I recently left my job of long hours and little personal reward to do something I perceive as a better fit… for less pay.

Any rational human being would wonder what possessed me to take a salary cut when I have above average bills to pay (thanks, New Jersey) and only a few short months to my wedding.

Does it mean I have to cut my guest list? No.

Go with a cash bar instead of open bar? No.

Have a DJ instead of a band? Well, yes, but we were doing that anyway.

Months ago, before other employment was even an option, Fiance and I set aside a reserve pool for our wedding that we believed to be reasonable, and have conducted all planning thus far with that budget in mind. Sure, we may be over in some areas, but have balanced it with being under in others. Simple financial planning has put me in a place where I can have everything I want and still be financially independent from my family, without derailing my other goals in life. All systems are still go for my mortgage payment, my car, and retirement.
Simple is the key word here. I’ve always lived well below my means, and therefore the wedding of my dreams doesn’t include exotic flowers and Vera Wang. I’m having it at a local brewery, not the Bellagio. And I guarantee my friends, guests, and members of my wedding party (even those with the finer tastes in life) will never feel that something missing, because the reception is just an extension of whom Fiance and I have been for our entire lives.
Being raised in a single “parentrepreneur” home meant being prepared to live through some lean years. I credit my mother, who left her own lucrative position at about the same age I am now to build her own accounting firm, with teaching me the value of every dollar earned through hard work and sacrifice. In fact, when it came to words of advice regarding marriage, my mom offered these two bits:

  1. Wait until you’re 30
  2. Elope

Well, I suppose I got it half right. I never did dig deep enough to find out her rationale behind promoting eloping versus having the giant family party, but I assume she thinks the money spent could be put to “better” uses. And when you read articles such as the 10 Biggest Wedding Expenses, you might agree (up to 1k for invitations that are all going to end up in a landfill somewhere, except for maybe the one that ends up in your scrapbook?)

It’s too soon to tell whether or not my new career truly will raise my happiness quotient, but just the fact that I am able to take the risk gives me a sense of freedom. I’ll use that freedom to enjoy my pork tenderloin at my wedding with budget decorations and no chair covers.

How did you determine your budget for your wedding? Are you on track with your budget? Share your advice on not entering your marriage in debt with other brides here!