Today's guest post comes to us from Bride-to-be Kelsey, who shares with us the ten ways she has saved on her wedding planning ventures thus far. She has lots of great ideas to share- hope you enjoy her post! Thanks Kelsey! -Jessica
I got engaged in Las Vegas in November and knew right away that I needed to be budget-conscious for my wedding. My fiance and I have a budget of $10,000 and are paying for the entire wedding ourselves. Our wedding is in October 2010 in the Kansas City Metro and will have about 150 guests. Below are some of the things I did to save money on our carnival/vintage themed wedding.
My wedding is on a Friday in the fall because it's cheaper. Most of the venues were already booked on Saturdays, so I looked up community centers in each Kansas City suburb (found a list of suburbs on Wikipedia) until I found this amazing old 1800s train station that had been remodeled into a community center. Meeting rooms were available by the hour and were $25/hour for the ceremony room and $45 for the reception room– almost 10% of the cost of other wedding venues I had been looking at! They also provide free microphones, table set-up, and have a staff member on hand to help.
Instead of hiring full-service caterers, we are ordering off a large catering menu from our favorite Italian restaurant and family members and friends are picking up the food and setting it up in the reception room beforehand. The food will be buffet-style and everything is disposable so we can throw it away after. We're getting all our supplies at Costco. I know a few contacts in the restaurant industry who are going to help refill water, throw away trash, etc during the time guests are eating. They agreed to do it for a flat $100 each, including a meal. So, put a posting on Craigslist or ask around if anyone knows someone who is a server and who would like to help out for one night for a flat fee. Make sure they sign an agreement and don't pay them the full amount until after the wedding if you don't know them.
I bought silk flowers instead of real ones. I found a few great silk flower websites like The Bride's Bouquet, which mostly has rose bouquets, and A Floral, which is where I ended up getting my flowers. I got 5 bridesmaids bouquets, my bouquet, 12 boutonnieres, and enough supplies to make 5 corsages all for $131, which included shipping. They look great, I'm just going to wrap the stems in ribbon for some more color.
4. Invites and Thank You Notes:
I found tons of carnival-font invitations that I liked on Etsy, but ended up designing my own in GIMP, a free image program, kind of like Photoshop and then uploaded them to Zazzle. I ordered 75 for $101, which included 2 day shipping from a Mother's Day coupon. I also created Thank You postcards instead of notecards to save on postage. Those were about $50. If you can't (or just don't want to) create invites or other stationary from scratch, Zazzle has tons of templates from other users where you just plug in your information into their pre-made design.
I tried on a dress I liked in a bridal store, then searched bridal websites and message boards for someone selling that exact dress. I found one in my size, still had the tags on, for 40% less than the bridal store price. I paid via PayPal and the dress came exactly as described in pristine condition.
Video isn't crucial to me, so we are borrowing a friend's Flip HD camera (which I could have also just purchased for under $200) and my brother is going to be taping the ceremony and main speeches at the reception.
I'm creating an iTunes playlist and just hooking up my computer to the wired-in sound system instead of hiring a DJ. My brother will announce my fiance and I, announce the flower toss, and quiet the guests for toasts.
We haven't decided our exact honeymoon destination or date yet because of my fiance's new job, but CheapCarribean.com, Hotwire.com, and TravelZoo.com all have great prices. Look into getting an all-inclusive package in order to keep total cost down- you won't have to worry about money while you're there- unless it's for mementos!
Luckily, my maid of honor just happens to be the senior decorator at a boutique bakery and she's making our cake as her wedding gift to us. If you aren't as lucky, seriously think about grocery stores. A popular chain in Kansas City, Hy-Vee, is actually known for making great cakes at reasonable prices. Check out their portfolio and go in for a tasting. No one is going to know where you got it from- and as long as it looks and tastes great, why does it matter?
I think overall, you have to choose what is important to you and what isn't. For example, I'm spending the most on my photographer because photos are important to me. Finding great wedding deals takes work and time. Because I'm a freelancer myself, I tried to utilize the “little guys” who are just getting started with their own freelance or full-time business. You can do the same- find your jewelry and invitations on Etsy or scour Craigslist for someone who does alterations or who can make floral arrangements.
Kelsey Childress is a freelance social media and search marketing specialist. She can be contacted via her website, Awen Creative (http://www.awencreative.com) or Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/wonderwall7).