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Weddings vs. Eloping: What are the pros and cons?

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Weddings vs. Eloping: What are the pros and cons?

Old 12-29-04, 11:37 AM
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Weddings vs. Eloping: What are the pros and cons?

My fiancee and I are planning a wedding for July. We expect the wedding and honeymoon to cost around $10K to $12K all told. And since our parents won't be helping out, that's all going to be on us. And with a medium amount of debt already, that would be a bit of a burden.

I'm looking for pros and cons of having a wedding and just eloping. Anyone here have words of wisdom? We're now considering maybe it'd be best to just get married ourselves and have a party of some sort after the fact. I don't want to have money get in the way of what we really want, but I'm not sure it's possible to separate the two.

Anyway, for those married folk out there, what do you have to say to an engaged pair who aren't certain what to do?
Old 12-29-04, 11:51 AM
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It's your wedding.
You have to do what you and your fiancee would like and can afford.
I would suggest not starting a marriage with 10-12k more additional debt. Most marriages that fail, fail because of money troubles, and that would be handicapping yourselves right out of the gate.
If you end up going more frugally, and getting grief from family or friends [which you shouldn't but just in case], you can say We'd rather use that 10k as a down payment on a house, or a car, or stick it as a seed in a 401k, whatever.
Personally, my wedding was not humongous, but a lot more expensive than I thought it would be. But my wife's parents paid for a great portion of it [partly out of tradition, and partly because they didn't get a wedding and were somewhat vicariously experiencing ours.]

Now, you're choosing only between a wedding and eloping. There are frugal weddings you can have, it just takes a little more work and creativity. When a friend of mine got married, it didn't cost him all that much at all. They rented some chairs and wedding-type decorations from a party house, they reserved a city park by a lake, they had a friend who was in seminary school do the ceremony, they had friends in bands do the music [along with some recorded music on equipment they borrowed]; at the reception, they rented a little hall, they had a caterer bring in food, [no alcohol allowed, I don't think, so that saved some money], and I think they did have a DJ/MC at the reception. Tux rental for guys isn't too expensive, and I think her dress was like 500 bucks.
Where we went to school, there was a costume/clothing shop that would make wedding dresses for you--you didn't have to buy it, after they made it per your specs, they would rent it to you. More expensive than a regular rental, less expensive than a purchase.

here's some random links with ideas for frugal weddings. Besides, if you customize the wedding, that makes it more memorable and more 'yours.' [I would suggest, however, don't scrimp on a photographer--find a good one and pay him, that's something you don't want to be 'cheap'.]

http://www.usabride.com/frugal/
http://www.thefrugallife.com/frugalwed.html
http://www.cheap-chic-weddings.com/
http://moneycentral.msn.com/content/...ily/P49446.asp
http://moneycentral.msn.com/content/...ney/P37097.asp


Cheap/frugal does not always equal bad, and expensive does not always equal good.

Last edited by tonyc3742; 12-29-04 at 12:05 PM.
Old 12-29-04, 11:57 AM
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My wife and I were very fortunate to have the parents pay for the entire wedding. We had a great time. Looking back on it though the day went by so quickly that I really did not have a chance to fully enjoy it. Having to make the rounds to all the guests and thank them for coming I didn't even have time to have a drink! Yes, all the guests had a great time and many even said that it was the best wedding that they've been to but it was very hectic. To think of all of the planning and the money that went into that one day is just crazy.

Now if we had to pay for the wedding ourselves it probably wouldn't have been as nice. But that's okay I think. As long as you both love each other and have people who are close to you to share in you day then it doesn't matter how you do it. I know it's cheesy advice but you don't want to have to start a marriage with a lot of debt. If you do decide to have a traditional wedding just make sure that you stay within your spending limits.

Hope this helped.
Old 12-29-04, 12:01 PM
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You have to decide whether sharing the day with a bunch of other people will make it $10K more special for you. I personally would say no. I don't think it is a good idea to spend that kind of money on a wedding when you could save it for a house or some other more useful thing. You better make sure you and the fiancee are on the same page for this though. This will be a real test of your communication skills.

Pros of a more expensive wedding - more expensive gifts, although they may be china, crystal and silverware you won't use for years. People tend to spend what they think it will cost you for them to be at the wedding.

There are a lot of things you can do to bring down the cost of a wedding while still keeping it a nice event.
Old 12-29-04, 12:05 PM
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We got a nice china set for our wedding. Expensive. Never used it. We've been married almost ten years now.
We used the full-set-of-dishes from Target we got as a gift a whole lot more. In fact, I have one of the plates here in my desk at work still.
Old 12-29-04, 12:07 PM
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I don't see spending all that money on one day, if you can't really afford it. I know it's your wedding and it should be memorable. So why not elope and take a trip somewhere beautiful, where just the two of you can relax and enjoy each other's company? You could do this for a fraction of the cost of wedding, it would be just as memorable, and you would still have most of the money left over for the house, etc.

As for the family missing out, perhaps I'm a bit cruel here... but if they won't be helping out (even if due to circumstances out of their control) they really shouldn't 'expect' anything. It's YOUR day (meaning you and your bride-to-be).
Old 12-29-04, 12:08 PM
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JMHO, eloping is a better deal

Pros
========

1. No in-laws
2. No annoying relatives
3. No ex-boyfriend/girlfriends
4. No embarrassing alky friends/relatives
5. No kids
6. No huge bill
7. Can take a better honeymoon/buy furniture with the money you save



Cons
======
Less or no gifts




Looks like the pros outweigh the cons.
Old 12-29-04, 12:31 PM
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Wedding - Con: Marriage

Eloping - Con: Marriage

It's a toss-up. Eloping is cheaper, less hassle...


j/k
Old 12-29-04, 12:52 PM
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We did what we called a planned elopement. Basically a no frills wedding. We told everyone that we were getting married on "x" date at "x" place. If they wanted to come share the experience with us, they would more than welcome. Afterwards, we had a get together at mom's and dad's house. Again everyone was welcome. We had no rehearsal party and no bride maids and groom's men (from what I've heard getting a bunch of yahoo's fitted and at the church on time is more of a headache than I care to deal with.)

The only thing that were "splurged" on was the photography. We were told, when all is said and done, the pictures are the only thing that you will physically carry with you for the rest of your lives. Nobody is really going to care how good the cheese poof doodles were twenty years from now.

Like dtcarson said, the worst thing in the world is starting a new life together in debt. Most marriages do end because of financial problems. As common as divorce is today, why start yourself off with one strike against you.

I wish you well in your upcoming nuptials.
Old 12-29-04, 01:05 PM
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There are no cons to eloping. If your parents won't help out, I would elope. Wedding are for the bride, but mainly for the mothers.

Elope, come back and have a reception so you can get gifts and drink beer.
Old 12-29-04, 01:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Palaver
The only thing that were "splurged" on was the photography. We were told, when all is said and done, the pictures are the only thing that you will physically carry with you for the rest of your lives. Nobody is really going to care how good the cheese poof doodles were twenty years from now.
I take it you were married nearbye? Does that mean you had a "real" wedding and not just sigining of the papers at the court house?
Old 12-29-04, 01:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Palaver
The only thing that were "splurged" on was the photography. We were told, when all is said and done, the pictures are the only thing that you will physically carry with you for the rest of your lives. Nobody is really going to care how good the cheese poof doodles were twenty years from now.
To go along with this, a cheap way to go (generally at the reception) is to place disposable cameras at all the tables. You will end up with a lot of pictures of what was going on that you didn't get to see. Good candid shots that will probably have you laughing for years.
Old 12-29-04, 01:50 PM
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Having just married this past April, and paying for almost the entire wedding (aside from the cash gift from the mother-in-law that we used as a site deposit), I began wishing we eloped about 6 months into the planning. By that time it was too late. We already put the deposit down on the site and it was non-refundable. So we went through with it.

We set a budget but had to go beyond it if we were going to get married with any clothes on or ceremony music or have a minister. And I'm talking super low frills. I bought my gown off of ebay for $140 and it was awesome. We didn't hire any bands or DJ's, no limos, no hard liquor (we served wine and beer which was all that was allowed in the county, anyway), kept the guest list to around 50 people which was the site's minimum, and our wedding night was paid for by a friend as a wedding gift. I bought and made all my decorations (which I still have and use around the house since it was mostly glass and candles), a professor of mine did the bouquets at cost as a gift, and we had a bagpiper do the ceremony music which cost waaaayyyyy less than any other options I looked at. Tried to get some students to perform the ceremony but couldn't get a group together due to the timing of finals at that time. Heck, I even had finals start the day before the wedding. Lucky me.

After that long-winded post, I wish we had just eloped. The pressure of planning everything mostly alone, dealing with some personalities in the wedding party, and being in a demanding program at school along with work, really knocked me out. It wiped out my savings account, I was so stressed out all the time, got a 'B' in one of my classes , and even though I enjoyed getting married, it would have been super relaxed to elope and throw a big reception for half the amount we spent on the entire ceremony and reception. Besides, everything really did go by so quickly that I barely had time to enjoy it or even talk to very many guests... some of whom traveled a long, long way to be there for us.

It's really up to you two to decide. Don't make any financial decisions (like putting down any non-refundable deposits) before you're absolutely certain about what you want. We kept hearing that you had to make plans a year in advance, but looking back I realize that this was not at all true for us. If you decide to elope, make sure this is what your fiancee wants because some girls really do dream of the perfect wedding all their lives. I didn't and mainly had this big hurrah for everyone else. Now I wish we had spent more money on a two week honeymoon instead of one and not spent a dime on all that pomp and circumstance.

No, I'm not bitter. I'm thrilled to be married and have beautiful wedding photos (also at a bargain by hiring a new photographer charging discounted prices) to look back on that day and be in total awe of it all.
Old 12-29-04, 01:51 PM
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Whoops. That was a long post.
Old 12-29-04, 01:57 PM
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My husband and I got married back in '94. My dad paid for $2,000 and my mom chipped in about $500. We were expected to either stay within that budget or pay for the rest of it ourselves. It really sucked because my dad insisted on all these expensive things and then he wouldn't pay for them.

You could try doing something inbetween eloping and the huge wedding. What about a small wedding with just your family and then have an elegant dinner afterwards. This way you can have your wedding with pictures but stay within your budget. :-)
Old 12-29-04, 02:11 PM
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We got married in front of the fireplace at my parent's house on a Saturday morning. My cousin was a JOP, I slipped him a $20, the wedding "party" went down to Shoney's for the breakfast bar, then we had a killer pool party. Total cost: about $45, and I am very married.
Old 12-29-04, 02:22 PM
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Well, we're leaning toward eloping, but the bad thing is she already bought her dress (she bought that way early, like 2 months ago).
Old 12-29-04, 02:31 PM
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Originally Posted by James W. Powell
Well, we're leaning toward eloping, but the bad thing is she already bought her dress (she bought that way early, like 2 months ago).
eBay it. It's always funny to see those things listed as "Never used"


But, seriously, can't she still wear it? Maybe w/o the veil. You might have to get dressy too but it could be fun.
Old 12-29-04, 02:37 PM
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Originally Posted by kvrdave
There are no cons to eloping. If your parents won't help out, I would elope. Wedding are for the bride, but mainly for the mothers.

Elope, come back and have a reception so you can get gifts and drink beer.

No cons to eloping? I guess if not sharing it with your family and friends is not a con I agree with you. To me, that's the biggest con of the two. I"m assuming your idea is to simply have the reception after the fact to have your friends and family share in the event, but this is the most expensive part to begin with. So I don't see how that saves you all this money, unless you're talking about doing something not very nice. Also, I would think the biggest point, is to have your family and friends be part of the actual wedding, not the party/giving gifts part. That's me though.

I would say do the best wedding you can and dont' mind paying. That is the right answer I would imagine.

I'm just only getting married, and we are lucky to have the whole thing paid for, having said that, we were also told we could have the money budgeted toward the wedding, if wanted to do something else with it. My fiance and I still didnt' consider it, although it would be a very nice sum, because to us it's important, and most likely the only time we'll have all her family, all my family, all my friends etc. together. Seeing how we're all from different parts of the US.
Old 12-29-04, 02:41 PM
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My parents paid 10K for my wedding in 2000. I'm now divorced.

After the fact the best advice I've EVER heard on getting married is:

The focus should be on the marriage - not the day.

Basically, more excitement should come from spending the rest of your life together than the planning of the "perfect day"

Wish I had taken that advice.

I vote elope. I'm probably getting engaged soon and we'll more than likely be eloping.
Old 12-29-04, 02:49 PM
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I remember my mom telling me, after my dad proposed to her, my grandad [my mom's dad] told me dad, "How about you elope? I'll give you $1,000 cash and I'll hold the ladder."
I agree with both of the two previous posters. It's one day, and the relationship is more important than some perfect day [because, realize, it will *never* be perfect, no matter how much you spend, *something* will go awry], and sharing with the family/friends/those important to you is another important aspect of it. Or can be. But that can be done in a reception, and while the average cost of a reception is something like $7,500, it doesn't have to be that much. They're there to see and support you and your bride, not a dj or some fancy decorations.
Old 12-29-04, 02:57 PM
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Also, I forgot to mention. If you're already in debt, and you're considering doing a fancy wedding or something that will put you even in more debt I would pass.. either elope, and do something very informal when you get back, or simply wait awhile longer to get married, when maybe you would be in better position to do something different.
Old 12-29-04, 03:01 PM
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If you're thinking about the *day* more than the *life together*--you're making too much of it.

The big modern American wedding--with a year of prep, costing thousands of dollars--can make for some seriously screwed up priorities.

If you want it, great. Don't get sucked into it based on "tradition"--or the insecurity or status-mongering of others.
Old 12-29-04, 03:02 PM
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There are some good suggestions in this thread. It all comes down to what you both want. Some girls want the fairy tale perfect wedding, others don't. If you are with one of those girls, I'm not sure what you can do. I just got married in April and we had a small/medium wedding for $6000 that we paid for ourselves. We should be back to where we were financially by our first anniversary. Do what the two of you want to, it's not about the other people.
Old 12-29-04, 03:03 PM
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Originally Posted by SpaceBoy
No cons to eloping? I guess if not sharing it with your family and friends is not a con I agree with you.
Thank you.

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