Happy Bride: How I Dumped the Wedding Industry

Sarah Schacht
8 min readMay 29, 2016
An image of the groom and bride.

Anyone I’m working with on planning our wedding says the same thing, “You seem really calm about this.” They’re right. I am. But in the earliest stages of planning my wedding to my longtime boyfriend and now fiance, I was stressed. And it was all because I had a budget that was less than a third of the average American wedding and, unfortunately, I’d interacted with wedding industry.

I walked out in tears, an hour into a wedding show. My eyes welled up after talking with dozens of vendors, only to find their prices as steep as their condescension. $4,000 photographers, venues that bait-and-switched on pricing, several thousand dollar cakes, wedding boutiques that body-shamed and price-gouged, and a whole industry that seemed to enjoy making me feel like crap for being a middle-class, size 14 bride who, after years of wanting to get married but not being able to (thanks, USCIS database errors), was finally getting married. I almost convinced my fiance to elope, just to avoid plunging us into debt on a wedding. But that didn’t feel right. It wasn’t what we wanted. I wasn’t about to be bullied into financial burden or a wedding that didn’t honor our love or our families.

So, I dumped the wedding industrial complex. My wedding wasn’t the problem, the vendors and wedding venues were. Fortunately, I founded and ran conferences as a nonprofit executive director, creating big-scale, fun events on small scale budgets. So, I went back to who I was, not what people thought I should be as a bride. As a result, I’m saving us tons of money while taking joy in planning our wedding — all without going bridezilla.

Here’s how I’m building our wedding with apps, creativity, style, and a fierce adherence to budget. You can, too.

Everything is À la Carte

  • Decouple venue from everything else. Venue+catering=rip off. The venue will probably a compromise on food quality and quantity, since they’re probably upcharging on food to increase profitability and pay for staffing. We selected a nonprofit’s venue in Seattle, Center for Wooden Boats, because of it’s lovely venue on Lake Union but…

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Sarah Schacht

Decade+ in #opengov, civic tech, & open data innovation. Surfer. Accidental #FoodSafety advocate/data standard expert. Author. #MeToo