Wedding on a Budget
Your survival guide 

I come from South Asian background and part of our cultural package includes GRAND weddings. Once news of engagement gets public, people expect cards hand delivered personally to your doorsteps for dholki, mehndi, mayon, baraat, valima etc. You get the picture, wedding in the house means a BIG DEAL. It means you are going to be holding month long events before the big day and you will be responsible for guest arraignments. After all, people will be staying over at the ‘wedding house’ for a month to take part in all the festivities and they need to eat, sleep, dance, sing, eat and sleep a bit more. Also, the bride has to wear yellow/green/all colors she doesn’t like/doesn’t care about before the wedding; she is forced to eat mithai (south Asian sweet treats) and aunties put A LOT of yellow stuff (called ubtan) on you so you ‘glow’ on the wedding day. Well, not to too sure about the ‘glow’ but it will definitely make you look jaundiced. So it was only natural for me to be a little anxious about events to follow once I got engaged to S Man 

After engagement, S Man and I made a secret pact to have only one event. I wish I had included my mom in the pact beforehand. It might have resulted in less parental resistance but nevertheless, we pulled off a relatively simple wedding.  Yes, people gossiped about this ‘unusual’ wedding, but hey! People need something to talk about and we loved the popularity we gained J if you are in the same shoes as I was 4 years ago, hang in there! You can do it! Below are a few things you can do: 

Gain approval and confidence of your loved ones:

This means people who REALLY matter, people you truly care about and love. No, it doesn’t include uncle of yours who is considered ‘part of family’ but you haven’t seen in years. Talk to your to-be husband, your in-laws, your mom and dad and your siblings.  Have an open and respectful conversation about your dreams and their dreams and try to take the middle path

Cut down on number of events: 

Of course, this is a no-brainer. Make it clear that you’d like to have one event only. If you have traditional parents like mine, know that they WILL freak out a bit when they hear this so prepare your line of defense beforehand. Arguments I used? I work and I don’t have enough vacation. I don’t have time for all the preparation/clothes shopping. I have student loans and I am broke. At this point, they will probably offer you all their time and money to make these series of events and festivities a reality. What really worked for me was gaining S Man’s confidence. He stepped up and said WE BOTH want a simple wedding with one event. My mom agreed with a heavy heart and I left bad, so we did a small mayun at home instead with no uptan or sweet overload. My mom was happy and I, well I wish we had somehow skipped the mayoon altogether. 

Internet is here – Go for Ecards: 

S Man and I are tree huggers. We didn’t want to waste paper printing wedding cards and neither had time to hand deliver them. We opted for evites. It is a great tool BTW if you want to keep track of things like number of guests invited, people who accepted your invite etc and makes rest of planning a lot easier and efficient. 

Picking a venue and saving

We went for banquet halls since they usually give out packages and it includes everything, from décor to food to tablecloths etc. S Man and I were personally not too picky and were happy with the basic package offered. One thing that can be done is picking not-so-popular days and times. Afternoon weddings are less popular. Less popularity = less demand – cheaper rates. Also, if you have any control over dates, try picking off season. A summer wedding means you will be spending a couple of extra grands. Other alternatives can be a community center or your friend with a large backyard. 

Freelancers building portfolio:

Want to save money on videographer/photographer/makeup artist? Try looking up some freelancers online who are trying to build their portfolio. They’d be willing to offer you their skills happily! You can ask for a sample of their work if you are a little worried about how you’ll look on your wedding day or how your wedding photos will turn out. We found both photographer and videographer who were just starting up and were willing to film our event for free! 

Tap in to yours and your friend’s talents and creativity

When it comes to centerpieces and other décor, why not get creative and start DIY project? When we found out our banquet hall package doesn’t include centerpieces, we made our own. All the stuff we needed for our centerpiece was available at dollar store. Cost of centerpieces = approx. $2/centerpieces. Quotations we got for wedding decors = $10/centerpiece. Same goes for henna designs and cakes. Instead of paying $500+ for a wedding cake, why not check within your circle of friends to see who has a passion for cupcakes and creativity and ask for help? 

Have friends who recently got married? 

If you have family or friends who recently got married, chances are they have treasures for you sitting in their basement. Check with them for things they can offer. We checked with family friends and so glad we did! we found all sorts of things we could use including décor, bridal accessories and much more! 

The Dress

In South Asian community, it is quite common for MIL to make your dress. Bad idea for the most part in my opinion. She doesn’t know you too well. She doesn’t know your style, likes and dislikes. My suggestion is to clarify with your family and in laws beforehand that you’d like to design/buy you own wedding dress. That gives you control over style and budget. Once you have that control, you can work on styling and getting it made based on your budget. You can even work with your family and friends who have their wedding dress lying around and add some touches to make it personal. Another way to save cost would be to look at dress and accessory rentals. 

The sound system

Our banquet hall wasn’t arranging sound for us. I called up a couple of DJs to get quotes and it was a sticker shocker. After discussing with family and friends, we decided to have my siblings control the sound and just rented all the equipments from store. Long and McQuade if you are in Canada is one place to check out. They rented top quality sound system for only $100 as compared to $500 for the DJ. 

If you like it, you don’t have to put a ring on it

Ok we personally got rings but a year later, we found ourselves asking each other: why did we get rings again? So my very honest opinion 4 years down the road: Rings don’t matter, your relationship does. 

Why not drive home in your car?

Going for a limo? Stop and reconsider. S Man drove me home in his own car and I LOVED it. I personally didn’t care about a limo. Driving home in my husband’s car was as special, personal and memorable. 

In short, this stuff doesn’t matter. We get too caught up in wedding planning and forget about real stuff: love, compassion, patience, and forgiveness. This is what you need to make a marriage work. How you got married and what dress you wore is irrelevant. Bring a Muslim, I have learnt that simplicity is a very important part of our faith. Our prophet liked simplicity and there are countless verses in the Quran that prohibit us from being too extravagant. Unfortunately, we Muslims sometimes forget the true virtue of these teachings 

“O Children of Adam! Take your adornment (by wearing your clean clothes) while praying and going round the Ka’bah, and eat and drink but waste not by extravagance, certainly He (Allah) likes not Al-Musrifin (those who waste by extravagance).”

(Aayah No. 31, Surah Al-A’raf, Chapter No. 7, Holy Qur’an).