Badassity and Wedding Bells

My colleague Chris heard me use the term “badassity” recently, one morning before the work day had begun. When he asked me what the term meant, I explained that it defined a subculture of hyper-frugality, spear-headed by Mr. Money Mustache, and that there was a “stick-it-to-the-man” defiance in it. “I’m like that,” Chris said with a bit of a badass smirk. He then told me about the frugal wedding he and his wife Melissa had enjoyed last summer. When I asked if I could feature him on Fruclassity, Chris graciously accepted. With the launch of wedding season, the timing is perfect. Here is the story of Chris, Melissa, and their big day.

Have you always been frugal? 

Chris – Pretty much. I remember being embarrassed when I was about 12 years old when my old man came to pick me up once and he had duct tape on his glasses, duct tape on his shoes, and duct tape on his side-view mirror on his truck. He always wore things out and never replaced them until he had to.

Melissa– Yes. My parents always commented how tight I was with my money and how I never wanted to part from it. Apparently they said that I would ask to borrow money to buy things and then never remember to pay them back and conveniently ‘forget’ that they lent me money.

What motivates your frugality?

Chris – I don’t want to be in debt. I’ve always paid off debts to my friends/parents/banks as soon as possible. I never liked that hanging over my head. I can’t stand the idea of paying interest to my financial institution. It seems like a giant waste of money. I’ve also been fortunate enough to travel most of Southeast Asia, Asia, and Kenya, and that offers a lot of perspective when it comes to what purchases I really do need to make.

Melissa – I don’t like owing people money, therefore I always try and pay things back as soon as possible. Since I am so frugal, I also dislike paying banking or credit card fees.

As a couple, did you find that you had to adjust to each other’s money management style?

Chris – I guess Mel is more willing to spend money on quality items, experiences, and healthy/ethical foods. Other than that she is quite good at saving and avoiding impulsive or unnecessary purchases. She has influenced me a bit to spend a little more if it’s for something that will last a long time or is motivated by a sense of social responsibility. We try to spend our money more locally which tends to be a little more expensive. We both still save well, cook meals at home, rarely buy new clothes, etc.

Melissa – Maybe a little bit. Chris is such a minimalist that it makes me look like I spend money quite frivolously. I think he has taught me to be even more frugal with some items, like clothing and shoes, though I do like spending money on travel, experiences (like concerts, shows) and dining.

Why did you decide to have a frugal wedding?

Chris – The idea of spending so much money on one day just seemed so foreign to me. It’s my personal opinion that all the money spent on a wedding could easily be a car paid off, a down payment for a house or student loans covered. I’m a minimalist and had no desire for a DJ, tuxedos, flowers, dining halls, etc. I’m also very lucky that my parents have a home in the countryside that is far removed from all neighbours and so lends itself perfectly to a backyard wedding. I guess I prefer the simple basics.

Melissa – I feel like many people get caught up in the romanticism of a wedding and how it is supposed to be and how perfect its supposed to turn out. Nowadays, everyone is trying to keep up with the Joneses. I realized that the wedding business is booming and as soon as you mention the word ‘wedding’ prices get jacked up for everything – tents, hair, makeup, linens, etc. This idea really bothered me, so I tried to avoid all of it as much much as possible. I’m not going to lie, it was very hard to do, and I sometimes got caught up in the fanfare, but thankfully Chris was there to keep me grounded and on track.

Please describe the wedding and the approximate costs for each part of it. 

Chris – The wedding was on my parents’ property. We had a tent and some tables and chairs sent up for the 90 or so guests outside. The parents and siblings of the groom and bride provided a variety of dinner rolls and pulled pork while each guest brought salads, appetizers, vegetarian alternatives, desserts, more mains, and alcohol and mix. We supplied a keg of local Ottawa beer from Kichesippi where we now live, cases of beers from Wellington Brewery and Sleemans in Guelph where we both went to University, and cases of homemade wine bottled and labelled by the father of the groom. The music was a playlist played off the bride’s phone through a pair of speakers we rented. Since we asked our guests to provide a dish or alcohol for the potluck we requested that no one give us gifts. The bride’s close friend used to be a wedding photographer so she did the pictures for free.

  • Bride dress – $150
  • Groom Shirt/Pant/Flip-Flop combo – $100
  • Flowers – Free (Family friends’ garden)
  • Venue – Free (Parents allowed it on their property)
  • Food – Dessert cupcakes ($200)
  • Alcohol ($600)
  • Music – Speakers ($40)
  • Photographer – Free (Bride’s friend)
  • Officiant – $300 (Discounted-family friend)
  • Rentals – $1,500 (tent, dance floor, tables, chairs, cutlery, dishes, table clothes)
  • The cost of the entire wedding was $4,500. That includes every single little detail, including our Tim Hortons and Subway lunches and gas to drive from Ottawa to Hamilton for the wedding and back again.
 Now, describe the level of fun you and your guests had.
Chris – I think everyone had an incredible time. The food was amazing. Think of the best homemade dish you’ve ever had at a dinner party, and now multiply that by 90. Unfortunately, we were doing our photos while everyone ate so by the time we returned, a lot of the food was gone. It really was great to see all the important people in our lives together at the same time to celebrate us. The festivities carried on until about 3 am with no problems or issues. It really was a special feeling and everyone seemed to have a great time.
Melissa – I think everyone had a great time. They all commented on how good the food was. I loved not having a long ceremony, or bridesmaids, or speeches. It was relaxed, easy-going and care-free. I love dancing, so after dinner, I basically spent my entire night dancing with friends.
Please tell the story of the couple who said that they loved it, but they that they could not have a wedding like that themselves. What do you think of their viewpoint? What does it reveal about them? Society? You?
While everyone said they loved the wedding and really enjoyed themselves, it’s just not feasible for everyone. We were very fortunate that my folks live in a rural area with lots of land and space to accommodate a wedding. Sometimes, however, it’s not feasible because of a particular mentality. Friends of ours who work with big financial firms on Bay street in Toronto commented that they would love to have a wedding like ours but they never could because there is an unwritten expectation/competition from their firms to ‘outdo’ the previous company wedding. Other friends have commented that they enjoyed every bit of it but they could never do it because they have had a vision their whole lives of what their wedding day is supposed to be like and a backyard scene is just not what they envisioned.
I think everyone has their own experiences and personalities that manifest themselves in the way they choose for their wedding to play out. I don’t think there is a right or wrong way to do a wedding. It’s just whatever works best for the people getting married. I would just hope that the people getting married are in fact doing what is best for them. We did face some pressure from our families to maintain certain traditional customs but they didn’t resonate with us and so our family graciously supported our wishes. We’ve never had dreams of a wedding day or viewed it as the single most important symbol of our relationship. We had been together for nearly five years by the time we got married and were, and are, totally committed to and comfortable with each other. Why spend $20,000 for one day when we loved each other the day before the wedding, the day after the wedding, and today?
Going forward as a couple, what do you plan for your financial future?
We have a nice, clean, comfortable two bedroom apartment in Sandy Hill and plan to stay there for the foreseeable future. We continue to save for a down payment on a home but are in no rush to make any moves soon. We are paying off our car as fast as we can and enjoy the responsibility-free living that comes with renting.

If you are married, did frugality have any part of your big day? If you are not yet married, do you hope some day to have a lavish wedding? A badass wedding? A wedding with fruclassity? Your comments are welcome.

16 comments on “Badassity and Wedding Bells

  1. Our wedding was $4400 less than theirs. Having said that, theirs sounded $4400 nicer! 😛

    Great interview, Ruth! Congratulations Chris & Melissa! It sounds like you guys are on the same page financially. That’s going to help so much over the years. 🙂

    1. Yes, we considered doing it for $4400 less as well but when my folks offered their backyard we decided to throw the party instead. Having similar views on finances has made it much easier for us when it comes to major purchases and holidays/birthdays!

  2. Hi Nicole, I would just encourage you to do what works best for you. Though a giant party is a tonne of fun!

  3. You are photogenic, frugal, and fun?
    How much do you want me to hate you?
    My wedding was ridiculously expensive! AND NO, I’M NOT DEFENSIVE ABOUT IT!
    I have never regretted my pricey wedding because it was one of the happiest days of my life and it was a BLAST, but I have come to realize that I wouldn’t do it that way again. (Hopefully I won’t have to do it again!)
    I admire people who hold to their values but don’t let it slow them down. Sounds like you had a great wedding and I hope that your story inspires others. Who knew frugality could be so badass?

    1. Thanks Jesse. The fact that your wedding was one of the happiest days of your life and you had a blast is what is most important!

  4. My wife and I spent about $5000 on our wedding. We had the same approach as Chris with some differences due to logistics and we had more guests. I really cannot understand the $50,000 wedding.

  5. Chris —I totally admire your frugality. Inspiring….
    However—-it all changes man when you have kids
    Sorry have to throw that out there!!!!

    1. For sure, I agree with you Nadia. Good thing our children would already have older cousins ready to pass off hand-me-down toys, clothes, and sports equipment!

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