Hey friends, We often have brides emailing us looking to plan a budget friendly wedding and I just get so excited to think back onto that recent season we just embarked on and the beautiful ways the Lord provided for us as we planned a budget friendly wedding. I thought I could possibly share some ideas and tips we discovered throughout our engagement that helped us to concentrate on our marriage instead of our wedding budget. So, brides-to-be take a peak, and feel free to comment with any suggestions to add!
I was recently looking on what an average American bride pays for her wedding: $26,542 in 2012. That is pretty significant chunk of change right there. I also heard someone say "there is only one period that you spend irrationally and that is when you are planning your wedding". Vendors in the wedding industry have a sneaky opportunity to steal away crazy amounts of money. Do some research before breaking the bank for the big day and stay away from Bridal Shows. (You don't really have to stay away, we went to one and all the vendors were quite expensive but we got some good ideas from browsing around).
The first thing I would recommend for brides on a budget is to sit down with your man and make a list of the top three MOST important things for you on your wedding day. For example, ours were: photography, videography, and the venue. We then allowed ourselves to spend more money on those things versus others that didn't mean as much to us like the invitations or the catering.
Here are some practical tips we discovered as well...
1 - INVITATIONS & PROGRAMS
Save-the-Dates are not necessary. Now let me start by saying we DID have save-the-date cards because of a great deal we found. I recommend sending out post card save-the-dates to save a little money on postage. In addition, find a friend or a co-worker that can help design them. Zac designed everything for our wedding and it saved a ton!
Also! Don't feel pressured to have a specific type of wedding invitation - there does not HAVE to have two envelopes, a RSVP card, etc. Do what you want! We just had one card with a link to our wedding website to RSVP on (and we got a great response with that!). Lastly, look out for deals on online printing websites. We found Groupons for Vistaprint for $15 for $70 worth of printing...they are EVERYWHERE! And since it's an online website you can use Groupons from around the country. We printed our save-the-dates, invitations, and thank you cards all with those Groupons! Miracle - and saved us hundreds! If you can't find these - try printing programs at home or at Staples!
2 - THE DRESS
Now let me preface by saying - the dress is often an item that makes the top three and very understandably so! I mean, common - it's the DRESS! But if you are on a tight budget I have a few suggestions. First off there are quite a few rental stores within the DFW that are most likely the cheapest option. Here's what I did, look on retail stores such as JCREW/TheLimited/AnnTaylor that all have wedding lines! More often than not they have dresses on crazy sale marked down hundreds of dollars. I know it can be scary buying a dress online, but you can always return it! I got my dress online, had a good friend alter it just a tad, and loved it!...and it was under $100.
3 - THE FOOD
Most brides on a budget have already thought about this one. Drinks are out of the picture alongside full meals for the guests. It is much cheaper to get appetizers such as fruit, veggies, bread, meatballs, chicken skewers, etc. This way the guests can snack but you don't have to pay per guest. This one was the hardest for me to do. I feel as though weddings today have a certain form and structure to them, and this was the hardest to break. But it is true - we saved THOUSANDS of dollars and no guest threw their drink on us or left in desperation for food. They were very content with the heavy appetizers and the desserts, and we prepared them by putting it on the invitation & our wedding website. I have met some brides that did it themselves - I mean, cut the apples, made the punch, did the whole thing the day before - that does save you money, but my mom kindly denied me from doing that. You have enough on your plate (ha!) as the bride and if you can budget in a little for catering - it will only help!
Also - the Cake! We were SO in love with our desserts all made by a sweet sweet friend. So my suggestion with that is try to find a friend, or even a friend-of-a-friend that can help! Or if you want to go with a vendor, don't feel obligated to have the biggest cake or a groom's cake. You can buy cookies/cupcakes in bulk (COSTO or Sam's) or something a bit cheaper to add some flair!
4 - THE MUSIC
At the reception, we had a good friend of ours that is starting out as a DJ in the wedding world. (Let me know if you would like his contact info - he did a great job for a VERY reasonable price). He was amazing! If you are looking for music my biggest suggestion is to have a groomsmen or a close friend with an ipod of even a Spotify list! As long as the venue has speakers - you are good to go! All you need is music, no one cares about the flashy lights or the sweet mash-ups.
5 - THE FAVORS
Again, don't feel obligated to hand out favors. People are so excited to be at your wedding, they won't blink an eye if there aren't tiny bags of chocolate or almonds waiting for them. But if you would like to your guests to leave with a treat - there are many budget friendly options that surpass pre-made favors. You can buy bulk bags at websites such as save-on-crafts.com and fill them with candy or mints. We did chocolate covered espresso beans (since Zac loves coffee so much) and they worked out great! We bought the beans in bulk online and saved tons.
6 - THE FLOWERS
Flowers are really up to the couple! They are beautiful, but you can find cheaper decorations to replace expensive flowers. We chose to use more "filler" flowers such as small bouquets of baby's breath which is very cheap. We also bought our flowers from Tom Thumb who did our bouquets and corsages - and did an AWESOME job. Also COSTO or SAMS has an awesome floral department. I have heard a cute idea where the bridesmaids gather the night before the wedding and create each bouquet.
7 - THE DECORATIONS
Stay simple & borrow! That is my best suggestion. Zac and I had a "rustic" themed wedding with lots of burlap & lace accents. This antique feel made it very easy to go steal decoration items from our moms or go thrifting at the local antique mall or Goodwill. We got all our vases and glassware at Goodwill for pennies. The mix-match feel was something we were going for - but even if you aren't you can find great things in Grandma's house or at Thrift Town! Our goal on decorations was to have it look like us, so when our guests walked in they would say, "This is SO them". We added lots of personalized touches, such as chalkboards with messages and pictures of our families. As wedding photographers, we have seen it all - super modern to country themed weddings - do what you want! My suggestion is to hunt around before buying expensive decorations. Browse on Craigslist in your area for wedding decorations/supplies!
8 - THE AFTERMATH
Sell it back! One super helpful thing my mom did for us was listing items on sites such as Craigslist or OnceWed and sold our wedding decorations! We sold everything from centerpieces, to burlap runners, to cake slicers away - to brides, photographers, families, etc. She snapped a few pictures with her phone and within a week or two everything was GONE! It takes some effort but it helps you and the buyer out. It's an endless cycle!
That's all I got for now. Post ideas or comments below!
My advice for planning a wedding is to keep Christ at the center of it all. Cover the day in prayer. Ask for help & advice.
Have a marriage mindset, versus a wedding mindset - the wedding is just one day.