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Guest Post: Planning a Wedding on a Budget

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Photo Credit: Aesthetic Life Studio

Guest Post by Amy at Belles on a Budget

Seven quick tips that will help you plan the wedding of your dreams without breaking the bank.

1. Plan ahead. Giving yourself plenty of time to plan the wedding will end up saving you so much money! Planning in advance will let you take advantage of the sales and deals over several months, giving you more control over your budget. This way, you’ll be able to hold out for an awesome coupon code for your invitations, wait for a clearance sale for your bridesmaid dresses, or jump on a major deal for your honeymoon.

By planning in advance, my husband and I were able to grab the perfect honeymoon cottage in Hawaii before the price of a weekly rental went up by $250- and before it was booked for the entire summer!

2. Use Your Coupons! As Hip2Save readers, we all know the amazing value of coupons, but you may be surprised how often those coupons can come into play with your wedding planning. From manufacturer’s coupons helping you score free items for Out of Town Bags to craft store coupons helping you save 40-50% off anything from paper to vases to place cards, clipping coupons can have a big impact on overall wedding costs.

With coupons, the Out of Town Bag above was put together for less than $1! (The price breakdown: Sobe waters- free at Target, candy- $0.05 total at CVS, granola bars- $0.10 each at Safeway, popcorn- $0.06 at Giant, Nut Clusters- free at Safeway, gum- free at Giant, and gift bag- $.50 at Oriental Trading.)

3. Prioritize. Discuss with your fiancé what the most important aspects of your wedding are, and keep them in mind during the planning process. Want breathtaking pictures that will make you swoon for years to come? Then spend a little more to get that photographer of your dreams and skip the pocketfold invitations. Will that gorgeous historic mansion make your day? Book it, but opt for a lunch reception or heavy hors d’oeuvres instead of a plated dinner.

One friend of mine went for the beautiful custom-made invitations she had always wanted, and then scored her perfect wedding dress at Nordstrom for only $150! She stayed within her budget and got that detail that brought everything together for her.

4. Communicate! When you are venue shopping and meeting with vendors, don’t be afraid to talk about being on a budget. Ask about their ideas on how to minimize costs or creative ways to achieve the overall effect you want while sticking to your budget. Not only will this give you some great ideas, it will show you how willing these vendors are to work with your budget before you book with them!

Photo Credit: Richard Prenger

One of my family members, for example, expressed her budget concerns to a photographer that she loved, but who was out of her price range. He told her of an upcoming promotion that ended up saving her 10% off the package price- making it within her budget!

5. Look Out for Hidden Costs. Hidden fees can appear in several aspects of wedding planning- the trick is to know about them and ask about them! When venue shopping, make sure to ask about cake cutting costs, penalties for bringing in outside food, and corkage fees. Many venues are willing to negotiate on (or even eliminate!) these fees, so bring them up before you sign a contract and see what they will do for you. Also research fees when ordering printed items like save the dates or invitations. Know about set-up charges, color ink fees, and shipping costs before buying and make sure to factor mailing costs (based on shape, size, and weight) into your bottom line!

For her event, a friend asked about corkage fees only to find they were $30 a bottle!! She negotiated the fee to $8 a bottle- a huge difference! She still came out ahead by providing her own wine and paying the lower corkage fee, rather than buying the wine directly from the hotel.

6. Use your friends…in a good way!! You know those moms/sisters/friends that are incredibly detail-oriented and love planning parties? Let them help! They will love it and it will be a major help to you, and could end up saving you tons of money. The key is to give specific, concrete tasks and only relinquish as much control as you are comfortable with! Some tasks that work well: making dessert for the cookie bar, accompanying you with shopping trips so you can use more coupons, assembling programs or favors, and putting together Out of Town Bags.

I asked my immediate family, aunts, and future in-laws to each contribute their specialty cookie to my cookie buffet, and then labeled each one. Not only did this make the cookie bar more meaningful, I ended up being able to put the whole thing together for only a few dollars- the cost of some serving dishes and platters at a yard sale.

7. Be creative. One of my favorite ways to save when planning events it to think outside the box! As much as you can, stay away from items with that expensive “wedding” label on them—that will make the price much higher! Instead, look at “raw materials” and envision how they can be combined to create something beautiful, affordable, and uniquely you.

My husband and I, for example, were inspired by photo booth strips and decided to take our own photo strip Save the Date magnets: my sister took the pictures, we formatted them in a Word document, and then printed them on magnet paper from a craft store. The final cost of the entire project came out to be under $25!

And Above All—Have fun!! This is such an incredibly special time and you should absolutely enjoy it! Congratulations on your wedding!

Want more tips and specific ideas? Check out Belles on a Budget for details on how to save on nearly every aspect of wedding (and honeymoon!) planning.

Join The Discussion

Comments 69

  1. kaitlyn

    Some huge wedding tips…. we got married 1 1/2 years ago.

    -get married on a friday or sunday night.
    -get married in the off-season (we got married on a fri in december and saved over 20% at our venue… some offer larger savings but we loved our venue)
    -off-seaon can save you money on dj, photographer, flowers, limo ect. as well!!
    -buy a sample wedding gown… but be cautious of expensive alterations. my dress was $400, but alterations were another $250!!! still a “cheap” wedding gown of my dreams! remember the more layers of fabric the more the cost.
    -make your own invitations. we bought 2 different color card stock. had the invites printed at a printing press (or you can do on own computer, however the printing press was very cheap!), then i double sided taped them together. came out wonderful, very classy.
    -have favors double as centerpieces. we had hurricane candles with a wintery wreath on every table, along with each place card holder was a pretty sparkley snowflake.
    -have a candy buffet… HUGE hit. most candy does not go bad. so buy ahead and shop around. if warm climate freeze some chocolate items. buy all glass containers at thrift stores, and yard sales. all should cost you under $5, and those are for the HUGE ones.
    -flowers, buy in season flowers. don’t get married near any major flower giving holidays… ie. valentine’s day ect.
    -music… ipod wedding. i did not do this but a close friend just did. i was VERY skeptical but it ended up being awesome. even with a dj you end up usualy choosing 70+% of the music for your wedding anyways. they had a close friend do all the anncouncements of the wedding party ect. at the beginning than ran the rest off an ipod and designated one person to make sure it kept going! you would have never have known there was no dj!
    -photographer… shop around to find one that lets you keep and have rights to all your pictures on a disk. then make albums online through shutterfly, snapfish ect. talk them into giving a free engagment session. not only are they fun to do but it gives you an opportunity to “practice” being in front of the camera and getting to know the photographer.
    -make as much as you can. use coupons for michael’s ect. make your centerpices. make your favors. i found awesome champagne glasses on clearance at pier 1 for $2. i found for 50cents on sale snowflake decals that i “bedazzled” one on each to jazz them up. people thought i paid top dollar for them. my mom make my unity candle and guest book…she copied the exact ones i wanted online.

  2. Megan M

    -Talk to friends who have gotten married to find out about “deals” before you visit the vendor. Picking my wedding dress on my 1st visit to one boutique saved me 10%. Getting bridesmaid dresses at the same place you get your wedding dress often chops off a percentage too. Buying photos the 1st time you see them saves 10-20%.
    -Keep the wedding party on the small side, else all those extra meals, accessories, and thank you gifts can really add up.
    -Booking my photographer at a wedding show saved me $500 and then I managed to talked them into saving my friend that referred me to them that same $500 discount since she booked just a few weeks prior. Also get a photographer that will give you the digital copies (usually after 1 year), so you don’t have to buy every single one you like.
    -Ask vendors if they price match. Found a great deal on limos, but they didn’t have the right size available my day, so I took the quote to a different place and they were willing to match it and they had nicer vechicles!
    -Also, I found an florist just starting her business that was willing to work at cost to help build her portfolio. Use more greens than flowers, and pick/ask for in-season flowers.
    -Things don’t have to be matchy patchy. No one will notice if 3 of the tables have slightly different votive candle holders than the others. Use craigslist to by other bride’s leftover decorations then sell them again to recoup your cost. Also, visit all the thrift stores in town for inspiration. $16 vases I liked at Micheals, I found for $0.60/each at St. Vincent De Paul.

    • Katie

      this was awesome thank you!

  3. Stacey

    do your own flowers! I will be ordering mine from sam’s club: 250 roses and 150 mini calla lilies for around $300.

    • Katie

      that is awesome. How long before your wedding will you be getting them. Someone I knew did the samething. I was thinking about doing it but scared they wouldnt look good on the day of the wedding. What was your plan?

      • Debbie

        We picked up our flowers at Costco the day of the reception. I had to order them a week or two in advance, but that was ok. I went into Costco and spoke with the floral lady. She gave me the name of the website Costco uses (which I can’t remember now) and that gave me a lot of options. I ordered 10 centerpieces and three other kinds of flowers. A friend made arrangements for me. We spent around $350. We had SO MANY FLOWERS that we had to make up places to put them all.

  4. brikena

    I made my own wedding cake 🙂 it turned out beautiful and I saved hundreds of dollars. And ever since than I’ve had a small cake business from my house 🙂 Be creative and don’t be afraid to try new things, you might find out you are good at them.

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