Every girl grows up dreaming about how perfect her big day is going to be. At that age, we don’t have to worry about actually paying for it, so we set our standards high and dream big. Then the day comes when he pops the question. You’re in a state of euphoria, until the planning begins and the price tag starts to sink in. Don’t fret; I will share how I was able to have the wedding of my dreams on a budget.
My wedding was one of the happiest days of my life, and afterwards, I didn’t have to worry about how we were going to pay off the debt from it. Historically, the bride’s family pays for most of the wedding. Now, more and more couples are footing the bill or having both families pitch in equally.
Whatever the case may be, the average wedding costs $30,000, not including the honeymoon. Wow! Who has that kind of money sitting around? I love all things DIY, so I knew my wedding would be no different. However, be careful because DIY projects can add up if you don’t limit yourself.
First, I recommend creating a budget. If this is your first step, you won’t have the issue of making your budget work for your wedding – your wedding will work in your budget. While not always fun, every decision will need to fit within this financial plan. Don’t allow yourself to stray away from it. Know what is most important to you and allocate more money to those areas. For example, we decided that photographs were more important to us than flowers, so we allocated more money to the photography portion of the budget. By the way, there are tons of websites that will give you a breakdown of the average cost for each aspect of your big day.
Next, attend a bridal show. These are helpful for finding local vendors and brainstorming ideas for your big day. Not to mention, they’re a ton of fun. I found most of my vendors at the one I went to. We chose to work with a lot of local businesses that were still fairly new to the game but were highly recommended. This helped cut costs, and in my personal opinion, they did just as well as the high dollar, well-known companies. Before booking anyone, be sure to do your research. Even though some of our vendors hadn’t been around for decades, we were still able to do research by talking to prior clients and reading reviews online. We also looked at pictures of their previous weddings, or in the case of food vendors, tasted samples :), to make sure the vendor would be a good fit for us. Not every vendor you meet has to be the one for you. You are not in a contract until you sign on the dotted line. If you don’t get a good vibe after meeting with them, I would keep looking.
As a side note, I don’t recommend picking an actual date until you have your venue, unless the date you have in mind is more important than the venue. We ended up having to change our date as the venue was already booked for that day, and we booked our venue over a year in advance. So having a flexible date will give you more venue options. Pick a month and try to work with that. We chose to get married on a Friday, which helped save our wallet! Almost every vendor offers discounts for Friday weddings. Also, they’re becoming more and more popular, and our guests didn’t seem to mind at all. After you have a venue, the real fun begins. All of your fun ideas get to come alive.
Nowadays, every girl has a Pinterest board for her future wedding, so I don’t think I need to put a lot of stress on getting one started. Once you’re engaged, take the time to sort through the thousands of pins to get a general idea of what your vision is. Focus on picking your color and theme as this will be the cornerstone for most of your decisions going forward.
I highly suggest making a must-have list before jumping on board with every fad going on. Do you really need that fancy wooden arch that will cost you an extra $800? Probably not. Be cost sensitive here. I know all of the extra flowers look nice, but find alternatives that cost less. If you have to stretch the budget to fit that in, perhaps use centerpieces that you could turn around and sell. While making our must-have list, we decided that we wanted to devote more of our budget to the the actual wedding ceremony, so we decided to not have a big honeymoon like most people. We went to Florida for a few days and had an amazing time without forking over big bucks. You have the rest of your lives for an extravagant vacation!
Be realistic and don’t compare your wedding to everyone else’s. Just because your girlfriend spends $50,000 on her wedding, doesn’t mean you need to break the bank to keep up with her.
I also recommend making purchases a little at a time. We made purchases for our wedding over the course of the year we were engaged. This prevented us from taking a large hit to our bank account all at once. Vendors will require deposits to hold your date, so be ready! Most vendors required a 50% deposit, with the remaining amount due 2 weeks before the wedding. Be sure to keep track of all of your spending. This will help you decide if you need to cut back on flowers or if you can splurge on a bigger cake.
The best advice I can give is to remember that this is supposed to be a fun time. From planning to actually saying I do, this time should bring joy, not stress. Not everything is going to go your way. You’re going to hit bumps in the road, but don’t lose sight on the bigger picture – you’re marrying your best friend! Enjoy the process 🙂