Most of us grew up in a time where the giant, fairy tale wedding was “the thing to do”. From an early age, most girls dream about the grande, fairy tale wedding they want to have once they meet Prince Charming. Boys are taught to go with the flow and do whatever makes the woman happy. I do agree with the the latter, but if you’re paying for your own wedding, your money would be better spent on an awesome honeymoon.
Karen and I decided that more time alone on an island would be the perfect way to celebrate our marriage. The only problem was the wedding. How could we pay for her dream wedding and dream honeymoon? The answer was a resounding, “We Can’t!!!”. So, we had to decide what the priority would be and THAT was a honeymoon on Maui.
I really believe that aiming at the stars for the honeymoon made it easier for us to make decisions regarding the wedding. Everything we purchased was easily within reason and only made a small dent in the grand total. In fact, the biggest expense was the hotel rooms in New Orleans that we stayed at the night before the wedding.
Now – I don’t want to come off like I’m some kind of expert here. I was frightened by the thought of most of this. The point is to reassure some of you who are on the fence about how to prioritize your wedding budget, and let you know that I’ve been there. I was scared to death that Karen would regret the plan since it was not traditional. I worried about the weather, the pictures, and the small reception. We really had to trust that God would make this day glorious for us since we controlled so little of what was happening.
We spent a lot of time trying to think “outside the box” for the best case scenario. After all, the vows and the pictures are what mattered most to us. Since the vows could happen anywhere, we focused on a picturesque backdrop. We decided on the St. Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square, New Orleans. The Cathedral is a staple of New Orleans history, and since we are both from New Orleans, it meant a lot for us to incorporate the city into our wedding. I had been inside the cathedral many times, but booking that place for a wedding far exceeded our budget. Like…FAR. One day, Karen and I were on a photo walk in the French Quarter and saw a wedding in Jackson Square with the cathedral in the background! It was a beautiful and unique perspective. We found out that it only costs $400 to reserve the square for a wedding. BOOM!
- Jackson Square reservation: $400
- Chair rentals: $157
- Photographer: A nominal fee. Our photographer is also a good friend and pretty much gifted us with our wedding photos. Here’s where it pays off to have talented connections!
- Dessert reception across the street at Cafe’ Du Monde: $150 (All we did was go over there and take over the restaurant! We hired a friend (by trade…it’s always great when you can offer something as a trade – more opportunity to save money!), who gave them a couple hours notice. She basically planted herself on the scene and reserved every available table, and everyone ate beignets and had coffee. It turned out to be a hit! We love and appreciate you, Renee!)
- Hotel Rooms: $515
- Dress/Tuxedo (and the bride’s shoes): $704
- Bridal Accessories (“after ceremony” shoes, veil, hair): $175
- Outfits for four kids: $285
- Invitations: $100
- Musicians: Gifted to us by our lovely, musically talented friends
- Wedding planner: trade
This total is ridiculously low for a wedding, but it was still a big chunk of money for us. Most of it was paid before the wedding day so it was out of mind. It allowed me to focus on my future wife and to get cranked up for Maui.
When Karen and I planned our wedding, we really wanted to prioritize the honeymoon. We liked the idea of getting away to a place neither of us had ever been and were willing to sacrifice parts of the typical wedding to reach our goal. Maui was recommended to us by quite a few people, but the cost really freaked me out. I knew that trip would run us over $5K which meant I was going to have to tell Karen to make concessions on some of the wedding plans.
We really tried to get what we wanted and not think about the cost too much. We bought our flights and reserved a room for 10 nights in Kaanapali on Maui. We were really close to Lahaina which we heard had great stores and restaurants. We also rented a car.
Another thing we decided not to do was fill our schedule with sightseeing. We wanted to go with the flow and have an adventure together with no kids, alarm clocks or job to go to. This helped us keep the cost down tremendously.
This is what it costed to get us to Maui and stay for 10 days in 2011:
- Airfare/Hotel: $2,686
- Hotel resort Fee: $225
- Car Rental: $300 (and a timeshare! I’ll explain this mistake later)
- Food, Events, Tours and Gifts: $3300
Taking a Look Back:
We spent just over a third on the wedding of what we spent on the honeymoon. The day of my wedding was incredible! My wife looked beautiful and bought a dress that looked like she paid $3,000 for it.
The pictures were fantastic and the dessert reception was really cool, and short. 😉 With the exception of having a dance together (which we love to do), we had everything we wanted. The dance is still the one thing we wish we could have done. Since the wedding, we have probably had 10 first dances together since we didn’t do it on our wedding day. Maybe that turned out to be a good thing!
The honeymoon was the most exciting thing I’ve ever done. We walked through the airport like kids going on an 8th grade trip! When we were almost to Maui, we had to fill out forms saying we wouldn’t take fruit and such back to “the mainland”. This is when it hit us that we were really going to be in Hawaii!!! We spent the next 10 days smelling the sea air, eating ceviche, and digging our toes into the sand while eating dinner. We almost plummeted to our death on the road to Hana, we swam with giant sea turtles, and went to a Luau. I got to do it all with my new wife with no distractions!
And there you have it – a look at how we approached it. The key is to find you and your spouse’s “Maui” and go from there. We have no regrets of saving our money for the honeymoon. It was a magical time that is still very much alive in my wife and I today. (Seriously, it was THE BOMB and nothing compares to it that I’ve ever experienced).