By Mordechai Schmutter
So you’re making a wedding. Mazel tov! And by “mazel tov,” I mean “good luck,” as in, “good luck paying for all of that.”
Weddings these days are a multimillion-dollar industry. Each. But as the person paying for the wedding, if you even mention the word money, everyone will look at you as if you’d just announced that you wish it were someone else’s child getting married.
So perhaps you’re looking to save on the wedding in ways that you can get away with. This isn’t easy. Firstly, you don’t really want to cut out things that matter to the bride and groom, because this is their big day, and no one wants theirs to be the wedding where the groom’s father decided there would be no band because he and his friends were reasonably okay at a cappella.
Also, many wedding tips that you read in magazines are not entirely thought out. For example, one article said that instead of buying bouquets and centerpieces, you should find a field of wildflowers and put together your own. What a great idea! Although the article didn’t really say when you should do this. Don’t flowers have to be picked relatively close to the wedding? Who’s running out into a field the morning of the wedding and trying to figure out how to weave flower stems into a circle? (“Check your iPhone!” “Okay, my phone says that this is poison ivy.”)
But there are definitely ways to save money that won’t hurt anybody. Or give them major rashes. (Not that it matters, because you didn’t hire a photographer anyway.)
1. Rephrase the Invitations. Let’s put it this way: Most of the people that you invite to the wedding, you invite only so they shouldn’t be offended that they weren’t invited, and they show up only so that you won’t be offended that they didn’t. If you have such a close relationship with them that you’re willing to pay over $50 a plate for their meal (and you don’t even pay $50 for your own plates at home that you get to keep), then why aren’t you close enough to talk to each other and straighten this out?
The answer is that you really don’t have time to do this with each person you invite, because you’re busy putting together a wedding for 500 people so they won’t be offended. But the main problem, I think, is the invitation itself. Most wedding invitations are copied word for word off three-year-old invitations that are for some reason still on your refrigerator, and which, in turn, were copied from older invitations that were on those people’s refrigerators, so that all invitations are basically phrased exactly the same, except for the occasional typo. (Mine said “the twenty-seventh fo February.” And finding typos, by the way, is a good way to save on wedding invitations.) Every invitation says that the hosts “request the honor of your presence,” or that you are “cordially invited,” the implication being that you’d better be there unless you have a really good excuse, such as that you’re dead. So I think that invitations should be rephrased to be a little less forceful:
Mr. and Mrs. Bob Finkelstein
and Mr. and Mrs. Sam Weinberg
Cordially invite you to be aware that
Will not be available to come to any weddings that you may be throwing
On Sunday, the thirtieth fo June,
Because they will be otherwise engaged,
And then married
At One pm
Temple Beth Sholom
So don’t be offended.
Although you can come if you have nothing else going
on that day.
But having a cheaper wedding is not just about cutting people out. Here are some other tips:
2. Cut Down the Music. I’m not saying you should cut down the band. But cutting down on the volume definitely won’t hurt. It must save money somehow. I recently attended the wedding of my wife’s second cousin or something, and I looked over at the band and noticed that every musician was wearing earplugs. Do you know how, when your ears are covered, you tend to speak louder? So I think a good way to save some money would be to: (a) stop buying the band earplugs, and (b) make the volume a little lower. My father-in-law, who himself was wearing earplugs, like the band, suggested that instead of blasting the music, they can just give everyone at the wedding a pair of headphones and let them set their own volume. So I told him that I didn’t think this would save a lot of money, especially once you factor in the wire tanglage of a few hundred people walking in circles for an hour.
3. Get Rid of the Programs. We’ve all been to weddings where various friends and relatives walk down the aisle, and you know it’s going to be one of those weddings when they hand out a program beforehand, like it’s a high-school play. But why waste money printing programs? Does anyone see people walking down the aisle and go, “Who on earth is that?” No, we can figure it out: “That’s someone’s grandmother, flanked by someone’s little brother.” The only people who might need programs are the photographers, so they don’t go taking pictures of anyone who comes running down the aisle because he got to the wedding late and is looking for someone to sit with.
“No, I’m not part of this!”
“You’re not (checking program) the flower girl?”
4. Shorten the Ceremony. No one likes a long chuppah ceremony. And all those extra people walking down just makes it take more time, which also means that the band and the photographer are going to end up charging for more time, because everyone walks slowly, stops for the camera, and isn’t sure which way to go when they get to the end because there are no signs or anything. It would be far more efficient, if you want to save money, to just have everyone race down at once, with maybe a special prize going to the winner.
5. Make Fewer Desserts. The caterer usually makes enough dessert for everyone, but not everyone’s there for dessert. Like for example, the people have to get home to their babysitter because they don’t want to pay her overtime just so the whole entire wedding party could walk down the aisle two at a time and then cram themselves onto the stage like they’re getting into the Ark. Maybe you should mail everyone programs in advance when you send out the invitations, so they can let you know if they’ll still be there come dessert. You should also write what you’re serving for dessert, so they can make an informed decision.
These are just some ideas. But if you pull them off, you will definitely save a ridiculous amount of money: “This is all we saved?” you will ask no one in particular. “That’s ridiculous!” v
Mordechai Schmutter is a weekly humor columnist for Hamodia and is the author of four books, published by Israel Book Shop. He also does freelance writing for hire. You can send any questions, comments, or ideas to MSchmutter@gmail.com.