With each choice I made during my own wedding planning, I asked myself,
“Will this be a detail I look back on and cherish, or am I only considering it because I am ‘supposed’ to?”
If there were any details I was tempted to include only because I feared judgement from others, it was something I conscientiously put on the chopping block. I preface the following list with this explanation to say: my money-savers will not necessarily be the same ones you choose. They were deeply personal to my own preferences and views. Some of my “cuts” will be things that are at the top of your priority list.
Rather than a blog post with a formula on “how to save,” I hope this will instead challenge your decision-making process as you consider ways to be thrifty with your wedding while remaining true to yours and your groom’s wishes.
With that, here are 5 ways I saved on our wedding.
1. Cut the Save the Dates
Save the Dates can be helpful for a wedding date in the very distant future or if you are planning a destination wedding. Plus, let’s be honest: they’re cute!
However, let me ask: do the people you really want at your wedding (I’m talking your family and best friends) actually find out about the date from something you send in the mail? Probably not.
All of mine knew by text, phone call, or otherwise the moment we set the date. It was important to me that they were there, so I made it a priority to get on their calendar ASAP! Additionally, we only had a 5-month engagement, so it was perfectly acceptable to simply send an invitation a bit further in advance (8 weeks prior to the wedding, rather than 6 weeks).
2. Your fiancé is the one: not the dress.
I may be stepping on some toes here, but for me, I did not need a hefty price tag or designer brand on my dress to feel beautiful and bridal for my big day. Don’t get me wrong—I love watching “Say Yes to the Dress” just as much as the next gal, but the “specs” behind the dress didn’t matter as much to me as how it looked and made me feel. In fact, even though I knew that I wouldn’t purchase, I went to a bridal boutique with my mom to try on the fancy, expensive gowns to get a feel for the styles and shapes I liked (or hated) and get that dreamy bridal experience.
Then, I spent $99 on my Maggie Sottero gown from the sample dress section at a tiny shop in Dallas called Anonymously Yours, and an additional $200 or so for alterations, plus the cost of steaming. I felt beautiful and did not have to feel an ounce of guilt over busting my budget on a dress I would wear once (okay, twice: bridal portraits). If you are thinking of going a lower-cost route for your dress, check out local bridal shops that specialize in sample dresses and consignment! If you are in DFW, I mentioned Anonymously Yours in Dallas; I’ve also heard great things about Sunday’s Bridal in Richland Hills.
3. Pick an atypical day & time (and venue)
We were originally thinking of getting married in a public park or other simple venue, but (due to logistics) settled on Zera Coffee Company in Denton, Texas: a large coffee shop with some personal meaning for us. We had our ceremony and reception in the same location, but got creative with setup and seating. Additionally, Zera had a lovely, large patio for our guests to enjoy during the reception. It was lower cost already, but also “forced” us to get married on a Sunday and without serving alcohol, due to venue policies. The shop is also decorated very similarly to what I had in mind for our wedding theme, so we just needed to add some string lights, banners, and centerpieces.
We also chose to have our wedding at 2:30 p.m. (and ended about 6:00 p.m.) to avoid falling over a regular mealtime: we served bruschetta, charcuterie (cure meats, cheeses, & pickled vegetables), and fruit & vegetable crudité.
Some of the brides for whom I am acting as day-of coordinator are also going the atypical route: a public park or lawn, a local bar patio for the reception, a newly opened venue offering early discounts, etc. Get creative!
4. Go non-traditional with the cake
I don’t really like cake. There! I said it. I much prefer brownies, cookies, or ice cream. There is one type of cake I love, though, and it’s carrot cake! We went simple & purchased our cakes (carrot and chocolate) from Sam’s Club: for the tiered look, I ordered a multi-level cake stand and still chose the handcrafted toppers of my wedding dreams. I loved the look & we saved big time!
Recently, I also attended a gorgeous brunch wedding that boasted a donut tower in lieu of cake. So cute!
5. DIY, but also borrow!
When done mindfully and in moderation, creating your decorations yourself can be cost-effective. Check out this blog post I penned describing how to Pinterest with Purpose. Also be sure to put a call out to your friends and family for the supplies that you need—you might be able to collect a good amount by “donations” and borrowing.
I wanted to transform the coffee shop in a twinkle-light wedding wonderland. We borrowed Christmas
lights from various family friends and had plenty.
We didn’t have a legit photo booth, but had a chalk wall with some props for people to use. They simply captured the portraits with their smart phones. However, a friend of mine has lighting to use for photography and videos, so she lent us that to make it even better.
Donated: Wine bottles for Centerpieces
A good friend of ours had tons of wine bottles for the taking, so I just had to soak/scrub the labels off, and purchase spray paint/fabric.
Donated: Time & Expertise
I gathered my girlfriends for a crafting party where we created centerpieces, painted signs, and assembled photo booth props. I also had some friends who lived further away, but wanted to help. I assigned them crafting tasks as well! They made banners for us to hang, and I provided either the supplies or the funds to purchase them.
Donated: Props, Décor
Some of my girlfriends offered to purchase aspects of the décor, like the photo booth props, as their wedding gift to me. I wholeheartedly accepted! Others donated services or portions of the wedding, like the design of invitation, discounts on musicians, etc.
There you have it! 5 ways that I chose to save money while wedding planning. Keep an eye out for a follow-up post on the 5 aspects of the wedding I chose to splurge on!
How are you choosing to save money? Which of my money-savers do you totally disagree with & why? Let me know in the comments!
Photog Credit: Zac & Kaitlin Photography