By Victoria Gonzalez • Owner of Oh Well, It’s Life
If you have already planned a wedding, or if you are currently in the process of getting ready for one, you quickly learn that it’s pretty expensive and things tend to add up quickly. This was very true for me as I was planning for my wedding in July 2016, and I didn’t even think I was being too spoiled in the things that I wanted! Here are some of the ways that I stuck to my wedding budget by making a list, making things on my own and asking for help.
It was my first year teaching special education at an elementary school and it was my then fiance’s first year in the Army. Point being – we were broke. After looking at some prices for various wedding things, my man and I came up with a budget: $10,000 with very little wiggle room. We did also get some help from our families so that helped some but after taking into account the venue itself was $3,500 and that didn’t include catering, a DJ, or a wedding planner, we were already running close to our budget.
We had to think of something to cut some of the costs (let’s be honest, I had to think of something). I decided to make a list of the things that were important to me and worth spending some extra money on and what were some things that I felt we could be more lenient on. Luckily, one of the most important things that I wanted for my wedding was that I wanted the atmosphere to be comfortable. I’ve been to several weddings where they were too extravagant and over the top that it was hard to enjoy myself.
So on my list of things that I were worth spending money on were:
- Venue- not only was the venue that we chose absolutely perfect for our southern, rustic theme, I loved that we could have our reception and ceremony literally just yards away from each other. I have an uncle in a wheelchair so I also had to make sure it was all accessible for him.
- Photographer- we still ended up getting a decent deal for the photographer that we got but we made sure to spare no expense in making sure all of our memories were going to be captured and exactly what we wanted.
- Invitations- I strongly believe in first impressions and I think the wedding invitation is the first impression of how your wedding is going to be. I’m already a crafty person but I still felt like I needed to get mine professionally done.
After creating this list, I called in my reinforcements, which is HUGE in helping save money for your wedding. People want to help and be a part of your big day, so I say let them! Talk to close friends and family and ask them if instead of giving you a wedding gift, they could provide a service to you, free of charge. That way you also don’t end up with 20 blenders and towels that weren’t even on your registry.
My grandma is an AMAZING baker and I asked if she could help with the baking. I only wanted a small cake for my fiance and I and then have cupcakes in different flavors for the guests to choose from. Not everyone likes coconut or german chocolate, so I wanted to have options so my guests would actually enjoy what they got. My theme was very rustic, Texan, and American. If that doesn’t make sense, you must not be from Texas or military affiliated because both of these require you to have tremendous pride, hence my wedding colors were even red, white, and blue! In addition to cupcakes, because the theme of my wedding was basically for lack of better words, American, of course I HAD to have apple pie! My grandma made so many mini apple and cherry pies and those were a HUGE hit!
My grandma and her best friend also are retired florists, so guess what else I had them do? My flower arrangements! And since it was a rustic, American theme, all I wanted as flowers were Baby’s Breath which I got at an awesome price since I bought them in bulk. Something else that made this even better was that I just happened to run into another bride who was getting married the day after me (I also got married on a Friday so we could save even more money) and she wanted to use Baby’s Breath in her wedding too, so I made a deal with her that she could come to my wedding that night when we were cleaning up and she could have all of the flowers that I had – and I sold it to her for half the price! I paid $500 for I can’t remember how many bunches of flowers I got and I got $250 back just by luck!
For decorations, I enlisted my greatest battle buddy, my incredible Maid of Honor. Her and I spent many hours working on creating our own decorations in my garage until the late hours of the night. We would buy things from Hobby Lobby like signs, ribbons, wood stain, paint, etc and Hobby Lobby always had sales and coupons so we would just strategically plan when we would buy certain things, and we would work on our projects after we got off work. I can’t even imagine how much money we saved just by creating our own decorations. This added such a personal touch and they were even more rustic looking than the stuff you could buy for three times the price! BONUS: I have almost every single decoration that we made for my wedding as decorations scattered around my house!
Here are some examples of the decorations that I made with my MOH and are now around my house:
We got just a simple board and stained it, then with a paint marker we wrote the word ‘reserved’ to hand on the aisles where our families would be sitting during the ceremony. Then we just drilled holes and hung the sign using the same ribbon that was used to tie around our silverware.
I had Mason Jars literally EVERYWHERE at my wedding so that is now the theme in my dining room and kitchen.This was actually the centerpiece at the Bride and Groom’s table. I made the little sticks myself from a dowel rod from Hobby Lobby and two wooden hearts. Again, these were just stained and I wrote our initials with a paint pen and hot glued the hearts to the dowel rod. Inside the Mason Jar now are my favorite little memories from the wedding. Rather than having a guest book for our guests to sign, we used Jenga pieces and had our guests write some words of wisdom on them. This is now the centerpiece of our dining room table.
In this picture, you can see what I mean again about having Texas pride (even though now we’re stationed in Alaska lol) but I have my centerpiece, the two reserved signs, and the sign that now says ‘Dig in Y’all’ was used as a sign buy our DIY photo booth where we wrote our hashtag so we could see all of the pictures our guests took of themselves at our wedding. [Note: all I had to do for our photo booth was buy about 5 selfie sticks and some dollar store accessories that were red, white, and blue. Everyone loved it and it was super cheap!] The sign that says, “where you go I will go & where you stay I will stay,” was actually from my wedding vows; not original of course as this is from a Bible verse, but it fits our relationship well because we move a lot for the military.
This sign was used at my candy bar and now it found it’s place in my kitchen! Super simple and sweet.
(Don’t judge, I know this wall is still pretty bare but we’re still moving in!) These ‘Mr.’ and ‘Mrs.” signs were also just picked up from the store, stained, and wrote on them with a paint marker. They were used to hang off the backs of our chairs at the Bride and Groom’s table. Now they hang over our bed in our Master Bedroom!
This would have to be one of my favorites out of all of the crafts my MOH and I made ourselves. This was just a regular wood pallet that we stained (lots of staining!) and hand painted and stenciled. We had this moved all over the venue because I wanted guests to see it at every turn! Now this hangs in front of our door as our welcome sign and we get so many compliments on this I can’t even count. Truly a great accomplishment and I love how it turned out; flaws and all.
Now here’s what we had to do about some of the things that we were looking to spend some extra money on: catering, a DJ and photographers.
Luckily, our venue came with a ‘DIY Bride’ option, which basically meant that all we were paying for was the venue and the date (which we also save $1,200 by choosing to get married on a Friday rather than a Saturday). They did offer to still be our caterer and that they would give us a discounted usage fee, but we decided to look around and see if we could find something better first. My husband and I looked at some caterers around town but we quickly discovered that the venue was going to give us the best value. However, even their best value was more than what we had wanted to spend.
Now this is one of the BEST tips I can possibly give to anyone:
ALWAYS BE POLITE.
I developed such a great relationship with the venue owner that she offered me the option of customizing our dinner menu in order to choose less expensive options! By doing this, we were able to cut the price so much, that we were actually able to ADD an appetizer for the guests! This was truly a blessing and the food that the venue served was some of the best BBQ I have ever tasted (yes, I did get to actually eat at my wedding).
During the time of wedding planning, my venue had an open house where several caterers, florists, and photographers gathered to sample their work and offer their services. It just so happened that there was also a DJ playing at the event. I didn’t have a DJ yet so I started putting on the charm. I told him how I loved his set-up (he had the cool lights) and I asked him some questions about his work.
It’s very important to be personable and pleasant because it’s not just about these vendors trying to sell themselves and their business; it’s also about YOU selling yourself as a client that they are going to WANT to do business with.
As I’m talking to him, this DJ starts talking about how he likes working at this venue because it’s so close to his house. Finally I felt like after about ten minutes of building a relationship with him, I could begin negotiating a deal. I asked him if he would be willing to work on a Friday night and still be able to call it a night before midnight. He agreed and said that he’s usually lucky if he gets to leave weddings by 1 AM. So he agreed to a lower price and if I’m correct, I only paid about $400 for four hours of his work; including the light set-up and him MCing the event!
I wish I had a cool story to go with how we saved a ton of money on the photographers but truth is, I don’t. The one way we did manage to save some money with the photographers was that they provided a link for our guests to make a donation to help pay for them as their wedding gift. This did help save us around $600 so I am so extremely grateful that they did allow us that option. And to be honest, I still don’t regret the amount that we paid to have two photographers because both of them were so incredible and they did an amazing job of capturing our wedding memories.
If I had to sum up my wedding experience, I would definitely suggest that brides try to look into creating a lot of their decorations themselves, and you’ll be amazed at how much money you will save. Also, it brings so much more sentimental value and personal touches to your wedding which I think is so important as it’s a day to celebrate things that really matter.
My tip to you is to get with your partner & create a list of what aspects mean the most and you’re willing to spend the hard money on. My personal suggestions for these things would be investing money in your invitations, a good photographer, and the perfect venue. Then make a list of some things that you’re fine with adjusting depending on price like changing your wedding date, making your own photo booth, or adjusting your dinner menu. Finally, think about the things that you could do yourself and save the most money on like creating your own decorations, doing your own makeup, or even baking yourself.
Feel free to check out my wedding day post with even more details so you can see how it all turned out!
By: Victoria Gonzalez
Owner of ohwellitslife.com
A blog all about motherhood, being an Army Wife, DIY crafts, and our newest addition, beauty tutorials.