I have had this post mostly written for months, but could not bring myself to post anything wedding related. Just couldn’t do it. Now that time has passed, here goes. I promise this will be my last and final on this subject matter as many of you know my feelings towards it. True reason for this post is that I have several friends, former students etc. planning their upcoming nuptials and have been asking questions about some things we did, how we kept our budget etc. I know when I was in that stage I was DESPERATE for any advice/tips of any kind on how to pull this thing off.
But this is ALL YOU GET OKAY? Kidding, please feel free to ask me anything about this I am an open book and happy to help all my fellow frugal brides.
First and foremost, let me start with this. There is so much ridiculous pressure to make your wedding day perfect and special and unique. From what colors you choose, to the food, to all those little Pinterest details that you want to use in order to make it reflect you and your partner… or to make it “different”. I totally get it, Shain and I wanted those things too. However, here is what I will say in hindsight. None of those things make your wedding special. NONE. It is special 100% on it’s own, seriously.
I know this is a terrible statement I am about to say and will get some comments for it… but I am just being honest: I just don’t know that is was all worth it. I would marry Shain over and over again, but I don’t know that I would do the wedding again. Yes, it was an awesome day and we were so blessed to be surrounded by so many people who are so important to us, but the emotions, stress and financial burden made it difficult. I personally have been harboring a lot of guilt over the last few months about the wedding, which I realize is very silly. I feel guilt that even though we tried to include as many people as possible, we still had to leave some out. I feel guilty that my family didn’t get to enjoy the music they wanted. I feel guilty not everybody heard our amazing Maid of Honor and Best Man speeches, due to some sound issues. And I feel guilty that we crammed so many people in that hall (apparently the “20%” of guests RSVP NO rule does not always apply). So even after all the planning of trying to NOT have this guilt, I still have it. Again, silly I know.
What I WOULD pay for again and again was just the ceremony alone, which ironically didn’t cost much. There is just something so surreal about standing up there and exchanging vows, it is almost like we were on this island all by ourselves, even though we were surrounded by lots of people. It was so amazing. It would not have mattered if that ceremony happened when we were in sweatpants or if it wasn’t under a perfectly decorated arch, or at a courthouse, or in a backyard- the moment alone was so wonderful and special without all of that.
So please please please I beg you- don’t worry that if you don’t spend all this time and money on details that your wedding will not be “special enough” I promise you it will be.
How we cut costs:
We Borrowed pretty much everything
We borrowed half of our linens from a friend and 90% of the decorations were used at a Shain’s cousins wedding the year before, the only decor we bought were the large mason jars ($20 at a garage sale for all them), fake flowers for the tables ($80) and the green wine bottles ( $100)- literally everything else was given/donated/borrowed.
We enlisted the help of our talented family and friends:
This is a big one, before you book who is going to make your cake, take your pictures, etc. Ask around to those people who you love and maybe would be inviting to the wedding anyway- you will be surprised and people’s hidden talents. And they may even cut you a deal or do the service as your wedding gift. Our amazing cake was made by my long time neighbor as our gift and a friend from high school cut us a deal on the cupcakes that she made for us.
Personal attendants: Instead of spending money on a wedding planner, I enlisted the help of my two very good friends who did an amazing job. No seriously, AMAZING.
Photographer: Our lovely photographer was actually one of my student tour guides and I found out through the grapevine that she was starting her own photography gig on the side, so she charged us $250. Steal of the century.
Renting space instead of an all inclusive package:
We found that renting a facility (pending it was affordable) was more cost effective then some all inclusive places, because we could pick and choose what we wanted, bring in our own alcohol etc. Our facility was $1,000 to rent for 8 hours which came with tables and chairs and you could basically do whatever you want. BUT it is more work, just a forewarning.
Find the right Caterer:
This is THE big one, if you are able to bring in your own catering, really do your research. This is where your money will just FLY out the door. We paid a little bit more of a premium for our caterer than we wanted (about $40 a person) because we knew we would need the extra help doing everything ourselves and they were amazing took care of things they did not have to.
When we received about 50 more “yes” RSVPS then we planned for (no really, only 15 people said no) we began to seriously panic about our budget and our space in the venue. This was the main reasons we went over our 10 grand, otherwise we were right on track with everything else. Thank god for a friend at work who is an event planning guru, we were able to cut almost $3,000 off our catering bill by doing the following:
- Linens: like I said, we borrowed a good chunk of these, but the ones we had through the caterer were all the way to the floor linens. We simply asked to have shorter linens that did not go to the floor, and that was $12 cheaper PER table.
- Coffee: Originally we had coffee for 200 people, but did not even consider that we didn’t need that much-so we did enough for 50 instead and it was fine. Saved $300
- Meat: Originally we had 3 meats to serve at the buffet as that is what came with our package. But a few weeks before we asked if we could cut it down to two instead (and we had more than enough food)- saved over $1,500
- Silverware: We asked for a cheaper option that looked like real silverware but was really plastic, saved $1,000. Only complaint is people couldn’t tap on their glass to see us kiss, which we were totally okay with 😉
- Alcohol: In addition to our beer truck and wine that we purchased in bulk…we also chose to buy our own hard alcohol, which did have its downfalls. But because we wanted an open bar, it saved us having to pay thousands for it, instead cost us $800. Only mistake with that was we did not think to get pourers for the alcohol bottles…so our guests went through it much quicker, but that also let to some good stories…
This was something I decided on last minute as well, originally bouquets and boutonnieres for our army of a bridal party was about $600 but I decided a mere 2 weeks before the wedding I could just do it myself and I did. It was actually a lot of fun and I am glad I made that decision. I didn’t do anything fancy with them and you could certainly tell they were not done by a florist BUT I also really loved that they kinda looked like we just gathered and picked them out of the woods. I also decided that boutonnieres are stupid so we just didn’t do them at all except for Shain. I found him a cool fake burlap one at hobby lobby for 50 cents. Bridal party flowers cost a total of $60.
So, I hope this helped a little bit to you future brides. It is a lot of work to plan a wedding and it is even more work when you are paying for it and trying to be frugal. STAY STRONG and stay blessed in that big ole wedding planning mess 😉