Michelle’s ring glistened in the afternoon sun as we gathered around to see her newly adorned finger. My second daughter was engaged and wedding plans were in full force. That was one year ago. Michelle was married two weeks ago to a wonderful young man in a traditional church wedding, which surprisingly enough stayed within our budget with even some left over for the newly weds to begin housekeeping.
What was an even greater surprise was her sister, Rachel’s announcement! Here was a girl who refused to consider any fellow who was not going to India as a career missionary since that is what Rachel had committed her life to doing. She had bypassed every potential suitor, her eye on one prize: INDIA. Little did any of us suspect that God would graciously send her a young man to India to win her heart and share her love for the people and ministry of that far away land.
Now with two months until Rachel and Nathan’s wedding, and barely catching my breath from round one, we plan for round two coming on June 11.
Perhaps you find yourself in a similar situation, a mom with two daughters each marrying within a few months of each other. May I offer some suggestions on how to manage two weddings in one year?
1) Ask God for clarity, wisdom, and peace.
Before you pull out the wedding planner and the checkbook or even consult with a wedding coordinator, consult with your heavenly Father. Marriage was His idea in the first place, so don’t you think He has some good ideas of what a Christian ceremony should look like? Spending time with the Lord will ease you through the many frustrations that lie ahead. He is the only one who can provide calm and direction in the midst of varying opinions on what makes the perfect wedding.
2) Set up a savings account just for the wedding.
Perhaps you are a mom who has just happened to pick up this magazine even though your girls are still young. That’s great! You have the time to begin thinking and preparing NOW for that special day in your daughter’s life. Many consider a college fund as soon as the new baby arrives, but few set up a wedding fund when a baby girl enters the home. May I encourage you to do that? Many cultures, far less materially blessed than we, begin saving from the time the girl is born for her wedding apparel.
Even if your daughter is grown and has made the announcement, I advise you to put whatever funds are allocated into a separate account, which protects the money from other priorities gobbling it up. We found it helpful to put all our purchases on one credit card which gave the savings fund more time to accrue interest. One credit card allowed for clarity, keeping wedding purchases separate from other purchases.
3) Plan a budget and stay within it.
This is a critical tip. If you do not have a baseline for the wedding, you WILL overspend. Marriage is big business. Advertisers spend big bucks trying to convince you that you will not be able to produce the dream wedding without the perfect headpiece, fingertip veil, or the ornamental butterflies on top of the bubble bottles. Do your homework. Estimate how much each item in the wedding will cost: dress, attendants’ dresses, décor, reception, florals, photography, invitations, etc. Discipline yourself to compromise where needed.
4) Sit down and write out everything you want for the wedding, even if you think it will cost too much. You can always scale back as needed.
You never know when an expensive idea can be replaced by a less costly one. For instance, substitute silk flowers for live flowers. A real savings! You might even inquire about floral schools which often will arrange flowers for free if you simply supply the materials. Instead of a cake, make sweet finger foods. This is what Michelle decided to do since neither she nor Jonathan cared about having a cake.
5) Plan a double wedding or use the same décor/dress.
Since both Michelle and Rachel wanted separate weddings, we chose to cut the costs down by using the same décor, just replacing old colors with the new colors. Also, Rachel helped significantly with the costs by purchasing her wedding sari, bridesmaids’ saris, jewelry, and invitations in India, which was much cheaper than purchasing those items in the States.
6) Ask to borrow items.
It never hurts to ask! All they can say is “no.” However, most people are excited about weddings and are delighted to offer help in whatever way they can. One lady in our church who had just married her daughter offered to loan us all her bows, corsages, tulle, reception items, mini-lights, and candles. What a gift! We used all of it for Michelle’s wedding and then turned around and used it for Rachel’s. Folks are often willing to loan out garden accessories, such as arches, ornamental planters, and garden statues upon request.
7) Do your own photography.
After checking out every possibility, Michelle and Jonathan decided to purchase their own digital camera which they would also have after the wedding and solicit his uncle to take the pictures. This worked out just fine for them. And Rachel will use a friend who happens to be in the photography business and is willing to take the pictures for just the cost of developing.
8) Get away from the traditional mindset, especially in regard to the reception.
Now-a-days, couples seem freer to do what they really want for their wedding. This seems to be particularly true in reference to the reception. I have seen everything from ice cream socials to smoothies. Rachel and Nathan are keeping reception costs to a minimum by choosing cake and ice cream.
Some choose to do away with wedding programs. This is what Michelle and Jonathan decided to do since they were showing a power point at the beginning of the service anyhow.
9) Make your own invitations for a fraction of the cost of traditional printing.
With so much computer technology at our fingertips, homemade invitations do not have to look homemade. I have seen many classy styles designed with a decorative, colored cardstock with a sheer overlay held together by a bow at the top or side. Some even have the couple's picture on the front or inside. Many internet sites offer affordable invitations with the option to design your own.
10) Ask a friend to direct the wedding.
When plans were solidified, we sat down and typed up an order of service sheet and reception guide for our director. The day before the wedding, we sat down with her and went over the sheet. This way, she knew what to expect during rehearsal and was able to pick up the ball and run with it quite nicely. Each participant received an order of service at the rehearsal so that everyone knew what was happening. In fact, the minister commented that he had never seen a rehearsal run so smoothly.
11) Use friends and family members as much as possible.
Identify special talents and use them! A cousin who plays violin can provide reception music. An aunt who loves to decorate can hang those garlands. You get the idea. Certainly, you will want to provide a thank-you gift and card, but you most likely will not have to compensate as you would if you hired a professional. Besides, friends and family want to help your day be the best it can be and consider their expertise a gift to the couple.
With some planning, discipline, and compromise, two weddings in one year can stay within budget and get that new marriage off to a good start while leaving mom full of good memories rather than empty pockets.