Tips to Save You Money and Sanity When Planning Your Wedding
Hey there Brides and Grooms,
Now, before I begin I will say this... These are solely based on our experience when wedding planning. These tips will typically not favor the popular or more traditional opinion and if that offends you feel free to click off now.
For our wedding we had a budget and we stuck to it. To do so we cut some things that could be considered frivolous, unnecessary, or in my opinion completely silly traditions that no one cares about but still pays tons to do (more on this later). So with that being said just remember. This is your wedding. This is you and your favorite persons big day. It is about YOU. And while there will be annoyances, mishaps, and people that try to push your buttons... at the end of the day it doesn't matter what anyone else wants but the two of you.
However, if someone else is funding your wedding and asks for things done a certain way, then hey it's their money right? In our case, we thoroughly discussed what we wanted this day to look like, what was important to us, and what was not. Then, we set a budget based on what we could afford while still being reasonable to the actual cost of services. You cannot plan a Disney dream wedding, or some exotic whatever for $1,000, you get what I mean. Planning and paying for a wedding is A LOT. It was a huge test of patience, research, DIYs, and did I say patience? So with all of that being said. Take all this info with a grain of salt, make it your own, and do what works to make your day the best! And don't forget that it is only one day of forever.
I would also like to preface this by saying, being the wedding planner, day of coordinator, and the bride is stressful. And yes I did have to yell at people to get them to listen, run through things last minute, and boss people around. But, ultimately it was just to get what needed to be done accomplished and wasn't meant to be rude or controlling. Mostly just because everyone was talking at the same time. (*Shrugs*). I also have discovered while finally wearing the beautiful white dress, having that special first look with my husband, dancing with my dad, getting our first professional pictures, pictures with our family and having a hairstyle that was what dreams are made of... I can officially say it is fun and glamorous...but much easier to be a bridesmaid!
Now buckle up because here are what we deemed the most important things to spend a good chunk of money on.
Our Must Haves/Important Things for the Big Day (In no particular order):
Photographer: These will be the pictures you see for the rest of your life. Don't spend 10,000 dollars just because it's a wedding. But DO spend enough to get good quality photos.
There will be photographers that start at 10,000 dollars. YES you read that right. TEN THOUSAND. Yikes.
My recommendation here is to use an app like The Knot (not sponsored just what we used). You will be able to refine your search by area, price, style, etc.
Find a local photographer to where your venue is, this could eliminate travel fees they may have.
Search through portfolios of pictures those will speak for themselves, rather than people's reviews.
Here's a couple of ours, because I can't help but to share...
Catering: Nothing is worse than going to a big event, wedding or not, and having gorgeous plates of food that taste like cardboard. We wanted BBQ, but ultimately we wanted something that was going to taste amazing and be worth the money we paid.
Figure out what type of food you want first, then find a place that will do what you want close to your venue to eliminate travel fees. You can search places again using The Knot. This will take some research, emailing back and forth, getting quotes.
Find the ones that work for your budget first, then set up a tasting.
Options that could save money with food:
Have throw away plates and utensils that are included in your pricing from the caterer rather than linens and china.
Do a buffet style line rather than individually plated and served. Ours was served by the caterers but in a buffet line format. (Your guests know how to get food and drinks from a line, as long as they get food they'll be okay, promise).
See if your caterers do desserts too, we did not want a huge cake so they actually made us banana pudding and peach cobbler as part of our catering package too.
Find a company that fits what you want. Don't pay 40-50 dollars a head for crap food if you can find something for half the price that's twice as good. (I had someone tell me their prices started way lower than competitors at 40 dollars a person...FALSE...do your research).
**SIDE NOTE: Shout out to our caterers, they were amazing. Husband and wife duo at Smokey Jay's BBQ Pit are the kindest people! We love being able to support small businesses. But these guys just make it so easy to do that. They were affordable, super quick to respond, flexible with options, and their food was SPOT ON, so yummy! Our guests were all happy with the food. And they even packed up a to-go box for the us as the bride and groom so that we could actually eat later.
I am attaching their links below if anyone is looking for BBQ in Central Florida. They even do pop ups at local farmers markets.
Facebook for Smokey Jay's - https://www.facebook.com/SMOKEYJAYSBBQPIT/
Website Link - https://www.smokeyjaysbbq.com/
DJ/Entertainment: We wanted someone affordable that would be able to keep the party going
Again, use The Knot, search by area and pricing to avoid travel fees.
Not many tips here other than just watch the pricing and big name companies. Chances are a smaller company can do all the same things and lighting for half the price of a big company. Big company = big price.
Venue: We wanted The feel of a intimate backyard BBQ with your favorite people in a space that is still beautiful, fun, and big enough for the guest list.
Budget here can go up quick, there were some venues we found that were more than our budget to begin with, don't let that discourage you...just keep looking.
We live close to the beach, so a lot of venues were pricier here. So we looked within 2 hours distance from home each direction.
We also knew visitors from out of town would be flying into Orlando so airports close by where you are wanting to get married would be convenient for travelers. So keep this in mind when you search in your area too.
We ended up driving about an hour to get to and from the venue, but we saved far more money than anything local, even with the drive.
Ask about what is included in pricing, ask about how much time you get on site, ask if they have decorations included, chairs, tables, linens, anything and everything. This will also help you know what else you'll need to budget for or not. Ask about parking, believe it or not some venues don't have any!
Also once you do have a contract set up to read through, READ IT. I know it's long. But there could be a lot of hidden fees or things they require of you. So just be sure before you sign....read it all!
I know this doesn't seem like that much to have on a "necessities" list. But the first and most important questions I would ask myself when thinking about what actually matters for our wedding are these:
Would anyone else know if this [fill in the blank] was here or not?
Is this [fill in the blank] going to add anything to the day other than extra $$ or stress?
If this [ fill in the blank] was at someone else's wedding would I be likely to remember it? (ex. paper on chairs, floral everywhere, endless expensive decorations)
Will this [fill in the blank] be something I remember in 10 years as a memorable part of my wedding? (Chances are you won't care if the napkins and plates were paper versus linens and china, you know?)
This is important to do because it helps to bring yourself out of the spiraling thoughts that will run through your mind of all the things you "should" have at your wedding. When this happens ask yourself those questions and see if it truly matters. Remember, it's your wedding. Don't care for tradition, don't use it? Love every tradition possible. Do it! Just for a small example. The thought of marching down the aisle to a traditional "here comes the bride" song made me want to puke, it just wasn't my jam. So I went with the piano guys version of A Thousand Years by Christina Perri (linked here if you would like to swoon and steal the idea). I get butterflies when I hear this song. Always have, always will.
Now... whatever you decide is important to spend your money on you will then be able to go searching for options. Once you decided where the big parts of money should be going, then everything else will either need to be made to fit the budget by deciding if you need it. Or, it will have to be altered so that it does fit within your established budget! Do not compare your wedding to magazines, Pinterest, or celebrities when you are working with a budget of two normal people. Remember that photoshoots are always perfect.
Other random items to save money on:
Floral/Bouquets: I will say I adore flowers, they are beautiful, elegant, colorful, and smell amazing. BUT. They DIE. Before you spend thousands on flowers that will only get to be used for a couple hours, consider these alternatives.
Only have a bouquet for the bride and a boutonniere for the groom. The bridesmaids really don't need them. And if we're honest they make your hand cramp from holding them.
Don't do floral centerpieces, use either fake arrangements, or candles/vases alternatives to flowers. You'll also be able to sell stuff afterwards rather than just throwing out dead flowers.
Get an artificial bouquet and boutonniere. They look beautiful in pictures and then you can actually keep it! Mine is by my bedside table in a vase now. And there are so many choices now a days.
Invitations/Printable/Programs: I love a beautiful card and getting mail as much as the next person, but depending on your wedding size paper products add up QUICK. So before you spend hundreds to thousands on them, consider this.
Do virtual invitations! SO MANY PERKS HERE. You can edit things as needed. All you need are guests emails. It still looks gorgeous, no postage costs, people can RSVP a lot quicker, AND you can message guests in the site. This is also super environmentally friendly which is a bonus.
We used Greenvelope for this, super user friendly. Also if you go this route check for coupons on the web. We ended up finding a 10 or 15% off code! So we saved even more money!
Another option here: don't print programs for the chairs. They are literally money you are paying to lay paper on a chair or table that people will either throw down or use as a fan... and then someone has to pick them up later. Again, does it really add anything to your day?? Something to consider.
For thank you cards post wedding we saved money by buying envelopes that were 4x6 on Amazon and then printing 4x6 photos at Walgreens (had a coupon code for 50% off here too haha). We then wrote on the back of the photo to each family. If you don't believe this will save you money, go check the price of a custom photo thank you card. I'll wait... Told you.
Another option for thank you cards is also virtual, I believe Greenvelope has this as a choice too, we just wanted something a little more personal and handwritten.
Keep it simple, you don't really need big huge centerpieces. Your guests are going to want to be able to see over them to talk and see the action.
We bought bulk tablecloths from Walmart.com for cheap and I has able to resell them after for almost the same price I paid for them because they were SO much cheaper than other places. (These could be included at your venue or with catering, just be sure to ask).
We made our table numbers, Mr. and Mrs., Thank You signs, and the cake topper (we stained a plain one from Amazon) for a fraction of the price you see online. Took some carpentry skills, but my hubs is a pro. DIY is always an option. HOWEVER, always weigh this: will this cost me more stress and time if I do it myself? Will it be worth the money difference just to buy it? If you are not a master at DIY maybe buying premade will save you a headache. Also, consider asking your people for help with it. Everyone knows someone who is like a walking Pinterest board!
Our wedding favors were coffee bags that said things like "Thanks for BEAN here" "Grounds for celebration" "The Perfect Blend" and "Love is brewing". Also made cheaper by ordering the baggies off of Amazon, buying cheap bulk cans of Great Value coffee, and copying pictures of lettering from Pinterest with a black sharpie.
Let me just start by saying, we wanted a super simple cake... 2 plain white tiers with a little texture on them. Then we wanted them to put a little greenery on it and we had our own topper and cake stand. Publix quoted us like $145 or something crazy and we were going to have to put all the decor on ourselves still! Why? Because it was 2 tiered and we said the word "wedding". Prices always go up when you say that. So we ordered two plain white cakes separately, from Publix. We did not tell them what it was for. No need to. My mom ended up stacking them herself and placing on the greenery and topper herself. Our cakes were $55 bucks I think. Saved us big money (again shout out to my mom for making our cake look amazing).
Hair and Make-up:
We saved money here by having the bridesmaids and myself doing our own makeup.
I cannot do my hair to save my life, unless it's a messy bun or ponytail so we got someone for that. Again look for someone local to the venue to avoid travel fees. Personally I loved how my hair looked. They did an amazing job. And if I do say so myself, I was rather proud of my makeup. Also shout out to my sister for helping me with my fake eyelashes. First time wearing those, and I'd be okay if I never had to again.
I hope this helps anyone who feels overwhelmed. To give you either a place to start or just a reminder that it's okay to do whatever you want. This is your day! Good luck! And if you have any further questions don't hesitate to reach out.