Making the Cut: Reflections on Wedding Sacrifices

As with all things in life, a wedding requires sacrifice. You have this vision of what you want, but nine times out of ten it’s just not possible to make that exact vision come to life. And more often than not, it comes to down money.

Every little aspect of a wedding costs money, from the photography to each stamp on the invitations, and pretty soon it all starts to add up. Few brides and grooms can splurge on everything, so they have to make sacrifices. Sometimes these are easy because it’s something you don’t really care about, but sometimes these sacrifices are really, really hard.

Mr. Parasol and I are no exception, and we have made quite a few wedding sacrifices along the way.

No florist


Image via Chris van Stone

When I heard about floral centerpieces and bouquets that run upwards of $100 each, I knew that we couldn’t afford a florist. Thankfully, this isn’t a terribly difficult DIY project, especially considering that our floral needs are pretty small (two bouquets, two boutonnieres, and some arrangements for our Mason-jar vases). The most challenging part has definitely been researching and deciding which flowers to use, but this is how I discovered billy balls.


Image via Studio Stems

I am seriously loving these cute yellow flowers right now, and I’m excited to incorporate them into our wedding day!

I’m also thankful that doing my own flowers means I’ll get exactly what I want. I’m shocked by how many friends have told me that their florists got their flowers wrong. I couldn’t imagine this happening to me, especially if I paid hundreds (or thousands!) of dollars for professional flowers, so I’m glad I don’t have to worry about getting the “wrong” flowers.

No videographer


Image via Tommy’s Advice

Ideally, it would be great to have a professional video of our wedding, but a videographer was never a top priority for us Parasols. The idea of watching a video of a wedding actually sounds kind of boring, so we knew we wouldn’t get much use out of a video anyway. And considering how expensive videographers can be, we weren’t inclined to make room for one in our budget. Although it would be nice to have a wedding video “just because,” I guess we’ll just have to rely on our awesome photographers to capture our special day.

No DJ or live music


Image via DJ Professionals & Video

This one was’t a huge sacrifice for us. While we both love good music, especially the kind you can dance to, we live in the era of iTunes playlists, and putting together a good mix isn’t that difficult. Plus, Mr. Parasol still has a lot of good friends from his band days who are very musically talented, and one of them will be putting together our wedding playlist. Mr. Parasol already saw his handiwork at another friend’s wedding, and he said it was absolutely amazing. Now our music will be more personal, and we know that it will be good.

No candy bar


Image via Style Me Pretty / Candy Bar by Amy Atlas

When I started seeing pictures like these, I fell in love with the idea of having a candy bar at our wedding. Doesn’t this look so deliciously fun and sweet? It’s just too darling! And who wouldn’t want to leave a wedding with a bag full of tasty candy?

But, as I soon learned, candy bars can be really expensive. Between the candy itself, the pretty glass jars and plates, and the decorations, the cost of a candy bar quickly adds up. While Mr. Parasol and I could have potentially found a way to work this into our wedding budget, we decided to let this idea go. A candy bar isn’t a wedding necessity and, as much as I wanted a candy bar, we decided to save our budget for those things that we actually need, like good food and amazing photographers.

No honeymoon


Image via Life123

OK, this is a huge sacrifice, and one that is not totally money related. Mr. Parasol will be about a month into law school when we get married, so going on a honeymoon right away is absolutely out of the question. He still doesn’t know if he’ll even be able to fly up the day before the wedding—he may have to arrive the day of!

But even if Mr. Parasol weren’t in school, we probably still wouldn’t go on a honeymoon right after the wedding anyway. For the past two years, Mr. Parasol and I have both been working graduate students, and we’ve paid (and will continue to pay) for our entire graduate education ourselves. This, coupled with the fact that Mr. Parasol is heading straight into law school this fall, means that after all of the wedding expenses there just won’t be a lot of extra money left over for the honeymoon. We’ll still have quite a bit of savings (thankfully), but we decided that holding onto this money and using it to help us start our life together is a wiser financial decision than taking an expensive vacation right now. But even though I know this is the best decision for us, I’m still a little sad that Mr. Parasol and I have to sacrifice our honeymoon for now.

(Don’t worry, though! We are hoping to take a belated honeymoon to an undisclosed location in Europe when Mr. Parasol is on winter break and we’ve had more time to “recover” from wedding expenses! More details on that later!)

No engagement pictures


Image via Jerry Yoon Photographers

This one still breaks my heart. Mr. Parasol and I love photography, especially good photography, and we have the most amazing wedding photographers on the planet. I’m not even joking; they are that amazing. Just look at that stunning picture. If you have an hour (or two or three) and feel like getting some serious wedding inspiration, I highly recommend browsing Jerry Yoon’s blog.

But photographers that good come at a price, and we knew that if we wanted them for our wedding we would have to sacrifice engagement pictures. There was just no way that we could afford both. We had been looking forward to taking engagement pictures for forever, and sometimes I still can’t believe we don’t have any professional pictures of Mr. Parasol and me as a happily engaged couple. As I said, it still breaks my heart. This is a sacrifice neither one of us wanted to make, but it’s one that had to be made.

And I know that many of you will suggest that we find an amateur photographer who will do e-pics for really cheap. And this is a great idea. But unfortunately, because Mr. Parasol and I are now long distance, this isn’t an option for us. I wish we had taken this route sooner, but while we were still together we were desperately trying to move the budget around so that we could get engagement pictures taken by our photographers. Yes, we wanted good pictures, but we also wanted the opportunity to build a rapport with the people who will be capturing our special day. In the end, though, we just couldn’t fit engagement pictures into the budget and, by that time, I was on a plane headed back to California, while Mr. Parasol stayed behind in New York.

One day, we’re hoping that we can do a post-wedding “engagement” shoot. No wedding dress, no gray suit. Just us in our everyday clothes, happy and in love.

OK, I hope all this talk about wedding sacrifices hasn’t been too depressing. We all have to make these kinds of sacrifices and, for me at least, it’s cathartic to talk about them. And don’t worry– -there will be a companion post on wedding splurges, so get excited for that!

What wedding sacrifices have you had to make? How did you decide what aspects of your wedding you needed to save money on or cut entirely?


Mrs. Parasol

San Ramon, California
Wedding Date:
September 2011
Collecting the Wedding
Thanks for Coming!
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  1. maryjane Member
    maryjane 1193 posts, Bumble bee @ 9:30 am

    We skimped on a lot of the same things you did, and I have no regrets. (No e-pics, my diy flowers came out wonderfully, honeymoon postponed due to grad school, etc.) Way to make it work for you. :)

  2. Member
    Zinzerena 4207 posts, Honey bee @ 9:32 am

    We’re skipping the florist, too. Though we did figure out how to have the candy (my FI came up with the idea on how to keep it).
    There’s a lot of things we skipped on. Probably too many to post here! LOL!
    Of course, there’s also a lot we have to sacrifice in our lives anyway, so doing it for the wedding isn’t anything new to us. :) Still sucks, though.

  3. cannon Member
    cannon 513 posts, Busy bee @ 9:33 am

    I’m loving your photographer’s blog! Our engagement pictures were included in our photography package or we wouldn’t have gotten any either.

  4. hyena Member
    hyena 2537 posts, Sugar bee @ 9:40 am

    You gave up a lot of the things we did too. I would still recommend having SOMEONE video the ceremony (even if it’s just a family member), because someday you may want to look back (cough, RECAPS — I couldn’t remember about half of what actually happened in our ceremony!), and I also recommend taking SOME kind of quick trip right after the wedding, even if it’s just two days to a city an hour away. We needed some serious recovery time after the wedding!

  5. Guest Icon Guest
    Leo Saraceni, Guest @ 9:47 am

    Very real post. My wife and I did skip several so-called “must-haves” for weddings. By the way, thanks for giving credit to the images. One of our clients (DJ Professionals & Video) was mentioned and that’s how I ended up here.

  6. Member
    ThePinkPeony 264 posts, Helper bee @ 10:11 am

    I’m totally with you on the no-florist thing – my parents have a “friendor” florist who’s getting us our flowers at basically wholesale, and my mom will do our centerpieces and the bouquets out of them. We’re also not buying our cake, my sister/MOH is making it. As for the video – we’re also not having a videographer, but I did manage to snatch up a flip cam at staples for only $50 after an awesome bee posted that they were having a 50% off sale, and am having a friend who hearts movie-making video most of the ceremony, the toasts and the first dances.
    And good luck to Mr. P in his first year of law school – my first day was ten years ago this month, but I still remember how excited I was, I hope he has a great experience!

  7. Member
    hrm 19 posts, Newbee @ 10:21 am

    My fiance and I are doing our own flowers too. We’re using They have been a huge money saver. We cut our flower budget to $300 for 10 (YES 10!) bouquets, 1 boutonniere and, 15ish centerpieces. You can also find 5% discount codes all the time.

  8. Member
    kayakgirl73 2593 posts, Sugar bee @ 10:23 am

    Interesting on the e-pics. All of the photographers we looked at included them or you could not do them and get a credit for something else. My candy bar was all Costco/ Mennonite bulk store candy. Jars from Home goods. Still need to sell my jars. I didn’t spend a lot but it was not color coordinated nor did it look anything like an Amy Atlas creation but it was fun and cute and was used as our favors. Having a Halloween wedding helped, lots of cheap candy around then.

  9. mspony Member
    mspony 9265 posts, Buzzing Beekeeper @ 10:26 am

    I think wedding sacrifices are one of the first and best marriage decisions couples make. We are sacrificing the quality of some things in order to have better quality for others, like our rehearsal dinner and transportation.

  10. Guest Icon Guest
    LaceeWoman, Guest @ 10:40 am

    We also are not doing a honeymoon. We decided there are too many other long term wants that we want such as buying a house soon after marriage and starting a family that the money from the wedding will be spent better that way.

  11. honey Member
    honey 1684 posts, Bumble bee @ 11:09 am

    We are making some of the same sacrifices, Parasol. And it’s okay, because especially on a budget, we can’t have everything…AND it will still be beautiul and perfect!

  12. Guest Icon Guest
    Wedding Republic, Guest @ 11:11 am

    A cash wedding registry could help with a couple things on this list.

    With a cash registry guests can help you get the honeymoon you want. Be it a staycation or a far-away vacation.

    Also, instead of an engagement session, guests could contribute to a post-wedding photo shoot!

    Just some ideas to show there’s still hope when being budget-savvy 😉

  13. ladyfingers Member
    ladyfingers 1257 posts, Bumble bee @ 11:27 am

    Thank you for this post! We sacrified Save the Dates and videography, and may be sacrificing the day-after brunch/breakfast that so many people do, as well as favors (on those last two we have to wait to see what our final rental estimate is and our guest count, i.e., catering bill). We were going to also have to sacrifice flowers, but we saved in other places that allowed us to go ahead and hire a professional florist; a proper honeymoon, but I got a new job in March and the pay difference gave us just enough to do a cruise; and a rehearsal dinner, but Mister LF’s dad graciously offered to help with that. Our e-pics were included in our (insanely affordable) photography package – but I guess in a way we sacrificed a really established professional photog with the whole second-shooter shebang. Don’t get me wrong, our photog rocks, but she’s a friend of a friend and just starting out.

    I think it’s definitely important to prioritize and be OK with giving up certain things in order to have others. We don’t regret not being able to do any of the above (although I would like to make the next-day brunch work).

  14. tartlet Member
    tartlet 3227 posts, Sugar bee @ 11:44 am

    Prioritizing before getting into the thick of planning is so important, and we really had to put our heads together to seperate out the “must haves” from the “needs” and the “wants.” It’s a tough process!

  15. Member
    mdarrah 1205 posts, Bumble bee @ 12:29 pm

    We were the same when it came to videographer. It just wasn’t high enough on our priority list to make the cut. BUT we borrowed a family member’s video camera (actually, it was my dad’s point and shoot camera with a MONSTER card in it) and handed it to my 14 year old cousin. She’s shy and there were no other kids her age there so she was thrilled to have a “job”. The video is a little shaky and off centered etc. But I don’t care, I have a VIDEO and I love it. My photogs rocked and got ten zillion images, but having our vows on film (errr file) turned out to be precious and I’m soooo glad we did it.

  16. Member
    Crown 578 posts, Busy bee @ 12:58 pm

    Thanks for the reminder that unless one has unlimited funds coming from an outside source, we need to make sacrifices for the wedding so we can be more financially healthy on the day after.

  17. Member
    kristophine 303 posts, Helper bee @ 3:03 pm

    We’re also having no florist, no live music/dj, no (big) honeymoon (we’ll do a minimoon and then we hope to have saved enough for a cruise the next year), no engagement pics, no candy bar… we went through pretty much the same process: figuring out what we wanted in a dream wedding, and then scaling back across the board. There are things I don’t want to compromise on (hot tasty food for all!), but a lot of things were nonessentials.

    just wanted to say, though, if my FI’s experience in law school is any indication, unless your wedding coincides with a final, your FI will probably be able to fly up the day before. He might miss a lecture in a few classes, which is no laughing matter, but if he’s smart enough to get into law school, he’s smart enough to piece it together/get other peoples’ notes/convince people to record the lecture for him/turn in assignments due on that date ahead of time.

    Law school isn’t that big on quizzes, and is VERY big on personal accountability–so if he wants to make the time, odds are good that he’ll be able to.

  18. Member
    miss.qwerty 206 posts, Helper bee @ 8:13 pm

    I feel like sacrifices and budgeting can be tough to talk about. Thanks for an honest post about the choices that you and Mr. P are making. Hope you get that post-wedding shoot someday!

  19. kettle Member
    kettle 926 posts, Busy bee @ 9:06 pm

    Having priorities is of the utmost importance. As long as you’re getting the things that really matter, I think it’s okay. I’ve noticed that my priorities have changed throughout planning.

  20. Member
    Future Army Wife 2213 posts, Buzzing bee @ 10:01 pm

    Fiance and I found a photographer who had no sitting fee and charged $200 for the rights to the photos (no prints, this is on our own). We did them where we went to college, met, and started dating while he was home on leave from Afghanistan. You could try finding something similar next time y’all are together. Or, if you have a photo bug friend, ask them to do e-photos as a wedding present.

  21. Member
    NoneOfYourBeeswax 77 posts, Worker bee @ 12:35 am

    I, too, have had to make sacrifices. However, I try to look at it like this: if all these blogs didn’t exist, we would have no idea what we were “missing out” on, and our weddings would actually be much more simpler than they are. I try to consider anything above a ceremony and cake and punch reception “extra” because in my parents’ days, that’s all they had. We probably wouldn’t be too far from that now if we didn’t all share zillions of good ideas with one another.

  22. parasol Member
    parasol 2955 posts, Sugar bee @ 10:36 am

    I’m so amazed by the outpouring of responses on this! Wow! You ladies rock!
    @Mrs. Mary Jane: Love having a fellow grad student bride around who knows the dilemma of planning around school schedules and limited funds!
    @Ryna: All those sacrifices do totally suck, but you’re so right–they’re totally worth it. And I’m so glad you found a way to make the candy bar work for you!
    @Miss Cannon: That’s so nice that engagement pics were included! What a great deal!
    @Mrs. Hyena: Good call on getting someone to videotape our wedding! I’m sure any future kiddos would appreciate having something to watch one day. And we are definitely taking a sort of “mini moon” the first two days after the wedding, which is part of the reason we decided to get married on a Friday. More time for us!
    @Leo Saraceni: Of course! All of us Weddingbee bloggers want to site the pictures and sources we use. So glad you found your way to our corner of the wedding world!
    @ThePinkPeony: What great DIY tips! I’m so glad I’m not the only one who’s become a jack-of-all-trades for the wedding! And Mr. P starts law school orientation tomorrow! He’s excited, but also a little nervous. :)

  23. parasol Member
    parasol 2955 posts, Sugar bee @ 10:42 am

    @HRM: Thanks so much for sharing that link! It’s seriously very helpful! Most of my flowers will be easy to find, but there are a few (like the billy balls) that I should order in advance. That site has such great deals, and you’ve managed to save a ton of money! Good job!
    @kayakgirl73: Yeah, it seems that some photographers do offer e-pics or something else, but our photographer basically charges for all the extras. And that’s so great that you were able to put together an affordable candy bar!
    @Miss Pony: You are so right, Pony–these are important marriage sacrifices. And yes, every sacrifice we make makes something else just a little bit better. :)
    @LaceeWoman: Good for you! It’s tough to make those decisions sometimes, but unfortunately, most of us just can’t do it all, so we need to prioritize.
    @Miss Honey: You are so right–even on a budget, everyone will still be so, so great! At the end of the night, I’ll be married to my best friend. No complaints there!
    @Wedding Republic: Great ideas! I love the idea of putting some of the cash toward a post-wedding shoot!

  24. parasol Member
    parasol 2955 posts, Sugar bee @ 10:53 am

    @Miss Ladyfingers: It does me so much good to know that I’m not the only bride sacrificing for the wedding. It’s all about balance–cutting in some areas so I can splurge in others. :) And I’m crossing my fingers so that you and Mr. LF can do a day-after brunch. I know that idea was briefly tossed out by family, and Mr. P and I were like, “Um, we have ONE weekend together before it’s back to reality–we don’t want to see anyone!” Haha!
    @Mrs. Tartlet: That is a good point! Mr. P and I definitely broke the rule a little bit there, which lead to disappointment later on. But thankfully, we’ve found a balance that really works for us now.
    @mdarrah: Such a good point about getting a family member or friend to take a video so that we at least have SOMETHING.
    @Crown: Thank you for the kind words! It’s easy to get caught up in that “one day,” but we do want to be sure we’re OK the next day–and all the days after that!
    @kristophine: You sound almost exactly like me! It’s all about scaling back and cutting those nonessentials–there are so many things that are just wants. And thanks for all the advice about law school! Mr. P just got his schedule, and I think he’s planning on skipping his Thursday and Friday classes so he can fly up on Wednesday–I’m pretty thrilled about that!
    @miss.qwerty: You’re so welcome! Money can definitely be a touchy subject, but I figured, hey, we’re all thinking about and struggling with these decisions, why no have the discussion out in the open! I’m overwhelmed by the amazing responses that I’ve gotten!

  25. parasol Member
    parasol 2955 posts, Sugar bee @ 10:56 am

    @Miss Kettle: Priorities are so important–you are so right, Kettle! And priorities definitely change throughout the process–it’s good to be flexible!
    @Future Army Wife: Great tips! I’m definitely going to look into that when Mr. P and I are “back together.” Hehe. And that’s so great you were able to get such a great deal on pictures!
    @NoneOfYourBeeswax: That is SO true about wedding blogs! They can overwhelm you with ideas and all the things you can’t “have” on the big day! I think it really comes down to deciding what those absolute essentials are, and quite honestly, there’s not a ton of them. :)

  26. gazelle Member
    gazelle 1019 posts, Bumble bee @ 12:40 pm

    You and Mr. P can always take anniversary pictures with your photographers since e-pics won’t work out.

    Wedding planning really is about setting priorities. Do you want good food, great photography or an expensive dress? If your budget is not unlimited then chances are you’ll have to make sacrifices somewhere.

    And yes, there is nothing wrong with a belated honeymoon!!

  27. Guest Icon Guest
    enbie, Guest @ 12:41 pm

    This post just made me really sad! Mostly because I have given up a lot of the same things… I think we will still enjoy our special days though! :)

  28. Guest Icon Guest
    JD, Guest @ 12:57 pm

    It reminds me of something I heard in pre-marital counseling about the importance of figuring out the difference between preferences and priorities. I guess it is as true about a successful wedding as it is for the marriage itself. While you have had to make some tough decisions I think you have chosen the best things to keep and will have an amazing wedding day!

  29. Member
    zippitydoodah 210 posts, Helper bee @ 6:32 pm

    I’m surprised your engagement photos weren’t included. When we tried to NOT do engagement photos to lower the cost of a photographer, not one would budge, it was part of the price no matter what. They said the main reason was it cause it gives you time to get used to the camera and work together, so it actually benefits them. It’s like practice! That being said, I would probably sacrifice engagement photos for the savings if it were an option.

    as for the videographer, our photographer recommended against it. He said whenever he works and there is one, he finds they need to step back and take turns getting the “good shots”, and so he said it is always his worst work. The bride and groom then end up only getting mediocre photos and a film since neither the photographer or videographer were able to do their best work. So feel better about not having one :)

  30. Guest Icon Guest
    Curtis, Guest @ 4:38 am

    Pretty insightful. Thanks!

    My blog:
    dsl vergleich

  31. Member
    MissSharp 32 posts, Newbee @ 1:06 pm

    This is comforting because we are also making some cuts on things I thought we could not do without. Hearing it from you makes it feel easier!

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