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A grand wedding for under five grand

A priceless wedding is one that emphasizes the unique personalities of the couple getting married. You can celebrate the spirit of love, hope, joy, and community -- without spending a fortune.

The day after my husband and I got engaged, I went to the local bookstore and spent $100 on wedding books, a wedding planner, and a few bridal magazines. I got home and anxiously started pouring through them only to become depressed. From what I read it seemed that you couldn't have a decent wedding without spending a small fortune.

One of the bridal books I bought stated that the cost of an average wedding was $15,000, while another claimed $19,000 was the norm. The "bargain" wedding book that I picked up shared all kinds of great tips designed to help you have an affordable wedding for about $10,000. If this was average, then what was extravagant? I didn't want to know.

Now, I had already been working as a caterer and event planner for many brides and grooms who threw lavish weddings. I had witnessed firsthand the stresses of the big day, the unrealistic expectations, and the inevitable letdown. As one bride I know said, "My wedding day was a blur of chaos and details. With the whole day so tightly planned out, I didn't even get a chance to say hello to a few of my close friends." I vowed this would not happen to me.

I planned a day of celebration, relaxation, great food, and good friends that was affordable, enjoyable, and memorable. Many of our guests remarked that our wedding was one of the best weddings they ever attended. And it cost less than $3,500. How did we do it? Easy! Our wedding represented who we are individually and who we are as a couple. Location, food, and self-written vows were our top priorities. We asked for and received help from friends and family so that they felt really involved in our ceremony and reception. We kept the guest list under control. We invited eighty guests, fifty-five attended, and we sent out announcements to another fifty friends and relatives. Our wedding was intimate and personal -- several of our guests said that they felt they knew us better when they left our wedding than they did before.

Believe it or not, low-budget weddings are on the rise. Or perhaps they never really went away, but they just don't get the media attention that six-figure celebrity weddings receive. After we got married, other engaged couples began to call and ask me for advice. They wanted to learn how to plan a wedding on a shoestring budget. I decided that the time had come to write a book that would help get out the message: You don't have to spend a lot of money to have a great wedding!

When I mention to people that I am writing a book called Priceless Weddings for Under $5,000, I get one of three responses:

"Can you really have a wedding for under $5,000?" or

"No way! That's not possible!" or

"I was at a great low-budget wedding recently..." and then the individual precedes to tell me all of the fabulous details of the day's celebration.

After interviewing dozens of other couples like us, who, for whatever reason didn't have or didn't want to spend over $5,000 on their nuptials, I realized that while each wedding was unique, something occurred in all of them that was missing in more elaborate weddings. I heard tales of people pitching in to help in any way they could and how good it felt to these participants to play an active role in the union of their loved ones. The common thread I felt when brides, grooms, family, and friends described the day's events, was the overwhelming feelings of love, joy, and community.

At the end of each chapter and interspersed throughout the book, you will find wedding scenarios that highlight how a specific couple designed their wedding. None were about money or showing off or keeping up with the Joneses. Instead, the stories recounted are about working together to plan, prepare, and partake in the events of a wedding celebration. Whether the couple is tying the knot barefoot on a Manhattan beach or wearing designer clothes in the chic setting of Martha's Vineyard, the weddings profiled are full of self-expression, originality, and stylishness.

Our wedding was a success beyond my wildest dreams and quite definitely the best day of my life... You will soon be joining the ranks of these couples with your own wedding story to tell.

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