Sunday, March 30, 2014

Cutting Costs: Wedding Edition

You just got engaged and are ready to dive into wedding planning. You've got a Pinterest board full of ideas to make your day perfect - but can you achieve that dream without breaking the bank? Here are some lessons I learned over the past year...

Before you start - have a vision.

This might sound a little cheesy, but before you even start the wedding planning process sit down with your groom and talk about what your vision for your wedding is. What do you want to highlight? What do you feel strongly about? Do you want something big and loud, or small and intimate? Not only will this help set the tone for your wedding planning, but it will also help you as a bride determine what is important to your groom (something that often gets lost), and will help you recognize what is important to you both, and thus where you want a larger portion of your spending to go.

In our case we chose 2 main goals - we wanted a celebration that reflected and centered around our faith and love for Christ and good food! We also decided we wanted to include as many friends and family as possible and we wanted a simple, yet elegant event. 

1. Have a budget and stick to it.

Money can be an awkward topic, especially when you are potentially dealing with multiple people contributing, but before you start planning figure out who is paying for what and what your overall budget is. Are your parents paying for it all? Are his parents contributing a lump sum or are they offering to pay for specific traditional groom items? Are you and your spouse-to-be covering the costs? The last thing you want to do is go out and put a deposit on an out-of-this-world reception venue that you can't afford, or spend what you later realize to be is 50% of your budget on flowers.

Once you know your budget - STICK TO IT. Don't fall victim to the little upgrades that are at every twist and turn. Remember that while going "just a little" over on a lot of little things can really add up. 

This is also where your prior "wedding vision" talk comes in handy. I mentioned before that Brandon and I wanted an elegant reception with good food. This meant that I put more of our budget towards the reception hall/food catagory and cut back on things like flowers, favors, extra decor, music, etc. It's all about prioritizing. You don't want to regret spending a large portion of your budget on something that really isn't that important to you.

2. Get married in the off-season

Reception halls and other vendors offer great discounts if you are willing to go with a non-traditional month or time for your wedding. January through March are typically considered the "off" months, but discounts are often available if you are willing to get married on a Friday night, Sunday, or really any other time other than Saturday afternoon/evening. 

This was one of our biggest assets in wedding planning! While there were several factors that contributed to us getting married in January (one of the primary ones being that we got engaged in April and really didn't want to wait a year to get married - 9 months was even too long in my opinion!), one of the biggest draws was that we would get a huge discount on our reception hall. Truthfully, we never would have been able to get married there during the on season - braving the cold was totally worth it! While we didn't have a ton of vendors that were able to offer discounts, we did have a huge selection of vendors to work with (since fewer weddings are happening in January), which allowed us to really do some extensive price comparisons and find some great deals.

3. Embrace your inner DIY

Some of my favorite elements of our wedding ended up being the cheapest. Pinterest is full of cute, crafty things you can do yourself to add personal touches to your wedding. Two of my favorite projects were a set of frames featuring some of our favorite love quotes/verses and our wedding favors.

The frames were a simple combination of garage sale frames and matting spray painted, and quotes we printed at a local print shop. Our church had a plethora of easels we were able to borrow to use as stands. The frames were great because we were actually able to move them and use them as decor around the reception hall as well.

The favors were my mom's homemade hot chocolate recipe (12 batches of it!) in clear party bags topped with a label I made and printed off at home and ribbon in our wedding colors. I think the total cost for these was something around 61 cents per favor!

I also made the escort cards, table numbers, our guest book, and various other small decorations.

4. Avoid the up costs

I'm petty sure anything with the word "wedding" in front of it costs more :) But seriously - be carefully not to allow yourself to get sucked down the up charge train....there is always more. For just a little more you can get fancier dishes, nicer chair covers, better uplighting, something personalized, etc. When you are dealing with a vendor, make sure you know what you are getting for your money up front.

Another suggestion is to look outside of the wedding industry for discounts - i.e. buy your bridesmaid dresses from a department store rather than a bridal store - the same goes for hair pieces and jewelry. Also, when looking to get your dress altered, be sure to check out the prices of other tailors in the area...don't just automatically go with the bridal shops seamstress (but be careful here, because if you take the dress out of the store, you are likely also giving up any protective coverage on the dress if something were to happen to it).

5. Shop used or borrow

The internet has opened up a plethora of essentially "thrift store" wedding shops. Keep in mind, many of the items being sold have only been used once or twice and are likely still in great condition. While I didn't buy anything second hand, I did do a LOT of borrowing from friends. From picture frames to votives, vases to my veil, I gladly accepted (and sought out) any offers from friends. 

Be sure to return the favor too! I have a friend whose granddaughter is getting married last month and I gladly passed on several items to makes the money you do end up spending on items a little less rough when you know something can get used more than once.

6. Seek out help from your friends and family

You likely have a wide variety of talented friends who would love to help out with your special day. We had friends and family help us out with videography, invitations, programs, music at the ceremony and reception, and decorating. Many gladly gave their services as a wedding gift, while others were able to offer a reduced rate. This was a big help and made our big day even more personal with all the friends and family that were involved along the way.

A friend who does graphic design helped us out with our program design. She lived out of state but sent us the layout and we had it printed and cut at a local print shop for a nominal fee.

My awesomely talented brothers helped us out with the music at the ceremony.

7. Remember the purpose of the day

Above all else, remember the purpose of the day. With all the hoopla that comes with wedding planning today it is easy to get caught up in the over priced magic of a wedding....but remember, a wedding is just the beginning. You can have your dream wedding without personalized cupcakes or a 10-piece band, but spending $5,000 on a dress won't guarantee a happy marriage. 

Keep things in perspective - and keep Christ at the center of it all.

Happy Wedding Planning!


  1. Love this post!! Definitely something I will come back and read when I will (God-willing!) be planning my own wedding someday. :-)

    xoxo A

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Nice post!! It sounds like you are gathering lots of different ideas in your blog about weddings. As per my knowledge Big Idea Weddings ( the biggest and the most loved wedding planning company of the Middle-East.

  4. I totally agree! We used a similar approach. I found it also helped to have a focus. All I really cared about was my dress and the cake, so the rest was just gravy. :)

    A friend made my veil as a wedding gift to us and that saved us money! We had other friends and family members who helped out in every area imaginable.

  5. I like th blog nice ides for free wedding planner iphone app to wedding vendors

  6. Nice post on Wedding planning. It is really a difficult task to plan a wedding event. A small mistake can spoil the big day. So I always suggest everyone to hire a good planner for the planning process. My wedding planner just provided a list of best event space Chicago and I would select one of these venues for my reception party.

  7. eToro is the #1 forex trading platform for novice and professional traders.