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Can You Have a Meaningful Wedding on a Shoestring Budget

The average wedding in 2007 cost $25,000. Does that figure shock you? Does it have you quaking in your boots trying to figure out how in the world you can pull that off? Advertisers would have you believe that you must spend a fortune on a wedding in order for it to be beautiful and meaningful. I am here to tell you that simply is not true. Sure, having a 5 foot tall ice sculpture of a swan and mountains of flowers and tulle would make for a beautiful scene to behold. But, beauty alone does not equate to meaningful. When it is all said and done, the meaning of the ceremony is what will stay with you long term, not the decorations.

So, despite what television commercials may imply, you can not only create a beautiful ceremony for very little money, but you can create a deeply meaningful one as well. I know, because I did it. My husband and I have now been happily married for almost 17 years. We got married when we were 23, working full time jobs and part time jobs just to make ends meet. We most certainly did not have thousands of dollars sitting around in our savings account to spend on a wedding.

We wanted to get married and wanted a beautiful ceremony, but we did not have lots of money to put something like that together, or so I thought. Being the practical gal that I am, I decided we needed to prioritize a list of things we wanted to have in our wedding. Surprisingly, the list of "must-haves" was pretty short. For me it was a white wedding dress and writing our own vows.

Anything else was gravy as far as I was concerned. With that in mind, and with our tiny budget, we realized we would be quite happy with a small, intimate family wedding in a beautiful outdoor setting. Armed with a framework of what I wanted, I found the perfect white wedding dress (at an outlet store, on clearance, for just $99) and located a minister willing to meet us at an outdoor location and allow us the flexibility to write our own vows. We chose an outdoor location next to Estero Bay that had a small tiki hut for a reception area. Our ceremony took place underneath a palm tree at sunset. And, here is the best part, all of this natural beauty was FREE.

(I will say that is was rather windy as Tropical Storm Bob happened to be blowing by.but then, that is another story!) I bought our flowers from the grocery store (they were great and less expensive than some other floral shops), and they even threw in some extras to decorate the cake. I even got a great recommendation for a cake maker, known only as "the cake lady"—I am pretty sure every town has one you just need to ask around.

The Cake Lady made us a beautiful wedding cake for a fraction of the cost of other wedding cakes. My husband had a friend at the tuxedo shop, and got his tux for free. My mom made small 'finger' sandwiches and we had a boom box for our reception music.

The ceremony was beautiful thanks to nature. The ceremony was meaningful to us because we took the time to write our own words of commitment to each other, focusing on the aspects we cherished most in each other. The guests were touched not because of what we wore, or because of decorations, but they were touched by the way the ceremony touched us. The ceremony was an authentic reflection of who we were and how we felt about each other. You can't put a price on that kind of experience.

Well, technically you could put a price on it. For us that price was about $500, not including the rings. Not only did we spend hardly any money, but we also put this all together in about 30 days. My point here is simple. With a little help from your friends, a little creativity on your part, you really can have a beautiful and meaningful ceremony for very little money out of pocket.

It is not about how much money you spend, but how much time you put into creating a ceremony that is a true reflection of who you are. I encourage you to spend time with your fiance, decide what elements are crucial for you, and then get creative!.

Rev. Kathy Karlander is an ordained interfaith minister in the Order of Melchizedek. Since 1999 she has specialized in creating unique and memorable wedding ceremonies for her clients. Now you can put your own unique, meaningful ceremony together with the help of her ebook, Your Wedding Your Way, at

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