Learn from My Wedding Blunders: 10 Unnecessary Luxuries

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Wedding Gown

I start with this because it's one of the things brides focus on the most. I rented a Badgley Mischka dress, worth $10,000. I rented it for $1,400. At the time, I convinced myself it was a steal.

I now realize renting is an even bigger rip-off because you have to return the dress. There's no chance of reselling or even giving it to someone else.

If you're renting for $300 or less, it may be worth it, but I would imagine it would be difficult to find a dress for that price. Many of my girlfriends had their gowns inexpensively made for about $300. If I were to get hitched today, I'd check eBay or Etsy.

Total cost: with repairs (a lot of people accidentally stepped on my dress during the reception) $1,600

 The City Club on Bunker Hill


We chose to exchange vows and have the reception at the same spot. We were married in downtown Los Angeles on the top floor of the Wells Fargo building where they house an exclusive city club.

We invited 150 people and each person cost about $50. This cost included cocktail hour, h'orderves and dinner. The venue itself was $1,200.

Forget getting married at a place like this. Instead, pick a lovely outdoor area, such as a park, restaurant, or even a friend's backyard (if they have the space and are willing to host).

Total: $8,700+

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I remember asking my friends what they thought of attending a wedding without an open bar. I got a lot of pensive looks, followed by, "Well, an open bar would be nice." I should also add that the friends I asked, like to drink... a lot.

Of course we decided to go with an open bar for three hours. While we didn't get the top-shelf goods, we ended up extending the open bar an hour for a whopping $500 because everyone was having such a good time.

I’ve attended plenty of weddings where only beer and wine were available (much cheaper option, and less drunks to deal with), and in all honesty, no one really cares.

If you want an open bar, head to Costco and stock up. Of course this would only work if you chose a private location for your venue. To keep costs at its lowest, you can have a dry wedding (no alcohol at all), or have guests pay for their own drinks.

Total cost: $3,000

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Bridesmaid Dresses

I stupidly waltzed into a Jessica McClintock boutique and saw the bridesmaid dress of my dreams... for $250. I decided to try and have that dress replicated and went to a dress maker.

I purchased all the materials and she charged me $75 per dress. With the materials, it was probably closer to $100 a dress. The dresses did not come out as I’d hoped, which made it sting even more.

If I could do it all again I’d head to Forever 21 and pick out five $20 dresses. If you are really concerned about bridesmaid dresses, remember it’s only a one-day affair and no matter what your bridesmaids tell you, they will not wear the dress again, ever.

Total cost: $500

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Gifts for Wedding Party

Because we had received gifts as a bridesmaid and groomsmen for our friends' weddings, my husband and I felt compelled to buy gifts for our wedding party of 10.

I bought a small diamond necklace for each of them, and he purchased a very manly flask set for his buds. Had we not purchased these items, we would’ve saved $1,000.

Rather than spending this much on gifts, why not host a post-wedding BBQ or host a get together with your wedding party?

It’s a much better way to spend some quality time together and thank them for being a part of your special day.


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Limo Service

While the limo helped shuffle everyone from the salon to the venue, it's not necessary, especially when you can just take your own car.

If you're concerned about space, rent a big van for way less than a limo. While it's not as pretty or stylish, it'll still get you to where you need to go, and your wallet will thank you for it afterward.


We had two limos.

Total price: $500

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I didn’t really care about flowers, so I chose white roses for my bouquet and for the venue. The florist told me that white flowers are the cheapest option for weddings.

He charged me $1,200 for everything, which I think is a good deal, but there's always a cheaper route!

A great option is Costco.com. They’ll deliver the flowers to you, but you have to put it together yourself. Also, keep in mind you need to order them at least two weeks in advance.

If you live in an urban area, I would also head to the downtown flower mart to snag a great deal.

If you’re picky about flowers and absolutely need your reception to look like an exact replica of Rivendell from "Lord of the Rings," this slide doesn't apply to you.

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Makeup and Hair

Due to the less-than-stellar service I received at my hair and makeup salon, I’m probably being more biased than I’d like to admit.

I spent $1,300 for my hair and makeup (not including tip).

In addition to myself, I received hair and makeup for my mom, sister and bridesmaids.

Find someone who can do it for less -- perhaps you can enlist one of your makeup-savvy friends to help out.

Or, if you have a wonderful hair stylist, ask her/him about their wedding rates and don't be afraid to bargain!




Even though the bulk of our expenses should’ve been more well thought out, I did manage to cut corners here and there.

For my wedding invitations, I used Costco.com. I can’t remember exactly how much it cost, but I know it was a lot cheaper than boutique stationary stores.

I believe it was $120 for 200 invitations.


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My husband seemed to be in a hurry to go on our honeymoon (so I'll blame him for this one).

I suggested Thailand, a much cheaper option, but he insisted we go to Kauai. We blew $7,000 on flights, hotel and activities on our 7-day trip. This amount did not cover our rent-a-car or food (although we did have some delicious breakfast every day at the hotel!).

Instead of going this route, plan ahead and take your time in order to score the best price possible. While it’s considered to be a trip of a lifetime, you shouldn't have to spend a lifetime paying it off.