While we're ecstatic about the wedding, unfortunately attending such a wedding with our kids entails a lot of expenses, both transportation there, as well as wedding appropriate attire for the entire family.
As immediate family members of the groom there's certain expectation involved about how we should look, and while we want to look our best and fancy, we also don't want to be shelling more money out of pocket than necessary, especially since with 6 family members even little costs add up, even more so when they are larger expenses. The mission? Get nice clothes for the entire family, matching the kids with their cousins as well, and spend as little as possible while doing so.
An option that I'd used in the past, for my brother in law's wedding was this service that let you borrow from a huge selection of fancy gowns; it was free other than needing to pay for dry cleaning after. But that service now costs 25 dollars for rental in addition to dry cleaning so not worth it, especially since I needed for 3 people.
Instead I decided to take a chance and order from Aliexpress.com since I had friends who did that for their children for a wedding I attended and their dresses were beautiful and very cheap, as nice as expensive dresses purchased locally. I knew that as always when buying online especially when buying from China, there was a chance that the quality would be bad and/or it wouldn't fit. But they were so cheap that that was a gamble I was willing to take. Worst comes to worst they would be totally unusable and that would be $37 down the drain.
Yes, you read that right! $37 including international shipping for beautiful dresses for 3. Mine was 15 dollars including shipping and my daughters' were $11 each. (These aren't the links to the exact ones I got- just to identical looking products.)
I purposely ordered bigger than I thought I'd need because you can make things smaller more easily than you can make bigger.
I have zero regrets. Those were 37 dollars well spent. They cost a fraction of what these would have cost locally.
But that wasn't all the money that needed to be spent. The girls needed long sleeved shirts (matching) and tights to wear with their dresses (outdoor winter wedding!), so I bought them locally for not too expensive. They both already had silver Mary Jane style shoes that they wore with their outfits.
For myself, though the dress fit me, it needed some alterations. It came with a slip that ended at a very awkward length, so it needed to be replaced. The dress was also was far too long and there was simply too much material on the skirt which therefore needed to be taken in. I spoke to a seamstress who told me that each alteration needed would cost minimum $10, possibly more, so that would be at least another $30 at a cheap seamstress, in addition to my needing to pay for and provide the material. I decided to put my semi adequate sewing skills to use to save money, and only if I totally messed it up then undo it and pay a seamstress to do it correctly.
I bought new material for the lining for the skirt- cost about 7 dollars and cut out the lining that came with it. I was a little unsure about how to sew in the lining without messing it up badly so I opted for just sewing a super simple long skirt out of the lining material and wearing it under instead of sewing them together.
I took in the skirt a good few inches keeping the seam all the way in the back. That way, even if it wasn't perfect, the imperfections would be in the back and not so visible. It was very hard to do, because chiffon is not an easy material to work with, and my sewing machine was acting up, The first time I did it, it actually was bad, so I had to rip out the entire seam and then re-sew it, but finally on the second go I got it to be better, pretty good, if not perfect.
I cut off a good few inches off the bottom of the skirt then hemmed it by hand, because I was fed up with my machine.
Also to make it more weather appropriate I bought a cheap, matching 3/4 length shirt to wear underneath the dress. To take the dress up a notch, I actually wore a matching rhinestone belt that I'd had in the house for years, but never felt confident enough to wear it until I lost the amount of weight that I did. I matched it with a rhinestone headband and dangly rhinestone earrings from a cheap local costume jewelry shop (similar to Claire's).
I did my own makeup, using makeup I already had in the house, and wore shoes that I already had at home.
(I looked- couldn't find any picture of myself wearing my dress- so unfortunately nothing to share. I even asked my sisters and friends who were at the wedding... Oh well...)
For Anneliese, I knew I needed to do something with her hair. Though she had me cut her a pixie cut twice, she decided that she wanted to grow out her hair again, and now it's at that annoying length when her bangs are constantly falling into her eyes even though she tries to brush them aside. And headbands don't help because she puts them on funny which means that either her bangs get fully pushed into her eyes, or her hair stands up. Totally ridiculous looking, and therefore not what she'd be wearing to a wedding.
So I wanted to do something fancy with her hair to keep it out of her face, but didn't want to pay for a professional up-do like some other family members did. However, again, I'll admit that I'm not so talented with doing things like this- my fine motor coordination isn't so great, and many hairstyles I attempted on her first didn't really work, especially since her hair is layered and short.
I found this website with a bunch of cute hairstyles for kids, some especially meant for babies and toddlers, and other kids without a bunch of hair or the patience to sit still while their hair is getting styled, which seemed perfect for Anneliese.
I went with this hairstyle, which was a drop time consuming to do, but not too fiddly, and since each step was secured with a ponytail holder it was perfect for someone without so much fine motor coordination. like myself.
I used magenta rinestone hairclips from the Claire's type store above each ear.
The only other cost for this was for the hairspray, which I'll be able to use many times in the future.
So no, this wasn't free, but much cheaper than taking her to a professional and still looked great.
For Rose, I made a simple inverted ponytail- she didn't have the patience for anything else.
My boys wore matching outfits from NextDirect.com, most from their school uniform shop- white shirts that are cheaper than at the cheap local stores, and nice black slacks also for not too expensive. They wear these types of clothes regularly, but we got new so they'd look nice and fresh (and Lee was outgrowing his anyhow, so needed some new pairs). They also wore vests and ties from NextDirect.com, which weren't so cheap, to be honest, but they looked good and were still cheaper than buying full suits for the boys.
Since they didn't have formal shoes, I bought them cute formal shoes from a discount shoe place.
What is with my boys making funny faces for pictures??? Here you can see all the kids in their outfits for the wedding. Sorry, the lighting was really bad there and not conducive to good pictures.
And as for Mike, he wore a new white shirt and black slacks that I bought him, from a local discount clothing place, together with a tie and shoes and belt he had already. No suit jacket- it's not generally done at weddings here, not even for close family members.
No, we didn't spend pennies on attire for the wedding- even though we did our best to save money, all together it did add up to a nice sum of money. However, it was something we were happy to do, to look presentable at my brother's wedding.
And as for frugality- well, most of what we bought is clothing that we would have had to buy at some point anyhow, clothing that will be worn regularly even after the wedding, so it would have been part of our regular clothing budget. We just timed the purchases so that the clothes were new and at their peak for the wedding.
As for the other potentially big wedding related expense- transportation to and from the wedding a few hours away from where we live? We took public transportation. It was a little annoying, but I bought the kids toys from the 25 cent store to entertain them on the bus ride there, so it wasn't too bad.
When you have weddings for close family members, how much do you find you typically spend on attire for yourself and your family? What do you do to cut costs? Are you willing to spend more to look good, or do you usually try to cut costs as much as possible, even if it means looking less fancy at the wedding?