My Frugal Simcha features reader’s stories about their beautiful simchas – on a budget. If you have hosted a budget-friendly wedding, Bar/Bat Mitzvah, Brit Milah or other simcha, we’d love to read about it! Please fill out this form to submit your story.
By Rebecca Weiss
I realize that this isn’t what most people want to hear. But sometimes you just need to do less. I think most people probably want to have a huge 200-person event with balloons, centerpieces, and all the works.
I think I could only do this because of sticker shock when I got married and my husband having a 4-year dry spell of looking for a job. Looking at a fistful of bills made me reassess a LOT of things.
This was our second bris, thank G-d, and things were different from our first. Both my father and father-in-law passed away in between our two smachot. They had wanted to pay for certain parts of the bris, which is customary since time eternal for the Sandek to do. This time around, we were definitely going to be operating on a significantly smaller budget.
Our first obvious cost to cut was the hall. The bris was on a Sunday and allowed us to let men daven where they wanted and come to our home at 9 after pretty much all minyanim were finished. We decided not to invest in favors, large amounts of flowers, a party planner, and more.
Instead, we opted to invest in something that would “kill two birds with one stone.” We painted the rooms where the event would be taking place in our home. They were in need of a paint job, and this would also allow me to rely on the appealing (bolder) colors as one angle of decor. I figured it was a worthwhile investment.
We invited the neighborhood and friends over for an ‘open house’ to enjoy pastries, coffee, OJ, and the ceremony. The coffee, sweetener, disposable Dixie coffee cups, and Tropicana OJ were deals that I had scored months earlier and stocked up on. The OJ froze beautifully.
After the ceremony we set up 2 tables quickly (I come from a family of uber helpful folks, where setting and cleaning up just happens and we love it. We’re good at it, too.)
The affair was Cholov Yisroel, so that wasn’t cheap for the cream cheese and cheeses. Since it was less than 30 people, though, one brick was enough. I found friends to do the food prep of a cheese platter, tuna, and egg salad at their home the night before. I provided them with the tuna and eggs that I had gotten a deal on.
For drinks, I only served water with slices of lemon. I think it’s classier anyway, truthfully. No soda, no juices. I used all my own serving pieces, which cut the cost of disposable serving-ware drastically.
We did not have birkonim or centerpieces. We had two simple bunches of sunflowers from Trader Joe’s, tastefully arranged by yours truly in vases I already owned. I had bought the vases with entertaining in mind, so they look good solo on our Yom Tov table or at an affair in pairs.
I skipped a chair rental and borrowed from a local Gemach. I skipped a photographer and went with two friends who are amateurs and like reasons to use their new D-SLRs.
Another option (that we didn’t go with) is to find a Mohel who does not accept payment (which is customary – the money you pay is a ‘gift’). It ran us $700 in Baltimore. If we could have gone the gift route, I would have found a big ticket item for a steal of a deal, or even a gift card deal.
The most important thing is that I kept my expectations *really low* and focused on enjoying the baby and the people there.
The My Frugal Simcha series is being sponsored this month by SimchaCentre.com, home to the “bencher pen” craze. Find deals on kippahs, benchers, ketubahs and more for your next simcha at SimchaCentre.com.
Rebecca Weiss is wife to a wonderful husband who recently found a job, and mother to two exciting boys. She also works full-time for the federal government. With her husband’s job being pretty close to minimum wage and daycare for two little ones being more costly than tuition, they cut corners where ever they can. Rebecca is able to enjoy saving by having a money-saving buddy/BFF (shout out to Nechamah C.!) and making a ‘game’ out of it, instead of feeling down about herself for not having a greater cash flow.