Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Wedding Wednesday: The Budget & The Tips

Sometime during college I realized that if/when my wedding were to happen it would probably be up to myself and whomever the groom might be to pay for it. Thus I opened a savings account tied to my checking and started saving. I put away parts of my paychecks, saved around $25 monthly, and anytime any sort of monetary gift was given to me ( like on holidays) the savings account it went.

Before my husband and I even started dating, I had a decent chunk of money put aside. As we started talking marriage, I increased my savings as much as possible. My mother volunteered to help put a couple bucks aside for us, my grandmother offered to pay for my gown, and my now in-laws offered to pay for the rehearsal dinner(later surprised us by paying for the cake too) all incredible and unexpected blessings that I don't know what we would have done without! However, the bulk of the wedding was still on us. I once read a blog post by a blogger who wondered if it was odd to start saving before your engaged. My answer: absolutely not. It's an important day, and if you think you're headed that direction soonish why not?

Altogether, we spent around $7000.

Through this post, I'll share with you where our dollars went, our tips: how we saved, and tips/tricks you may have read that really won't help your budget. And I'll forewarn you, this is a length and wordy post. Sorry.

Budget Break Down: 
Please note that while we kept a pretty detailed track of our spending some of this is not exact and rough estimates. It does include items that we were helped with like the rehearsal dinner and gown etc.

Photographer Wedding....................$1100.00
Photographer Engagement..............$150.00
Food Cake......................................$275.00
Food Popcorn.................................$390.00 < includes our flavor shakers, and toppings
Food Drinks....................................$13.36
Food Rehearsal Dinner...................$400.00
Attire Bride......................................$1076.64 < includes dress, alterations, jewelry, shoes, undergarments, veil, etc
Attire Groom...................................$76.00<includes shirt, tie, vest and shoes
Attire Hair/Nails..............................$100.00< I splurged and got a special nail treatment, totally worth it. Hair= $40
Stationary Invites/Signs/etc..............$370.00
The Rings.........................................$450.79
Gifts Wedding Party........................$186.65
Guest Favors...................................$234.23
Decor..............................................$510.00 <included tablecloths, pretty decor, confetti, etc
Officiant & Pre-Marital Counseling...$200.00
Wedding Certificate..........................$5.00
Bridal Brunch....................................$25.00
Wedding Party Dinner......................$60.00

GRAND TOTAL: $7,147.67

Now read below to see how we did it! See something you want to know more about? Just shoot me an email, I'm happy to share. The way I see it, I wouldn't have been able to do this all without the help of a lovely friend so I'd love to pay it forward in anyway I can

Our Tips:

  • My gown ...Finding your gown is going to be different for everyone. In my experience, David's Bridal like stores just wasn't working for me. I ended up at a small boutique and walked away with a designer gown for $ Right away I told the lady that I had no more than $600 to spend on the dress and that I also was going to have to ship it. She kept to that, not only did she keep to that but she knocked down the price. And I got incredible service. If you're in the Tampa area, I have the BEST Bridal shop to recommend.
  • Food: You don't have to serve everyone a full course meal. Have your wedding late and offer a snack item like our popcorn. It was a hit and no one complained that they were hungry still. And as far as drinks go, go simple! We served water and pink lemonade.
  • Photographer: Pictures are one of my favorite things, if you've followed this blog for any length of time, you've probably seen that to be true. I wanted amazing wedding pictures as much as anyone else, but I didn't have the budget for the world famous xyz photographer. Be willing to give a new photographer a chance. Birds&Coffee hadn't done a wedding before ours, and our photos were marvelous! Plus we got three photographers for a phenomenal price!
  • His Attire: The traditional wedding tux has come a long way and the recent trend is to do whatever you want. For us that meant the men wore suits. Not only that, but each groom/usher chose/worte their own suits, not rented...something I never read nor seen, though I'm sure it exists somewhere. This saved us a lot because Kevin already owned a suit, and it saved some of our groomsmen $$ because they too already owned a black suit, and if they didn't, well every guy needs a black suit so it was money well spent for their future instead of a one night affair. Items we knew had to match like the ties and shirts, we went to Al's Formal Wear, easy inexpensive one stop shop! And for shoes, we found those at a consignment shop for $30!
  • Design yourself: Listen, I may have studied interior design in school but that doesn't mean I'm a graphic artist (those people have true talent) but if you need to shave off some dollars, be willing to scavenge the internet and design something yourself. Easily done on Photoshop but even if you don't have that program, Microsoft Publisher is an easy to use program. Another trick? A friend of mine made her invitations from a kit from Michael's, I was amazed at how lovely and yet completely personal they were. Those kits have come a long way. 
  • Printing/Mailing: If you live near a university, chances are they have their own printing services which will be a heck of a lot cheaper than going to kinkos/fedex office. OR check out places like VistaPrint, an online printing source. And always hit up Groupon and Living Social for deals.
  • Alterations: Do a little searching. Most often, bridal salons are going to charge more for their services. Since I purchased my gown in Florida but lived in Oklahoma, I was forced to find someone to alter my gown somewhere other than the salon. I made a few phone calls and stumbled upon a lady who used to work for a salon but now worked out of her home. A salon quoted me $500 for my alterations, this lady charged me $240 (and she steamed me gown before the day).
  • Living Social, Groupon, online coupon codes, etc: Utilize. Utilize. Utilize. That's all.
  • Transportation: Pass on the limo. I know it's your wedding day and it seems like everyone who's anyone will have one on their big day but in the grand scheme of it all, it's pretty unnecessary. We opted to borrow our friends car to leave in (since we both have/had pretty rank old red cars). We drove her decked just married suv over the nearby hospital parking lot, hopped out, read everything, and then got in our car and left.
  • Venue: Are you an active member in your church? Often members get a discounted price.
  • Hair/Nails: Call around, I guarantee you there are a plethora of these salons around your town. Call, call, call. I got all kinds of estimates and in the end ended up with a great price and fabulous service!
  • Flowers: real vs fake, your call. In my quotes, I wouldn't have really saved anything by going the fake route so I went real. I made sure my florist new I was on a tight budget and she came through for me. You don't have to compromise your favorite flowers on your wedding day. You can make real flowers work if you want. Also re-use! For example, my bridesmaids popped their bouquets in vases once we got the the reception.
  • Rings: I already talked about this on Wedding Wednesday Ring Posts, but I chose an anniversary band for my wedding band and ended up saving around $300, Kevin chose to get a ring from James Avery that was sterling silver so we saved a good chunk there too.
  • Gifts: DIY it folks! It doesn't have to be diamond earrings or a pearl necklace, check out my bridesmaids gifts post about what we did.
  • Guest Favors: Hit up popular sites for parties like OrientalExpress or LogoProducts. We ended purchasing 250 color changing cups with my personal design on them for less than a $1 each!
  • Tablecloths: Did you know it's actually cheaper to buy your tablecloths than to rent them? Yep it is. I bought mine online with a coupon code for about $7/each from Linens&Things and successfully sold them afterward. Check out Craig's List too. Word from wise: Iron those suckers before the day before the wedding :)
  • Wedding Party Food: For the bridal brunch I snagged some OJ, fruit and muffins from Sams and had the ladies at my house for a simple brunch. We wanted to provide some sort of dinner for our wedding party and the ladies had Subway and the men had Chik-fil-A. Easy, relatively inexpensive and made everyone happy.
  • Rehearsal Dinner: This doesn't have to be fancy, I've seen several BBQ dinners and I even thought of a picnic. We ended up choosing a local pizza joint and everyone loved it!

Tips/Tricks That Won't Help/Didn't Work:

  • I once read in a magazine to have your baker decorate a faux cake to save you some dollars. False. In most scenarios, the decor of your cake is what costs the most, the actual cake part is fairly cheap.
  • Make your own cake/food for the wedding: bad idea. You don't need that added stress on your big day, and maybe that's just my opinion but sometimes paying for a service like that is worth it. We thought about making our own popcorn but as I even just began to try and figure that out I got overwhelmed. Not worth it.
  •  Buy wedding attire online: Nothing comes to your door from online as it appears on your screen. Colors on monitors are different, it's hard to tell shapes/sizes, etc. For those of you who are pro online shoppers well then go for it. But if you're trying to save $$ by finding the grooms ties online with your obscure wedding color( idk let's say coral), I wouldn't go there. We tried and orange ties showed up on our door step.
  • Ipod vs DJ: We saved money in not hiring a DJ but this is one area I wished we would have done a little differently. I think our crowd would have gotten more into the dancing with a DJ there rather than playing our playlist through the speakers. But that's my own experience.

Altogether, I'd say the best place we spent our money was on our pianist and photographer.

-As I was told many, many times: the most important part of your day is that at the end of it, you're married to your best friend.
-No one really remembers all those tiny precious details you worked so hard on...before undertaking a big project for something fairly minuscule, think about how worth it, it really is.
-I know you want it to be perfect but do yourself a favor, take a deep breath and let go. Asking people for help is worth it. Those photobooth props don't have to be all the same, and your centerpieces...people will live if one table is just a little different that the other. Be willing to ask for help! When I finally realized this, I was able to chill out so much more.
-MY WORD TO THE {NEWLY} WIFE: When all is said and done, and the day has passed. Stop thinking about all the things you wished you'd done differently/etc...don't have post wedding stress, it's just not cool...sleepless nights over your pictures aren't worth it...I guarantee you'll get some beautiful ones...only think about the blessed moments of the day...embrace the newness of your new title, wife. Smile.

*Check out two other bloggers who've posted about their budgets: The Charming & Mr&MrsWinslett


  1. wow you did very well keeping spending down! i am impressed! love weddings and yours looked beautiful! i'm glad i found your blog and we are now following! XO

  2. Wow, what a gorgeous wedding you had, for such an affordable price! Great tips!

  3. Thank you so much for the link to our wedding budget breakdown in your post! Your wedding was amazing and proof (once again) you can have an awesome wedding on a budget. :)

  4. Wow these are great tips, and you guys did so well to only spend $7000. I have some friends who have spent insane amounts on their big day. I'm not married yet (although we have a son). I can't wait til we get married, but it will defiantly be a budget conscious wedding!
    Thank you for linking up to Followers to Friend's blog hop, I hope you met some cool new bloggy friends :)
    Happy Halloween x

    P.S. Shabby Apple are giving away a dress on my blog if you want to enter!

  5. Thanks for the great tips! I'm currently in the middle of wedding planning and always need advice about staying on track with our budget. Seeing your breakdown was helpful!

    Also - I'm a big fan of your blog and I nominated you for the Liebster Award. You can find out more about it here:

  6. whoa you really cut down the budget even if there's estimates, that's great planning. I love your heart picture it's sooo pretty :) Congratulations!

    Following you from the Blog Hop and would love if you could follow us

  7. Wow you did amazing on your budget! I'm obsessed with photography so I had to splurge on that. It was about $4k just on photos (including my engagement session). So I need to cut costs everywhere else. haha. Thanks for the tips!!

  8. Thanks for Posting ! first time I have found a genuine post related to Wedding Gown Alterations

  9. Thanks for review, it was excellent and very informative.
    thank you :)


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