Planning your wedding is such a fun and exciting time in your life. When I got engaged I was ecstatic…I had been pinning for this for years and now it was a reality. There are some very exciting aspects of wedding planning like, choosing a venue, trying on dresses, cake tasting etc… however, the financial planning can be exhausting.
Weddings are expensive…like crazy expensive! My sister was planning her wedding the year before mine and I could not believe how much it cost to express your love, eat cake, and dance all in under 6 hours. I knew that we wouldn’t be able to afford an extravagant wedding but after 6 years together we were ready and were willing to sacrifice. To my surprise, we were able to plan our dream wedding and keep the whole thing under $10,000 and have the time of our lives. Here is how we did it…
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I did the majority of the wedding planning and put together myself. From my flowers, to decorating the day before, I did as much as I could on my own. You can totally get by without a wedding planner if you are willing and able to put in the time, read reviews, stay well organized, and have enough time to get every detail planned out. I planned my wedding in 12 months.
Time of Year
This is one of the most important factors in saving money on your wedding. We decided to have a winter wedding because it is the least popular season for weddings. For those of us who live in the north, winter is the off season for venues and venders. Our venue gave us 15% off of our total for having it during winter!!! That was a huge amount of savings for us! Also, the minimums were much lower during the winter. Winter makes for a beautiful wedding and it is unique. Added bonus: there are so many lovely long sleeved dresses for bride and bridesmaids! Our guest also commented on how nice it was to have something to look forward to in the winter months!
Choose a venue that has a lot included in the price. Our’s included plated dinner service, full bar, ceremony on site, large bridal suite with champagne, grooms suite, access to venue before the wedding to decorate, a pre-wedding tasting, a day-of wedding coordinator, full serving staff, a coat check, cocktail hour, tables and chairs, chair covers, and even a large amount of decorations. All of this was included in the price per person which was very reasonable. Make sure you see many venues and ask a lot of questions before deciding!
Every girl deserves her dream dress, but just like everything else in the wedding world they can be outrageous. I knew that I wanted to get a dress for a reasonable price so I stuck to chain retailers and online dress shops, however, their selections were poor and the quality wasn’t great. I ended up going to a local bridal salon and to my surprise found out that they offer last year’s styles for a discounted price. I don’t know about you, but I could care less, nor could I tell, if a dress was from this year or last, or even 5 for that matter! I was psyched about this! I ended up buying a designer Morilee gown for under $300!! Don’t give up on your dream dress just shop around for bridal salons with sales!
I cannot say enough about Lulus.com where I bought my bridesmaid dresses. They have beautiful and trendy styles for amazing prices. My bridesmaids paid $70 for their dresses and they all looked beautiful! They have a huge selection of colors and styles, an awesome return policy (I would know I changed my mind 3 times), and they even assign you a bridal consultant that keeps all your bridesmaid’s orders together.
The Black Tux
My husband and his groomsman rented their attire from, The Black Tux, an online delivery service that lets you customize and choose your whole outfit. It has an easy to use website and is a great price, much cheaper than local rentals. They also have an online measurement guide which was accurate for all of our groomsmen. Lastly, they make it super easy to return your rental when you are done.
Skip The Registry
By skipping the typical wedding registry we made back our entire venue costs and then some on our gifts of money! That was huge for us! We didn’t do a traditional wedding registry to register for home goods because 1. we had been living together for years and had bought our own items and 2. we wanted to get married and so it was more important to us to have our dream wedding and hopefully make it back in gifts.
Real flowers are quite expensive so this was one area we skipped and it saved us over $1000! I decided to make my flowers on my own. I bought all the floral supplies at Hobby Lobby and I put them together in one night! Since we wanted to skip the flowers, we decided to do non floral centerpieces which I also made from hobby lobby. We saved a ton of money and received many compliments on our flowers!
One way we saved a bunch of money on our cake was to have a small cake and cake balls. It was a few hundred dollars cheaper than a multi level cake. Many bakers offer cake balls, cake pops, or cupcakes which are easier to eat and save you a lot of money. We also skipped the cost of the anniversary top level of the cake. Instead we had a bottle of champagne from our wedding.
I bought the majority of my decorations and accessories from Hobby Lobby and Etsy. Hobby Lobby has a great selection of wedding items and make sure you buy during their 50% wedding decor sale which happens often! I also bought a ton of stuff for my wedding on Etsy like my guest book, bridal party gifts, table numbers, signs, and shawl. They have great prices and you can have your items customized to your date, names, etc.
Accessories at bridal salons are seriously over priced! I bought ALL of my accessories for my wedding for the same price I would have paid for jewelry alone at my bridal salon. I bought my jewelry from Kohls and it was lovely… no one was the wiser! I bought my shoes from Macy’s and my shawl was from Etsy.
This is one of the most important points to consider when trying to budget for your wedding. We decided to go with a small intimate wedding with 60 people. It was one of the best decisions we made because it was only our closest friends and family. Everyone knew everyone and we didn’t spend our whole evening walking from table to table. In fact, we made our thank you rounds in under 30 minutes! We had more time for dancing and enjoying our guest, and we received so many compliments on how fun and cozy our wedding was.
Forgo The Trends
There are many trends that can get expensive like photobooths. We instead did head-in-the-hole which was a lot of fun and saved us $400. We also skipped the personalized drink. Very few people order them and they charge you extra in your bar tab. We also went without the late night snack or candy table. We gave out shot glass/votives instead and saved a lot of money. A must have app for your guest to share their wedding photos with you is the WedSocial App from WeddingWire!
Areas to splurge
There are definitely some areas that I would set your focus on and be sure to budget enough for these areas.
- Photographer: I went with a budget friendly photographer and regretted it through the whole process. Most of my pictures are beautiful but he was bad with communicating, the prints were late, and some pictures were off center. He didn’t give directions and everyone was doing something different in my portraits ugh! Definitely splurge here!
2. DJ: I splurged on a DJ and was so glad I did! Everyone danced and they were great at directing the flow of things. I’ve been to many weddings where the DJ was unprofessional and it affects the whole night!
3. Ceremony Music: We chose to go with an acoustic guitarist for our ceremony instead of our DJ. It added such a lovely and personal touch to our ceremony and was definitely worth adding to our day.
4. Open Bar: People love and expect an open bar at weddings! I think it is probably more important than the food ha!
I hope these tips give you some insight into how you can save on your wedding and some areas where you can cut back. It is one of the most important times in your life so make it special and remember that special doesn’t have to mean expensive! Let me know some ways that you saved money while planning your dream wedding!