Big-Wedding Regrets
October 4, 2004 10:05 PM   Subscribe

Do you regret having spent all that money and energy on your big, splash-out wedding? [MI]

My long-term partner and I are contemplating a wedding, and the issue comes up repeatedly: if we're going to have a wedding, is it worth the tens of thousands it takes to have a blowout?

This thread isn't for you to try to guess what is right for us, but to reflect on how you see in hindsight your big (or small) wedding. Was it worth the money? Do you wish you had just eloped? What would you do differently?
posted by squirrel to Society & Culture (37 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I had a very small wedding, under 5000. It may not be the smallest one you will hear about, but it was pretty small in light of the other ones we ent to that same year (30K and up). Being of Irish anscestry, I made sure we spent the money on good food, and good and copious drink. I cut on things like the dress (90), invitations (made myself so around 30), favors (none), centerpieces (a fall- colored napkin and tea lights with some leaf garland), flowers (party-only, 50), a hall rented on Sunday (1/2 price), a local jazz 4 piece (600), a wedding tiramisu that was a gift...and so on.
After 3 years (this Thursday, in fact!) I still hear how much people liked it and am asked for advice on 'how I did it so much on the cheap'.
The extra added bonus of the small and inexpensive wedding is that I got to really spend time with all of the guests, they all got to talk to one another, it took a small amount of time to plan, and I did not stress or worry about the event at all. I just didn't care, as the lack of worries about money and low commitment to planning-time helped enormously.
The one thing I would have done differently was remember to buy the stash of whisky.
posted by oflinkey at 10:32 PM on October 4, 2004

No, because we didn't. But I knew I/we would have regretted it if we'd spent a ridiculous amount of money on a single day, which is why we didn't. You can have a tasteful, romantic, meaningful and fun wedding without spending the downpayment on a house. We had a small wedding (with just family and close friends) and a big, fun, pretty casual party (with everyone we wanted to share it with) in a pub, with pool tables and good conversation and lots of great food, and people had a great time, which is also exactly what we wanted (we tried to think of the things we hated about other people's weddings, and avoid them) - we wanted people to say "I had so much fun at your wedding", not wonder how long they had to stay for politeness' sake while dying of boredom. There was no rigid formality (my husband and I both hate that sort of shit), there was no long, drawn-out ceremony and there was absolutely no speechifyin' (other than my dad saying a few lovely words) or organized dancing. When I have been to weddings where people spent a fortune, no matter how lovely it is I always think about how much better that money could have been spent. I was actively more interested in being married than getting married, and the wedding itself was relatively unimportant to me (what it symbolized was very important). Others MMV, I know, and I spent most of the time leading up to the wedding just wishing it was done already, but this was certainly the right way for us to do things - all the important bases were covered, we had a great time, we didn't spend a fortune and we're very happily married.
posted by biscotti at 10:32 PM on October 4, 2004

Spend it where it counts. For one thing, don't blow it all in order to prove something: like the fact that you're well-off, stylish, super-happy, whatever. I know you wouldn't do that, but lots of folks do.

You won't be doing this twice, so overspend a little, at least. But if you're going to outlay money, spend it on things people will really enjoy, like food, some live music, etc. Things that will make it a good time are worth the expense.

Going all-out on flowers, photography, and location can be a waste. Paradoxically, the more perfect the setting, the less people may remember. If you've seen one grand/glorious white wedding on a clifftop, you've seen them all. Invitations are another good example. Fancy embossed paper and frilly script is so typical that it's hardly worth the expense. Do something more interesting and personal, or go cheap. There's no need to break yourself trying to reproduce a stereotype.

Also consider how much your wedding will cost the people who attend it. Location and travel are the main thing to consider, plus accommodations. A wedding on the beach in Hawaii might be totally sweet, but who would you be excluding by doing it? Would you rather have more people there, or some special location? It's a balance.

Don't skimp on the bar. You hear me, squirrel? Don't. Skimp. On. The. Bar. I mean it! Dry weddings are shit. Shit! And pay-at-the-bar weddings are shit too! Shit, I say!

/voice of no personal experience
posted by scarabic at 11:02 PM on October 4, 2004 [2 favorites]

As I get older, I am glad that I managed to invite all the people who were important to me, despite having a very small inexpensive wedding (under $2500, and about 25 people). I am also glad that I got to spend time with all of the guests, and, with the proper advanced planning, no one was stressed. If all other factors are equal, I would go with the small personally planned wedding.

Don't. Skimp. On. The. Bar.

on preview, scarabic is absolutely right, weddings require social lubrication to work correctly.
posted by milovoo at 11:08 PM on October 4, 2004

One thing I'm seeing more and more of is very small, private weddings, just the minister/JP/whatever, and some very close friends and family as witnesses...

...followed by a party for everybody you know the next day. It's logistically a whole lot simpler and a lot more fun for you -- you get an intimate wedding where you can focus on each other rather than managing this huge event and stressing yourselves out, then when the party comes you can just have fun along with everybody else. Highly recommended if your families will let you get away with it.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:20 PM on October 4, 2004 [1 favorite]

I had a big blowout wedding, almost like something out of a movie. Saturday night, a beautiful late-summer evening, in a hotel on Central Park South in Manhattan. We had a 12-piece band, a harp during the ceremony, a jazz combo over cocktails, a sushi bar, a sumptuous three-course meal, way more flowers than most men ever consider reasonable, you name it.

And it was more than worth it. My wife had the wedding she'd always dreamed of having, and I had a fantastic time with her. It was a magical night, as a wedding should be, and there's no price tag to put on a lifetime of recalling that magic. We knew we had it good, and we showed it: many people commented afterward how googly-eyed happy we looked at our wedding, and the surroundings only augmented those emotions.

The memories, photographs and stories from our wedding paint a vivid picture of the day of our marriage. Decades from now, my wife and I will still cherish those memories, as will all of our friends and relatives who joined in the festivities. I wouldn't change a thing.
posted by werty at 11:42 PM on October 4, 2004

As my partner is Australian and I'm American, it would take a lottery win for us to be able to afford any kind of joint family ceremony. That's why we're having the "Anti-Wedding." In six weeks we're flyin' to Vegas to get married by Elvis. Nobody else, just us. Everybody can watch (live!) on the Internet, and nobody feels left out. Then we'll spend all the money we saved on big-ass parties in the US and Oz. I'd feel awful about doing it any other way.
posted by web-goddess at 12:58 AM on October 5, 2004

My husband and I had a small wedding with only our dearest friends and family (from one continent, anyway - same problem as web-goddess) in a beautiful spot... And it was great. However, we only even did that much because my sister insisted on putting it together for us, and promised that we didn't have to do anything but come up with the guest list. We were just going to do a sign-the-papers-at-city-hall type thing. In fact, we may never have even bothered to do the paperwork at all, if it weren't for immigration considerations; we had already been living together for seven years before we were married in "the eyes of the law". Which may all sound terribly unromantic, but I'm just frankly bored by every single detail that goes into something like a formal wedding, and organizing one would have been agonizing for me. (I'm just all about the luuurve, baybee!)
posted by taz at 1:15 AM on October 5, 2004

My sister did the wedding/holiday in Vegas thing and had a great time. We 're not close to extended family and she just thought it would a be a huge waste of money to feed a bunch of people she had no real interest in.
posted by biffa at 3:07 AM on October 5, 2004

my wife and I went to the JP. just the two of us, his office staff were our witnesses. I wouldn't do it any other way and neither of us have any regrets about it. Total cost; $20 "gift" to the JP.
posted by busboy789 at 3:34 AM on October 5, 2004

Our 50 dollar wedding-on-a-beach in front of 7 people was infinitely more fun than a huge, expensive festival involving marquees and people you didn't want to invite but felt obliged to. Big ones may be great if you love excess, but the ones I've been to have been pretty stressful for the organisers - the married couples have generally been too worried about everyone else enjoying the day (and avoiding family feuds) to realise that they should have been having fun themselves.

But, horses for courses, as they say.
posted by nylon at 3:43 AM on October 5, 2004

My husband was the one who wanted a big wedding, not me, but looking back it was worth it.

Yeah, he likes chick flicks, too.
posted by konolia at 4:19 AM on October 5, 2004

I had a courthouse wedding in 1997. 15 minutes, in and out. Catered dinner at my parents house. Maybe 25 people there. I only got to invite 3 'approved' friends. The rest were relatives. We did this as efficiently and cheaply as possible because no one really gave a shit that we were getting married.

Including us. We divorced 2 years later.

Last year I was dumped by someone who HAD TO HAVE a big blowout wedding in the family Catholic church. I argued forever on how it didn't have to be an Andrew Lloyd Webber production number. I lost.

Right now The Poet and I are contemplating getting legally married sometime in the future and not telling anyone. Basically just getting the contract law out of the way when the finances etc. are good. We are, however, considering a ceremony of some sort sooner than that, hence my previous question about a nonlegal event like that. I think the parties involved having complete control over the situation is always going to be better off, no matter how much money is spent.
posted by pieoverdone at 5:44 AM on October 5, 2004

Another vote for the small wedding. In the run up to our wedding I was disgusted - I mean, almost physically ill - every time I looked through one of the foot-thick wedding magazines. We started calling it the Wedding-Industrial Complex. Pretty much everything you read is to get you to feel guilty if you're not spending the big bucks on the "dream wedding". It's bullshit.

I do have to disagree with scarabic on one point though, big or small the last place to skimp is on the photographer. Don't just rely on disposable cameras or have an aspiring photographer friend do it for you. It's 110% worth it to hire a professional.
posted by ssmith at 5:48 AM on October 5, 2004

We spent about $10,000, which was a lot for us at the time but still a pretty small wedding. Maybe 90 guests. We skipped things like the limo (reception and ceremomy were in walking distance from each other) and videographer (everyone has a friend who likes to take videos anyway and nobody watches their wedding video more than once.) Some of my wife's chorus friends sang during the ceremony. We made our own invitations out of birchbark, which we gathered on various hiking trips that we were doing anyway. The invitations were better than anything I've ever seen and everyone commented on them.

There were many times during the planning where eloping looked like a better option. In addition to the money spent, the stress of planning a wedding is worse than having a baby and buying a house combined. Leading up to the wedding I didn't think it would be worth it all.

But it was. The day was perfect, it was more fun than I've ever had. Everything went smoothly and the things we spent extra money on (mostly food) really counted, while nobody missed the things we left out. It was seven years ago yesterday and I have nothing but good memories. That $10,000 might have let us buy a house a bit sooner, but then we wouldn't be in the hosue we're in now, which is perfect for us.

No regrets here.
posted by bondcliff at 5:49 AM on October 5, 2004 [1 favorite]

We were so happy to have done our wedding on the cheap ($2000 including rings and a Cozumel honeymoon, in 1989). We had 3 witnesses, a lovely ceremony at the Existentialist Congregation of Atlanta, and my brother took us out to dinner afterwards. The point is, that was all we could afford back then, and we're not big believers in spending money we don't have...

Whenever we've gone to big blow-out weddings, there's always a moment that we look at each other and say simultaneously, "I'm glad we did our wedding our way!"
posted by jpburns at 5:57 AM on October 5, 2004

Our 50 dollar wedding-on-a-beach in front of 7 people was infinitely more fun than a huge, expensive festival involving marquees and people you didn't want to invite but felt obliged to.

I held back last night, but I'll say it now: Metafilter is a very liberal and opinionated place, and this thread was destined from the start to feature people that think big fancy weddings are a waste. That's why I posted my experience. "Infinitely more fun" is a matter of opinion--I personally love that so many people were able to celebrate with us.

Whenever we've gone to big blow-out weddings, there's always a moment that we look at each other and say simultaneously, "I'm glad we did our wedding our way!"

Which, by the way, is exactly what my wife and I say, too.
posted by werty at 6:29 AM on October 5, 2004

Absoultely not worth it.
In retrospect, we should have done it in a park with 30 people. Hire a band instead of a DJ. The 15k we spent went so fast. When its your own wedding, everything is rushed, and you never get to see where it is all spent. I didn't even get to eat. Spend the money on a honeymoon instead.
posted by quibx at 6:32 AM on October 5, 2004

A guest's perspective: I'm not married, but I've certainly been to my fair share of weddings. Every small/homegrown wedding I've been to has been a blast, because everyone tends to be relaxed and having a good time and you actually get to spend time with the couple.

Bigger weddings have been a mixed bag. I had a great time at my best friends' wedding (I was Best Man, so my judgment may be clouded), which was a fairly large affair at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden- one thing that saved them a lot of money was getting a DJ instead of a band, with the added bonus that they gave them a lot of music to play, which was awesome. I've also felt like an audience member at someone else's show at many weddings.

Things I would never skimp on: booze, food, pictures (ssmith is so right- it's the permanent record, so make it count).
posted by mkultra at 6:49 AM on October 5, 2004

Ours was medium-ish, I suppose ($10 or 15k in Boston) and a fantastic day. To do it over again I might even put a few more dollars toward one thing or another, but we have absolutely no regrets, and piles of wonderful memories.

But, unless you're in a situation where rubbing two nickels together is a chore, don't let a wedding be about money (Ha! Easier said... blah blah blah...).

Decide on what you both want. If what you want is lavish and expensive, you'll have no regrets spending the money on lavish and expensive. If you both are gravitating toward the barefoot beach wedding, you'll have no regrets spending pocket change on the bar and a new pair of Tevas. If each of you is leaning a different way, figure out the compromises, then figure out the cost. Trust me, in 10 years you won't be fretting because you spent an extra thousand for the photographer you really liked...
posted by jalexei at 6:58 AM on October 5, 2004 [1 favorite]

10 minutes in the courthouse, $35 for the license and JP's time. 2 guests for witnesses. Dinner and a movie that evening. 5 years later, very happy.
posted by normy at 7:30 AM on October 5, 2004

Probably wouldn't do anything differently, but like many people here, our wedding was not conventional. My wife and I eloped, but we made it special, took a trip to New Orleans and got married by the JP down there.

Then, months later, we had a party, we invited the people we wanted to, not who we felt obliged to. The party was big (for us) about 90 people and probably cost 10k in the end. But we had a total blast, here's what we did- rented a bed and breakfast for the weekend- had the party on the premises, and after the big party there was room in the bed and breakfast for 4 couples + us. The other couples were good friends of ours and we were able to chill out after the party have a great time.

One thing we did is hired a photographer for 6 hours who specialized in candid photos, none of the posed stuff- just someone with an eye for details. The photos were great and we revisit them often.( Just make sure you get someone who will give you the negatives so you don't get screwed with outrageous reprint charges)
posted by jeremias at 7:46 AM on October 5, 2004

Just be sure to have fun. The more you spend the more you're going to stress out that it isn't perfect.
posted by trbrts at 8:18 AM on October 5, 2004

Going all-out on flowers, photography, and location can be a waste.

My experience is the opposite.

We had a small but very beautiful wedding. Things we spent most of our budget on: Flowers, photography, alcohol, and location (Wayfarer's Chapel, California.)

Things we made: Invitations, food, wedding dress (although I have to admit he was a professional chef and his mother a professional seamstress.)

We held the reception in my mother's backyard with lots of fairy lights, candles floating in the pool and a long buffet table weighed down with food and flowers. Oddly enough people drank mostly champagne so the left over gallon jugs of good quality hard liquor made a nice house warming present and my brother and his friends had a keg party the next day.

I don't love the man anymore but I have lots of good memories of that under- $3000.00 wedding.

I'm getting married again at New Years. We are planning a civil ceremony to be followed the next day with a reception at our house. Lots of food, alcohol and flowers.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:34 AM on October 5, 2004

My wife and I spent about 15.000, which is probably the best 15,000 we ever spent.

In terms of the amount of people, flowers, etc, it was a small wedding. We spent the money on things important to us, and some of those things were not cheap.

We wanted to get married in new orleans, and the only church we wanted to get married in was the st louis cathedral in jackson square. We wanted to stay in the hotel across the street, and have the reception at murials which is in a historical old building with a balcony facing jackson square.

We wanted great new orleans food, a full bar, and a fantastic new orleans band to play new orleans classics.

3 years later, at reunions, funerals, and other weddings, people still talk about our wedding. People who came from far away to new orleans made it a vacation for themselves, and we often hear people say they had the time of their lives. I know it was for us.

Not saying this to pat ourselves on the back, but to point out that the amount of money you spend is not as important as why you spent it. Someone said earlier that a big wedding is fine if you like excess, which is nonsense.

We don't like excess, we like small and intimate, and that's what we got. We invited who we wanted and got the wedding we wanted, and the memories for the rest of our life.

So when people compare it to a house downpayment, well, we will probably buy several houses, but have hopefully one wedding.

People should have exactly what they want, a wedding on the beach with two witnesses, or a blow out in central park, and neither mean any more than the other, neither is more pure, and neither means the couple will stay together.

It's just personal taste. Long story short, we don't regret it. The only regret for us is we can't do it again.
posted by justgary at 9:38 AM on October 5, 2004 [1 favorite]

We had a 70 person wedding in August and we are very, very happy with how we spent our money. I think the key is to figure out what is important to you. To us, the most important thing was to spend time with our family and friends, so that's where we spent our money: we had an all-day wedding and then hosted a brunch the next day for everyone who stayed over (which was over half the guests). We also paid for plane tickets and hotel room for the family members who couldn't otherwise afford to come.

We put a lot of work into making it everything we wanted at an affordable price, including making our own invites and wedding favors. We kept the flowers simple and the food informal. The total for all of this was $14K and we wouldn't have done it any other way. We had a blast!
posted by widdershins at 9:42 AM on October 5, 2004

My wife had the wedding she'd always dreamed of having

My heart is warmed by the story of werty's happiness, but throughout most of it, it's not really clear that the opulence of the event was key to that happiness. Sounds like good family, good memories, and a good time had by all were the key. a 12-piece band doesn't hurt, but it can't compare to the human elements in the occasion.

Still, as the above line suggests, if you've been expecting an opulent spread your whole life, you're going to be disappointed if you don't get one. I think we had a thread a while back about someone's fiancee not getting a big enough ring. If you're marrying someone to whom these things mean a great deal, then they'll be well enjoyed and much appreciated. They won't go to waste. It's just a question of whether opulence is important to you.

How can you regret your wedding, anyway? I can't imagine someone saying "Yeah, we coulda gone with a DJ instead of the jazz quartet, it woulda saved us $500." If the marriage breaks up, obviously you'll feel like a fool for spending lots of money, but again, the opulence of the wedding isn't the key there, it's the regret over the marriage itself breaking up.

Price tag is pretty much personal preference. Bear in mind that even if you don't *regret* spending a ton, you will still be *poorer* for it. Where people get into trouble is spending more than they really want to, because they feel it's expected. Perhaps someone's father wants to "show they have it good" financially or something. The size/opulence of a wedding is, traditionally, a declaration of class membership. Or perhaps someone has an insecurity complex about being the second wife, and needs to be reassured. These are reasons why someone would overspend.

Knowing what I know about the couple in question here, none of this will be an issue.
posted by scarabic at 11:03 AM on October 5, 2004 [1 favorite]

I'm American, he's Canadian. We "had" to get married in order to be able to live together. We were told that on Monday and were married on Saturday. Just we (us?) two, two friends as witnesses and the wedding commissioner. I see it more as a government contract than anything.

Regrets? Yes and no. No, because we could live together. Yes, because I'd like to do it for "real", maybe for our ten year anniversary (#4 is in December). We'll keep it simple and fairly inexpensive - approximately 50 friends and family. No blow out for us, we're too low key for that.
posted by deborah at 11:37 AM on October 5, 2004

My heart is warmed by the story of werty's happiness, but throughout most of it, it's not really clear that the opulence of the event was key to that happiness.

Scarabic simplifies the argument in reverse. We had a very warm, loving wedding, without which the opulence would have been wasted, to be sure. But the expense of it all--big band! Central Park! Saturday night!--certainly added to the magic. We nearly had our wedding at a catering hall in Jersey, and while we would have had a fine and loving time there, it would not have been the same event by any stretch.

Bear in mind that even if you don't *regret* spending a ton, you will still be *poorer* for it. Where people get into trouble is spending more than they really want to, because they feel it's expected.

Now this I agree with. Do what will make you both happy, both short- and long-term. (But then, you weren't looking for advice.)
posted by werty at 12:02 PM on October 5, 2004

We went with a few close friends and relatives to City Hall (technically the Municipal Building, for my fellow New Yorkers), followed by a walk through Tribeca, an unscheduled stop at a great beer garden, followed by dinner at a nice but not fancy French restaurant; our official wedding picture shows us grinning like fools beneath a large green dinosaur in a sidewalk display. Cost: a few hundred bucks; memories: priceless.

On the other hand, the next best wedding I've been at was a big catered affair with a swing band and booze flowing like water. They spent a bundle and didn't regret a penny. So do what's right for you.
posted by languagehat at 12:32 PM on October 5, 2004

I've been to big weddings and had a blast - my sister and brother in law spent $30 k on theirs. However, my husband and I were married at home by a Universal Life Church minister in a real 1970's style hippie wedding. Our friends and our 10-month-old son were in attendance, but no other family, since both of ours were mad at us for living together. One friend, a horticulturist by trade, brought armloads of roses he grew, two other friends made our wedding cake but forgot to put in the eggs, so another friend went to Albertson's and bought a cake there and had them write "Happy Wedding" on it. I wore the dress my husband had bought for me after the birth of our child. We got a set of 6 glasses as our only wedding gift. I wouldn't change a thing and we are still married.
posted by Lynsey at 3:24 PM on October 5, 2004

If there's a lesson here it's don't skimp on the things that are important to you, but don't waste money impressing others. For those that want and can afford a big wedding, more power to them; those who prefer something smaller and more intimate should not let themselves be railroaded into things (and expenses) they don't want.

One of the problems I see with big weddings is that you invite everybody you can think of so that they can share the day with you, but then of course you don't actually spend more than about 30 seconds with any individual guest. There are ways around this problem (usually involving lots of organization and spreading things out over a few days), and if enough of the guests know each other they will have fun whether or not they spend time with you, but it is a point worth bearing in mind.

As many comments here have shown, there are creative or individual ways of saving money or getting the result you want by doing things your own way rather than just following the canned "everybody does it that way" script. Trust your own judgement.

For example we felt that photographers are a mixed blessing: if they are any good, they take much better pictures than you get going the disposable camera route, but they often take up a lot of time and attention that cannot be spent enjoying the occasion, and sometimes they leap about during the ceremony being a distraction. Our solution was to have good studio portraits done that morning (with the dress, flowers, etc.) then do everything else with guests taking pictures. It worked very well for us. On the other hand my brother tried to do the same but hated the studio pictures -- of course he may well have hated any pictures the same guy took on location, so that doesn't really prove too much. He did get left with some decent, though I say it myself, pictures I took (I knew he wanted pictures, so I was bothering), so in the end he was not unhappy with the way things turned out.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 3:29 PM on October 5, 2004

I think we're still paying for ours. No regrets, but I wish some more of my friends would have followed through on their RSVPs -- I missed them and felt even worse about the people I didn't invite but should've.
posted by britain at 3:47 PM on October 5, 2004

Don't know if anyone is still here, but, squirrel, for the love of all that is sacred, don't get a cheap photographer. Go with no professional shots, or get a good one. We had a smallish wedding and were talked into some bozo for 500 bucks (CAD) and now we have a 500 dollar box that we never look at. He cut the maid of honour in half in the shot of my wife signing the registry!

Apart from that, I agree that you don't need to spend tons to have a great night!
posted by Richat at 8:07 PM on October 5, 2004

We had a very warm, loving wedding, without which the opulence would have been wasted, to be sure.

Ah. To simplify the argument in reverse again, the opulence would have gone to waste without the warmth and love, but the warmth and love would have endured the loss of the opulence intact, no doubt. That's what I meant to say. Look at how squirrel's question is phrased. Do you regret the expense? Not: do you wish, looking back, you'd spent more? I bet more folks overspend and regret it than wish, later on, they'd loosened the purse further.

Not trying to get at you or anything, werty. Thanks for sharing your experience. It sounds like a pretty sweet affair. I'd personally rather overshoot a bit than worry about the money, but that's my personal dread of all thrift.
posted by scarabic at 9:06 PM on October 5, 2004

On a side note, are you really in Vietnam? If so, get your party outfits made there! A few times that I had something made in Vietnam (particularly in Hoi An) I was sharing a tailor with various brides-to-be. Many of them were European and had figured out that flying to Vietnam to have their wedding dress made (and usually the rough cuts of their bridesmaids dresses) would be an infinitely better deal than having one made in their respective countries of origin. This equation, of course, was for dresses that involved lots of handsewn additions and designs -- but if you're already there, definitely have either formal or casual party clothes made for the occasion (if there is, in fact, an occasion in the works!).
posted by fionab at 10:41 PM on October 5, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks for everyone who posted their experiences to this thread. Wonderful stories and a few cautionary tales. Bar. Don't. Skimp. Check! Also, fionab, yeah, we're in Hanoi. We've flown down to Hoi An to get suits and shirts and outfits before. We have some good tailors here in the city now, and you're right about having things tailor-made here: it's a great value... and not just for formal clothes. Thanks again!
posted by squirrel at 8:00 PM on October 6, 2004

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