Wedding season is upon us and a week ago Jon and I were united as husband and wife!
The whole experience was stressful in an exciting way. For starters, I had the sole responsibility of planning everything with a set budget that relied heavily on what I was able to put aside from my paychecks, combined with previously saved money, as well as our tax returns and help from family, so sticking to the budget was a must. The ultimate goal was to plan a wedding that didn’t break the bank and didn’t leave us with unnecessary debt.
Luckily for us, having a wedding at the start of spring brought a lot of unexpected savings our way. I wanted to create something that was minimal but tasteful; putting the concept of less is more to the test and using the resources around me. Since I’d gone on yet another blogging hiatus, it was only appropriate to fill you in on my wedding planning experience and provide some first-hand tips that helped me pull off my perfect wedding.
Find the right venue
When I imagined my wedding day, I always wanted something that was outdoors surrounded by nature. Living in Knoxville gave us a plethora of options, however finding something that provided more bang for buck was difficult. After a few weeks of research on various locations in the area and calling several places for availability, I was happy to find the perfect location at Smith Events Center in Maryville. Not only was the venue spacious for our expected number of guests, the grounds gave us that natural look and feel I was going for. The biggest upside to the venue was the number of amenities that came with the rental such as chairs, tables, and tablecloths, and a discount to the flower shop.
There was a huge kitchen on site at the reception area, a bridal room to get ready, as well as a room for the groom. They also gave us a complimentary stay at the Hilton the night of our wedding and, most importantly, provided excellent service. All these extras go a long way when you add it all up.
My recommendation is to shop around to as many places as you can to compare cost as well as amenities. Any extras you can get to offset costs truly makes a difference in the ease of the whole experience. This was definitely the case for us.
Consider a Friday or Sunday wedding
Saturday is, without a doubt, the most popular day of the week to have a wedding. However, there’s a considerable amount of savings to be found if you consider having a wedding on a weekday. Depending on the intended venue, planning a wedding on any day besides a Saturday can save you a few hundred dollars. In our case, we saved $500 by planning for a Friday wedding which was money used in other areas. We also had a greater chance of finding availability, especially when some venues are booked a year in advance.
If your schedule makes it feasible to plan a weekday or Sunday wedding, this can also be another area to save some cash on the overall cost of the wedding.
Saving on the dress
Outside of the ring, the wedding dress is another high-ticket item for most weddings. Wedding dresses can range anywhere from the hundreds to thousands depending on what you’re looking for. In my case, I knew early on that I did not want to spend over $600 for my wedding dress. I considered purchasing a secondhand wedding dress because WHY NOT! I also looked at thrift stores and all discounted wedding dress option at my disposal.
I will admit my heart was set on buying a dress that was ethically made, such as these beautiful handmade dresses by Celia Grace but, unfortunately, that was not an option due to my budget and the high quality of these dresses. I was fortunate to find the perfect dress, a Melissa Sweet from David’s Bridal which was discounted from almost $1800 down to $499! This worked out in my favor due to a sale they were having at the time to get rid of discontinued dresses (the staff gave me the 411). The dress not only fit my budget but fit my body with no alterations needed. This would not have been possible if I didn’t stick to my budget.
Looking at dresses outside of my price range would’ve caused unnecessary temptation and frankly was not an option. Sticking to the objective and staying firm on my budget ended up paying off in the end.
Use your resources
One overlooked area in saving money is using the resources you already have available to you. When I say resources, I’m referring to people who are in your circle who may possess skills that could be beneficial and cost-effective to executing your big day. It also includes doing things on your own #diy and giving yourself a challenge.
These are some examples of how I did just that:
DIY Save the Date & Wedding Invitations
I know this is a no-brainer but the save our dates and wedding invitations were designed by yours truly. Instead of printing our save the dates and acquiring costs for taking engagement pictures and postal expense, we sent the save our date as digital postcards via text and email. I hand-lettered them, as well as drew the illustrations; mixing my artwork with digital fonts. For our wedding invitations, I purchased floral clip art from Esty and put my graphic design skills to work. Needless to say, this was fun and a much needed reassurance of my design skills. It gave me a confidence boost and further validation that I need to continue with my creative pursuits.
Ask friends for help
I’m thankful to have some talented friends in my midst. It’s difficult to ask for help at times, but in the spirit of saving money I did not shy away from asking for it and thankfully my friends were willing to share their skillset with us for our big day.
For starters, my maid of honor’s boyfriend agreed to DJ our wedding saving us 600+ on entertainment costs. This was a win-win for both of us because he gained more confidence in himself and his ability, received great feedback on his mixing, given that this was his first wedding, and he also potentially opened up a new avenue for revenue for himself by networking with the officiant. (Way to go Daniel!)
Another area of savings was in hair and makeup. Instead of accruing an additional expense for a makeup artist, I asked a friend of mine if she would be gracious enough to do our makeup. She is not a makeup artist, but she is someone who has a love for makeup and enjoys doing her own. I’m not much of a makeup person (I’m just an eyeliner and mascara type of girl) which meant I wanted more of a natural look for myself and my bridesmaids, equating to less time and effort spent doing makeup. I also did my own hair versus making a salon trip and my bridesmaids had the option to do as they pleased with their hair using the tools we had available.
Lastly, and much to my surprise, one of my coworker’s daughter is a local photographer. I was able to get a GREAT deal on a photographer for our special day. By using a local and by going minimal, I saved over $2000 and gave someone an opportunity to showcase their skills and expand their portfolio.
Shop for deals
Getting married at the start of spring meant savings galore. There were sales after sales popping up every week due to Easter and the start of a new season. I managed to capitalize on discounts offered by Joann’s and Hobby Lobby, purchasing all floral items for 50-60% off the original price. I was fortunate to get all wedding décor for half its original cost.
I also went to several local thrift stores, as well as the dollar store, to find some more discounted items to complement the décor. Overall, I suggest shopping around and keeping your eyes peeled for any discounts that will help combat high costs for wedding décor.
I recommend using Pinterest as a tool for inspiration and tutorials. It’s possible to keep things simple and still achieve an elevated classy look while being frugal.
As I mentioned earlier, looking for deals was essential to staying on budget. One aspect of the planning process that was also important was the use of small businesses.
Both Jon and I’s wedding rings were purchased from small business owners via Etsy. I also wanted to keep things eco-friendly and was able to find an online retailer who sold bamboo and palm leaf plates in bulk, completing the earthy look and feel I was going for. I complimented them by purchasing wooden forks, knives, and spoons from Confetti Momma Party via Etsy.
We also shopped small for our wedding cake, which was purchased from a local bakery here in town called Magpies. The ladies were a pleasure to work with, and they offer free samples of their goodies!
Overall our wedding day was a slightly stressful delight. We got to celebrate with our closest friends and in the end, we’re left with memories that will last us a lifetime. Your wedding day is one of the biggest highlights in someone’s life but there is no need to go into debt attempting to create a special moment.
We managed to keep things simple yet elegant and got all the elements we wanted and more without going over budget. Coming from a newlywed, the most important advice I can give you is take it easy and have fun! Set a budget and stick to it, cut out any unnecessary cost, use the resources at your disposal, and think outside the box.