This is How My Hubby & I Paid For Our Frugal Wedding

Life & Travel

Getting married can be the best day of your life…and the most stressful.

I remember when my husband popped the question, our main concern after all of the dust and excitement settled was how we were going to pay for it. We joked that we wanted our wedding to look "grand" but didn't want to pay grand money. We also agreed that we didn't want to have to pay for anything or owe anyone for wedding expenses after our big day.

This was super tough because not only did we have a short engagement (about nine months), we got married in July, which is the peak of wedding season, so everything was way more expensive than if we would have gotten married earlier or later in the year. I have to say, the day after our wedding, we were so relieved that we didn't have to pay anyone else a dime. We were actually able to enjoy the moment and the day without having wedding debt hang over us. It took a lot of sacrifice, but it was just as perfect as I always dreamed. Here's how we did it:

Set A Budget

And stick with it. Seriously, you have to stick with it. If you set your budget with a little wiggle room, you won't feel like you have nowhere to go when the unexpected comes up, because it will. One of the things we did after we set our date was set an overall budget based on what we could really afford. We then divided the budget by the number of months we had left and decided to set aside that amount in our wedding fund. Of course, life happened multiple times during this process and we had to adjust. That monthly budget kept getting bigger and bigger as our wedding date got closer, but we worked it out and it paid off in a major way.

What Are You Willing To Sacrifice?

After we realized what we could really afford, we had to cut a few things short during the planning process. One of the most difficult things we had to do was lower our videographer package just a couple of months before our wedding. Our photographer was seriously the best and even threw in our engagement photos for free. This was a huge surprise because we had already planned to not take any. And they turned out amazing! But as our wedding day got closer, we realized we couldn't afford video and photos. So, we reduced our package to just photos. It was hard because who doesn't want a video of their wedding day to look back on? But it was tough choices like this that helped us stay within our budget and not get into debt.

Plus, we didn't have an unplugged wedding, so a lot of people filmed the ceremony and put it on social media. The best part about that is that we just celebrated our one-year anniversary, so all of the memories popped up and reminded us how amazing that day was. The sacrifices you'll have to make aren't going to be easy, and you might even end up crying it out, but if your goal is to have a debt free wedding, it'll be worth it.

About That Guest List…

So, you're engaged. Get ready for people to pop out of the woodworks! From family you haven't seen or spoken to in years, to childhood friends who in their minds are still your BFF, the list of people who feel like they deserve an invite to your wedding is seriously endless. If you're like me, you'll wish you could invite everyone, even people you don't know that well. But the guest list is also what makes the wedding super expensive thanks to high reception prices.

My husband and I dealt with this a couple of ways. We first decided to have an open wedding and a closed reception. A lot of people who wanted to come to the wedding made it clear they didn't care about coming to the reception, and just wanted to help us celebrate our day. This made us feel better about being able to invite more people. If you go this route, I would suggest having some sort of party favor or small gift for those who aren't invited to the reception. As for the reception, we had it offsite and only invited close family and those who played a major part in our relationship, and the people we knew would be influential for us during the ups and downs of our marriage. Sidebar: We also saved money by mailing out invitations, but instructing guests to RSVP on our website, so we wouldn't have to purchase postage.

Does It HAVE To Be On A Saturday?

Since our wedding was dead in the middle of wedding season, we decided to have it on a Friday instead of a Saturday. Thankfully, I always dreamed of having an evening wedding anyway. It also doesn't hurt that Friday weddings a popular trend right now. Listen, if you haven't checked it out, you might be shocked to know how much you can save by having your wedding on any other day than Saturday. While Fridays are cheap, Sundays are even cheaper. Let me just say this, the venue where we had our reception had a $7,000 minimum for Saturdays, and no minimum for Fridays. Even though it's a little more difficult to accommodate guests who are coming from out of town, having a wedding on a Friday or Sunday can make a huge difference. And your guests will understand.

Don't Sleep On Pinterest & Etsy

While millennials have been said to be spending whole salaries on weddings lately, this isn't the case for all of us. If you're going a little DIY with your wedding, don't be nervous! Just know that Pinterest and Etsy can be your saving grace. I found a dress for one of my flower girls and adorable floral robes for my bridesmaids on Etsy. And, I even found my own dress on Etsy! I ordered it in enough time in case there were any issues, because obviously that's a huge risk. My dress was made from an adorable woman in China, and cost less than $300, including shipping. Once I got it, it fit perfectly and didn't even need any alterations.

Please trust, there are ways to simplify your wedding, stay in your budget, and still have the day of your dreams.

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

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