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
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  1. 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.

  2. 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. :)

  3. 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!

  4. 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!

  5. 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. :)

  6. 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!!

  7. 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! :)

  8. 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!

  9. 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 :)

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

    Pretty insightful. Thanks!

    My blog:
    dsl vergleich

  11. 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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