Billy Sexton is not a frugal man. In fact, he chuckles at the idea of cutting corners to save money.
“I’m the guy who believes you get what you pay for,” Sexton said. “I’m not out shopping every week, but I do like the latest and greatest everything so if I see something I like, I don’t wait. I’ll spend what it takes to get it.”
He found the woman of his dreams, Ximena Pena, and her money-spending habits were very compatible with his.
“I won’t go crazy spending money, but I definitely like the latest Iphone and Michael Kors purse and stuff like that,” Ximena said.
So it’s not surprising that when the couple decided to get married, they did so at a beach-side resort on Florida’s Gold Coast, complete with dinner, drinks, music, flowers and photographer.
What was surprising was the price they paid.
“Throw in my suit, her wedding gown and a couple of nights at the hotel,” Sexton said, “and the whole thing cost $8,000.”
Seriously? $8,000 for a beachside wedding with all the traditional trappings!
Weddings Aren’t Cheap
The average cost of a wedding in the United States last year was $30,000. That includes an average price of $80,000 for weddings in New York City, $65,000 to have one of Walt Disney World’s “Fairytale Weddings” and about $500 for quick one in Las Vegas.
There are a ton of variables that factor into the final costs – location, number of guests, time of year, food, drinks, etc. – but if you’re going to walk up the aisle at a beachside resort, with food, music and decorations, surely you’re not spending about a fourth of what the average couple shells out for the big event.
“You can if you want,” said Ximena.
The first step the couple took down the aisle was to agree on what the purpose of the wedding was.
“Weddings have become an extravagant party, and in some cases, a really extravagant, really expensive party,” Billy said. “We didn’t want that.”
“It’s a historical event, but it’s only one day, “Ximena said. “As long as our families were there, and every one had fun in a nice setting, that was enough for me. I’m not one of those girls whose been dreaming about my wedding all my life. I didn’t really need anything extravagant.”
Some of the savings shortcuts the Sextons took were obvious. They hired a friend to do photography, built table centerpieces themselves, shopped for flowers at a nursery the day before the event and bought their wedding cake from a local supermarket.
A few of the alternative choices that saved a lot of money were:
- Limit the guest list. “We told friends and co-workers that this was going to be family members only and we kept to that,” Ximena said. “We ended up with 25 guests and that was just about right.”
- Do your own planning. “We talked to a wedding planner and they wanted $1,200 just to oversee the day of the event,” Billy said. “We dropped that idea and did all the prep work ourselves.”
- Provide your own music. “I bought five, high-end Sonos speakers, downloaded the music we wanted to my Iphone, then hooked it up so it played through the whole event,” Billy said. “Didn’t have to pay for a DJ or band, and now we’ve got some really nice speakers in our house.”
Married On A Monday?
But the biggest money saver was one 99.9 percent of couples would struggle with: the Sextons got married on a Monday.
There are about 2.5 million weddings a year and less than one percent of them occur on a Monday, according to The Knot 2013 Real Weddings Study.
The Sextons saved 40 percent on the cost of the venue, meal and drinks by staging the wedding on a Monday. They didn’t hire a florist, photographer or DJ, but Billy’s research suggested they saved at least that much in each of those areas.
“It was ideal,” Ximena said. “It was a moment to share with our families and I liked the intimate setting.”
“It would have been hard for friends and co-workers to take a day off work so it’s probably good we just kept it to family,” Billy said. “But everything else was just great. We saved a lot of money and believe me, the food and drinks tasted the same on Monday as they would have on Saturday.”
Wedding: What Day of the Week
Bill “No Pay” Fay has lived a meager financial existence his entire life. He started writing/bragging about it in 2012, helping birth Debt.org into existence as the site’s original “Frugal Man.” Prior to that, he spent more than 30 years covering the high finance world of college and professional sports for major publications, including the Associated Press, New York Times and Sports Illustrated. His interest in sports has waned some, but he is as passionate as ever about not reaching for his wallet. Bill can be reached at [email protected].
- Hall, M., Jury, L. (2013, August 9) I do … cost a lot: Weddings by the numbers. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/09/living/matrimony-by-the-numbers/
- Hicken, M. (2014, March 28) Average wedding bill hits $30,000. Retrieved from http://money.cnn.com/2014/03/28/pf/average-wedding-cost/