Our 2 year anniversary is coming up on March 16, which means 2 years ago from today, I was freaking out.
I’m talking about a first class, total meltdown.
My meltdown was not a case of cold feet or pre-wedding jitters, but a sudden and harsh realization that weddings are expensive.
Everyone knows this, but until you plan one for yourself, it doesn’t sink in all the way.
So after it did, I let myself hyperventilate. If this is where you’re at, go ahead. Scream into a pillow. You’ll feel better.
Afterward, you’ll realize there is good news. You can have your Pinterest-worthy wedding, without going over budget. The secret to a thrifty and gorgeous wedding lies in the details.
5 Secrets to Planning a Wedding on a Budget:
1. Say yes to the (right) dress:
Wedding dresses are outrageously expensive, but that doesn’t mean you have to pay hundreds of dollars for your gown. If you don’t mind wearing a pre-worn dress and making alterations, thrift stores, Craigslist, Amazon, and eBay can be great for gently used wedding gowns. If you have a mom, aunt, or grandma with great style, you can go for a vintage vibe without breaking your budget.
For new dresses, shop the clearance rack at boutiques and trunk shows in your area. Sometimes the clearance rack is a total jackpot. Amazon, eBay, and trusted wedding dress vendors like David’s Bridal also have great low-cost, high-class, brand-new dresses.
While you’re shopping for your perfect gown, remember: never try on a dress that is out of your price range. The sheer fact that you can’t afford it will make you want it even more. Sales people can be pushy, so to avoid getting shown dresses you can’t afford, tell the salesperson your top dollar is 75% of your actual budget. They almost always go over the price limit you set, so this will keep your wedding dress shopping on target.
2. Creative Venue Options:
The day of the week your wedding is on is vital when deciding what venue fits inside your budget. Venues are notorious for up-charging on popular days like Friday night or Saturday, and then dropping venue prices by 40-50% on less popular days, like Sunday or a weeknight. If you have your heart set on a pricey venue, ask about their rates from Sunday through Thursday.
For a lower cost venue, consider renting a local park for the day. You can rent and set up a small tent for shade and coverage and let nature set the scene for your day. Also, if you have a loved one with a nice house or great backyard, ask if you could have your wedding at their home. Backyard weddings can be quaint and perfect for a small crowd.
3. KISS (keep it super simple) at your reception:
Your reception is where your family and friends can make a difference in the cost of your event. Keep things simple by asking that they make pies, cakes, and cookies as their wedding gift to you. If they don’t bake, ask that they help make decorations like table decor or goodie bags. If there is a task a loved one can do instead of hiring a professional, let them do it. This infuses more meaning into your special day as well as saves you a bundle.
4. The secret (of the) garden:
Before settling on the flowers you want, ask your florist what flowers are in season, what colors they are naturally (dying flowers costs extra), and what flowers are the cheapest. Write down what your florist says, then go to Pinterest and find pretty arrangements using those flowers.
A great place to look for a florist is your local grocery store. They are often less expensive than boutique florists and do professional grade work. Another option for flowers is growing and arranging them yourself. This can be a lot of work, but has the benefit of being exactly what you want at a much lower cost.
5. The photographer:
I have a total soft spot for photographers. They work hard, mostly behind the scenes, and do incredible work. Personally, photography is one area of wedding planning I wouldn’t penny pinch. However, there are times of the year when photographers have empty wedding weekends, usually in winter months, that they want to fill. In order to entice customers to book them for these winter weekends, they offer discounts. By planning your wedding during the off-season, you can take advantage of lower rates and get quality photography for less.
Now that you know the inside secrets to planning a wedding on a budget, you’re ready to get out there and rock the garter off your frugal wedding, and no one will be the wiser.
Author bio: Vanessa is co-founder of Cash Cow Couple, a site dedicated to helping people increase their net worth and live abundantly on a modest salary.