Yes, you read that title correctly. The wedding that you’ve seen snapshots of here on my blog only cost us around $6000! My dad gave me a $5000 wedding budget, but I know we went over just a little bit and I also wanted to account for some of the ‘donated gifts’ that were give that helped us tremendously. So, I’m assuming the entire thing probably cost around $6000. And this wasn’t the kind of wedding where we only had 50-100 guests. We filled every one of our 300 chairs at both the wedding and reception. It was 100% my Dream Wedding!
So how did we do it? By doing everything ourselves, of course. And it was 100% totally worth the hard work. In fact, it made it even more special knowing that my family and friends worked so hard just to make our day great. More photos from the wedding here, here, and here.
Since it worked so beautifully for us, I wanted to share our success with you. Below are 10 things we did to save money and tips to help you save as well.
- Have the right attitude. A wedding is an extremely important ceremony that signifies the beginning of the rest of your life as a couple. But if you truly love each other, you’re going to have FOREVER to celebrate that love. Remember that your wedding day is just another day. Don’t put too much pressure on it and I promise it will turn out better than you’ve imagined. Don’t spend your life savings on your wedding, because as soon as you leave your honeymoon, real life starts, and real life needs your savings much more than your wedding guests need to enjoy your life savings. That being said, go into planning with the idea that not everything will be perfect (it’s a fact, this is real life) but you’re the only one who WOULD notice and you’re going to be too busy that day to care. Don’t get bogged down in the details. No one is going to remember if you had personalized name cards or gold foil invitations. What they will remember is the smile on your face when you walk down the aisle and the nervous look that the groom gets right before you do. One of my biggest flaws is my need to control everything, but I began wedding planning with the intention of allowing other people to take control of certain areas of the wedding and I am SOOOOO glad I did. Those people were able to complete the tasks even better that I could’ve EVER done!
- Use a FREE venue. This tip is probably geared more toward those of you who want an outdoor wedding. When I first started looking at venue’s, I was BLOWN away at the cost. My entire wedding budget would have been consumed by the venue alone (and they didn’t include chairs). So my mom and I began to think out of the box. We called several friends that we knew owned at least a small bit of property and MANY of them agreed to let us use their homes/backyards for the wedding. In fact, we even entertained the idea of get married in the front yard of my parents home. Eventually, my grandparents gave me the idea of using my late great-grandfathers home. He lived on several acres with a pond, a barn, and several gorgeous oak trees. But the place hardly looked worthy of a wedding, which leads me to my next tip.
- Be ready to put in the work. Like I said, the house was NOT in the best condition and the outside was even worse. But it had potential. So for several weekends, my Pawpaw, dad, and the rest of my family worked to make the place look perfect. We dug up bushes, we cut branches, we swept the roof (yes… we did), we picked up sticks, we poisoned weeds and insects, and we rewired the electrical to have lights outside thanks to a family friend (Mr. Tracey, you are the best). The week before we SCRUBBED the house top to bottom. We borrowed tables from our church but we rented 300 chairs and we set them up ourselves the day before. The centerpieces were made several weeks before and my grandmother made the bridesmaids outfits. We tried out best to spread everything out as best we could as not to let it pile up on us, and I think we succeeded as best as we could.
- Decide what is important to you. Before you spend a dime, write out all of things that you HAVE to have at your wedding. Then rank those things from most important to least important. Mine went like this: 1. Be able to invite EVERYONE 2. My dress 3. White chairs 4. Good food (a mashed potato bar) 5. Live music. So we started with #1 which lead us to the free venue. We knew that if I wanted to get married at a beautiful chapel or plantation, in order to stay within budget, I would only be able to invite a small amount of people. This wasn’t going to work for me because Keith and I have such a great support system and didn’t want to exclude anyone. I allotted $1000 for my dress but only ended up spending $600. My mom remade the dress to be what I wanted and I spent the extra money on a pair of coveted Dee Keller heels to wear during the ceremony. We got the white chairs from a rental place for a discounted price because I was willing to rent the “festival chairs” in white that weren’t as pretty and were kind of bent up. The rental lady scoffed at the dirty white chairs and sent us the beautiful chairs you see in my pictures for the same price as the ugly ones. The food was wonderful, just like I knew it would be, but I didn’t get the live music like I wanted. And guess what? It was totally okay! Decide what you must have and then go from there. You’ll be happy that you didn’t spend your time and money on things that were lower on your list of importance.
- Print your own invitations and ditch the RSVP/Reception Card. I happen to be pretty savvy with Photoshop and other design software, so I was able to design my own invitations. But you can find tons of wedding invitation templates online (etsy is a great place) where you can just fill in the names and date and time and you have a beautiful invitation. Don’t think that you have to get them custom designed from minted in order for them to be beautiful. Also, I used catprint.com to print my invites. It was extremely affordable and they came out GORGEOUS! You can order a sample pack of paper so that you can pick your favorite. You can also print a sample, which I did as well! But you know those pretty little bundles of invitations, rsvp card, reception card, and map that you see on pinterest? That is going to cost you, big time. Skip those cards and print that information on the back of your invite and have your guests RSVP by email or phone. Better yet, they make tons of apps nowadays to take care of all that junk. Go the digital route and save yourself the money. No one remembers what your invitation looks like. I also ditched the save the dates. Keith and I were only engaged for 6 months and I figured sending yet ANOTHER announcement was a bit of overkill. We didn’t even require people to RSVP and guess what, everyone still came!
- Use silk flowers. I know, I know. I’m a lifestyle blogger and I’m telling you to skip the fresh flowers. But seriously, fresh flowers can be really expensive and you almost always HAVE to use a florist. They aren’t really something you can do yourself in most cases, because you would have to do it they day before and who has time for that? Everyone thought that my flowers were real and a friend (Mrs. Chandra) arranged them. She had weeks to do it and was able to change things if I needed her to because they could be done so far in advance. It is also something you can do yourself. Mrs. Chandra happens to be an expert, but if you had time for trial and error and a little tutorial searching, I’m sure you could figure it out as well.
- Hit up your local goodwill. Go easy on the centerpieces. I thought I needed magnificent, elaborate centerpieces, but it turned out that simple was better and I never even saw a centerpiece the whole time I was there. Also, No one complained that my centerpieces were simple and made up of random vases and candlesticks that we found at goodwill (true story). Don’t bust your budget on something that you won’t even remember. Goodwill is great for old books, vases, and knick knacks that will make your centerpieces unique and fun! I even used old wood spools to hold our Instagram hashtag sign.
- Ask for help. This might be the best tip ever. Almost everything that I loved about my wedding was actually done by other people who volunteered. I asked a lot of people for favors or for help and they willingly stepped up. You are probably a lot like me and you have lots of people who love you who want to be a part of your day if you will just give them the opportunity. We asked people to serve food, men to pick up chairs, ladies to cut the cakes, people to direct traffic. On the day of, all of those people showed up early ready to do whatever needed to be done. Trust me, people love to be needed and you WILL need help. Just ask. My mom and I just gave them a little direction and they each performed their tasks with skill and the outcomes were beautiful. Use the people around you. I LOVE to be called to help people set up for weddings. It makes me feel as though I am a valued member of their friend circle. And people need to be valued.
- Ditch the favors and the alcohol (if you dare). Wedding favors puzzle me. I invited you, fed you, entertained you and you want me to give you something too? I figured people would come to see me on the happiest day of my life. So I ditched the favors and no one has complained yet. As far as alcohol goes, there is no way I would have been able to stay within my wedding budget if we would have had alcohol. Keith and I aren’t big drinkers anyway (though I enjoy a glass or four of red wine as much as the next girl) and our parents and grandparents do not drink at all. So out of respect to them, we kept our wedding dry (minus a few smugglers… you know who you are, Shaw Family). And trust me, there was still much fun to be had. I know this is a no-go for a lot of you, but if you’re still trying to decide, think really hard about it. This day is about you and if you don’t need it, you’re guest will live, trust me. Plus, it saves you the risk of having to deal with any shenanigans.
- Remember that this day is about You & Your Spouse. You aren’t going to notice the imperfections, I promise. My wedding was a whirlwind of happy and it wasn’t until I was on the boat to Mexico that I realized we forgot to put out my large scale framed bridal portrait. And guess what, no one noticed (not even me) and the wedding was still wonderful. Concentrate on spending time with your new husband and saying thank you to all of your friends and family. Those are the memories that you will cherish most of all, or at least the ones you should.
Overall, I guess my message here is to stop coveting that $100,000 wedding on pinterest and make your wedding right for you with the right budget, the right people, and the right man. Everything else will fall into place. If you’re truly in love then your goal is just to BE married, the wedding is just a ceremony and a celebration to mark that transitions. With 3 months of marriage under our belts and more and more expenses showing up every day, Keith and I are confident in our decision to spend only the necessary and save the rest for our future. The wedding was just a day. It was a great day, but everyday since has great as long as Keith is by my side. And I intend to keep him right there.
If you have any more questions about my wedding, please comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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