A wedding that costs next to nothing?

It’s not a pipe dream and no one knows that better than Rich and Lisbeth Hyde, and their daughter, Rachel Hyde Rice. The Hydes paid for the bulk of Rachel’s February 2013 wedding via barter through Kennesaw-based The Barter Company (www.barterco.com).

written by Nicole Price // photography by Dani Brown of It’s your Day Photography

Rich, owner of American Chimney, Gutter and Roofing, with offices in Bartow and Cobb counties, became a member of The Barter Company almost 20 years ago and uses it for many of his needs. Members can secure almost anything: plumbing services, vehicle maintenance, chimney and gutter cleaning by Rich, and — you guessed it — wedding vendors.

“Barter is smarter — that’s the slogan. It keeps cash in your pocket,” Rich said. “I probably do somewhere between $12,000 and $15,000 a year in barter.”

It was also an easy choice for Rachel, who didn’t want to break the bank.

“I’m very practical. I mean, I’m a romantic but I’m the oldest of six,” Rachel said.

Planning and paying for a wedding through barter may seem like a challenge, but according to Rich, it was beyond easy. He and his wife sat down with Rachel, gave her a budget and together they determined which services they could get through barter, and most importantly, whether she liked what was available.

Ultimately, they decided to go with the historic Marlow House in Marietta for the ceremony and have the reception at Copeland’s of New Orleans on Barrett Parkway in Kennesaw. They also used barter to secure a photographer, DJ, limo and a wedding night stay at the Claremont House Bed & Breakfast in Rome.

“It was near Valentine’s Day — I actually got married on the 15th — and it was winter time and cold so I was looking for a beautiful indoor setting that wouldn’t require a lot of decoration,” Rachel said. “That was something I was trying to save money on.”

“For me, it was like, ‘Okay, what do you want to spend your money on?’ People care about the reception and people in my family want to dance and have good music,” she said.

Copeland’s was a natural choice, given Rachel’s affinity for Cajun-Creole food and her family’s love of Copeland’s Sunday jazz brunch, a long-standing tradition.

“I was able to have a really yummy spread, all the stuff that I love,” Rachel said.

She also enjoyed two acts for the price of one — a barter-secured DJ on the restaurant’s patio and the jazz band already scheduled to perform.

Quality concerns might deter some brides and their families from using barter to pay for their wedding, but Rachel diminishes those fears.

“More than half of my wedding was barter but I didn’t have to sacrifice anything. My wedding looked a whole lot more expensive than it was. I love that,” Rachel said.

Additionally, they pulled the wedding together in a mere three weeks, a feat made easier with barter, Rachel said. Initially, she wanted a June wedding, but training loomed on the horizon for her and her husband, David, both members of the Georgia Army National Guard. They knew they wouldn’t have much time to spend together in the coming months, so they decided to push the date up.

“We just wanted to get married, so why wait?” Rachel said.

Paula Doricchi, a 10-year employee of The Barter Company did all the legwork of compiling the network’s list of wedding-related vendors, leaving Rachel just one task: choose.

Paula said the company has more than 2,500 clients who barter with each other, the majority of whom are in Georgia, with some in Florida. The company also networks with other barter companies to broaden clients’ options. Though barter is a centuries-old practice, today’s approach is a little different, she said.

“The difference between barter way back when and now is we’re a round robin system. Rich could do my gutters, get barter [dollars] from me, but he doesn’t have to ever spend it with me again. He could take that barter money and go to Copeland’s to eat,” Doricchi said.

Rich did that and more, feeding dozens of family members and friends and giving his daughter a wedding to remember.

“It really worked out perfectly,” he said.

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