The Almighty Dollar

Restoring some fiscal sanity in our -- negative savings rate -- lives

3.03.2006

If you're on a tight budget, consider marrying in Europe

If you've been following my manual on getting married, here is my story about how we pulled off a beautiful wedding in Italy and saved money doing it.

I promise to be brief on the non-financial parts -- after all, this is a personal finance blog!

When considering a European wedding, you must first look into the legal requirements of each country and decide what works best for you. Once you've decided on the location, I highly recommend seeking out a local wedding coordinator who can assist you in satisfying the paperwork and other legal demands in country. With the growing popularity of overseas weddings, there is a wide range of agencies offering budget to luxury services. (I won't go into all the details here, but please e-mail me if you have questions!)

Now here is where the savings come in:

In most countries, you will be permitted to choose between a religious or civil ceremony. As those who have travelled to Europe know, the architecture of European buildings generally look spectacular. Luckily these buildings often house the city's town hall and its churches, where the wedding will take place. Our civil ceremony was held on an outdoor terrace overlooking the Mediterranean. The view was absolutely breathtaking. So there was no need to buy fresh flowers or other decorations to make it look beautiful -- it already was.

We selected a coordinator who specialized in the area and packaged their services. Typically you can add on or subtract services to your liking. We chose a basic package that included all of the legalities, and then added music (a violinist), upgraded the photos (everyone who sees them gawks), and transportation to and from the wedding and reception for all of our guests. For the reception, we hosted a dinner at a restaurant down the coast, where we have fond memories from a previous trip.

The entire cost of our wedding equals what some people here pay for their wedding dress or photographer alone.

Obviously, the more expensive costs are accommodations and airline tickets to your destination. You can easily find a decent price for tickets these days, especially if you are planning in advance. But consider part of your honeymoon paid for with those tickets, since you could extend your stay and hang with your honey for another week in Europe.

As for hotels, you are better off staying in one of the numerous independently-owned hotels or pensiones common in Europe. Not only are they way cheaper, but they ooze with character you will never find in the average American chain hotel.

If you are on a tight budget, consider marrying in Europe. I guarantee that your wedding will be affordable, unique and memorable for yourselves and your guests.