I debated writing this post at all because I am a firm believer (and have certainly learned through experience!) that there is no one blanket statement to explain how to cut costs on your wedding, but my goal for this post is just to explain how we are doing it, and maybe we’ll be able to help someone else out with their own budgeting process. The fact of the matter is this: weddings. are. expensive. Stephen and I have a running joke about this because shortly after he proposed we sat down to discuss budgeting and several minutes after I realized I had been droning on without any input from him, I looked up to find him weary-eyed and bewildered (and I’m pretty sure I could actually see his hair turning gray) and he said, “When I proposed I thought weddings only cost a couple thousand dollars at the most.” Ha! Not that it’s not possible to have an amazing wedding for that much money, it just wasn’t possible to achieve our personal vision for that much!
I could go into all sorts of generic advice that I read on other wedding blogs (base your budget on what you can spend, not on what you want to spend; DIY as much as possible; consider a cash bar; get married on a weekday; repurpose bridesmaid bouquets for centerpieces, etc.) and while a lot of that advice is helpful, I had already considered almost all of it and was still desperate for ways to save money, so here’s what I have discovered throughout my own budgeting process:
My first piece of advice is to prioritize. Sit down with your fiancé and determine what items are must-haves in your wedding. Stephen and I were immediately on the same page on what we wanted to splurge on: things that would last forever. Photography and videography are the first two things that came to our minds in that category. Our wedding photos and video are things that we will be able to look back on for the rest of our lives and that we will be able to share with our children and eventually their children. We also knew we wanted a breathtaking ceremony and reception space (especially because often if the backdrop of the ceremony is super pretty, less decorations are needed to spice it up!). The priorities page of the Joyful Wedding Planner from Southern Weddings helped us out a lot with this step of our budgeting process (see below!).
I also made makeup a priority for my wedding day. I set an all-in budget for makeup and sought makeup professionals that offered airbrush foundation and had photos on their websites of looks similar to what I’m looking for on my wedding day. Keep in mind that a lot of people on a budget probably don’t make makeup a priority on their wedding day and that I am very likely the exception rather than the rule! I’ve heard of many people saying they would rather not spend much money on makeup that they will be washing off at the end of the night, but it was important to me because 1) I wear a lot of makeup on a day-to-day basis anyway and love makeup application, and 2) Makeup makes me feel confident and every bride should feel confident on her wedding day! A bride’s confidence on her wedding day is of utmost importance – it is your day to shine and you should be feeling your best! If you are like me and feel your best when you’re wearing smoky eyeshadow and have contoured cheeks, make that a priority for you; if you feel more confident with a more natural look, go for that, and don’t let anyone tell you that your decision is wrong!
My second piece of advice is to start early. Obviously every engagment is different and some people are engaged for six months and some people are like us and are engaged for almost two years. Stephen and I will have had twenty-two months (story on that here) to save for our wedding and we got started saving right away! Because we got started on wedding planning so early, there were several vendors we were able to book with their 2016 pricing and locked in a lower price than we would have gotten if we had waited (vendors often raise their prices each year). Even though we got a lot of “Wow, you guys are getting started early,” from the vendors we talked to, it has definitely paid off in the long run!
Third: don’t be afraid to rely on friends, family, and acquaintances for certain aspects of your wedding! Stephen’s dad has a hot sauce company (which is amazing, by the way! I put it on everything!) so we are using bottles of hot sauce as our wedding favors! We are going to print custom stickers to put on the bottles and voila! Wedding favors: check. Another area we’re saving is my veil! My amazing MOH was nice enough to agree to let me wear her gorgeous veil, which is saving us money but will also serve as my something borrowed on my big day as well! If your MOH isn’t married yet, look into wearing your mother’s, grandmother’s, or future mother-in-law’s veil, garter, dress, etc. Stephen also has a family friend who owns his own brewery, so we’ll be getting craft beer for our wedding for a fraction of the normal price! I personally am not a fan of DIY (because I am so not crafty!), but I have been practicing calligraphy in hopes of using my newfound skills for signage at our wedding and for addressing the envelopes for our save-the-dates. The Southern gal in me makes me kind of a stickler for slightly more traditional/formal invitations, so I am seeking the help of a crafty friend for calligraphy on our actual invitations- again, saving a lot of money by not going with a formal calligraphy business!
We are also shopping sales and have started couponing — especially when it comes to wine! I got my wedding dress on sale for 50% off and ended up spending less than half of the amount I had budgeted for a dress! We are also looking into Total Wine and Trader Joe’s for our wine since they often have coupons and if you buy from Total Wine and don’t chill/open all of it, you can return whatever you don’t use! I bought my ceremony shoes (discontinued but brand-new Jack Rogers) from Poshmark for $60! We’re also using all sorts of Etsy shops (be aware though – Etsy is not always cheapest, so make sure you’re looking at all options) and an online shop for our invitation suite (again, start early so that you can wait for sales and coupon codes!).
Perhaps the number one area of saving we are utilizing (and I totally understand this doesn’t work for everyone!) is readjusting our living arrangements. We had been spending about $1500 on rent, cable, utilities, and other living expenses which means that we were spending $1500 that could not be going into our wedding budget! My sweet mom has been kind enough to let us move in with her rent-free for the second half of our engagement and over half of our wedding budget is coming from the amount we will be able to save because of her! Obviously not every person is going to be able to do this, but consider things like cutting back on your cable and internet plan, taking shorter showers, being more mindful of turning lights off when leaving the room or the house, not turning the thermostat so low in the summer and high in the winter, etc. You’ll be amazed how much money you can save by saving power and water in your household! Good for the environment and good for the wedding budget 🙂
Don’t forget — keep in mind when booking vendors that many of them need to be tipped 15-20% of their total price! If you are thinking of going over your budget and that you can just squeak by, don’t forget you will very likely actually be paying these people more than what their invoice says and the higher the bill, the higher the tip! You don’t want to realize the week of your wedding that you don’t have enough money to pay and/or tip your vendors!
I definitely wish I had known some of these things before we started the budgeting process so hopefully this post helps someone out!
Thanks for stopping by!