Couple plans to tie the knot on a shoestring

Wedding expected to ring in at thousands below national average

Wedding expected to ring in at thousands below national average

March 15, 2009|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

For Holly Bonenberger and David Weiland, choosing to dine out today might mean not having enough money next year for party favors at their wedding.

"We knew right away that we really didn't have any money whatsoever," said Holly Bonenberger, a 25-year-old secretary at Maryland Correctional Training Center.

Holly and David's goal is to stick to a $6,000 budget for their March 13, 2010, wedding. But meeting that goal means making sacrifices - especially when the economy is this bad.

"We are trying to keep the cost down on the wedding," David said.

A budget of $6,000 might sound high to some, but it's much lower than average. Research firm The Wedding Report estimates 2009 weddings will average $29,614 nationwide, about $900 more than the average of $28,704 in 2008.


"I feel six thousand is too much," Holly said.

But Holly and David say they have family and friends who are willing to help. Holly's parents, Tim and Connie Bonenberger, have agreed to cover many of the costs.

"This is her first and only wedding," Connie said.

Cutting where you can

Holly and David live in the Londontowne Apartment development east of Hagerstown. They met online two years ago.

"I wouldn't say it was love at first sight, but we definitely had a connection," Holly said.

When they met, Holly was working two jobs and was a student at Hagerstown Community College. David, 23, is a financial analyst for a vaccine company in Frederick, Md. He said he was hoping to move to Hagerstown because the cost of living is cheaper.

They've been preparing for the wedding since David proposed in December. Any extra money from Holly and David's paychecks goes right into their savings account, which they opened days after he popped the question.

To save money, the couple opted not to hire a wedding planner. They're making their own invitations, thank-yous and some of the decorations.

They've also cut back on spending in their day-to-day lives. They don't go out to dinner anymore. They no longer buy toys for their beagle, Sparky. They don't even hang out with friends.

"Which for a 25-year-old and a 23-year-old seems -" started Holly.

"Crazy," said David, completing her thought.

Parents feeling the pinch

On top of covering some of the wedding costs, Tim and Connie Bonenberger agreed to pay for Holly and David's honeymoon, just like they did for Holly's brother, Brian.

They promised Holly they'd pay for her honeymoon when Brian married in 2002 - when the economy was better. They don't want to renege on a promise, though Connie said they are worried about money.

"When you get our age," said Connie, who is 53, "your No. 1 goal is getting out of debt, not creating more debt."

Because Connie works for the state of Maryland, she has to take furlough days and give up some pay, as outlined in an executive order issued in December by Gov. Martin O'Malley. The plan will save the state more than $34 million, according to a press release issued by the governor's office. Connie said she's worked for the state for more than 30 years.

Connie said her husband is worried about losing his job at Manitowoc. The Herald-Mail reported in February that Manitowoc planned to lay off 450 people at its Shady Grove facility in Pennsylvania, where Tim has worked for 37 years.

Parents make sacrifices, too

But Tim and Connie still have jobs. The two of them say they're determined to help pay for their daughter's wedding.

To save money, Connie said she and her husband set the thermostat at 60 - and no higher than 62 - during the cold-weather months. She also drives a 1984 Chevette.

"That old thing gets me where I want to go, but I just can't let it go because I don't want the car payment, plus it's really good on gas," Connie said.

But there were some items that weren't held to budget constraints - like the dress.

"I would not have wanted her to compromise and get something she wouldn't like," Connie said. "This is her big day."

They found Holly's dress at David's Bridal, at what Connie and Holly said was a good price, $700.

Holly said she didn't want to give away all the details about the dress - bad luck for David to hear - except to say that her dream dress would be sparkly, A-line and "full of bling."

She added she has incurred another cost because of the dress: The cost of staying in shape. She and David have joined a gym and are spending more on health food.

"Every bride wants to look skinny in her wedding dress," Holly said. "So we went on a diet. Eating healthy is not easy and it's not cheap. So, unfortunately with trying to lose weight and eat better, you've got to pay the price."

Five ways to get the most bang for your wedding buck

Holly Bonenberger and David Weiland are planning a wedding on their own. They offered a few tips to others who are going the DIY route.

Hand-me-down decorations

o Tapping your friends for used décor.

Think about it: What do your recently married friends do with the table toppers and other décor post-wedding?

Coupons are your friend

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