Is It Worth It? – A Budget Wedding Gone Wrong

When is saving money really a savings? Careful understanding ahead of time about budget decisions greatly improves the experiences for all involved. Here, unfortunately, is a tale of one wedding given by a dear friend whose families declined all outside help, and who charted their course through the waters of wedding planning using “low cost” as a guide.

Missouri cheapskate wedding with decors from dumpster divingBackground

I recently attended a wedding as a guest. The groom and his family are very close friends of ours. When the groom announced his engagement I offered my wedding services to them for free.

The bride’s mother declined for various reasons. One reason was that she felt wedding consultants hire only expensive vendors. As a wedding consultant I know and use vendors in all price ranges. My job as a wedding consultant is to find and know the BEST people for the money.

The “Budget Wedding Story”

The wedding was supposed to start at 6:45 p.m. but at 7:15 the wedding had still not started, and I watched in disbelief as the caterer was still setting up chairs for the guests, making the ceremony 45 minutes late. Then, the officiant forgot to let the couple have their first kiss – and announced he didn’t know what came next! I could hardly contain myself. The guests were looking embarrassed because they couldn’t believe it either.

And it continues. The cocktail hour was disorganized, and logistically a nightmare for guests trying to get drinks, which were limited to 3 per guest – colored sticky dots were handed out as drink tickets to over 200 guests; the bartender was instructed to limit wine to half a glass; the tap didn’t work on the keg. But, per the bride’s instructions, the caterer was within budget. The food for both the cocktail hour and the buffet style meal was literally rationed out to each guest.

The caterer was so restricted by their arrangement that they didn’t know how to respond when I asked for a little extra mashed potatoes – even though that and the salad were all that I was having, having chosen to forego the main course after seeing the under-inspired offerings.

The caterer’s service team was under-trained. A guest passed out in the buffet line and dropped her plate of food all over the place. The food remained on the floor while other guests had to step over and around the food. I finally had to ask one of the servers to get it picked up to avoid a potential accident and lawsuit.

As for décor, unfortunately the centerpieces were so small they were lost on the big tables – and at $25 each, the family would have done better to use simple pillar candles and tea lights.

While standing in the buffet line and throughout the evening many guests wondered how so many things could go wrong. I felt horrible because I knew what the family should have had, even with their limited budget.

Here was a single mother, with a daughter who is getting married. The wedding had a very tight budget. The guest list was 200 people. She was anxious that a wedding planner would overspend. She had to choose where to make compromises and ended up with the heartaches of an extremely late and disorganized wedding, very poor service, unhappy guests, décor that added nothing – and still went over budget.

Wedding planners could squeeze more from your small budgetFlexible to Budgets Big or Small

Wedding consultants hear these stories all the time, and it’s distressing because this should never happen to anyone. The guests felt awful for the family. As one said to me, “My friend got married and I’m happy for her, that’s all I’m saying.”

Most couples with tight budgets believe they can’t afford a wedding consultant. If there were one thing I could tell couples, it’s that wedding consultants offer different tiers of service and are usually willing to work within a range of budgets.

Most are willing to work out hourly packages so you can have the benefit of professional guidance. Even though you may not choose the full range of services, or the market’s most exclusive professional, you may still be able to afford a smaller custom package that will give the professional guidance you deserve, the peace of mind to enjoy the planning experience, and the confidence that you and your guests will have only wonderful memories of the day.

This is our job, to help you plan that perfect day, perfectly!

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