Let's just get something out of the way - most weddings aren't cheap. Tyler & I wanted to have an amazing day, but we didn't want to start our lives together with wedding debt. So we pinpointed some of the areas we were willing to spend more on & then did our best to save, save, save on the other parts. For us, we wanted good food, plenty of booze, music, & a space big enough for all of our family and friends without whittling away the guest list. Working with the family members that helped fund our nuptials, we set a budget & it ruled all planning decisions we made. If not, things can get out of hand & quickly!
So where did we save the most?
1. DIY flowers - after getting a quote from a local florist for $4,000+ I had to reassess my flower design dreams. My stepmom mentioned using silk flowers & I immediately turned up my bratty nose. I associated silk flowers with icky 80s arrangements & funerals… not what I was going for. But then I found Afloral.com & had to eat my words (typical… you think I would learn!)
Turns out I could have all my flower dreams, for 1/5th the price & without having to worry about wilting! For about $750 I purchased all the flowers for the wedding (centerpieces, bouquets, boutonnieres, etc.) & was able to assemble them months ahead of time to cut down on last minute stress. Amount saved? $3,250.In the market for silk flowers? I thought the peonies & anemones looked very realistic. Shop these: here, here, here, here & here. (our photographer didn't even believe me they were silk & they stayed fresh looking all day!)
2. Crafty family & friends - my sister made my veil & wrote on the chalkboards, my stepmom made my garter, my mom made the flower girl dresses, my aunt and cousin made our entry way picture (out of a vintage window, so cool!), my grandparents designed & made our Mr. & Mrs. chair signs, a friend made our cut cake, & two of my friends played the ceremony music. Amount saved? Family touches are priceless!
3. Affordable Wedding Party Attire - Asking your wedding party to pony up for bachelor/bachelorette parties, showers, engagement parties, gifts, flights to your wedding AND an outfit… that's not nice. We wanted to make sure that our friends enjoyed being a part of our party & still had money left in their pockets. The ladies got to pick out their own blush chiffon dresses & wore shoes/accessories they already owned. The gents wore charcoal pants and white button downs they already had & Ty gifted them their shoes and ties. All they had to pick up were $5 suspenders. Amount saved? Friendships.
4. Booze - we splurged on our venue, but they let us pick our own vendors, allowing us to save or spend as much as we wanted on these services. Some venues lock you into using their vendors, including wine packages that can start at $15 a bottle (& that's for the cheap stuff!) By sticking with only wine and beer & getting to buy it in bulk from our bargain liquor store, we saved big & everyone's cups stayed full all night long. Amount saved? $3,000+- the key here is to buy early & in bulk quantities if possible. We knew that we wanted mason jar guest favors & a Chinese lantern grand exit, so we bought these on the wedding off season & in bulk all at one time. You could also look for Groupons or re-sale items on wedding message boards. Total spent = $300. Amount saved? $1,000.
As I mentioned, we splurged on our venue, photography/videography & professionals to do our lights, DJ & photo booth services. The biggest thing is to sketch out what your perfect day looks like & then focus the most funds on the non-negotiables for making that vision happen. Some things are cornerstones of your dream day, while others (ahem, $2000 draping… true story) are going to only be noticed by you.
Firsthand tip: When it comes to DIYs, DIY early, or do NOT DIY at all. For the sake of your sanity, do not plan on doing major DIY crafting the month before. Your friends, family & future husband will thank you!
Married people, what were your saves vs. splurges?
all photographs, Jessica Ranae Photography.