The average wedding in the US costs around $25k, according to online sources. Well it’s no wonder why, if you break this total down into it’s component costs. These sources show that foolish people regularly spend $800 on invitation-category expenses alone! This includes engagement announcements, save-the-date cards, invitations, reply cards, postage, and a guest book. Now that the Green Pilgrim has covered all of these bases in preparation for his own wedding celebration he feels the urge to share what he has learned so that you are not taken advantage of by an often exploitative industry.
My future wife and I are very close to our friends and family, and we know all 100+ of our anticipated guests quite well. So we just told them we were engaged, and which day we were planning the wedding for. Total cost: $0. (The average for engagement announcements and save-the-date cards combined is about $200)
We also wanted to make it easy for our guests to RSVP, so we decided to create a wedding website. TheKnot offers a free wedding website builder that we found agreeable (there were plenty of other free options for the website, but we liked the ease of their template approach). The website has a built-in guest book page on which we have already collected a few well wishes. We have all the other things you might expect like directions, accommodation information, the proposal story, etc… Lastly, there is a password protected RSVP page (the password is on our invitations – no reply card necessary). Total cost: $0. (Average cost of reply cards and guest book: ~$150)
Finally we have the invitations themselves. We found a deal online from PartyPOP that offered to print and send free wedding invitations. After vetting this seemingly too-good-to-be-true deal we realized that what they get in return is exposure. The envelopes have their company name on them and they encourage you and others to go through them for other wedding-related expenses. By default they have the address of their personalized wedding website for you on the invitation, but we covered this up on each of the 75 free invitations with free correction fluid from my office supply closet at work, and wrote in the website we preferred. We did something similar with free folder labels over the PartyPOP logo/website on the envelopes too. All told, the invitations look quite nice. We spent a Sunday afternoon addressing the invitations and envelopes ourselves. Total cost: $0. (Average cost for invitations: ~$200 and up)
One remaining cost is postage. I will save a little on this by using my free inter-office mail to send invitations to coworker friends we are inviting, but we will probably come in just under the average of $75 for this (I will be paying for postage and sending them off later today). I have no qualms supporting the USPS (they do good work!), and this is our ONLY invitation expense.
Looking over the above makes me feel really good about myself and my quest for early financial independence. For less than a day’s work we saved $550 that can be better spent on our future together (or our honeymoon). And anybody can take advantage of the same deals (or better ones) for the time cost of a little research. If you think that $25k is too much for a wedding then you’re not only 100% correct but you’re already on your way to becoming a green pilgrim yourself! My aim is to make the path easier for you; together we are stronger. I am pleased to have a partner in life who also abhors waste, strives for efficiency, and values happiness and health above all. As you can see, our attitude is already paying dividends.