With only three days to go before the big day, there has come a point in wedding planning where I’m just saying “forget it.” Ring not cleaned right before the wedding? Forget it! Welcome bags for guests not quite complete? Hopefully no one will notice!
One thing I’m not saying “forget it” to is our budget. While lots of little things have popped up that I didn’t think about, for the most part, we are right on budget. A lot of this has to do with the planning we started over a year ago, right after we got engaged. While some things I wish I could go back and change, I wouldn’t change how much money we’ve spent on most things. Here are the 5 ways I’m saving on our wedding – share yours in the comments!
Not Hiring a Wedding Planner
Up until about 8 months before our wedding, I was set on hiring a wedding planner. Everything online said you needed a wedding planner, that wedding planners make your life easier, and that day-of wedding planners are an absolute must so you don’t lose your mind.
Making it more enticing was the fact that I don’t have siblings or bridesmaids to help me out on the day of. I can’t ask my friends and family to help me with my wedding, right? WRONG! Once I realized a day-of wedding planner would be half of my budget, I quickly realized I just needed to do it myself (and, yes, lean on family a bit).
Luckily, planning your own wedding doesn’t have to be a nightmare. I’m lucky because our wedding is small – only 50 people total. If you have a 150+ person wedding, you might actually want a wedding planner, because all of that could be stressful.
However, if you’re having a fairly small wedding and are very organized, between The Knot’s wedding planner (lists and notebook) and Evernote, plus a calendar, you should be able to take care of most things yourself. It also helps I’ve taken off a few days before the wedding, which means I can tie up any loose ends before the big day. A wedding planner isn’t a necessity for most weddings, and you can save $500+ just on doing it yourself.
One of the most expensive parts of your wedding, after venue and food/drink, is probably going to be your photographer. It makes sense: photographers are taking photos you’re going to (hopefully) keep forever, and no one else can get the shots they’re going to. A good photographer might even touch up your photos and offer to print a small photobook!
Good photographers in Phoenix go for $2,500 and up, with some of the best around $3,500. While their work looks amazing, that price is almost half our budget. I want great photos, but writing a check for $3,500 (or even $2,500!) for one night would definitely be a stretch.
Luckily, I have a friend who is a professional photographer looking to grow her wedding photography business. She’s already been in the professional photography industry for years, so I know her work, but she hasn’t done many weddings and wants to branch out. I was able to get her to do our wedding for less than half of the expensive pros, and I know she’s going to do a phenomenal job.
Even if you don’t have a friend, ask your friends for their recommendations. I was able to get a professional make up artist to do my make up for a fraction of the price most pros choose just because my friend is her friend – a friend-by-extension discount. You never know who friends or coworkers will know, so ask!
No Expensive Treatments
So many people tried to tell me I needed expensive procedures before the wedding: multiple hair and make up trials (each trial at $75+), teeth whitening treatment, juice cleanses, weird procedures to “melt fat” and make me look trimmer, etc. etc. Did I mention that each of these treatments cost well over $50?
I don’t know what these people were trying to say (maybe my teeth are horrible? I didn’t think so…) but Crest Whitestrips seem to be doing a pretty good job so far. Also, I fit in my dress and look fine, so why expensive juice cleanses or weird fat loss procedures?
If someone tries to tell you you need to do an expensive procedure to “look better” for your wedding, feel free to tell them “thanks, but no thanks.” There’s a lot you can do before your wedding with diet and exercise to look good, and your main concern is fitting into your dress (or suit!), not losing extra weight to look a certain way. Also, if your spouse-to-be thinks you look great, that’s all that matters too, right? 🙂
I always knew that shopping around for the best deal usually pays off, but I had no idea how true that was until I started shopping around for the wedding. Before choosing your florist, your alterations, your venue – basically everything – make a list of 3-5 places to check out and get quotes from all of them.
Some quotes might horrify you ($14,000 for a venue – and it doesn’t even include food and drinks?!), but eventually you’ll start realizing what a “reasonable” price is and what a dreaming price is. Once you get a ball park range, feel free to go with the business you feel most comfortable with, knowing you’ve done your research.
For example, I went to several different alterations places. The first place wanted to charge me $375 to alter my dress. I had heard from coworkers that $300 to alter a wedding dress was actually “reasonable”, so I was a little prepared. However, when we went to another alterations place the next day, and the woman quoted us $95, I almost fell over. Not only did she do a great job, that price was incredible – and we’ll be going to her for all future alterations!
Even better was my flowers – I went to 4 different places, and all were quoting $2,000+, for pretty average flowers. The last place I went to? $900 total for outstanding flowers! By shopping around, you could save $1,000 or more – so take the extra time to do it, if you can! (Note: you can save even more if you do it yourself, but if you don’t have time or talent for that, make sure to shop around!)
A Desire to Stick to Your Budget
Setting a budget and making a plan is great – but you have to stick to it. It’s so easy to be convinced that you “need” this for your wedding, otherwise it will be a disaster. If I could count how many times people told me I “needed” this or that, I would probably have enough money to pay for an exotic honeymoon!
In the end, all you need for a wedding is you, your spouse, someone to marry you, and maybe witnesses to sign your document. You don’t need an expensive venue, amazing flowers, or even a DJ. If you keep that in mind, it makes it easier to stick to the budget you initially set. Sure, there will be unexpected costs, but if you keep the big picture in mind, you won’t be as easily swayed by “designer guest favors” – yes, that’s a thing!
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How did you keep your wedding on budget, and what recommendations do you have for recently engaged couples?