A Frugal Girl’s Decidedly Not Frugal Wedding

Pinyo has asked us for our best wedding tips and stories, so I thought I’d tell you about my decidedly not frugal wedding.

Do you know what it’s like to be a frugal person and have someone want to throw you an extravagant, black tie, elegant, fantastic wedding? I do.

I am the 4th of five kids in my family to marry. Each wedding before mine was a huge, expensive shindig, with most decisions run by my father and stepmother.

When Husband and I got engaged we were thinking more along the lines of a simple wedding held in a friend of mine’s backyard. Husband and I are simple people, and a black tie affair was not something we’d dreamed of. We were both 37, and it wasn’t about the wedding anyway. It was about the marriage. Yada yada yada.

When my Dad started discussing the wedding and we told him what we were envisioning he wasn’t at all happy. What did I mean I wanted a deejay? No, no, no! A band would have to be hired! I wanted to do it in someone’s backyard? Fine – he’d rent a tent and cover the pool to make a dance floor and hire waiters to provide white glove service in his back yard. Small? Okay, they’d only invite about 250…


I realized something about my Dad that day, as he was looking at us like we had three heads. Each.

His sense of success as a father was directly tied to his ability to provide certain things for us, mainly an education, a bar or bas mitzvah and a wedding. He wanted the big, expensive party. Not accepting his offer would be rejecting him, and he would be highly insulted.

I know what you’re thinking. Nice spin – trying to make us believe that you allowing your Dad to throw you a big wedding would be a gift to him. But it was. Of course I benefited. Of course. And how could I possibly complain that he wanted to throw me a party I’d never be able to afford on my own? Never mind that the money might be better spent on a house down payment for us or, better yet, a more comfortable retirement for him?

But there’s something else at work here. Being willing to receive is a concept that often makes me fidget. I’m just not entirely comfortable with it. I’d rather do the giving than the receiving. And then there’s my frugality. On my own my wedding would have cost less than $5000. Probably less than $3000. I like to spend $100 and make it look like I spent $1000, and a wedding is a great place to work that kind of magic.

But it wasn’t what my Dad wanted, and in the end Husband and I decided to accept graciously. Bottom line is that it was his money to do with as he pleased. Sure, we could have said no and done it our way. But for us it wasn’t about the wedding, so, really, what did it matter? We were happy to be together.

So, we did the big bash. We did black tie, though I insisted on making it optional. I placed myself under Stepmother’s bulbous thumb for the six months between engagement and wedding, I suffered through stress and hives (a first in my lifetime occurrence) and the parents meeting the parents (none of whom had much use for the other) and all other kinds of stress that had me complaining to Husband that we should have done a destination wedding and kept the destination a secret (Why did the watermelon and the honeydew run away? Because they cantaloupe).

And in the end we had a beautiful, dazzling, fun wedding that Husband deemed “totally worth” all the stress and aggravation. For me it was worth it, but I was hovering a little closer to the “not worth it” line than Husband.

And my Dad? A very, very happy guy. Significantly poorer, but happy.


3 Responses to “A Frugal Girl’s Decidedly Not Frugal Wedding”

  1. The Best Wedding Tips and Stories Giveaway | Moolanomy Says:

    […] A Frugal Girl’s Decidedly Not Frugal Wedding at Be This Way […]

  2. Sara Says:

    I’m sure not everyone will get your point, but I think you’re onto something here. One of the proudest moments in my dad’s life was my graduation day. He had a life goal to put his kids through college, and he did it. I certainly helped as much as I could, but like you said, it certainly wasn’t about the money.

  3. Tipper Says:

    I can see why it was important to your Dad-and I’m glad you and hubby decided just to go with it.

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