However, considering the average American wedding costs around $25,000 (someone get me a resuscitator!), I'm betting that many, MANY couples can relate to our plight. In that spirit, I am super excited to share a few ideas that we used to save a lot of money, and still create the wedding we had both imagined!
Before we started buying or committing to anything, Eric and I sat down and wrote up a list of our must-haves. I think this is absolutely a critical starting point for any couple planning a wedding, because the reality is you're just simply not going to be able to get or find everything you had in mind. For one thing, your wedding involves another person with their own specific ideas about what they want-- chances are, you two are not going to agree on absolutely everything! Eric went into our wedding planning with some very formal expectations; I went into it with visions of an outdoor party. Making a list of our must-haves helped us to find a happy middle ground. It also helped us prioritize the things we really wanted and were willing to pay top dollar for, and figure out the other areas where we could cut back or cut out completely.
Here is our list of money-saving ideas!
(Disclaimer: We were very lucky and very blessed to get a lot of help from our parents when it came to dinner, music, and flowers.)
- We bought simple DIY invitations at Target. To dress them up, I downloaded a few free fonts (there are literally millions online) and combined them to make a customized layout.
bought a pre-owned wedding dress for less than $250; my parents bought
my veil new as a gift for the wedding. Instead of shelling out for
Spanx, I bought off-brand shapewear at a discount store for about $10!
My shoes were on sale at DSW-- I got a pair of heels and a pair of flats
for about $60 total (and no one could tell the difference!)
bridesmaids wore adorable Lauren Conrad dresses from Kohl's (about $30)
and chose their own shoes and jewelry; the groomsmen wore ivory shirts
from Kohl's (on sale for about $10) and we gave them ties to match the
dresses that were also from a department store, on sale. Since our
wedding was outdoors in May in Oklahoma, they only had to rent pants!
- I stamped and filled small envelopes from the craft store and filled them with wildflower seeds as our wedding favor.
- Our cake fed 100 people and it was gorgeous. By choosing a simple design and a classic filling, we spent less than $400 on the cake, including tax and delivery!
got our flowers from the local grocery store; I chose wildflowers that
were in season, and for all the bouquets, boutonnieres, flowers for the
table, and flowers for the cake, we paid less than $600! We arranged the
table flowers ourselves, using mismatched vases that I picked up from
my mom's house (we cleaned out her cabinets), my school, and bought from
the dollar store. I also saved pasta and jam jars and mixed those in
for even more variety.
- Instead of renting table cloths
and worrying about cleaning fees, I bought large lengths of fabric at
the craft store (ONLY when on sale or with a coupon) and cut it myself
with pinking shears. We safety-pinned it to the plain white tablecloths
the venue supplied and created plenty of color and pizazz; as an added
bonus, we donated the fabric to the venue so we didn't have to worry
about cleaning up! We topped the tables with the vases and some small
votives from the craft store (again, bought with a coupon.)
- One of the greatest money-saving blessings was that we had was on our photography.
We had 2 (TWO!) photographers at our wedding-- both were family members
who did impeccable work for free. We got the photos we wanted and we
were able to include those family members in some moments they might have missed out on otherwise.
- Another fun thing we did for the wedding was to create an activity book for
the kids. In hindsight this was actually unnecessary because the kids
had a blast dancing and running around the grounds, but we wanted to
make sure that everyone who came would have a good time, or at least
have something fun to stay occupied. I found several websites that
offered free puzzle-makers, and I made a maze, a crossword, and a word
search-- all customized for our wedding and family. I also found some
coloring pages to add to the book. I just printed the books at home and
stapled them together! We also made sure to ask every restaurant we went
to if they wouldn't mind donating some crayons to our wedding-- every
single place gave us handfuls! The books were totally free! I set them
up in baskets from the dollar store, right next to the guest book.
- The last thing I did before the wedding was make some fun t-shirts for our honeymoon flight the next day! Eric and I left the morning after the wedding for our honeymoon out to Hawaii, and I wanted to travel in style and embrace the cheesiness-- so we wore "Mr" and "Mrs" t-shirts with our wedding date. I designed and created the shirts myself! We got a lot of "congratulations!" at the airport, a few perks on the airplane (including free champagne), and even an upgrade on our rental car! It made our honeymoon experience even more fun and special, and of course, the best part was traveling with my "Mr." (And now, in a shameless plug, you can order a set of your own wedding/honeymoon shirts from me at my Esty shop, MadeInFlight. There is a link at the top of your screen!)
Hopefully these ideas have been helpful for those of you who are planning a wedding. We had a blast planning ours, and everyone had a great time that evening! Regardless of whether you're planning a laid-back celebration or an extravagant affair, keep in mind these two things:
1. Something WILL go wrong-- and you'll have an amazing night anyway.
2. This day is about your love with this one person, in this one life, forever. At the end of the night, that's all that matters!