by Guest Author Kate Forgach
If you're a Boomer about to get married, this likely isn't your first time around.
Happily, a Bridezilla-style wedding isn't likely in your future, as age also comes with a modicum of wisdom. At our age, it actually feels kind of foolish to spend a fortune on a single party.
My Boomer wedding was a textbook example of how to keep costs low. Ceremony and reception were held in a low-cost location; our attendants (one each) dressed as they pleased; my husband wore the family, hand-me-round tux; and I wore an elegant cocktail dress that's seen use several more times.
The fact is, Boomers are more concerned with saving for retirement than hosting a blow-out party. Time with family and friends is more precious on our "special day" than stressing out over a myriad of expensive details. If you agree with me, read on for 11 tips to a low-stress, low-cost Boomer wedding.
1. Organize Early
One of the advantages of being an adult is that most of us have the patience and knowledge for planning ahead -- a strategy that ultimately saves money. Since Baby Boomer weddings tend to be less complex, the standard checklists aren't really for us. You might, however, use this comprehensive list from Real Simple as a starting point, then modify it according to your needs.
2. Figure Out Your Wiggle Room
Every married-couple-to-be should create a budget, but Boomers tend to have a bit more room to move than those still working starter jobs. Get your marriage off on the right financial foot by agreeing on your priorities. It's one way to establish your values early while saving money on the wedding. While we're on the topic of money, this is also the time to discuss a prenuptial agreement, particularly if children are involved.
3. Book a Creative Location
A church basement or hotel ballroom may be fine when you're young, but many Baby Boomers have already gone that route and are ready for something entirely different. My husband and I held our reception in the dance building of our local university; a stunning space that even had a fountain in the forecourt. The total cost was just $100, and it came with a ready-made dance floor. Other possibilities include botanical gardens, a local barn or a park pavilion.
Chances are this isn't your first wedding and a puffy-sleeved gown isn't in the cards. Since most of us won't face long engagements but do face a long retirement, keeping it simple ensures there will be money left over after the party.
5. Tone Down the Clothing
More comfortable outfits -- like a cocktail dress and basic suit -- will make the reception more enjoyable and keep costs down. Plus, you can use them both again. Same goes for the best man and bridesmaid. Let them wear want they want and there will be far less drama.
6. Nix the Toasters
Nobody really gives toasters as wedding presents anymore, do they? The fact is, most of us are already set with just about everything we need, so why not create a gift card registry at CardAvenue.com? You can indicate the merchant or service you prefer, then spend the cards as you see fit. It's a lot classier than asking for money and can help pay some of the expenses of the wedding.
7. Minimize the Diamonds
If you've already had one engagement ring, you may not feel the need for another gaudy bauble. My husband and I had special rings made for us that had a great deal of symbolism in the design but only cost $350.
8. Bake the Cake
A friend of ours baked special pastries, which proved a lot cheaper than a high-rise cake. We still stuck the wedding-couple miniatures in the top, but the divine desserts were unusual, cost less and didn't leave us with any leftovers.
9. Don't Be Afraid of the Dollar Store
You'll find everything from wedding decorations to party plates and plastic dinnerware at your friendly neighborhood dollar store. Some sell food products you can use for the reception. You can also find cute little items that will make memorable wedding favors, if you're so inclined.
10. Feeding the Masses
A sit-down meal is just too over the top at this point in our lives. We kept costs down by offering simple finger food and had it elegantly arranged by a friend with a catering business. Presentation is half the deal, anyway. You can also reduce your costs further by using the ever ubiquitous manufacturer coupons.
11. Create Special Moments
People won't remember the food, the band or the wedding favors; they'll remember the thoughtful touches that made your day so special. For example, like many Boomers, my husband and I had both lost parents. We honored their memories by displaying photos at our sides during the ceremony. My bouquet was made from dried flowers used in my sister's wedding two years earlier. Finally, we toasted our friends with brief speeches, instead of having them toast us. None of these ideas were entirely unique, but people still mention them -- and they didn't cost a cent.
Kate Forgach is a Baby Boomer consumer specialist for Kinoli Inc.. She has wrote about senior issues for 11 years as a Cooperative Extension specialist and for a wide variety of newspapers and magazines. She has been featured in USA Today, Detroit News, New Orleans Times-Picayune, New Yorker magazine, "ABC World News," NBC's "TODAY" show and many other media outlets.