Why are so many offbeat weddings low-budget?

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I've noticed that the majority of the weddings you feature are budget weddings. Not all of them, certainly, but quite a lot. I would imagine that even more of them get submitted than get featured.

Why are so many offbeat weddings lower-budget weddings? What is it about budget and offbeat that seem to go hand-in-hand? Is it the craftiness of the general offbeat community? Is it that we're so broke we have to automatically eliminate almost everything and can only work back in the things that really matter? Is it that we have too many hobbies that eat up all the spare cash we could put towards a wedding? -Cassie

6k-vs-30kYou ask a super interesting question — so interesting that we need not one, but TWO editors to weigh in on the answer. Welcome to a very special edition of She Said/She Said, where Ariel (Offbeat Bride's founder) and Megan (Offbeat Bride's managing editor) weigh in with our perspectives, and share our very real (and very different) wedding budgets, considerations, and theories.

Ariel: $6000 wedding budget

Before I dive in with my thoughts on this, I want to remind everyone that almost a quarter of Offbeat Brides are planning weddings with budgets over $20,000. I talked about this a lot in my post a couple months ago, One-lowsmanship and luxury shame: one more way you're supposed to feel bad about your stupid wedding. So Cassie, you're absolutely right when you say that not all Offbeat Brides are planning lower-budget weddings — a very large slice of the Offbeat pie is made up of folks who have mid-range budgets.

That said, you're not wrong that we feature a lot of economical weddings, and that the majority of our readers are planning weddings with budgets under $10,000. So. What's up with that? Here are my theories, coming both from the perspective of someone who had a $6000 wedding, AND from the perspective of a wedding media publisher:

I'm paying means I'm controlling (but also means I don't have as many resources)

The table settingsI see this frequently with Offbeat Bride readers — when couples pay for the wedding themselves, they usually have total control over wedding planning. Total control can mean greater aesthetic freedom, which can mean more offbeat-identified weddings. But paying for the wedding yourself can mean your budget is smaller — especially for younger couples who are navigating the very contemporary realities of stuff like low employment rates and student loan debt.

As for me, my partner and I had been together for 6 years by the time we got married in our late-20s. We'd both been financially independent from our parents for many years, and so when it came time to talk about finances, we didn't feel comfortable accepting much financial help. Each of our fathers generously contributed $2000, which we then matched with $2000 of our own. This $6000 budget covered our entire wedding weekend, as well our two-week backpacking honeymoon.

Since we were splitting the costs, our families were relatively hands-off about influencing the wedding. Those of you who've read my book know that I had a few run-ins with my mother around planning the ceremony, but other than that our families seemed to respect our wishes. The result? A wedding where guests sat on mismatched blankets and drank from mismatched mugs. The few tables we had for older family members featured “tablecloths” made from mismatched bedsheets from the Goodwill.

There's plenty of inspiration for higher budget weddings

As a publisher, I can say that Offbeat Bride has always intended to fill a gap in the wedding industry. When you're working with a larger budget, you've got a delicious deep pool of wedding resources to tap into, including what I toooootally wish I could have done, which is hire a wedding planner. (It's their job to know everything awesome about weddings, and make your wedding exactly fit your flavor of awesome.)

My goal has always been to provide inspiration for a chunk of readers who aren't getting what they need from other wedding publications. Certainly, Offbeat Bride has never excluded our non-economical readers — we've all seen the rise of the high-end shabby/chic aesthetic, which taps into a rustic aesthetic while still feeling deeply luxurious. (BHLDN is of course the ultimate example of this, but 5 seconds on Pinterest will show you the beauty that can be worked when a higher budget is applied to a rustic theme.)

Of course visually, these higher budget offbeat weddings are, um, STUNNING. Like, beyond stunning. Jaw-droppingly gorgeous and pants-wettingly fabulous. But it's a fabulosity that A) isn't accessible to many of us and B) is served by other publications, so I always balance focusing on those kinds of weddings with focusing on my beloved simple weddings.

But let's see what Megan thinks, because she has a very different background & perspective…

Megan: $30,000 budget

Since we're talking numbers, I'll just just put it on the table that I come from a wealthy family who very generously funded my wedding. Because of my background, I have a theory as to why offbeat weddings are often lower-budget weddings:

Parents <3 traditional weddings

I'd be willing to bet that a majority of our larger budget weddings have received financial support from parents. The thing is, as Ariel mentioned above, the people footing the bill generally get to make the decisions. I would be willing to bet thanks to the pendulum swinging, many of us offbeat types have more traditional parents.

Since my lovely parents were shelling out for the wedding, our plans went from pizza and beer in a public beach park, to the privilege of fine dining and an open bar at an amazing beach-front restaurant. Yes, our wedding was MORE than we ever imagined when we thought we'd be paying for it ourselves. But that's also why our wedding was a bit MORE on the offbeat lite side.

me & my dad 3Because ultimately things weren't going to happen unless my parents were on board. Do you remember my posts about conflict over invitation wording and being weirded out by my traditional wedding shower? I had to fight tooth and nail for every non-traditional detail. My mother was crest-fallen that I wouldn't be wearing a big poofy gown with so many sparkles that if I caught the light I could cause seizures. My dad was shaking his head the entire time he walked me down an aisle made of humans as my groom dried off with a towel after entering the wedding in a canoe — this was NOT how he envisioned giving away his little girl. I actually had to get one of my friends to act as the “sparkle police” to keep my mother from covering every table at the reception with rhinestones and glass beads.

Offbeat does not always = low-budget

Oh, but we did get to have many offbeat details at our wedding! And because we had a bigger budget, we got to do things like really splurge where it counted. We used that money for good with non-traditional wedding favors that helped support a charity close to our hearts. And we made our investments last with non-floral centerpieces that cost a pretty penny, but are now used to decorate our home. We turned our wedding into a once-in-a-lifetime honeymoon with friends by hosting a destination wedding.

Or take a look at the recently featured Van Dyke wedding — a perfect example of a high-budget non-traditional wedding. Celebrities are often unencumbered by traditional parental funding, and therefore can go all the fuck out if they want to. Or they can even tone it down and go low-budget if they'd rather, like Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer, with a flash-mob wedding on the streets of New Orleans.

And in the end, I LOVED our big-budget, high-end wedding… but when I eventually found out the final budget, I thought of all the other ways that money could have been spent, and I felt awful. I was in mid-tears, feeling like a snobby asshole when my father put his arm around me and told me to never feel bad about the expense again. Our wedding day was so special to him and he saw how special it was to us, and he promised me that he wouldn't have changed a thing.

Now it's your turn to put on your sociologist hat and muse with us: why are so many Offbeat Brides working with lower budgets? And editorially, should we be making a point to feature more high-end weird weddings?

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Comments on Why are so many offbeat weddings low-budget?

  1. I think a lot of OBB’s are weird because we already don’t fit into the mainstream. By extension, if we don’t have mainstream jobs, we don’t make big bucks. Or if we do, we often have other things to spend it on.
    Editorially, I feel like OBB could stand to feature more Lite weddings. I love all the Dr. Who and circus themed weddings, but I’d like to see more semi-traditional ones in there too. It’s hard for us Lite Brides to feel included. We aren’t mainstream enough for SMP, but we’re not weird enough for here.

    • We’ve been trying to include more Offbeat Lite weddings in our lineups for this reason. And if you’re ever looking to get some lite inspiration, there’s always our tag archive. πŸ™‚

      • I love the “corkyness” of a lot of the wedding here although I am more of a traditional person. Weird is such a strange word to use on an blog/website called ” OFFBEAT” bride.

    • Editorially, I feel like OBB could stand to feature more Lite weddings.

      I love featuring weddings all along the offbeat spectrum, but it can be challenging when we feature a less weird wedding and get comments like this.

      Also, if you’re feeling out of place as an Offbeat Lite reader, I *HIGHLY* recommend reading this post: http://offbeatwed.com/offbeat-lite

    • Wow, after reading all these philosophical responses, I’m going to throw in a random pragmatic towel into the mix: one of the reasons we are having a low-budget wedding is due to time. We nailed down the date and venue, but didn’t really have a source of income to actively plan until about 8 months prior, which takes a lot of WIC options. So while I wouldn’t mind spending a bunch of time and effort on my stds and invites, the timing required me to whip something up in photoshop and send them out on the cheapness.

      • And we had a high-budget wedding due in part to lack of time. Off-season (January in NJ) should theoretically save you money, but because we were running out of time (our wedding was effectively planned in four months, which for a 280 person wedding, is not a lot of time), we didn’t really have the bargaining power to negotiate better or to shop around more. Interestingly, although I had a high budget, I still felt like a lot of the WIC vendors weren’t options for us due to the timing and culutral/religious elements of the wedding.

    • I totally feel the opposite. I feel like there are a plethora of Offbeat Lite weddings and not very many truly Offbeat weddings. I was going to ask for more truly Offbeat weddings. I feel like Offbeat Lite can be found EVERYWHERE else as people are moving away from what people want to call “traditional” weddings. I want more diversity for sure. The number of thin, straight, able-bodied, white, Christian, USian weddings on here is pretty high compared to the number of fat, queer, disabled, people of color, Jewish/Muslim/Buddhist/etc., non-US-centric weddings. I understand that that’s also because of submissions, but to see that you’re going in an even MORE mainstream direction is a bummer for me.

      The comment about being in between is hard for me to get behind because you can still see parts of your Offbeat Lite self in both camps. We “weird” people as you said, really have no where else to go.

      • …but to see that you’re going in an even MORE mainstream direction is a bummer for me.

        Wait a second here — who said anything going “even MORE mainstream”? We don’t have any plans to change our editorial focus when it comes to the blend of offbeat vs. lite weddings.

        Don’t get preemptively bummed about something we never said we were doing. πŸ™‚ At the end of this post, we asked if we should consider featuring more higher budget weird weddings — there was no mention of changing our balance of weird-vs-lite weddings.

        • “We’ve been trying to include more Offbeat Lite weddings in our lineups for this reason.” – Catherine

          “We don’t have any plans to change our editorial focus when it comes to the blend of offbeat vs. lite weddings.” – Ariel

          I’m lost. πŸ™

          • My comment wasn’t a change in anything we’ve been doing. Keeping a balance of Offbeat Lite weddings in our lineups has been a priority for a couple years. Plus, with 250+ real weddings posted per year, there’s bound to be something for everyone.

          • HA! I can see how that was confusing. πŸ™‚ But yeah, as Catherine says, her comment about “we’ve been trying to include more Offbeat Lite weddings” is reflective of the past couple years — not an indication that we’ll be changing anything in the future.

  2. My budget is $30K, which here in Manhattan qualifies as a low-budget wedding. I fall into the Lite category but I’ve gotten a lot of great ideas from OBB and your site has really helped me clarify what I’d like to have. So while I can’t have my reception in a barn I still like reading about people who do and getting ideas that I can adapt to my big-city shindig.

  3. Some of it may be also that many geeky/LGBTetc/subculture folks have spent a lot of time questioning cultural defaults, which can lead to questioning what aspects of the “necessary” elements of a wedding really matter to them. Focusing on just the elements with personal significance can take the cost down a lot–or bump it up a lot depending on what those things are!

  4. I often wonder what I would have done differently with my wedding if we had had a larger budget. I probably would’ve had it catered, at a nicer venue with a longer time block, and probably some more bells and whistles. (I looked long and hard at renting a cotton candy machine because cotton candy is delicious.) Maybe a custom dress. Other than that, I think I wouldn’t have changed much.
    I think a lot of offbeat weddings are low budget because people of all incomes get married and traditional weddings often have a high cost, so when you’re in the lower income bracket, you need to do one of two things: rack up some debt to have a traditional wedding (which if you want to, rock on) or work your wedding around your budget and find alternatives to traditional elements. Can’t afford standard catering? Try a potluck or food truck. Can’t afford a beautiful fancy venue? Rock your wedding in the backyard or local park. I think sometimes low budget weddings end up being offbeat in the end, even if they didn’t set out to be that way.

    • I totally agree. If you have a small wedding budget, adding creative/personal touches is an inexpensive way to make your wedding memorable.

  5. Our budget is looking to be about $18k, which in Boston is relatively low-budget (often, $20k alone is necessary to cover the cost of the venue and catering). A lot of ways we’re going offbeat are not going to LOOK offbeat at first glance, since we’re going to be changing a lot of things about the ceremony and other traditions. But just the basics of paying for a sit-down dinner? Super expensive in Boston.

    • Similar situation here — also planning the Boston area (MA what, what???).

      We had to do a lot of hard choices for our wedding because of the cost of vendors up here. We are lucky enough to have some help from my parents, and his, though it was after everything has been set down and vendors agreed (family tragedy moves everyone’s attention).

      We’re still going to be around $10 for our wedding and another $3 for our honeymoon.

      Season makes a difference, as well, we’re getting married in mid-September.

    • hey! weighing in as a newly-married in the boston area (we live in somerville and got married in cambridge on may 11th). we stuck to a small-ISH budget (~$12k) by looking at restaurants that were willing to host the ceremony and reception as long as we hit a minimum on food/beverage. boston has an amazing food/beer scene and saving $$$ on site fees made a big difference.

    • Yeah, we don’t actually have a specific budget because we had no bloody idea up front what a reasonable range would even be, but we’re probably going to be spending a little over $20K all told (not including honeymoon–we haven’t really planned that yet). Boston IS expensive, especially if you want a sit-down dinner for 100 people.

    • We are in a similar situation in Chicago. Right now the wedding is looking to be around $16K though it will probably be more like $20K by the time its all said and done, which breaks my heart. We’re paying for all of it, no help from parents at all, though they have lots of expectations and demands which I am stressing out about managing. my original goal of a $10K wedding was flushed down the toilet when I realized I couldn’t even get in the door of a venue w/ food and some drinks for less than $8K. And I still feel like we’re throwing a “cheap” wedding. Its so expensive. Its honestly beating me down a lot. I am dreading the bills.

  6. Here’s my two cents. We had an off beat wedding with a splash of traditional. What kept our wedding cost down was the “we don’t give a shit about 500$ centerpieces or having the best florist” attitude. We did what would make our wedding fun and not what would make it look nice. We also only invited our nearest and dearest. My mothers friends did not come, no co-workers, no friends of friends, no +1, only the peopl we cared about and we did not care if someone was upset that they were not invited.

    I will submit my wedding this week. And we spent about 7000 and our was even destination!

    • Where was your destination? Did your wedding wind up being posted online here? Thnx! E

  7. While many of us can go into debt for a wedding, I chose not to for one reason–the price tag better come with a house. Spending money, is an investment, and my investment is like the hooker on the corner. It better go out there and make me my money. A house will return my investment over time, while a wedding will not.

    • I agree! When it came time to spend money on a wedding, all I could think about was how it was more important for my fiance and I to keep our money in savings for the down payment on a house!
      I wasn’t even thinking about “return investment.” I was just thinking “I want a house MORE than an expensive wedding.” Other people want weddings more, and some people have both!

  8. I’m also throwing around a $30,000k wedding in New York City. What I think makes a difference is that maybe OBBs are a little more thoughtful, and don’t spend money on things unless they really mean something to the couple, no matter what the budget. I know we have the money to spend on lots of flowers, but we’re not really “lots of flowers” people, so we’re opting for candles in vases bought at the thrift shop across from our apartment. We could pay for a five-course plated dinner, but we’d rather spend the money on a family-style meal cooked by a professional caterer friend. It’s all about finding things that actually mean something to you, regardless of if you do/don’t have the money to pay for more.

  9. I wonder if it just doesn’t occur to a lot of higher-budget brides that there ARE options outside the WIC. When I got married the first time (in 1999, well before Pinterest), my “offbeat” choices were primarily a result of running into something I was “supposed” to do but had no way of affording. If you don’t run into that situation, and if you don’t have a lot of offbeat friends who are getting married in offbeat ways, it may not occur to you to look for alternatives to “the way it’s done.”

  10. Our offbeat wedding is low-budget by necessity. Our entire wedding budget is roughly $1500, and the only way we were even able to have those funds was a part-time job this last semester of school for me. The upside is that it has forced us to become more creative in our planning. We are blessed to be able to have the wedding and reception at my grandma’s house, which brings so much sentimental value, rather than a place with no memories. We are including traditions and symbolism with meaning to us, and for the most part, omitting aspects we don’t feel attached to. With a small guest list (roughly 30), we are able to keep costs down, as well as to create a more intimate space. The biggest downside is that we are just under a month away, and I do wish that our honeymoon was locked down, and still not a hazy possibility dependent on us having the funds. Luckily, we are planning to drive to Las Vegas, and we can cancel our hotel reservation for free up until the day before the wedding. A big resort-style honeymoon would not allow us that kind of flexibility, so score another point for low-budget awesomeness!

  11. I’d say our wedding was offbeat lite: http://offbeatwed.com/2010/11/new-orleans-backyard-wedding.

    A big party in our backyard. Our budget was around $6g, not including the honeymoon. I think Ariel hits the nail on the head with the “especially for younger couples who are navigating the very contemporary realities of stuff like low employment rates and student loan debt” comment. We paid for it mostly ourselves with a little help from the rents and when it came down to it, I was much happier spending more on our honeymoon to have a magical once in a lifetime trip, than spending it on floral arrangements that last a few days and feeding extra random cousins and in-laws that I’ve never met before.

    I think the other big factor is that offbeaters tend to be a little more granola and socially conscious. I didn’t see the point in spending $2-5,000 on a dress I’d only wear once. That seems soooo incredibly wasteful. My dress was $250 off the rack formal dress from Cache and I loved it. Given the opportunity, I’d wear it again to a mardi grass ball or other formal event. I like crafting, recycling and supporting local business. Why wouldn’t I incorporate that into one of the most important celebrations in our life?

  12. I’m going to say that Megan nailed it in the last sentiment. Not only are all points mentioned valid, but also since life seems to be getting more “real” after decades of people living in a rather frivolous economy, our ideas of what that money MEANS now, in real terms, are different. So while there are those that still throw ridiculous amounts of money around for all things wedding when the time comes, there are a great many more that are starting to wonder why one would spend the down payment on a house for a day of wearing a white gown. Don’t get me wrong, I am all about both ways… all ways… I just adore weddings period. But those people who can’t justify spending outrageous amounts on whimsical details need a place to put their big day… and SMP just isn’t that place.

    The other contributor is that quite often I think “crafty” seems like a fabulous idea, but not everyone knows that often those projects eat up resources faster than non-“project” weddings. Most artsy weddings that are an Offbeat Bride fit would fall into the category of “project” oriented. Tons of DIY that just simply works on all of the mentioned principles at once. An artistic soul isn’t going to be happy finding everything at a one-stop-wedding-shop and that means OTK or DIY on probably larger levels than elsewhere. Always good for inspiration though, and imo worth it.

  13. The parental influence thing sounds about right to me. My wedding budget was $3500, I think I came in at around $3000 (including “honeymoon” which was just a night at a local, but fancy hotel.) I kinda consider it offbeat lite (just small — 16 people including us), but the older generation evidently thought it was odd — our “reception” was just a dinner at our favorite (gamer-themed) restaurant. We paid for it ourselves, although I did receive a couple of Christmas gifts of “cash for the wedding” but it very clearly came with no strings (I made certain.) A few people tried to coerce me into expanding the guest list, but … no. I was going to have MY wedding, and anyone who didn’t like it could suck it. (This included a drunken text the night before my wedding asking if there was room for my grandmother, who I’ve seen perhaps 6 times in the last 10 years. No… sorry.)

    On the flip side, my maid of honor had a VERY traditional wedding, paid for entirely by her well-to-do father. And she gave up a LOT of control because of it. Which amuses me, as she’s one of the more offbeat people I know. It was gorgeous and lovely and fun, but not at all what you would expect from an artist-geek-musician type. But, her parents got the wedding that THEY wanted for her, and she got the husband that she wanted, so in the end? Everybody was happy. πŸ™‚

    • Your wedding sounded like ours! We had 12 total, and the reception was at the restaurant where we had our first date. Our honeymoon was at a local hotel for one night too. πŸ™‚

  14. I always wonder if the cost of the rings and/or honeymoon are included when people talk about the total cost of the wedding…

    We just had our wedding last weekend, and I haven’t gotten the final total for everything yet. I have a rough idea of what we spent, but not 100% certain.

    We certainly kept the costs down for the wedding by doing tons of DIY and utilizing PLENTY of friends for services (officiant, string quartet, day-of coordinator).

    Also, just want to add that OBB served for so much inspiration for our wedding! My (now) husband and I found many advertisers and write ups that led to elements in our wedding. Our big party would not have turned out as well as it did if not for OBB and The Tribe!

  15. I’m doing my second time down the aisle, and both weddings have been/are being guided by the fact that I (and my ex and soon-to-be husbands) don’t want to be in debt for a one day party. My first husband – mostly because he was cheap. My second husband – despite coming from family wealth – prefers simplicity.

    My tastes are also simple, but with details that comprise an entire story … a friend’s Tardis sitting on the beach for my fiance to step out of at the beginning of the ceremony (but the fiance veto’ed it, boo) … filling an hourglass with sand for our unity ceremony … my bouquet filled with tiny memorial frames and charms of symbols that mean things to us … releasing sky lanterns at dusk … And that’s about it. Nothing too much, but everything authentic to us.

    And that’s what it likely comes right down to in the end – authenticity to one’s self instead of fulfilling expectations.

  16. Our budget was $10K and it felt luxurious. We had a destination wedding and the $10K included our airfare, honeymoon, and rooms for our best lady and best dude. Having a small guestlist made it possible to have things be a little more posh.


    I think you see more lower-cost weddings on this site for a variety of reasons. There’s a huge diy contengency here. There are people who question the need as well as ethics of splurging for a one day experience. I also think that many families aren’t in an economic position where they can chip in like they may have if the economy were stronger. It also seems like people want to create a ritual that expresses something about them as individuals as well as define who they are as a couple. But the best part, i see people actually considering what is important to them and prioritizing an experience and event that supports their priorities. All these things are amazing!

    Three years later, i still feel like my husband and i had a beautiful and fun wedding that was a memorable event for everyone who attended…..and i’m looking forward to our 5-year vow renewl.

  17. I wish there was more higher budgets featured. I am in my mid twenties and funding mine and my partners wedding entirely without parental assistance. Current budget- 20k and sure to grow in the next two years. I work as a nurse, so I consider myself pretty average as far as income. I often feel like I’m spending too much as I see the featured weddings on this site. Don’t get me wrong- they’re beautiful, but I would love to see more varied budgets featured.

  18. I think that if a couple had a small budget, they might sit down and try to figure out what is really important to them so they can spend their money on what matters most. Is having a white poofy sparkly dress important? Is hair professional hair, make-up, and or photography important? Is live music? A formal dinner?
    As you strip away things you aren’t interested in (things that the mainstream wedding industry says you must have) you get to make room for what you want. Maybe having your dear friends stand by your side is important, but what they wear isn’t. Maybe you or your fiance is allergic to flowers and you decide to skip them altogether and not decorate your tables, or decorate them with things a that matter to you (for example a mini-TARDIS because you both love DW).
    By trying to figure out what you can afford, you start to see what in a wedding is most important not what bridal magazines tell you you need.
    There’s a flip side to this too. If I’m spending a lot of money, then I want to spend it on what matters most. If you’re buying a several thousand dollar dress your going to want to make it awesome kind of thing

    • YES! And, honestly, this was the one thing that The Knot came in useful for. While the recommended budget proportions *didn’t* fit, their budget calculator was a very handy way to see “we spent $X on this, therefore we only have $Y to spend elsewhere.”
      This was our $7,000 wedding: http://offbeatwed.com/2011/12/south-carolina-serendipitous-wedding (note: that number includes husband’s ring, but not mine- my wedding band came as a set with my engagement ring – and not honeymoon). We splurged on photography, favors, and flowers. So we skimped on venue (church ceremony, parish hall reception), food (fruit and vegetable trays from Publix, plus some finger foods, and homebaked cupcakes), decorations, and our outfits. Overall, I’m happy with those trades, although I would have loved to have had a custom dress, or been married in our university’s chapel. But I wouldn’t have loved those things enough to give up great photography.

  19. I would truly LOVE to have a very expensive, offbeat wedding and congratulations to those you that have the means. I had to take a second job to be able to pay for our $3000 wedding (which we may have to scale down even further) but we’re going to make it awesome nonetheless. In the end, I still get to marry the man of my dreams and that’s what counts.

  20. Our offbeat wedding was low-budget, but more money wouldn’t have made much of a difference. We knew what we wanted, and it just didn’t cost that much. If we’d had thousands of extra dollars, we probably would have spent it, but I honestly couldn’t tell you what we would have spent it on.

  21. See, I’m pretty sure I’m the anomaly on here: my parents are funding my entire wedding (against my initial wishes), and have given me both an open-ended budget and total control, with the request that I “keep things reasonable and keep [them] in the loop.” So far, they’ve been totally fine with all my offbeat (lite) plans — hamburgers for dinner, blue dress, secular ceremony — the only thing they’ve dug in their heels about is flowers. They insisted I get some flowers. So I did.

    A few times, they’ve encouraged me to spend more money. My dad keeps telling me “YOU DON’T ALWAYS HAVE TO CHOOSE THE CHEAPEST THING.” (Caps for emphasis, not for yelling.)

    But sometimes I want the cheapest thing. We’re having hamburgers because we love them, not because they’re cheaper than steak (although they are). Our dry wedding has everything to do with our commitment to teetotalism — I can’t help it that sodas are cheaper than beer.

    I think that, in a lot of cases, the pressure to spend more goes back to the WIC is for your parents thing. And so weddings with parents footing the bill tend to be the ones that are closer to the ideal of the “perfect day,” because parents are buying the whole package whereas couples are considering the traditions and meanings.

    But I would love to see more super-high-budget weddings featured here. I love me some fancy wedding porn. πŸ™‚

    • I was just thinking as I read this that I am very lucky as my parents have given me a sizeable contribution (they are paying approx 50%) and yet have made no demands at all. I wonder if there are any OBBs here who have parents who are even more offbeat than them and they have to tone them down? πŸ˜‰ It seems the general expectation is for parental conservatism but I think if you’re in my age bracket (30) you may well have parents who had some wacky days of their own!

      • My parents are also contributing about 50% and give not a shit about most things that I want to do. They care that I want it, and they want me to have the wedding I want, but beyond that, the only concerns they’ve had are over people understanding the ceremony. Which is totally legit, since we’re having a Jewish ceremony with only 50% of the guests being Jewish.

        My parents had an awesome offbeat wedding in the mid-80s, and I think that their experience really helps keep them both grounded in this. They are even in non-traditional relationships (they divorced a few years back). I have actually had to rein my mom in on a few things because she gets REALLY into the offbeat ideas I have. It’s the total opposite with my FMIL, because she is super traditional, and FH has to fight with her for a week before she stops telling us we need to have tablecloths at our wedding (or else it isn’t a wedding). My mom is a 70s punk rocker stuck in a middle aged, middle class professional’s body and I think she’s itching to break out of that shell. She’s a bit wacky, for sure!

        • this! my mother thinks I’ve gone insane when I say we’re doing a church wedding with a sit-down 3 course meal and paying for professional hair and makeup. She seems to be quietly disapproving of the whole thing. If I were getting handfasted barefoot in a stone circle at sunset she’d be delighted.

      • I wonder if there are any OBBs here who have parents who are even more offbeat than them and they have to tone them down?

        Yes. πŸ™‚

      • My parents paid for half of my wedding (total budget $10K including honeymoon) and the only pressure was letting my dad (and mom) walk me down the aisle. Although I was resistant (the whole “giving away” thing stuck in my head), it actually turned out really cool because his parents and all of our guests walked with us to the ceremony.

        And, as far as our low-budget reception went, my husband’s traditional grandpa said after “you can actually have a pretty nice wedding in a two-car garage.”

    • You could do really fancy non alcoholic drinks….like with fresh fruits and top of the line syrups and stuff. And smoothies! Honestly I would prefer some fresh squeezed lemonade over a screwdriver.

    • Yes!! I am so grateful to have amazing parents that are footing the bill and are so laid back. In fact, the most stressful thing so far has been the “you don’t have to pick the cheapest stuff!” argument. It’s not that I’m trying to be cheap, it’s just that I don’t care enough about some of these things to make my parents spend money on them (like flowers…although I think I will probably lose that one too πŸ˜‰ )

  22. I’m not even sure there are that much more low-budget weddings on OBB, or at least that it’s over-represented compared to weddings everywhere. The “average” wedding budget may be $28k, but the median is somewhere around $17.5k and I bet the mode is somewhere around $10k (which no one reports, but http://boards.weddingbee.com/topic/what-didwill-your-wedding-cost/page/8#axzz2VC5QlVzs falls pretty close to national data for average and median). I would say it’s partly psychological and partly editorial. As Ariel said, the site is open and welcoming of low-budget weddings, so low-budget brides are more likely to be proud of their wedding, send their weddings in, and be accepted and tagged as “low budget”. On the other hand, offbeat, non-budget weddings do not declare that their wedding was >$20k (possibly from guilt, possibly because their wedding has too many other awesome things to talk about!), plus their genre is so niche that they stand out as “the kale wedding” or “the carnival wedding” instead of all being lumped into one budget category. Since there’s no “high-budget” tags on OBB, it makes sense that low-budget weddings seem more common, even when they might not be.

    • You mentioned stats! Basic, incredibly relevant stats that deconstruct the seemingly high price tag of American weddings.

      I think I <3 you. $28K always seemed bizarrely high to me for an average, but I never put the time into finding out more. Thank you.

  23. I feel like I would stop reading OBB if there were more weddings with a higher budget. I think those weddings are amazing and those families are doing the best by them. That said, they can get honored on so many other sites (not to mention by family, guests, magazines, TV, etc).

    As a queer person planning a wedding (after having a baby out of wedlock!) many people will not honor my wedding based solely on who I am. Also, as someone from a working class family, I was always sent a message by wedding magazines, blogs, sites, and books that unless I found a wealthy partner or saved for 20 years, a beautiful wedding was out of the question. This is one of the only places I have ever seen that breaks up that narrative. Every day I see that a blissful, perfect, made to your taste wedding does not need to have a ton of money behind it.

    Of course, brides with more resources can use many of the ideas for their events, too. It doesn’t work the other way around for OBBs such as me.

  24. I love seeing all the low budget weddings on Offbeat Bride. The creativity is awesome!

    Though, it also makes me feel like a horrible, wasteful big spender a lot of the time, because my own wedding is going to be around $20k. Even though it’s stressed we shouldn’t feel bad about our budgets, I still feel like I’m being obscene with the amount of money we’re spending.

    I’m lucky. My parents are chipping in over half of it, and they’re perfectly happy to let us have the SteamPirate wedding we want. But I still feel guilty when I come here.

    I’m not even doing anything over the top. Pretty much half of that money is going to a marquee, food and drink. I’m spending under $1000 on my outfit, but I still feel like that’s too much, when I come on here, and wasteful. We’re not having a vegan, eco-friendly meal and I feel kind of guilty about that too (but would never dream of it, because I love steak).

    So I really don’t actually know where I’m going with this post. We’re actually doing exactly what we want with our wedding, but I still feel like I’m doing it wrong. :S I wouldn’t mind seeing a few higher budget offbeat weddings that aren’t offbeat lite, if they’re around, I guess?

    • It feels like the right time to whip out this baby, which is about the strange phenomenon of “one-lowmanship.”

      As Ariel has written in the past: “Engaged women don’t need another voice telling them they’re failing.” And that includes the idea of spending too much.

      We definitely have a large percentage of lower- to mid-budget weddings featured, but that’s the nature of the beast when you reach markets to which mainstream blogs don’t reach out. People feel more comfortable sharing their low-budget concepts within their wedding. But in reality, when choosing weddings to feature, budget is almost never even mentioned. Accordingly, we actually do feature lots of high-budget weddings, but it’s just not usually mentioned by the couple — and we are okay with allowing them to discuss or not discuss their budget with us. Often we just don’t know either way, and it would feel disingenuous to try to target features based on budgets of either end.

      But hey, if you’re looking to be reminded how offbeat a high budget wedding can be, there’s always Dick Van Dyke. πŸ™‚

  25. If it helps the people that spend large amounts of money on a wedding feel better, this quote comes to mind:

    “Money is like manure. It’s not worth a thing unless it’s spread about, encouraging young things to grow” Barbara Streisand, Hello Dolly.

    So if anything, those that are spending the large amounts of money in a wedding, are actually helping the companies in the wedding industry to grow and flourish. Pretty awesome if those companies include a local or start-up company.

    However, our personal choice was to spend the money a bit differently. We had a super cheap wedding ($2,000) in a country area (Knoxville, TN) and used the money that we saved as a down payment on a house. Like the people that spend $30K+ on a wedding, we’re still spending it in the end… just a little differently. Different priorities for different people.

    I think the focus on super cheap weddings is basically to help out the people like my hubby and I. You can find ideas for expense weddings EVERYWHERE. Like to the point where I felt bad and was in tears over my tiny budget. OBB was one of the few websites to offer low cost ideas, to the point where I didn’t feel as bad anymore. And for that, they’re awesome.

    Maybe offer an expensive wedding showcase like once a week? Like Friday $$$ Weddings? That way, the high cost wedding people can get ideas, but the low cost wedding people (like me) still wont feel totally overwhelmed because its only one day. :shrugs:

  26. We are having an expensive wedding by OBB standards- it will be probably around $40-45k, not including my dress or his suit, or our rings or honeymoon. We live in NYC and are not even doing anything totally insane- our venue is 15k for 5 hours but includes our bar, and is honestly on the low end of any “venue” we considered. It’s more expensive than an empty loft, but neither he nor I have the desire or talent to plan a total DIY wedding.
    That said, while it’s not super “thematic” I would consider it quite OB- two ceremonies in one day (all standing and officiated by our best friend,) completely non-religious, no bridal party, no flowers, I have a day-glo colored dress, and we’re not getting a permit for the first, legal ceremony (we’re calling it a “pop-up” wedding and hoping we don’t get arrested.) We also have no favors, no sitdown meal, no transportation (aside from our dogwalker bringing the kids to and from the ceremony!) and almost no decorations. A lot of the cost is coming from food, photography, BOOZE and just random misc stuff that adds up over time. I think if we were getting married anywhere other than NYC we would be able to throw the same party for $10k…but, alas, we love Brooklyn so thats where we’re doing it!

    I feel blessed to be able to throw an epic party and I agree with some of the other posters that it would be nice to see some other OB weddings that are NOT all DIY. Some of us are just NOT crafty- I’m paying someone to write names on envelopes because he and I would mess it up!

    • Our wedding is also in NYC and it’s just more expensive here. Thankfully my fiance, myself and our parents have been fortunate and can afford to get married in Manhattan.
      We just got 10k and realized that is will all be gone after we pay for rentals, service the day of, liquor and the out of town relatives brunch the next day.
      We have done some light crafting to trim the budget and are doing our own flowers, but money just doesn’t go terribly far here.

  27. What my fiancΓ© and I are spending on the wedding is 5,000 including honeymoon. But with that being said my aunt bought my dress, and my father paid for the venue and is paying for the food. BUT it has bee a communal project with both families. Im crafty and I am doing as much diy as possible cause we want to be able to spend money while we are in cape cod for the honeymoon lol plain and simple.

  28. First, I’ll bet that most of us might be surprised what some of the weddings featured on OBB cost. As someone mentioned above, depending on where you live just the cost of venue/feeding your nearest and dearest might eat up a giant chunk of budget that isn’t apparent from photos on a blog. So some of what people might enterpret as “low budget” might actually be “holy shit, our venue bar and dinner are going to cost 10 grand, so were going to have to get creative with the decorations.”

    And I also agree that lots of offbeat weddings probably take place without a lot of parental support, either because the couple wants to avoid conflict over the offbeat nature of the event, or because mom and dad refuse to pay for zombie cake and video game themed favors, or a combination of both.

    Our wedding is going to be a low budget affair. Not because we CAN’T spend more money on it, but because I WON’T. Partially because I’m the tightass cheapskate Mayor of cheap town, and partially because I overall get pretty annoyed when any institution tells me I just must shell out bunches of money to make something special. Our wedding will be special because we’re getting married and were happy. Everything else, nice as it is, is decoration. And I love OBB because I know that here, unlike most other wedding communities out there, nobody is going to shame me into thinking there is something wrong with me for doing something strange or non traditional or GASP cheap. I’m not a crazy rabid consumer in my daily life, I’m a maker and a thrifter and so is my FH, so to have a wedding that is radically different from that would be being inauthentic to ourselves.

    But I don’t actually care how anyone else spends their money. Low or high budget, they are all spectacular and I will gladly look at them and ooh and aah and be happy for the people getting hitched. A person should no more feel shame about spending 50k on their wedding if that is what they can afford and what makes them happy than someone should feel shame for having a thousand dollar budget and making everything by hand. No pockets in a shroud, as my FH sometimes has to remind me.

  29. If you’re going to get into the wedding marketing business in a serious way for whatever it is you vend, you want a branding strategy to reach the largest possible client base. That means straight-up traditional wedding aesthetics – white, shiny and heteronormative.

    As we all know and bemoan, there is no such thing as positive price pressure in wedding land, at least not in its more mainstream corners. So once you nail your branding, you can charge the earth for whatever it is you’re selling.

    End result? WIC-style weddings are more expensive because dedicated wedding vendors sell one thing, sell it well, and sell it at enormous markups.

    Once you go off the reservation, even a little bit, that price inflation disincentivizes buying back into the WIC at any level. If you get your $250 crystal toasting flutes from a Knot vendor and look no further because they are OMG SO PRETTY, you never learn that there is cooler shit for $35 on etsy.

    (And of course, on Etsy those $35 flutes are probably handmade by someone in their home. A) that’s awesome, and B) that person can’t charge $250, because they don’t have the marketing budget to convince people that a $35 product is worth that much. In fact, in many cases, they probably don’t even dedicate their brand to weddings. They might just make glasses, and thus their competition isn’t just wedding vendors, but Target’s glassware department.)

    But if you do, then you are having an ‘offbeat’ wedding by default, because one of the ways marketers protect their brand in any field is to otherize people who purchase off the grid. (BROWN rice? What are you, some kind of hippy? Eat your Uncle Ben’s like a goddamn American.) Some people, that shames them back into doing the normal, expensive thing, never leaving the embrace of the WIC again. Others say fuck it and end up here.

    • So, so, so this!

      As I have started to live and consume greener, healthier, and more intentionally over the last 7 or so years I have been shocked by how much cheaper it is! Every major industry has done 50-100 years of marketing training the past few generations that things have to be a certain way.

      For example, whenever I make a new green cleaning “discovery,” like how white vinegar cleans everything, my grandma will point out that her mother was using that 80 years ago. My sister still insists it doesn’t work because there are no suds because we have been taught by commercials that we need those “scrubbing bubbles.”

      Same with food, I have strayed from my mom’s reliance on processed food because it’s “easier” only to discover things like rolled oats cook as fast as those sugared, packaged quick oats, and they are way cheaper.

      Often the decision that is best for the environment is also best for your health and your wallet too (like bike commuting). We have just been the target of decades of relentless advertising to believe otherwise. No one gets rich off of simple, effective home remedies.

      The WIC is newer than the food or household chemical industries, it has only been in existence at all for a few decades. There is no “the way things are done.” Many of these “must haves” did not exist 50 years ago. Receptions were in church basements. My grandma got married in 1954 in a bridesmaid’s dress with her brother as her only attendant. My mom got married in 1983 in a borrowed dress and an old pair of shoes, with a pixie cut she had given herself the night before. Both of these women are very conservative and traditional and don’t think their decisions were offbeat at all.

      • Also, my conservative, traditional family who will be paying for my wedding and can afford a higher end budget, has already suggested I get married at a summer camp and have my sister make my (vegan) wedding cake. They know me, which is awesome.

  30. I think a lot of people see offbeat weddings and assume budget as well. Our wedding is shaping up to be between the $10-15k which in our area is average to high end (I know nationally it’s not but still…)

    Any way people think that because I’m having a tent in my parents back yard, lawn games instead of a DJ and centerpieces made from mismatched vintage china. But a tent to hold 200 people costs more than renting a catering hall. Catering costs more when you aren’t in said catering hall. That china is not from my grandmother (that china too sentimental to glue moss too!) I had to buy all those pieces. The bocce, cornhole, and croquet sets needed purchased or repainted (the ones at my parents have been WELL loved since I was a kid, and were pretty shabby). Plus we had to rent porto potties!

    So while very few OBB profiles say much at all about budget, it’s safe to assume they run the gamut. I think it might seem that there are a lot of low budget weddings, because it seems, to me at least, that when the profile mentions budget it is because it was a challenge or advice on how to work with a small budget.

    I’ll submit my wedding (18 days to go!) and then Ariel can have another mid-range, offbeat lite to show off.

  31. I’m really lucky in that while I’m paying for my wedding myself, my mom is all for us doing things the way WE want to do them, with the people WE want to celebrate with, and not to have a traditional wedding, because “those are so BORING!” My mom is going to be 62 this summer, and I think she was one of the original offbeat brides πŸ™‚ when she got married, she paid for her own wedding as well, and it was a whole Victorian thing, even the guests wore Victorian attire!

  32. We got hitched on $3K. We were as true to our Viking meat and mead idea as we could be on that budget. In the years since, with the addition of our daughter, we’ve thought about what we would change – ultimately minute detals to accomplish more of the aesthetic we were going for.

    I think that we see so much of the big, traditional wedding to be able to see the offbeat as anything but lower budget. I also think that the offbeat brides who accomplish their dreams on a smaller budget are very happy to show that off and a little happier when things aren’t absolutely perfect than their traditional counterparts.

    But what it boils down to is whether or not this is you. We could have done something amazing with the funds offered to us by our families – but we did something amazing (though slightly less) on the funds we had and asked those offering to donate to the wedding to instead donate to our fixer-upper of a home. To be perfectly honest, I got pretty drunk at my reception and we went to Pagosa Springs instead of Finland for our honeymoon, but I had a blast. And I come home everyday to a place that was made special by the people who celebrated me and my husband joining together.

  33. THIS. I have been brainstorming a way to talk about this for weeks!

    I joined the Tribe about a year ago and haven’t really shared much (read: none) because we simply don’t have a budget…and it’s weird to talk about. How can I rant or whine about *anything* money related when others are having trouble paying rent while saving for a wedding?

    Neither of us come from money; quite the opposite, actually. We were living pretty simply when the start-up my fiance was working for was purchased by a very established company for over 1.2 billion…he got a huge payout that, on paper, made him a millionaire. So we bought a new car and are throwing a ridiculous 4-day WEDDAGEDDON.

    And while I am SO excited and want nothing more than to gush about all the silly luxurious things we have planned at a really incredible venue, OBB simply does not seem like the right place to do so…or maybe it’s just me worrying about looking like a braggy, holier-than-thou snootypants having a jerk-a-thon.

    • ok, seriously, weddageddon, bring it on. i am excited. the amount of creativity it takes to plan a 4 day event must be staggering, and the skill it takes to communicate anything offbeat to wedding vendors used to that size of event must leave you with some pretty awesome tips to share.
      OBB is wonderful because it welcomes all of us and celebrates with us no matter how unusual we are. I dont think it matters how much you spend as long as you make it true to who you are.
      yes, my wedding budget is closer to the $500 hundred mark, and I cant even afford to rent real cutlery and plates, but its ok im just getting creative and decorating a plastic recycling bin for the end of the night and it doesnt mean that it is any more or less awesome than someone who can afford individualized localy handcrafted pottery dishes washed in reclaimed rainwater and artisan dish soap. the magic here is that I never even thought about the eco friendlyness of my buffet line until I read about some one elses wedding here, where stuff like that is ok, where people of all shapes and sizes can share the bits that make our events a little or a lot different than the cookie cutter magazines on the store shelves.

      • *sigh!* Yes! Okay! I’ll do it! Of *course* the Tribe will welcome me!

        I have a feeling that it was this OffBeat Vs. Industrial Wedding Complex dichotomy; that if I spent a certain amount of money, I would be lumped in with Them. And of course, polarizing anything is dangerous and only for games of Capture The Flag.

        “…individualized localy handcrafted pottery dishes washed in reclaimed rainwater and artisan dish soap…”

        HA! It’s like another Portlandia wedding episode. Or that Barefoot Contessa meme: “If you don’t have time to travel to Madagascar and pick your own vanilla beans…Store bought is fine.”)

        • I for one look forward to posts about WEDAGEDDON on the Tribe! I hope you do share!!

    • Dude, Weddageddon! We don’t have the kind of money you do, but we’re doing OK and my parents also gave us money, and like you, we don’t have a budget. It’s hard to set a budget when you don’t know at all what stuff costs. My fiancΓ© originally said it would be nice if we could do the whole thing for $10K. Once he spent five minutes looking at venues and catering in the Boston area, he realized there was no way he’d even come close to the kind of experience he wanted on that sort of budget. So, we’ve been doing stuff the way we buy most things: “which vendor can get us what we want for the cheapest?” If they’re really cheap but can’t give us what we want, we don’t force ourselves to accept less than we want, we’ll spend a bit more instead. So, we’re price-conscious but not on a budget.

      I for one would love to hear your over-the-top plans as much as I love to hear people’s super-cheap creative plans. Inspiration is inspiration, even if it’s not in my own general price range.

    • Don’t worry about it! I admit that I sometimes feel like “everyone is spending less than me” I know that it’s just not the case. Have the wedding that you want. I went from trying to figure out how to scrap together a bare bones wedding in the first month to multiple catered parties, a wedding weekend and second reception a few months later.

      At first I was weirded out and worried. Then I talked to my fiance (multiple times!) and we embraced the situation.

      I’ve definitely had moments when I thought that the money was somehow misspent, but then I saw how excited other people were about it and I know that I’m happy with our choices.

      Enjoy the moment. In a week from now, I’ll be married and surrounded by loved ones. It doesn’t get better than that.

  34. For me, when I discovered offbeat bride, it wasn’t about low budget or high budget. I wasn’t interested in just “buying” a wedding. I’d been dreaming of my wedding since I was a little girl. I even thought at one point, I’d become a wedding planner. I wanted something totally unique and totally me and at the time, all I could find were cookie cutter wedding packages and vendors and dresses. Then I found the book and the site and I saw someone like me who had a completely authentic experience that didn’t come cut out of a magazine and I thought: aha! I’m not crazy or alone in this! I’d seen so many mainstream ideas and had, for years torn out pages in magazines of DIY ideas that I thought were unique. And suddenly there was a whole site that had more then I’d accumulated on my own over years! It gave me the confidence to plan the weird and wonderful pagan winter wedding of my dreams! I think people need to stop putting labels and boxes around their day: low budget, high budget and just worry about having the loving, authentic wedding of their dreams. That’s what this site is for me. It’s just a place with a zillion ideas to help you make it your own. It’s not meant to be a pre-packaged: this is your low budget option and this is your high- budget option. I never thought of any of that. I spent where I could, and made do where I couldn’t spend and kept my vision at all times. Offbeat bride is about the vision, not the budgets.

    If your budget is 30 000$, do what offbeat brides have been doing for decades, except reverse it. In the past, the offbeat got inspired by crazy luxe weddings and tailored them to their smaller budget making them as close to what they dreamed as possible. So, if you have more cash to splash, use the site to get inspired and then ramp up expenses. Instead of doing your own calligraphy, get a professional to do it. Love a barefoot beach affair? Get tents with chandeliers for the beach and servers to pass out hors d’oeuvres. You know, so many artists need people to support, ie: pay them for, their art/ craft. If you want the DIY look and have the cash, go on Etsy and buy some gorgeous handmade wedding stuff. Be creative! That’s the whole point of being offbeat!

  35. Honestly, I cannot fathom spending thousands of dollars on a wedding. But I’m totally a city hall elopement kind of gal and I realize that I’m mostly not the norm. I always knew I didn’t want a big wedding because I’ve never been the type to covet attention. I always just thought that spending 10 grand on a wedding with months and months of prep time would just lead to such high expectations and pressure from everyone involved. I’m mostly a fan of people just focusing on having what truly makes them happy instead of focusing on a certain dollar amount.

  36. Our wedding budget was determined by being offbeat, not the other way around. By foregoing any sort of religious ceremony, we saved. We didn’t pay an officiant (self-solemnized in Colorado) and didn’t pay for a church wedding and then a separate reception. By wanting our wedding venue to be somewhere near and personal to us, we saved (backyard). By wanting a less wasteful reception, we saved (and thrifted our asses off, including my 80s Gunny Sax dress). By wanting to honor tradition in our family, rather than wedding traditions, we saved (instead of buying a high budget wedding dress, we built a mini golf course to pay homage to my parents). We could have had a much higher budget, but ultimately our wants just didn’t need the extra cash.

    • Oh, and we definitely kept costs down because of Offbeat Bride. Our rings were from Turtle Love with OB discount, our photographer was Vendor Clara Images and we got an OB discount and I found my dress on shopgoodwill.com, which I found out about on the Tribe. So, a big shout out is due to OB (and we loved everything we got because of OB–also including my Unique Vintage crinoline).

  37. my wedding was low-budget by semi-choice….i didn’t fight for what i wanted and i didn’t ask for help. I thought by doing cheap it would make everyone else happy. I kinda settled, but still had so many amazing things that went great…that i can’t say it was a bad thing…i was surrounded by some friends and family….and 2 friends gloriously donated their skillz to be “blue man” for my reception. Had i asked for help and maybe swallowed a bit of my people-pleasing…i would have chosen the location i really wanted….and actually hired a photographer that could have captured more of the day as a story, instead of the few formal images i got. I even settled for sheet-cakes….when what i really wanted was a small blue polka dot cake (which eventually i redeemed myself when asking for our after-party). All in all, i married the love of my life…and now i know who i was then, and who i was now. ………………….8 years later.

  38. We probably spent over 20K on our camping wedding weekend. In our case, we’d planned to pay for everything ourselves to maintain control, but when both sets of parents came through with generous, no-strings-attached contributions, we were able to use our own money just to fill in the gaps and include “extras” that might have otherwise been out of our price range. Like homebrewed beer and fire-spinning friends.

    That said, I think OBB was JUST as helpful to me in my planning as it was when we thought we were planning a more low-budget wedding, and traditional wedding websites just as useless.

    I think OBB widens the scope of wedding ideas, and exists for people planning weddings that are far from the mean on one dimension or another (or many). One dimension of that widening is illustrating what you can do to spend less than what you see in a bridal magazine on X or Y wedding element. But more important, for me at least, is widening the definition of a wedding, what essential features it MUST have (basically none) and CAN have (basically anything.) For example, when you look at a bridal magazine or talk to an old-fashioned coworker, it can seem like you wedding dress will of course be long, white, and strapless, and your only choice is what kind of silk it’ll be. OBB is the place you go, the only place on the internet I’ve found, that will show you a rainbow of wedding outfits and dresses, and remind you that you’re still having a wedding no matter what you wear. That’s so important, regardless of price-point!

  39. I feel like a lot of higher-budget weddings simply don’t consider themselves to be Offbeat, in spite of being untraditional. This, I think, is especially true of Offbeat-Lite high-end weddings.
    I feel like on some level, weddings with higher budgets are expected to have an element of surprise and over-the-top-ness. So maybe that’s where they don’t connect with the Offbeat ethos–their wedding’s unique quality is more a byproduct of their wedding planning than a statement of self the way it is for many in this community. Which is not to say that a high-budget wedding is necessarily without personality or deeper meaning for those involved, but I feel like that unspoken expectation of pizzazz is where making an Offbeat wedding can feel like doing it On-beat.
    Too, I feel like low-budget will naturally tend to be Offbeat due to the materials available. If you’re crafting something out of nothing, or your budget necessitates that pricier “wedding” goods are out of budget, you’re more apt to choose materials and items that are in line with your personality or are reusable in your day-to-day life.

  40. Whether we were super rich or poor, I would still want a low budget wedding. A wedding is one day of our lives and we both don’t want to spend that much on it. We would rather put the extra money towards a house, our future kids, etc. The wedding is just a tiny part of marriage to us.

    Now On the subject of crafting and choosing things to include and not include, it comes down to our choices. Our theme is Scott Pilgrim. Do you know how many wedding things are made with pixel hearts? Almost nothing. So thankfully I am a crafty person. And we choose to do our own music because we don’t dance much, I use to dj so I know how to program the music, and we want to wedding to feel like a family reunion not a real big wedding.

  41. I think one take-away from this post and all of the thoughtful comments is that there are as many different budgets and philosophies as there are brides, and it is impossible to please everyone that reads this blog.

    I think it makes a lot of sense that budget weddings are often featured here, and I think it’s great when we can see the huge variety of wedding budgets and styles too. Offbeat or lite, big budget or small, we all share a common sense of respect for committed relationships.

    I just wanted to say thanks again to the Offbeat team for putting out great content, thoughtful posts, and always trying your darnedest to include everyone.

    • it is impossible to please everyone that reads this blog.

      Absolutely this, as written about here: Walking on egg-shells: the challenges of serving many communities πŸ™‚ Key quote from that post:

      Then there’s what I call the reverse discrimination fallacy, where brides on the more traditional end of the spectrum complain that they feel excluded or demonized for being “too normal.” We’ve edited wedding profiles to exclude lines like, “I didn’t want a stuffy traditional wedding,” knowing that somewhere an Offbeat Lite bride was going to think to herself, “Oh, so now my wedding is STUFFY!? Fuck you, offbeater-than-thou bride.”

      The post is worth a read: http://offbeatwed.com/2011/03/egg-shells

  42. Thanks so much for this post, guys. I just started planning my wedding, which will likely be offbeat lite and, much like Megan’s wedding, this will be entirely funded by my amazing, generous parents. My future husband and I both come from well-off backgrounds, and my parents can easily afford to spend a lot on a wedding (they’re both successful attorneys). I am having a bit of the same issue that Megan had when she realized her budget–the money could be used on so many other things!!!–but I love the idea of having all our friends and family together to witness our union, and my parents told me that this is something they want to do. Several years ago my father lost his parents, with whom he was very close, and his beloved uncle in the space of 18 months, and I know that both of my parents are excited to have all the family together for an awesome, joyous occasion as opposed to a bunch of funerals.

    However, they are not traditional in a lot of ways (thank goodness). My mother and I both do not like big poufy gowns (but we do like sparkly things, just streamlined sparkly things, and if I ultimately decide to not wear a white/ivory/bridal-type dress she’d be totally fine with it). The ceremony and reception will be in a theater (fingers crossed, venue getting finalized this week) on the waterfront of my hometown in Florida as opposed to a more traditional venue such as a hotel (unfortunately getting married in my hometown synagogue is out–future husband is not Jewish). I think they’re down with some of my more offbeat ideas, like including a reading about marriage equality, walking down and up the aisle to music from Star Wars and Star Trek, an ice cream sundae bar as opposed to a cake (actually I think they want me to have a little cake but whatever, as long as I get my ice cream sundae bar), and our not having a wedding party other than our siblings. I actually think that my mother was shocked at some of the things I do want to go more traditional on, especially in the ceremony–I want all the men in kipahs, I want to sign the Ketubah (Jewish marriage contract), I want the chuppah, I want the glass smashing, I want the Hebrew. Paying homage to my roots, my Judaism, and the commitment my future husband and I are making to raise a Jewish household is pretty important to me.

    So I’m trying to relax and to remind myself that my parents are adults and they can do what they want with their money. I’m incredibly lucky that they are so generous, and I’m looking forward to planning a great party with them, my future husband, and my future in-laws.

    And, again, a big big thanks for this–I needed it, especially in these early days of planning and budget considerations!

  43. 1. From my perspective: many off-beat brides (and that’s a big range, I know) don’t necessarily have the same priorities as are featured in mainstream-er weddings, and so they aren’t paying that premium wedding cost (notice how “wedding shoes” are more expensive than “white shoes”?) for everything. From a very casual perusal, it seems to me that costuming is a big-ticket item for most weddings featured here, maybe followed by food/drink (more creative but less costly than your average wedding salmon dinner) or decorations, with less emphasis on venue and entertainment; and those latter two would be a big proportion of most people’s expense (I could be way off on this — my wedding was at a family member’s home).

    2. Most of the weddings on here are actually way over my budget, so I don’t think you need to feature more higher end weddings! I mean, you could, but some seem pretty expensive (and that’s ok! if you got and you want to throw a mega-party, go right ahead!) But I took a lot of inspiration from things that looked more do-able and within my reach. Actually, I think there’s a pretty terrific mix of things on here.

  44. This has been really interesting to read, thank you. I think we’re in the same boat as some of the other commentators in major urban areas, where the basic costs are just much higher. My parents are contributing a lot, and in fact they’re pushing up the upgrades on some things more than I would have thought necessary, but we’re still in control of our little offbeat-lite day. We’re really lucky to have that freedom. That said, I’m always a little jealous of people who do have awesomely creative friends and family who can help out and bring together those really personalized DIY days. I literally know zero people with a backyard that could hold a wedding, none of my friends are bakers, I’m the only one who REALLY likes to cook, and our collective art skills could probably lead to a paint-by-the-numbers kit painting…so a lot of the gifts-in-kind, do-it-ourselves, or savings from going with a friend or relative who is a vendor are out. (That said, we’ve already hired one OBB vendor!)

  45. Although not all (or even necessarily most) offbeat-wedding people are like this, I think that many are, like Heather L said, forced into some really tough financial calculations by virtue of being unwilling to give up on their general offbeat dreams. Some people look at a $30k wedding, and even beyond thinking of it in terms of how much house downpayment or private school education it could buy, they think of how much freedom it could afford them to work fewer hours and have more freedom to do the life-work they are really dedicated to, or work at a much lower-paying job that they really believe in for a while.

    It’s just really convenient that these are often the very same people who are beyond happy to save money by making unexpected or unconventional choices about their weddings.

  46. I think the term “low budget” is really relative to the people using the term. We set ourselves a $6000 budget which was funded by our parents. Even though we were using their money we wanted to keep it affordable for them. BUT at times I felt like that was waaaay too much money to be spending on a wedding. Maybe that’s because we had less than 70 people at the reception…

  47. I just need to quickly say that it bums me out that people are “bummed out” about the ratio of “Lite”-ness in weddings/ posts on here. My wedding was decidedly “Lite” in OBB terms, and ended up being absolutely not “low”-budget thanks to my crazy parents who refused many of my suggestions for cheaper options, but it was still, every step of the way, a constant effort in maintaining personal authenticity in every decision that was made. That aspect alone means my wedding was offbeat, because my fiance and I stuck to our guns in the aspects that mattered most to us, while simultaneously allowing others to participate in the ways they felt were most meaningful to them.

    I haven’t submitted it yet only because I was busy getting my Ph.D., but since last July I’ve been anxiously awaiting the free time to finally get it sent in. However, it’s the pervasive sense of competition and comparison that still makes me pause. My wedding was offbeat because I say it was, not because someone may see my church venue and 200 person reception and decide for me how traditional I am.

    Are people really so eager to have their own weird little group to which they can belong that they still can be ok with excluding others that seem not to fit? Isn’t that the opposite of being awesome? I say bring on the $500 civil clerk ceremony side-by-side with the $40,000 block party, because if both of those couples made all their choices conscientiously and with meaningful intent, they’re both equally Offbeat.

  48. In a slightly odd position as I seem to be the only male to comment here. My fiancΓ© and I are getting married in 2 and a half months and though we have been engaged for 3 years or so we only decided when to get married about 3 weekss ago. With a budget of about Β£2500 (about $3800) this budget was decided not like many have mentioned because a lack of funds but because we dont want to spend more than this after all imagine what else you could spend that money on. But it is also because we don’t like big expensive weddings there just not us, we like small and quirky. Tradition dictates that we have a big frilly dress, an expensive sit down meal with lots of speeches followed by a big party. But we are having an off the shelf dress not because we couldn’t afford one made to measure but because it can not be and still be perfect, a self catered picnic on mismatched blankets out side in a rented field. We will be playing games and listing to live acoustic music from a great local musician. Now I know this would not be to every ones taste but thats the thing its your wedding you get to do it like YOU want not how everybody else does. It should be personal, after all both you and husband to be are. Its a time to show off a bit of you to everyone around and not just recreate a scene from a bridal magazine. As far as why so many off beat weddings are cheaper? Its because they can be, go and get a bunch of flowers then tell them its a bouquet they’ll add another 0 to the price. But off beat weddings don’t need to buy wedding stuff so much as stuff thats added to there perfect day.

  49. So I’ve seen a few comments about how there “aren’t” high-budget weddings on here, and also the suggestion that they don’t “belong” because they could be represented elsewhere.

    Because there isn’t a giant price tag on the corner of every featured wedding, you really can’t tell the cost by looking at it…. For example, my wedding post from a few years ago…. cost over $60,000.

    While I talked about the ways I tried to keep it low-budget, it’s because I honestly couldn’t come to terms with spending that amount of money. I also couldn’t come to terms with the waste and impact — I wrote this guestpost too, about calculating the impact. Of that total budget, I contributed 1/6th (that I really didn’t have, but I made it work so I could control the aesthetics). The money wasn’t really spent on STUFF, but rather on the experience, and a LOT of people. Also, my parents paid all expenses to fly in my second priest from 1,000 miles away, and they never told me how much that was on top of the budget.

    And while it turned out pretty Offbeat-Lite thanks to my parents contributing/controlling and being super traditional, I’m still pretty sure that most traditional wedding blogs would have no interest in covering it, and more than that, I wouldn’t WANT them to, because that’s not who I am, no matter what my wedding budget ended up being! πŸ™‚

  50. I think the whole idea of the necessity a traditional, expensive wedding is easily unraveled once you pull away one of those two components. Like, once you start cutting “traditional” elements out or changing them, it’s easier to remove other ones which pad up the cost of the traditional wedding. At least that was my experience of it.

    Basically, once you shake yourself out from under the burden of sticking to tradition, you can do whatever you want. And, for obvious practical/philosophical reasons, a lot of people chose to go low-budget.

    ETA: I love seeing low-budget weddings on here, because it gives me ideas I could actually try to emulate, but I’m also totally down to see more big-budget weddings because they can have AWESOME stuff that I could never afford, but I’d still love to look at!

  51. Some really interesting food for thought here and nice to hear points of view from both sides of the money pond! It’s so true that you can still be a little kooky with a larger budget, but that a smaller budget can make you learn how to be super creative to make that money stretch as far as possible. Both of your weddings sound like you had an awesome time! πŸ™‚

  52. Our wedding was low budget but not as low as I had expected because my parents gifted us money and added some splurges on top. For us, part of the reason it was lowere budget was because we had a small guest list. More couples these days are choosing not to invite all family and family friends and acquaintances and work contacts. Some are making weddings more intimate and personal rather than community events. Around here it’s becoming less offbeat to do that (I grew up in a small town where weddings were usually open to whoever by the dancing part of the reception and one friend had that wedding). My perspective is an odd mix as I went to lots of weddings as a kid that were very traditional but also lots of weddings that were offbeat in one way or another. But I think the couple having more control definitely has a big impact. We chose a small wedding, chose non-catered food, avoided flowers as much as possible, and my dude got clothes he would rewear except his pants. We put money into our honeymoon so we could stay in a fun hotel and do a bunch of shopping. None of our friends really had crazy expensive weddings so we didn’t have that pressure either. More pressure from parents to put more into food and drink but in the end there were leftovers and booze that got consumed for the next year+.

  53. Firstly, I haven’t read through all the comments yet so I apologise if this point has already been made but…
    personally, I’d like if the focus could be on amazing weddings regardless of budget. People with bigger budgets need/want/enjoy as much inspiration and how-to’s as those with smaller budgets. There is a reason they come to this site, rather than another…if there are plenty of other publications of this ilk that serve the high-end budgets then I don’t know them…certainly there are gazillions catering for those that want a mainstream look, but not for those who’re ‘offbeat’ (regardless of degree of offbeatiness) it took a year of searching for me just to find this site…and I nearly cried with joy when I did!

    I would include myself in the mid-range budget group, but finding ways to personalise our day, and reaffirmation that trying for something more individual is ok (and not unreasonable) is HARD if we’re limited to the mainstream sites and choices…

    so, in summary: keep going OBB! y’all are amazing.

  54. How is 6,000 and 30,000 low budget?! O_O I guess then that my wedding must be called a homeless wedding or something. =P

    My wedding will cost me about 500 at max for everything- food, the venue, entertainment, a non-religious pastor, a photographer, a photo shoot area, decor, etc!

    And, it’s able to be offbeat- Steam Punk meets video games. My dress cost me 20 bucks altogether to put together and I get to look like Elizabeth from Bioshock Infinite! πŸ˜€

    • No one was saying $30k is low budget — Megan was given as an example of a higher-budget offbeat wedding.

      Of course “lower budget” is relative, but I will say that we know from the Offbeat Bride reader survey that less than 5% of engaged Offbeat Bride readers are planning weddings with budgets less than $1000:

      This is all to say that $500 weddings are remarkable, even on Offbeat Bride! That said, we’ve absolutely featured several lovely ones, this one being one of the most popular: http://offbeatwed.com/2010/01/ohio-cave-wedding

  55. I’m sure someone has mentioned this in the comments already but I feel like part of a traditional wedding IS the price tag.

    Also, as I have been planning my wedding I have noticed we’re getting things a lot cheaper because we’re not doing the norm. A lot of our decorations are not considered “wedding decore” and therefore it is cheaper.

  56. I must say I love this site and everything you feature, be it fully and expensively offbeat, odd and tight budgeted, or offbeat lite with a midrange budget. No matter what I find all the weddings beautiful each in its own unique way. I’ve also found the best advice that had helped me calm down and not worry as much about what other people think about my up coming wedding. My fiance and I seem to be striking a balance between saving money and going all out. I watch the cost and try to find not necessarily the cheapest but the most bang for our buck. The male creature on the other hand has a grand sense of drama and loves to go all out. I think if we manage to pull this off we’ll have a wedding that is nice, will piss off a lot of traditionalists (like his dad who has been raising a fuss), and will be completely, beautifully us….all for roughly $10,000.

  57. I agree with Ariel about the control thing, me and my S.O. are talking about marriage and one of the major factors we’ve considered when looking into wedding stuff is the cost. Right now we are poor college students with career choices that while rewarding aren’t exactly lucrative. We both have grandparents that are well off and who would love to add a dime to our budget, but with that dime comes their two cents. For us to have their financial backing we would have to subject our vision to their schmancy and religion-filled taste which I feel would leave us both unfulfilled. Therefore, to have a wedding that represents our laid-back, nerdy, and offbeat taste we are deciding to pay for it ourselves and doing something within our means. By paying for it myself I have control over the guest list, what kind of ceremony we have, the decorations and a lot of other choices that are important to me and the freedom to discard the traditions that I do not find important. Does that mean that our wedding would be completely awful if we had gone with their financial backing? NO. It’s just the choice we think would be right for us.

  58. What do you do when you have NO MONEY for a wedding? But still want the nice photographer (I’m a photographer myself, but it all goes into my equipment and currently I’ve suffered a major setback when my vehicle died). I currently have a GoFundMe set up, but that’s all going to the car down payment. Basically, I am a DIRT POOR bride, and have been engaged for 4 years. (Oh, and by the way, the GoFundMe isn’t doing so well, either.) Basically, do I just give up any kind of dream of ever getting married the way I’d like? (Low-budget, but still kind of memorable without being downright shabby.)

  59. We are ending up with a low budget for our area, about $10K in D.C. Originally I was gung-ho for either eloping or doing the courthouse thing. All I really truly care about is being married to the one I love. I’ve also been married before. But he hasn’t! Turns out he still really wanted a wedding, and not necessarily a tiny one. So, we compromised! Smallish wedding, less than 70 people, spread out the costs as much as we could over time, and cut out all the things that didn’t matter to us or could be sacrificed. Our families also all really wanted to be there, which means having a wedding. So we’re going to have fun with it, try to show people a good time but without any of the stuff we felt wasn’t necessary or didn’t apply to us.

    Everyone is really in different circumstances when it comes to this. We’re on the cusp of middle-aged, so we can afford to pay for it ourselves, and also we have different priorities than we may have had in our 20s. Both of us care a lot less about what other people think, other than throwing a decent party for the people we love. Our age and that attitude make us offbeat (at least not mainstream), and it also makes us feel less inclined to spend all our money on a single day. We have a house already, and have plenty of other things we’d like to spend money on for the future!

  60. Fascinating question, and one I’ve been pondering, in a way. I LOVE hyper-personalization in bridal fashion. However, we manufacture locally, and now that our demand is exceeding our production capacity, we’re thinking it’s time to raise prices. I’ve been questioning whether our target bride exists in the luxury market. Tricky stuff.

  61. I have to jump in on this one. Our wedding planning was done in the span of six months and my husband and I got married on June 28th of last year. It was a very beautiful and amazing day, a day I will never forget. We had everything we needed. Our family and friends (all 12 of us including the officiant which we lovingly called “the pope“ and is one of my husbands friends), a windmill venue looking over the water near our house that cost zero dollars (yes, zero) , flowers gotten the day before at the farmer’s market, some alcohol and appetizers, the unification ceremony was done with our favortie European board games, and my in-laws paid for the after party at a local restaurant. My dress was a vintage dress that my mother gave me. The cake with fondant was made by a friend and my husband was the DJ. All in all, our budget was low and it does not matter. Why? Because in the end, all that matters is that it was a happy day for all and my husband and I are making a lifelong commitment. In our minds, we did not want to blow all this money on something for one day because we have our whole lives left to live. We want to do things together and travel and save money to for the future so we can enjoy the rest of our lives. I am not trying to hate on other people that want to spend more money than what we did, it is just our thought process.

  62. I’m an actual sociologist (my *only* hat) and I think your assessment is spot-on! I used this website a lot planning my (very) traditional, but lower-budget wedding (that sociologists still made me feel guilty for, but whatever). If I had wanted to spend more, or not had to worry about it, I could have be totally not-offbeat at all. but this community gave me a lot of agency to make “non traditional” decisions so it would still feel like me + my relationship. Our “offbeat” was that I wasn’t willing to go into debt for a wedding, as a grad student with enough money problems . Which was amazing. so thank you. I think because the wedding industry is 1) traditional and 2) $$$, this community speaks to the entire ven diagram of those two things.

    From a socioeconomic perspective, we also see the wedding industrial complex propose more outlandish and expensive versions of “tradition,” as more folks struggle with money. Historically, this is weird, because weddings have only recently become the monster expenses for “average” people; traditional, middle class (american) weddings were not historically a huge expense.

    Also, this website tends to feature couples in “non traditional” / nonbinary /non hetero relationships, who may not be able to feel represented by the wedding industrial complex, no matter how much money they have.

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