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Getting married off the smell of an oily rag

  • When my husband and I were married 13 years ago, (2nd time round), when we sent out the invitations we put on the bottom BYO gents, ladies a plate (starter, main or desert). This was a huge success, with guests saying that it was the best wedding that that they had been to! -  P.B., Auckland 

  • Planning a summer wedding? "Paid $100 for second hand dress from an opportunity shop in Waikanae and customised it. No need for a $2,000 dress." - Lori, Paraparaumu Beach.

  • My husband and I have been oily raggers for years. When we got married, we had a fabulous, old fashioned country wedding. We got married in the gorgeous garden of one of our local craft stores and walked to the reception at our local hall. When our friends and family asked what we would like as gifts, we asked them to contribute to the day from what they were good at. We put a hangi down in our backyard that was transported to the hall in someone's ute. We were given a lamb, a pig, vegetables and bottled fruit for fruit salad. One friend made our dresses, another was our transport, another made our cake while yet another iced it. Our parents bought some beer and wine, and my husbands' workmates took photos and presented them to us later in an album. Still another person found a two man band that wanted a gig in the country for little more than a good hangi meal that was cooked by more fabulous friends and relations. we had a brilliant day for one hundred and forty guests that cost considerably less than friends spent the next weekend just on their photographer! P.S I'm still crazy about him after 26 years. It just proves that it does not have to cost a fortune to show that you care about each other. - W.G, Waimauku.

(Here is a fantastic letter from a wonderful and dedicated oily ragger. It was so good it deserved to be repeated in full - Oily Rag Editor)

Getting married at a registry office would, at first glance, seem to be the cheapest idea but we discovered the benefits of inviting heaps of guests Ė heaps of wedding presents. Although we didnít have a totally oily rag affair, we made tremendous savings in some areas which are usually very costly, and the value of the gifts far outweighed the cost of the wedding. Here are my ideas, some of which we used, and others which I now realise would have been a good idea!

  • Get married in summer. This is a good idea for several reasons. Firstly, the weather will probably be nice enough to get married in the great free outdoors. You will also need less material in the brides dress as it wonít need sleeves, and the groom wonít need a jacket. Also free flowers will be abundant.

  • Use clubs. No, not the kind you hit each other with. I mean car clubs, floral arranging clubs and photography clubs or students. We asked out local Zephyr club to lend us some cars. They also lent us the drivers, and the only payment they required was to be allowed to take photos to display at their next meeting! The same was true of the floral arrangers. They did arrangements for the church and reception using free flowers from Mumís and her friendís gardens, and all they wanted was to be able to take photos. Speaking of photos, hire a student from a local polytech course or amateur photography club. If youíre worried about the results, hire two photography students! It will still cost only a fraction of the cost of a professional, and you will get photos in two different styles.

  • The dress. Donít be afraid to wear second hand or borrowed dresses. After the big day it really does hang in the wardrobe for years going mouldy and making you feel fat on your weeding anniversary! If you buy a second hand dress, you can always alter it to make it original. Or use the dress or some of the fabric that your mother or another special person wore. I have heard of a woman who sewed her wedding dress from an off-cut of curtain fabric in a cheap bin at a furnishing warehouse. It cost her $20 to make the whole dress, and it looked exactly like expensive material that cost $20 a metre as a fabric shop!

  • Cakes and invitations. If you are an oily ragger you can bake a cake! If you canít you know someone who can. You will save hundreds on buying one. Hire cake tins from a bakery if you want different sized tiers. Borrow a computer if you donít own one, and make your own invitations. There are so many flash fonts and clip art pictures these days that it is a huge waste of money to have invites done at the printers. Print your own invites on coloured paper that matches your wedding theme. Deliver local invites by hand to save postage.

  • The gift list. This is very important. Make a list of all the household and garden implements that would lead to a productive newly wed oil rag lifestyle! Organise them into price brackets, ie $10-$20, $20-$30 and so on. Then, when people ask what you want, you can give then suggestions in a price range to suit their budget. This is often less embarrassing if you let your mother or someone else handle it. Make sure you note what each person says to avoid double ups.

  • The reception/wedding dance. The wedding reception is usually the expensive bit because you are feeding a huge number of people. Instead of a wedding breakfast, why not invite the guests to a light afternoon tea straight after the service. You can enlist the help of friends and relies a few weeks before hand to do some baking, which can be stored in the freezer until the big day. If you have a church wedding, there will probably be a hall with a water boiler you can use after the service. This also encourages people to hand around for photos. Then have a very small wedding breakfast for immediate family only, either at home or at a restaurant. If you put on a dance as well, itís likely that the wedding presents might be a bit more generous! There are cheap and fun alternatives to hiring an expensive venue and band. How about a barn dance? Or a backyard boogie (make sure the neighbours are invited!). Make up tapes of music to play on the stereo, and put someone in charge of ensuring the music continues throughout the night. Or hire a band from a local high school, if theyíre any good. They might be able to play for a low price to get some experience.

There is no reason why a wedding canít be done cheaply without looking tacky. As long as the couple express their personality throughout, and there is continuity in colour and style, and everyone has a good time, then it really can be the greatest day of your life. Ė S.W.

Other tips and weddings

  • "Mean Girl" from Hastings has some tips about weddings. Invitations - Use a photo of the engaged couple and the invitation information printed on top. This can be done very cheaply on most instant digital photo machines. Some machines even have a really nice template to use. Guest gifts - Google images for a party favour box. Choose something appropriate and personalise it by overwriting the wedding date, thank you or place a photo of the couple on it. Then print on your computer two per page.

  • When my husband and I were Married in 2001, it was the second time around for both of us. The actual wedding cost less than $200, and we did not skimp on anything.  There were no church fees as we were members of the church, and we used the floral display which were in place for the following day's service. 

I made pew end decorations from silk flowers and ribbon, and I made my own dress, and my young grand daughter's flower girl dress, and my husband wore his St John Dress uniform. We used a music tape for the  wedding music, and a friend sang. The photos were taken by a friend and given to us as a wedding present.

The reception in the evening was in the church hall, which also did not cost anything, and we asked 'ladies a plate', and BYO on the invitations, suggesting that the people supplied either a starter, main or desert, and my son in law was in charge of the music department with a stereo which was set up in the hall.

The wedding car was an ambulance, driven by one of the guests. St John was where we met, he was a paramedic, now retired, and I was a first responder, also now retired. everyone said that it was the best wedding that they had been to, and everyone was so relaxed. - Butterflywings, Mangere, Auckland

  • Look at local Council venues for the wedding - halls, gardens and council buildings.  They are much more reasonably priced than particular wedding venues as they are there for the community to use and some of them are gorgeous.  There is heaps of info on the Christchurch City Council website about booking council space for weddings with all costings, photos and info about the spaces and their facilities. - G.C., Christchurch.

  • We had the best value wedding ever. We went down to the registry office during lunchtime, paid the fee (which was about $60 at the time), read the statutory vows, and signed on the dotted line. We didn't even have any witnesses so a couple of the court staff did that for us. That was about 20 years ago, and we are still married! - anonymous.


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