If You Say Yes To The Dress What Do You Have To Give Up?

Wedding 1994 photo (c) All rights reserved

Just a few weeks ago the world (ok, maybe not the whole world but enough of the world so that the news media could say ‘the world’) was mesmerized by the real-life marriage of a prince to his princess. There was speculation for weeks about the dress, the flowers, the hair, the hats and the guest list. And, of course, THE KISS!

I watched the royal wedding with BabyGirl and she will make a fantastic color commentator one day. While she wasn’t that into the wedding, she was interested in the clothing, hats and fascinators. It’s not every day you get to see a full wedding, and in her short 8 years she’s yet to attend a wedding. Although, she does watch Say Yes To The Dress.

Estimates show the royal wedding topping out at $60 million. Yes, that includes the nearly $35 million for security most of us won’t need. So, we’re down to a more manageable $25 million! Take out the ring, which was an heirloom and didn’t really ‘cost’ anything and we’ve got, well, still pretty close to $25 million.

This budget is so far beyond anything most of us would find realistic. My entier wedding was less than $10,000 – in 1994. And by entire I mean ev.er.y.thing! It wasn’t planned as a frugal wedding. I had a wedding planner, 125+ guest, cocktail hour, hor d’oeuvres, DJ, brunch, amazing flowers, a fabulous chuppa, place cards, the whole shebang! And it was at one of the swankiest 5-star resorts in town.

Sure it took a lot of work and focus, but it was exactly what CycleGuy and I wanted. And we had so much fun. So much so that our wedding started at 10:30am and at 6pm the hotel asked us to leave so they could set up for another event. Partyin’, partyin’, yah!

So when people ask me how I did it, I’m pretty honest when I say I had a budget and I stuck to it. Yes, even back then I was saving for someday! As I watch Say Yes To The Dress with BabyGirl, we often see brides trying on dresses that far exceed their budget. While this is fine if the budget truly is flexible, that’s not usually the case. By spending more than you budgeted you have to end up cutting on something else. Sure, the bridal dress consultants will say that it’s your day and you should have the dress you want. And I’m not going to argue with that. But trying on an $8,000 dress when your budget is $5,000 will only frustrate you. Either you can’t get the dress you want or you’ll cut somewhere else and feel so many emotions because of that.

It’s really no different than going to Neiman Marcus when you can only afford Macy’s. If you can’t afford the Louboutin shoes, don’t try them on. Period. End of story! Why torture yourself? Sure it’s your money and you can spend it as you wish, but if you’re not willing to eat beans and rice for 3 months don’t spend your money like you will. Same goes for a wedding budget. If you’re not willing to live without something then stick to your budget.

The dress consultant will tell you to cut the flowers. The florist will tell you to cut the cocktail hour, the caterer will tell you to cut out the place cards, and so forth. Everyone is staking claim to part of someone else’s budget line. Don’t give in! If you’re getting married, remember it’s your wedding. If you’re a parent of the bride and you’re paying for it, stand your ground! BabyGirl has already informed me that she thinks $5,000 is a good price for a wedding dress. I hope she doesn’t think it will be adjusted for inflation!

Weddings are no different than any other party. If you have a budget, stick to it. No, you won’t be able to serve Dom Perignon and Crystal on your $250 budget for a holiday party. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a nice party. I know you’ll agree with me that expensive parties aren’t always the best parties. I know you’ve been to those parties where they go all out and as soon as you get in the car you’re trying to figure out where the nearest burger joint is at.

I’ve got a Bat Mitzvah to pay for long before a wedding is on my radar. And don’t think for one minute that I won’t be planning and budgeting that event down to the dime. It’s so easy to get caught up in all the pretties and sparkly. And I’m a sucker for those. But I won’t hock my future for things that, in the grand scheme of life, don’t really matter. And neither should you!

What would you be willing to cut if you really, really wanted something but it wasn’t in the immediate budget?



Author: Sara

Sara is a life-long dreamer, creating a list of things she wants to do "someday". Realizing there is no "someday" on the calendar she's taking the steps to make her somedays a reality. Between saving for retirement and college and paying for all the usual things, many women find that they're often putting their hopes and dreams on hold. Saving For Someday is Sara's way of encouraging women everywhere to find ways to save on the ordinary so they can do the extraordinary. Sara is also a licensed attorney and writes about legal issues affecting bloggers, content creators and online professionals. This blog is for informational purposes only. You can also find me on Google+

13 thoughts on “If You Say Yes To The Dress What Do You Have To Give Up?”

  1. my aunt was visiting last night and we were watching say yes to the dress before bed and it was pretty ridiculous because we were watching the wallet woes episode and this girl’s dad was going to sell his motorcycle so she could have the dress she wanted. my aunt said her friend’s mom sewed her dress for her for $30 total. i have a dress in mind that’s under $1500 which is lower than any of the dresses on say yes for the dress but i’ve also got a saved search on ebay for it because my cousin got her dress on ebay for under $100.

    1. Hi Carrie!

      I know wedding gowns are expensive, but so are other clothes. And just like finding deals in non-traditional places, wedding dresses are there too. I have a friend who got one from Craig’s list FOR FREE! Sure she had to pay for alterations but you have to do that with any wedding gown. I paid $150 for my gown because I bought it at the clearance center for a couture bridal shop (In OKC, no less!). First dress I tried on, too! I tried on a few more that day but it’s true that you ‘just know’ when you have the right dress.

      As for that wallet woes episode, even my daughter though that girl was selfish to buy a dress her family couldn’t really afford. I thought it was inappropriate for the bridal consultant to do that to this family. But, I guess it makes for good TV.

      I’m sure your dress will be phenomenal!


  2. What a selfish, selfish girl that would be alright with her parents having to sell off their property in order to make her “happy”. I would be horrified if my child expected that of me!

    1. Hello Rebeccah,

      I would probably be ‘that woman’ from the show to tell my daughter ‘No!’ and then give the bridal consultant the hairy-eyeball. And you’re exactly right that the girl is selfish to put her parents through that b/c she wants a dress. I can imagine next it will be the cake or flowers or food.

      Thank you for visiting and sharing!


  3. with my wedding just over a week away, i have to say that this was a very refreshing post to read! I watched Say Yes to the Dress once (well, 3 episodes in a row) before deciding that it was definitely not for me. My dress is a discontinued sample that hadn’t been sold, hadn’t been sold, etc… and it was marked down and down and down accordingly. It’s a very nice dress. It isn’t the nicest dress I’ve ever seen or even the nicest that I own, but it’s very pretty, the total cost (including alterations) was well under $500, and did I mention that I’m only going to wear it for one day? Done. Frugal weddings aren’t hard; they just require focus, a team of friends to step in and help, and a sense of humor. My m.o. for this wedding has been coupons, groupons, and crowdsourcing — which is sort of how I live my life anyway.

    1. Congratulations, Caroline! I bet your wedding will be beautiful and just like you want it. The whole point of a wedding is to reflect who you both are. Your friends and family will be happy to be there and see you at this special moment. And, really, if they have a problem with it that’s just too bad for them!

      Enjoy your special day!


      P.S. I’d love to see pictures!

  4. I haven’t heard of the TV show but couldn’t resist your headline. The message is Spot On too!

    I got married in black!

    But another tip from me as well as avoiding expensive shops is avoiding magazines. I always start want want wanting after reading those designer womens mags where before I was quite happy withnwhat I had:)

    Happy saving!

    1. Hi Annabel!

      Why does it not surprise me that you wore black? And I bet you rocked it and looked like a queen!

      What a important point to avoid the magazines. Years ago I unsubscribed to all the fashion magazines for just that reason. But now that you mention it, I remember rushing out and buying a slew of bridal magazines only to be upset that what I saw actually cost so much money. I mean, honestly, the things are beautiful but unless there is an unlimited budget they’re almost always out of reach.

      Thank you, again, Annabel for sharing your insight and perspective.


  5. My wedding dress was well under $1000. You were it one day. It needs to be nice, but not a year’s worth of rent. Oh my.

    We watched the Royal Wedding too and really loved it. It took me forever to catch up on sleep though.


  6. Great post. I also saw that one where the dad said he’d sell his motorcycle. This is just a large scale example of what the parents have probably done this girls entire life. The probably constantly made unneccessary sacrifices for things that the daughter never even really needed. She would not feel that she is selfish because this is probably normal for their relationship.

    1. Hello Joy,

      Thank you for visiting and sharing your comment. It’s kind of sad that a child is brought up thinking that everyone needs to sacrifice so they can have what they want. Maybe I just have a different idea of how I want my daughter to grow up.

      Appreciate you stopping by,

  7. What a selfish girl to expect her parents to sell their property for her wedding!

    I actually paid $30 (yes!) for my dress and altered it myself to fit! I tried on a lovely dress at a bridal shop that cost $900 and said “No way!”–it was “the one” but it was also more than I pay for rent each month! I can honestly say that staying out of dress shops and away from magazines makes it easier to plan a budget wedding, since these really give you “wedding envy”.

    If you’re willing to hunt around you can find tons of great wedding stuff that’s not expensive at all. DIYs are great too, if you’re crafty. And you can splurge on some things if you skimp on others, like paying a little more for a pro photographer if that’s really important to you and doing the invitations at home on the computer instead of getting pro printing.

    I say, make the budget ahead of time, while you’re calm, without the glitzy magazines in front of you–and make it with someone (a friend, a sister) who will keep going over it with you and make you stick to it! That way, if you start saying “But I love this dress! I don’t mind skimping on ___” she can remind you of exactly why you didn’t want to skimp on ___ when you made the initial list.

    1. Martha, thank you for your comment and insight. I like your idea of having a close friend or relative help keep you on budget. From watching these shows, it doesn’t seem to matter if the budget is modest or extremely high all the brides can find a way to justify not staying on budget.

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