Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Brides Who've Been There: 10 Ways to Stretch Your Wedding Budget


I'm taking a blogging break to soak up our sweet Lily Grace (and, let's be honest, to keep my head above water through this beautiful newborn chaos), so I asked some of my married friends to contribute in my absence.  Over the next few weeks, they'll be taking over to chat about wedding planning, bridal beauty and style, and sharing stories about their newlywed days. 



For today, I asked them to share their best money-saving tips when it comes to wedding planning:

This is all my husband's amazing efforts: I was still in medical school when we got married. He was already working. He saved his money--our future money--and paid for everything. Our parents helped some, but most expenses were paid for by my husband. We do not have any debt from our wedding day. I am so proud of him. - Sarah

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Sarah and her husband Derrick
We had our wedding during the day instead of in the evening.  Venues charge a lot less for daytime receptions!  And don't listen to anyone who tells you people won't have as much fun during the day.  Everyone danced and had a fantastic time at our reception, and it was even more joyful because all the children could participate!  Also, choose a DJ instead of a band and wine and beer instead of cocktails. - Sylvia

Our whole wedding cost about $2500, including the dress.  We only bought a couple of arrangements for the altar and bouquets.  We didn't hire anyone at all for anything--one friend took pictures, another sang for us, and the organist was included in the church stipend.  A few friends and I made the cake, and our families made the food!  We had about 25 guests for lunch.  The reception Hall was free, thanks to my husband's involvement with the Knights of Columbus, and we didn't decorate much.  Now.  Some of those things we chose because we needed to budget, and some for other personal reasons, and I wouldn't recommend all of them.  But I do think it's good to keep it simple; I don't think the style of a wedding reception should be way beyond the means that your family otherwise lives and entertains. - Rachel

The two biggest expenses we saved on were the wedding party's attire and the catering and alcohol bills.  Instead of looking for bridesmaids dresses at wedding stores, I searched online and bought dresses from Shabby Apple.  Because we bulk-ordered for 6 bridesmaids, they gave us a discount, free shipping, returns, and exchanges, and the cost of each dress was way less that it would have been at a place like David's Bridal.  So I definitely recommend looking around for options besides wedding stores--they mark up the price because they know that's where you'll look!  We bought the groomsman suits at J.C. Penney instead of renting tuxes. We also chose a reception venue where we could provide our own catering or alcohol, so we bought our own alcohol, had some friends run the bar, and chose a catering package from a local grocery store--still amazing without shelling out a lot for a fancy package! - Hannah

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Hannah and her hubs, David
We made the invitations, programs, centerpieces, table numbers, and name cards ourselves.  Instead of hiring a DJ, we brought a laptop with a dance playlist and had a good friend play DJ.  And I got my dress at a wedding consignment shop for $300! - Anna

We both come from huge families, so there was really no getting around an expensive wedding. The best way (by far) to cut down on wedding expenses is to cut down on guests. And we just weren't willing to do that.  So we saved money where we could -- we ordered our invitations online, we went with the most affordable florist we could find, we chose family friends for our photographer and DJ. We used honey from my husband's beehives for our wedding favors. But we just sucked it up regarding catering costs, and went with a caterer who provided everything, down to the table linens, so we wouldn't have to worry about getting hit with a million little surprises. - Julie 

We didn't have flowers.  It was late December, so anything real would have been not native (aka more expensive), and I really just don't think "flowers" when I think "winter."  Instead of flower bouquets, we had bead bouquets that my mom made by hand.  It was quite time consuming for her, but I'm glad we went that route, and (I think) they looked great.  - Lauren

First, shipping in bulk and looking for wholesale deals saved us tons of money on the little vases we used as escort cards for each guest and on the favor frames we gave each family. Second, I worked at a bridal store at the time, so I got an amazing discount on my dress. Third, print things yourself. I love graphic design and stationary so I had a great time designing programs, table numbers, escort cards, and menus. Some things I had printed at my trusted neighborhood print shop (like the programs because they were able to add the cardstock cover and staple them for me- timesaver!), and the rest I printed at home. Don't skimp on a paper cutter if you go this route because a bad one will make the job miserable. Fourth, I used Nashville Wraps to get bulk pricing on all the wrapping for the two favors we had. I STILL use the black and white polka dot wrapping paper we used for our favors because the roll I got was humongous. And last!  I ordered 50 less slices of cake than we thought we needed, but had the baker turn two small layers of the cake into fake layers. Yay styrofoam! It was still too much cake. I have never seen a shortage of cake at weddings. - Andi

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Andi's wedding cake, with fake foam layers!
Friends shared their talents and offered them as wedding gifts.  For example, my maid-of-honor's mother is an incredible seamstress, so she made all the bridesmaid dresses, the ring pillow, and the flower girl's dress.  That was my wedding gift from her.  A family friend was an excellent decorator, so she made all the flower arrangements and corsages as our wedding gift.  In high school, I worked for a sandwich shop and my old boss catered the whole wedding as my gift.  All the musicians were family friends or church members.  This really made our wedding feel very personal and special, because everyone gifted us by using their amazing talents.  - Amy 

We'd planned to do a wedding slideshow, and I got it done a couple days before the wedding and sent it to the DJ. He emailed me back to ask if we'd rented a projector for the slideshow. A projector? No, I hadn't even thought of that/ The church wouldn't let us use theirs, and on the Friday before a wedding, none of the rental places in town had a projector available. So my husband-to-be bought a projector at BestBuy. After the honeymoon, he took it back to BestBuy and honestly told the returns agent, "My wife said I spent too much money on this." - Bonnie


Your turn!  Leave your best wedding moneysaving tip in the comments!


4 comments:

  1. Those are great advices! My close friend is getting married soon with the girl he met here http://www.bridge-of-love.com/. I think I should tell him few ideas from your post)

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  3. This was such a great read & so helpful! Thank you for sharing your wisdom here, Thanks!!

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  4. I know this is a super old post but last year when my roommate got married instead of going to a florist for fancy arrangements she just went to a local flower shop and bought 20 dozen roses for like $400 and put them into bouquets herself with floral tape. And the leftover flowers they put in vases for the church alter.

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