Wedding Planning on a Budget
It’s no secret that weddings can be expensive, but with a little creative thinking and some tried and true techniques you can have an elegant, magazine worthy wedding to fit any budget.
Simplify- Decide with your fiancé what’s important to the two of you and stick with it. Try not to let lots of other people override your priorities with their opinions. If you want to spend the majority of your budget on good food for your guests or flowers or dj or photographer then that’s your prerogative. You may even want to write out a list of most important to least important so you know where to cut when the budget gets tight. As you’re writing out the list, mark things that you could source from creative places (buying used, borrowed, etc.).
Buy Used- Don’t feel like everything has to be brand new. There are lots of facebook groups where brides buy and sell used wedding items. Items like bubbles/sparklers/biodegradable confetti for sendoffs, random ribbons, linens, even unused wedding gowns, bridesmaids dresses, and veils are all great things to buy used if they aren’t a top priority for you. Go hunt at antique stores and second hand shops for things like veils and jewelry (because have you SEEN how much brand new veils cost?!) Lots of decor pieces can be bought second hand. Grab a basket for the wedding programs for $1 at goodwill and you’re set ;)
Repurpose- Go through your own house and start making a list of things you already have that could be repurposed. Vase for your bouquet at the reception? You probably already have that (or a cute pitcher for it). Ring box? Cake plate? Look around.
Buy Smart- At the end of a season, hit up your craft stores and home decor spots. I’ve found some amazing neutral serving platters after Christmas at Hobby Lobby for $0.50 when they start practically giving their Christmas stock away. Or $1 velvet ribbon at Joanns after the holiday. Just because it’s the end of fall doesn’t mean you can’t find some great ribbon in neutrals for your spring wedding. Download all the store apps and find coupons online.
Borrow- It’s okay to ask close friends if you can borrow items. My recommendation is to make a list of things you’ll need (that aren’t breakable or consumables) and send it to the people you know may have an item or two on the list. The list could look like
small basket for cutlery at buffet table
4 chalkboards for signs at dessert table
little shelf for favors
small wooden table for sweetheart table
21 mismatched neutral colored lanterns for centerpieces
cake knife and server
. . .
After getting permission from a few friends, send the list to each of them and they can respond back with the numbers they can lend you. ( e.g. “yes I have #3, #8, and I have 3 lanterns for #5”) Use little pieces of masking tape with that person’s initials hidden on each item and keep a detailed written list when you receive things so you can quickly return everything after the wedding.
Enlist Friends- Your friends are a huge asset. Don’t overburden any one of them but do utilize their strengths. If you know one friend who has exceptional handwriting, ask them if they would consider addressing your invitations and writing out escort cards as their wedding gift to you, etc. (However, don’t ask your friends who have a business in something you’re doing for the favor!) If you are not hiring a wedding planner, gather a crew of friends to help you on the day before and day of the wedding setting up and decorating. Determine exactly how you want things before you get there. Take a photo of a place setting in the way you’d like it and delegate out to a responsible friend with a creative eye. Ask more friends than you think you’ll need. Be clear on what you want, be flexible with the end product, and be thankful for all the wonderful people surrounding you.
Do Without- You don’t need everything The Knot tells you. You’ve made your list of priorities so just determine what things are superfluous. Save the dates? Favors? Limo? Guestbook? All the little things add up.
Get Creative- No one says your bridesmaids have to carry flowers. Bouquets are expensive (1 bouquet = $100 x 5 bridesmaids is $500 for bridesmaids alone). Clutches, wrist corsages, lanterns, wreaths, faux fur muffs, or nothing at all are totally valid for your bridesmaids. If you’re wondering if there are any other options for any part of your wedding just Google “wedding ______ alternative” (bouquet, dinner, favors, etc.) and there will likely be some idea that works better or sparks an idea for you. Food, venues, and getting ready locations are good places to think creatively.
Don’t Get Sucked in By Things that Seem Cheap- Brides often don’t consider alternate options or don’t do the math on things that seem cheap. A good example of this is flowers. While a table arrangement from a florist is often around $75-$100, it’s not much cheaper to get faux flowers or make your own fresh arrangement with comparable flowers. When you price them out stem by stem, that number gets pretty high for a lot more stress and a final look you may love less. Venues that seem cheap but have a lot of surcharges or make you work with their vendors are similar. Do your homework. Making your own may be more expensive than purchasing the same item.
DIY with Discretion- We’ve all seen the slippery slope that is exclusively DIY weddings. Get creative, think differently, and then ask honest friends for their opinion. Don’t get wrapped up in a project only to realize later that it’s costing you 2x more than it would have to just buy it. Enlist a creative friend to help you work on cake table setups, centerpieces, and styling escort cards. You don’t have to brave this alone!
Avoid Disasters Later by Hiring Quality Vendors- Hire the vendors that you know will do their job well within your priorities. I understand that every wedding site says “hire people just starting out and save tons of money!” but that’s a recipe for disaster. Hire the vendors that you won’t have to babysit through the process, who will be professional, who you can trust to do their job. And do without the vendors that you don’t prioritize. You are paying for professionalism, quality, and their ability to actually do the job so you don’t have to think about it.
Finally- Don’t lose sight of the people that matter. It can be easy to try and trim the budget by foregoing bridal party gifts or take for granted the help you’ve received along the way. Honor your friends and family to the best of your ability with meaningful thank you notes, thoughtful gifts, and offering your help whenever they need an extra set of hands.