Like any other event in your life, you need to decide how large your wedding is going to be and what you’ll spend to pull it off. Do you go all out and spend money on a grand reception with a live band, an expensive plated dinner for guests and gift favors for everyone. Or do you have more of an “Uncle Bill playing tunes on a boom box” budget with community center members cooking the family style meal?

Graphic of a black and green dollar sign in 3D

There are as many options and variations in your wedding plans as there are experts willing to tell you what’s best. I’m not going to tell you what’s best, just what’s possible. What you choose to do depends on what you can honestly afford or are willing to spend and how much you like turning your whole life into planning for your big day. Hey, some people thrive on that kind of stuff!

I’ve done a great many weddings with receptions at country clubs complete with all the trimmings. Fancy plated dinner with several courses, including hors d’oeuvres, drinks and dessert, plus expensive wedding favors, 3 or 4 piece band, waiters with white gloves, etc. These places often have minimums of $10-15,000 and go up from there. This varies by region, of course, but it gives you an idea of budgets.

I’ve also weddings that were in the parents back yard, or at the local VFW where to meal was cooked by the lodge members and was buffet or family style and you used paper plates and plastic cutlery. Sometimes there was a DJ and sometimes a family member was in charge of queuing up the iPod with a selection of favorites.

Here’s the thing…they were all great. There’s no right answer. It all boils down to doing a nice job with the money you (or your parents!) are able to spend. All that matters is that you make it meaningful for you. Spending a lot on your wedding will NOT make your marriage happier. In fact, overspending will cause undue stress on your marriage. Trying to please everyone or meet someone else’s (parents, grandparents, siblings) expectations, even if they are paying the bills, is a recipe for severely added stress on a day that should be blissful and happy, not something to “make it through”.

The bottom line is, pick a budget that is realistic, one that doesn’t cause you to panic every time you think about it. Don’t go into huge debt when it isn’t really necessary. Small and intimate is usually better than large and lavish. But, hey…you decide. It’s your day!

Dr. Stephan J. Smith is an ordained, non-denominational wedding officiant who has been marrying loving couples in Livingston, Genesee, Oakland and surrounding Michigan Counties for more than 10 years. With a calming and caring demeanor, Dr. Smith strives to make his weddings unique and beautiful. His custom ceremonies, attention to detail and the perfect balance of mood creates an environment of serenity and bliss that you’ll treasure for all time. You can contact him for questions and availability by email or phone using the “Contact Dr. Smith” tab above.