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how to have your dream wedding & stay within your budget

I realized last night that I’ve never really written blogs on our wedding aside from a recap of our wedding itself! So today I thought I would share more on the financial side of things, and how we (IMO) had a gorgeous wedding and still stayed within our budget. I feel like planning a wedding can be stressful in a lot of ways, but I’m hoping that this blog can give you some insight on things you can do to save money while still having a beautiful wedding!

To put things into context, I’m going to let y’all know what our wedding budget was. We had $22,500 to spend and we only went $500 over (which I think is pretty good). And maybe you’re thinking “wow, that is a lot of money for a wedding” or maybe you’re thinking “that’s a pretty small budget.” From other weddings I know of though, I can say that I think our budget was definitely on the lower end but I don’t feel like it was reflected at all in our wedding (and yes, I am going to tell you all ways we saved). Bottom line though, is you can have a really nice wedding without over extending yourself (even if you don’t have 20K for a budget).

Also, before we dive in. Trust me when I say this, your wedding is not worth going in debt over. You may think “but I’m only getting married once!” Yes, I get that. But it’s one night and it will be over before you know it. It is much better to be financially stable going into your marriage vs. starting off behind the eight ball because you overextended yourself. No one cares about your wedding as much as you do. No one will be remembering whether you served filet or chicken lol. Trust me on this!

Okay, onto the list of how we saved!

We got married on a Sunday. Usually if you want to get married on a day other than Saturday you can save some $$. Monday was a holiday so we felt like we weren’t really inconveniencing anyone by getting married on Sunday, but we saved about $1000 (from what I remember) so it was totally worth it. Ps. Even if Monday wasn’t a holiday, the people who wanted to be there would make our wedding a priority! So don’t be so worried about potentially inconveniencing others.

Used greenery instead of flowers, or be flexible on the type of flowers. First, like anything, definitely get several quotes regarding your vendors. The first quote we got for flowers was over $5K, and we ended up spending less than $2K with our chosen vendor and arrangements. We also quickly discovered that depending on what flowers you want (and the season), that some are way more expensive than others. We opted for only using flowers in the bouquet and some amongst the greenery in the arbor (I just picked whatever was most budget friendly and made it more about the colors vs. the flower itself), and the rest of the “flowers” in our wedding was just minimal greenery. I wanted more of an “ethereal” vibe anyway, so greenery also really aligned with my vision but it also saved money as well.

Reused bridesmaids bouquets for table arrangements. The flowers we did have for the bridal bouquets were reused as table arrangements. I had 8 bridesmaids so this saved us from spending money on 8 more arrangements. After the reception, our wedding planner just took the bouquets and arranged them as the centerpieces on the remaining tables.

Skip the traditional wedding cake. This is another area we saved a lot in. You tell someone you need a “wedding” cake (really anything wedding related) and the price automatically goes up haha. We had a local baker make 6 layered, round cakes. We did 3 flavors total and each cake was around $30. We then got a $20 donut cake from Whole Foods and that is what we cut into as “our cake.” We also then did a donut wall that ended up being around $130.

Look at various wedding dress shops and designers. I made a budget of about $1800 for my wedding dress (and I wanted this to include alternations). When I first went wedding dressing dress shopping, I loved some of the Hayley Paige dresses I tried on but they were right at my budget. I decided to shop around some and see if I could find a similar vibe with a smaller price tag. One of the wedding dress places I went to, I showed them a photo of the Hayley Paige dress I liked and told them what price range I wanted to stay within. The sales consultant ended up finding me two different pieces that when put together had a super similar vibe (but I actually liked it more!). They were also being discontinued so they were on sale and ended up being 50% less than the cost of the Hayley Paige (more details in my wedding blog post). Obviously this won’t happen every time but my point is just to keep an open mind and if you have a dream dress in mind, see if your sales consultant can find you something similar with a lower price.

Be flexible on food served. Food is an area that can add up quickly depending on what you serve for your horderves and entrees. For example, including seafood in your passed appetizers can really up the price and add up quickly. Likewise, if you choose to have filet, sushi, or anything more unique as an entree that can add up quickly too. Aside from the type of food served, we opted to do several different stations vs. plated or buffet. Plated is typically more expensive (and felt too formal for us anyway), and we liked the idea of stations because it gave people variety. And honestly, I can’t even remember the stations (see if I can’t remember my own wedding, your guests won’t either –another reason not to spend $$$ LOL). I think we did a pasta station, BBQ sliders and homemade sweet potato chips and then maybe a fajita station?

See if you can bring in your own liquor, do a signature cocktail, etc. Our venue ended up having really reasonable prices for alcohol so we ended up doing an open bar for the night with beer, wine and liquor. But, if you’re looking to save in this area I’d recommend seeing if you can bring your own alcohol, just doing a signature cocktail(s) vs. a full open bar, or just doing beer and wine.

Skip the videographer. Okay this one may be a little controversial and to each their own but I’ll share with you why we chose to skip this. This is often one of the largest expenses when it comes to weddings, and as much as we thought about getting a videographer we were like okay, realistically how many times are we going to sit down and watch our wedding video? And maybe if we did have one we would have sat down every anniversary or something to watch it but I’ll just say that even with every anniversary that’s passed, to this day I haven’t thought “I wish we had that wedding video to watch!” So hope this helps!

Opt for a DJ instead of a band. From my research, most bands can get very expensive compared to a DJ and from my experience, no one dances nearly as much with a band as they do with a DJ. We had a DJ, and everyone was dancing the entire night. There was such a good energy and we felt like having a great DJ was a big reason for that!

End the wedding “earlier” Our wedding went from 4pm-10pm, and we were given the option to end the wedding at 11pm for an additional fee (since the venue cost covered the initial 6 hours). I know a lot of weddings go until later but honestly by 10pm you’re ready to go “home” (at least we were lol). 6 hours was plenty of time to celebrate and we didn’t think an additional fee was worth an additional hour. So just something else to keep in mind if this comes up!

Okay guys, I think that is all for now! At least all the major things I can think of lol. Looking back on our wedding day, there wasn’t anything that I felt like we missed out on, or that any of these “sacrifices” took away from our day. I honestly wouldn’t change anything about our wedding, but making small adjustments like the ones above can save you a lot. If there are any other things y’all can think of, please comment below for everyone else to see!

does one of your girlfriends need to hear this? Share away…

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