My best friend Jessica is getting married in March, and as we've been talking about wedding planning, I wanted to share some ideas we had from my own wedding on saving money.
Weddings are expensive. But I don't have to convince anyone of that.
While in the planning process, we (Mom and I) found that if you were willing to spend a little extra time and creative energy, there are so many little ways to save that really add up.
Let me first encourage you that as a believer, your wedding is about exalting Christ and celebrating His faithfulness in your life to bring you and your husband (or wife) together. Keeping this perspective is so important and it really does help in the planning process. If all the details aren't perfect but your wedding is a worshipful experience for you and your family and friends, what more could you ask for? Our hope was that people wouldn't even remember the details, but would remember that they were drawn closer to Jesus at our wedding.
All that said, there's still a lot of planning to be done. So here are a few thoughts that I hope may help some brides to be (Jessica, Melissa, Allison...):
1. For us, having the wedding and reception in the same location saved money.
To be honest, I wasn't real keen on this idea at first. I really wanted the wedding and reception to feel "separate." But looking at the pros, it was really worth it. First, we only had to rent one venue! Second, our guests didn't have to wait for hours for the reception to start. We chose to take our photographs before the wedding* so that after the wedding, we'd have about 15 minutes to turn around the room for the reception. It was all planned out and only took that amount of time. The guests just stayed in the room and when it was ready for the reception, we all made our entrance. I think you also get a better retention rate for guests that way. We were lucky that our venue allowed us to have the wedding and reception in the same huge, gorgeous room - I realize other locations may not be as accommodating.
Reception in the same room.
2. Buy your wedding cake at a grocery store bakery.
Seriously. We got our red velvet cake from Publix (a grocery store) and chose a very simple design, then had our florist reserve some leftover flowers from the bouquets. Our good friend Cindy arranged the extra flowers on top, and it looked much more expensive than it actually was!
3. Make your own invitations. We decided to save money - and have fun - by making our own "save the date" cards and our own invitations. They turned out completely unique and much more affordable. For our save the date cards, we printed them at Kinko's, but for the invitations, we used overnightprints.com. What a great resource. You can design your own invitations using Photoshop or a web design software, upload your design, then have them sent to you for a great price.
4. Make your own boutonnieres.
Because we knew what our colors would be in advance, I made all of the boutonnieres and corsages two or three months before the wedding. I went to Hobby Lobby, picked out an assortment of fabric flowers, some fabric tape, and some ribbon, then spent an afternoon putting them all together. There were quite a few boutonnieres to make - all the groomsmen, the fathers, the grandfathers, the pastor, the ringbearer, the ushers, other family members and corsages for the grandmothers, guestbook attendants, and other family and friends who were helping with the wedding. If you're spending $10-12 on each boutonniere (and usually more for a corsage), it adds up pretty quick. But by making our own, we figured each one cost around $2 when all was said and done. Can't beat that! And with the leftover ribbon and flowers, I decorated baskets for the flower girls!
5. Decor. We were lucky that our amazing location didn't need much decorating at all, but what we did do we either borrowed or picked up at a thrift store. You probably know someone who has gotten married recently and has tons of leftover vases, hurricanes, or other table decor (people buy it and then it sends in a garage for a while). Maybe your church will let you borrow or rent what they have. We also used little crystal bowls on the tables that were filled with red candy. We bought the bowls for 50 cents each at a local Goodwill. All that to say, there's really no need to spend a ton on decor!
6. If friends have volunteered to help you, take them up on it (without taking advantage of them, of course). My grandma, for example, is an amazing seamstress and made my veil for a fraction of the cost, and it was just what I was envisioning.
She also made the flower girl dresses which saved their mom lots of money, too.
7. I've heard of a trend recently of having two dresses - one for the wedding and one for the reception. I can't imagine doing that myself, but I understand wanting to look a little different. For our wedding, I decided to change the color of my sash (the red was actually what originally came with my dress), take off the veil, and put up my hair before the reception. Shawn took off his jacket and wore a red tie for the reception. It was so fun to enter the reception looking more relaxed and fun. And it didn't cost hardly any money to change it up! Speaking of the sash, my ivory-colored sash could have been purchased at the bridal shop for over $100 (no thanks). Instead, we found the same satin ribbon at an upscale fabric shop and had it cut to size.
For the flower in my hair, I found one I liked at Hobby Lobby, cut it off its stem, and glued it to a hair clip. Easy and cheap!
8. On saving money for your attendants:
This was important to us, for sure. For the bridesmaids, it meant making their jewelry instead of having them buy it (which was fun and unique anyway), letting them choose their own gold shoes, and finding a dress that was on sale. For the groomsmen, we put together their ensemble (that was not rented) for less than $100 and they were able to wear all of it again! By just having some creativity, it's possible.
9. Lastly, how not to save [your parents'] money:
Let your little sister catch the bouquet, then get married 8 months later. :)
Thank you, family and friends, for making our wedding the BEST day of our lives!
I hope this inspires some of you who are in the midst of planning that it can be done for less. :) And if you have any questions about anything I posted, feel free to email me!
* About taking pictures beforehand... I highly recommend it. Not only are you able to have a sweet and somewhat private moment with your husband-to-be with no one else around (except the photographer, in our case), but you are able to spend the day with him enjoying your family and friends. We are so glad we did it this way. We took pictures in the afternoon, then before the ceremony, we hung out with all of our close family and friends and ate and talked before the ceremony. I hoped it wouldn't take away from seeing him for the first time when I went down the aisle, and I can honestly say it didn't one bit. And then we didn't have to take pictures after the ceremony - so I was free to cry during the ceremony because the pictures had already been taken. :)
Hanging out with our favorite people before the ceremony. Priceless.