There's one thing that we all have in common since we're reading Budget Savvy Bride. And that is, we obviously do not have Chelsea's no-holds-barred, sky's-the-limit, over-the-top wedding budget. We know we wouldn't skimp on the pomp and circumstance if our parents had pockets as deep as Hilary's and Bill's. Since we don't, here are some of OUR budget-savvy tips that will help to make YOUR wedding dreams a reality.
- Budget: My fiancé and I are footing most of the wedding so it was essential to create a budget. This may fluctuate (hopefully down), but this gives you a starting point. Create a spreadsheet of every expense that may incur surrounding the wedding events. Don't overlook odds and ends such as the cost of an officiant, venue insurance, alcohol license, bridal party gifts and transportation costs. Newlyweds do not want to start out in debt, so we started saving up early.
- Do the math: Take your set budget limit and divide it by the months until your wedding, and that is how much both of you have to save each month.
$10,000 budget ÷ 16 months until wedding = $625 ÷ 2 = $313 each/month
Put this money in an account with a high interest return, such as a savings account, money market or CD. Remember that every little bit helps and you might have to sacrifice those monthly mani-pedis, but it will all be worth it in the end.
- Pick one aspect: What is the one thing that takes up a chunk of your budget, but you're not willing to skimp on? For us, it is photography. We knew what we wanted and it was set in stone. So what won't you compromise on: florals, décor, food and/or alcohol, venue, invitation suite or entertainment?
- DIY: Craft stores are my newest hang-out these days, and they have 40-50% off coupons. Don't be afraid to dig through those clearance bins, and get your creative on!
What I did with fresh hydrangeas: My sweet co-worker (shout out to Tillie) brought me tons of blooms from her bush. I dried them, and then sprayed them with floral spray. The floral spray was $6 a can, but I used a coupon and got them half-off. This allows you to prepare your flowers in advance, and allows you to keep them for over a year! You can also use this method to preserve fresh flowers from your wedding day.
What I did with 50 cent letter hangers: I removed the hangers which were originally on the bottom of letters, refastened them to the top, painted them, added the sprayed hydrangeas from above and used them in my wreaths to hang on the entry doors. $6 for both wreaths
What I did with free wine/liquor bottles: My fiancé is a bartender, so I put him to work on collecting the empty bottles. I soaked the labels off of the bottles, filled them with lamp oil ($6 to fill two bottles 1/2 way) and topped them with a ceramic wick (pack of 20 for $12). This will be added to our centerpiece to create some soft, natural light. (Ours are similar to the photos below, since I don't have a picture of these.)
What I did to make our monogram: I found a wonderful monogram from weddingchicks.com, that I used, and then modified the colors in a photo program. Voila, a nice theme to use throughout our wedding. This will go on our invitation suite and programs, and I have used them as tags on our mason jars for our vodka lemonade. (Mason jars were bought with coupons, ribbon was from Michaels ribbon sale; 3 spools for $1, white card stock was left over from my sister's wedding, 2″ scalloped-edge circle punch from Michaels using coupon).
Inclusions: All-inclusive doesn't always mean budget-conscious. Most all-inclusive venues require that you use their caterers and can't provide outside food or alcohol. We picked a venue that allowed us to choose our caterer and bring in our own alcohol, saving us a boat-load of cash that we could spend elsewhere.
If we used the caterer's bar service:
$10 per person (2 drinks ea) x 200 people = $2000 + 20% grat = $2400
Using our own kegs and paying a bartender:
$300 for 3 kegs + $150 to bartender for 3 hours = $450
HELLLLLO!!! That's $1950 saved on just beer alone. Remember to ask what the policy is and what inclusions are provided with a vendor's service.
- Santa, baby: Ask that family members forego the usual birthday and Christmas gifts, and contribute to your honeymoon fund or a gift card to your favorite craft store for all of those DIY projects.
- Got a talented friend?: “Why yes, friend of groom, we DO need a DJ for our reception.”(shout out to DJ Johnny Ka$h) Why yes, friend of bride, we DO need a day-of coordinator.” (shout out to Allison)
- Go green: One way to go green is to reuse items from previous brides. There are tons of websites devoted to brides selling their décor and attire, so scout out the classifieds to find items that you need. These are some that I obsessively visit frequent:
Photo courtesy of gogreenpipe.com
Also, craigslist is an amazing resource because listings are by city, which eliminates shipping and reduces your cost in the end. My finds: 34 plastic mint julep cups for $10 and 250′ of café lights for $130 from newlyweds. These items would have cost me at least $345 (not including s/h), so I saved $250 on those items alone.
Know friends or family members that have recently tied the knot? I do! My sister just got married (shout out to Bryson & Samantha) and we are able to reuse a lot of her décor items such as shepard hooks, paper lanterns, silver chargers, and silver pillar candle holders.
Resale items that you won't need after the wedding. Do I really need 250 feet of café lights on our back deck, 30 paper lanterns, and 20 tablecloths? Uhhmmm, NO. Resale!
- Everything is negotiable: Get quotes, shop around and provide vendors with comparable quotes to get the best offer possible. Use this while shopping online classifieds also.
Remember to make your wedding fun and something that your guests will remember. Saving money doesn't mean that you have to skimp on pretty, fancy things. It just means that you have to spend your money wisely, and be a budget savvy bride!