (We could have filed it on the spot if we had brought our two witnesses with us to City Hall.)

We entered “atheist” in the box for religious denomination. Nobody could dispute that atheists don’t have clergy!

It took a day for our marriage to be recorded. The day after we turned in the signed form, we came back and paid for a couple of certified copies of the marriage certificate: one to keep at home and use for all the paperwork for changing our status with insurers, etc., and one to put in our safe deposit box. These copies were provided on the spot.

The First Atheist Marriage in California

We were told, and it seems plausible, that ours was the first officially atheist marriage in California, the first non-clergy atheist marriage, and the first confidential non-clergy marriage.

We went through a lot of hassle, but hopefully it will now be easier for others in San Francisco and maybe elsewhere in California.

 

Congratulations to our couple on their marriage! So much thanks for sharing their story, and for fighting the good fight to pave the way for others who want to get married in accordance with their theistic OR nontheistic beliefs.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...