TRUE CONFESSION – I was so disgusted with the prices these vendors were requesting for services. Between the separate tab for wedding pricing on vendor websites and the 10% off already inflated prices at wedding showcases, I couldn’t help but feel taken advantage of as a bride. From all the blogs that I read, it seems that it’s known and accepted that there is always an upcharge for weddings. I saw bloggers give advice like, “request a quote but don’t share that it’s for a wedding”. That may work for some, but this bride had no time to play games with vendors. I knew my budget, I was transparent with vendors about my budget, and I was firm with my budget. If a vendor’s listed price was way out of range, I didn’t even call. If a vendor was unable to work with my budget, I thanked them for their time and quickly ended the conversation. Now that I’ve secured all of my wedding vendors, my biggest piece of advice is to GET CREATIVE! During my bridal shower weekend, one of my bridesmaids asked, “What is one thing that if you had more money you wish you could add to your wedding?” And I honestly couldn’t think of one thing that I felt I needed and didn’t have. Here’s how I had my cake and ate it too!
My cake budget was set at $300. After calling/emailing 15-20 bakeries, I couldn’t find a single bakery that could provide the three-tier cake that I envisioned for under $475 (average quote was $4-$6 per guest). I got very frustrated and strongly considered having an ice-cream bar instead – my fiance and I don’t even like cake that much. But Keith insisted that we have a traditional cake for pictures, so I kept digging. And I found a diamond in the rough – Sweet Creations by Angie.
Angie is giving us the exact cake we designed for $346! How? Well Angie runs Sweet Creations part-time, she’s in the suburbs of DC, and she doesn’t have a storefront, which keeps overhead low. Most importantly, Angie was the ONLY bakery that agreed to supplement our wedding cake with faux layers to get the size we wanted and kitchen sheet cakes to get the number of servings we needed at a reasonable cost. Not to mention, Angie has the the most amazing customer service (brought the cake trial to us & met with us during her off hours to discuss cake stands).
***Very close friends of ours offered to gift us our cake up to $300; so Keith and I only paid $46 toward our wedding cake***
I am “that bride” with the secret wedding dress board on Pinterest and a DVR filled with Say Yes to the Dress and I Found the Gown. The dress was honestly one of my top priorities — I want to look GORGEOUS, STUNNING, JAW DROPPING on my wedding day. This was a non-negotiable for me. I was determined to find a gown with beading, ruching, and bling within budget. I couldn’t afford a $4,000 dress; who am I kidding, I couldn’t afford a $2,000 dress. So I made a list of all the bridal consignment shops, bridal outlets, and bridal sample sales in my area. During a weekend my mother was visiting me in DC, I scheduled dress appointments with six shops. The very first shop – Cherry Blossom’s Bridal – was the only shop that wasn’t an outlet, selling consignment, or having a sample sale and of course this is where I SAID YES TO THE DRESS! It was an $1800 Allure gown (actually on my Pinterest board) that was definitely out of my $1000 budget. But I got the dress for $1100! How? I simply asked if I could have the sample gown that I tried on that day. The owner agreed and gave me a significantly discounted sample gown price and in-house alterations ($100). I got my dream dress + alterations for a grand total of $1200.
***My mom ended up surprising me and gifting me my dress; she was surprised by my budget savviness***
Admittedly, flowers are not a priority for our wedding, but we do want flowers. Calla lilies are my favorite flowers, but they are also very expensive. So we narrowed our floral needs to baby’s breath with accents of calla lilies and white roses and we found the fantastic Saivita Floral Design to make everything beautiful.
Sai is providing all of our floral needs for under $1500! How? Along with choosing budget friendly buds, Sai is able to keep prices reasonable for us because she also doesn’t have the overhead cost of brick-and-mortar. Instead of a storefront, Sai runs her business out of her home design studio and mobile flower truck. We found Sai and her awesome-sauce flower truck on Valentine’s Day as we strolled around downtown. There are gems like Saivita Floral Design and the flower truck all throughout the city.
Although cake and flowers are not a wedding priority, music is. Seeing that wedding bands start out at about $1800 in the DMV, a full wedding band was out of the question. Knowing that we really want a lively wedding reception, this is where our resource list came in handy. A very close family friend of Keith’s – Justin “The Bearded Drummer” Wright – is a talented drummer that performs around the city every weekend with DJ’s and bands. He agreed to gift his services for the wedding and recommended a budget friendly DJ that he plays with often DJ K-Meta, who doesn’t have “special” wedding prices.
Another way to avoid those “special” wedding prices are to avoid typical wedding vendors. If you are in a large city, there is musical talent all around you and many artists that are just grateful for exposure. Scout musicians and performers at your local open-mics, showcase events and street performances. We found our cocktail performer Kendall Isadore at a local jazz showcase. A triple threat, Kendall plays the piano, plays the violin, and has powerhouse vocal abilities.
With a soulful cocktail set by Kendall Isadore for $225 + a DJ/Drummer combo reception for $520, we are having a wedding full of quality musical entertainment for $745!
Now these are just some of the ways that Keith and I got creative to stick to our budget. Please, please, please share some creative things ways to have your cake and eat it too and feel free to ask questions. Stay tuned for next week’s Have Your Cake & Eat it Too Pt. 2!
Cheers to Epic Love,
Editor’s note: Due to the pandemic, some of the general wedding planning advice we share may not be applicable or possible due to restrictions on events. Please adhere to all current regulations and stay safe and healthy! Get more pandemic wedding resources here.