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 Shoshana Goldberg
My husband and I met when we were a little older – I was in my early 30’s and my husband was in his 40’s. So we had been living and supporting ourselves independently for quite a while when we decided to get married.
Because of this, we didn’t have parents helping us pay for a wedding – we had to be able to afford it ourselves. We also both had always had a mindset that a wedding was a party and neither of us wanted to spend a huge amount on something that only lasts for a few hours – we wanted to save the money for when we were ready to buy a house.
With that attitude in mind, we made the decision to have a smaller-than-normal wedding and try to do it in a budget-friendly way.
Our first step was finding a venue. Several very generous friends offered their homes for our simcha. One friend told us she had hosted bar/bat mitzvahs, sheva brachos, vorts, but never a wedding so we decided to add our wedding to her list!
She told us that her living room/dining room could accommodate 40 people for a sit down meal, so that was the number of people we could invite for the whole wedding. We also invited people to come for dessert/dancing after the meal – we probably had another 40 or so for that part.
I will acknowledge that having only 40 people for the main part of the wedding is a very small number. We both had the advantage of not having large families, so that helped. But making such a small guest list was definitely the hardest part of making a small simcha.
However, my friends seemed to understand that I couldn’t invite everyone to the whole meal and many came to the dancing and really enhanced our wedding. The major advantage to having such a small guest list, besides the cost savings, was that every person who came was someone who was VERY close to us, and who were really a big part of our lives.
Other ways we cut costs:
- We shopped around for caterers and found one that did a very nice job within our budget. This was our biggest expense, and probably cost us around $2,800.
- I got my gown from a gemach that didn’t charge except for cleaning the gown ($50). They also used donations to buy new gowns, so despite the fact that I got my gown from a gemach, it still had the tags on it and had never been worn before.
- For flowers, we only had my bouquet and a few centerpieces on tables.
- Because we had our wedding in a friend’s house, there was no hall rental fee.
- I had a friend who was a semi-professional take our pictures for free, then I put together albums on Shutterfly – total cost for albums for us and parents was about $100.
- A friend did my hair and make-up.
- For the music, we found a teenager who had previously performed at bar mitzvahs and gave him a chance at his first wedding – he charged us $50.
- We borrowed a chuppah from somewhere that was absolutely beautiful.
- We got budget-priced benchers and had clear labels with our names put on them – not quite as professional as they could be, but still looked nice and a wonderful souvenir from our big day.
All in all, I LOVED my wedding – it was not like most of the weddings I have been to, but it was perfect for me. Friends who had been skeptical about such a budget wedding being possible, or enjoyable, were very pleasantly surprised and told me they really had a great time. If I had to do it again, I would do it the exact same way.
Shoshana Goldberg lives in Baltimore with her husband and two young boys. She works as a retirement plan consultant where part of her job is helping people save money.