As a lot of you guys know, I got married to my high school sweetheart, Scott, this past August! We got engaged on my birthday the previous November and immediately jumped into wedding plans.
If you're like me, you loooove spreadsheets and problem-solving except when it comes to your wedding day. I can't tell you how many hours I spent looking at our 4-tab wedding budget spreadsheet STRESSING about how I would make everything work for our wedding, especially when The Knot tells you the average cost of a wedding in 2018 was $33,931. Sounds pretty nice but also pretty unrealistic.
I didn't want our wedding to look cheap, but I also didn't want to spend a whole year's salary on one day. After a lot of initial freaking out, here is a look at what we did to plan our wedding as cost-effectively as possible, while still making it look beautiful!
1) Pick your "Big 3" first
What 3 things/vendors are the absolute most important to you on your wedding day? For us, it was photography, videography, and the number of guests we were inviting. Regardless of what your Big 3 are, make sure that you prioritize those first!
Having a large wedding meant we knew we couldn't use any of the venues I loved that capped at 200, and we also had to pay for 300 people to eat. After we factored the cost of our first choice photographer, videographer, and feeding all of our guests, that left us with a little less than 50% of our budget remaining for everything else!
2) Avoid shopping bridal stores and wedding-themed websites
These companies are smart, because they know a bride planning her wedding is pretty much willing to spend whatever it takes to have her day look like she dreams it. Unfortunately for those of us planning weddings, this can either cause you to go way over budget OR you'll miss out on having certain things you love due to cost.
Etsy is the freaking way to go and was my total BFF through wedding planning. We got the greatest custom hangers for $7.99 a piece and the cutest matching robes. (Also, if you want even more value for your money, I personally prefer robes to "bride squad"-themed things because I know they will be used more by your bridesmaids after the wedding) The even better thing about shopping Etsy is you are also supporting someone's small business rather than a huge corporation.
People will also upcharge like crazy for long sparklers when you look up "wedding sparklers," because they know you are willing to pay an arm and a leg for that gorgeous exit photo. We found ours at a super reasonable price ($25.00 for 72 sparklers) here.
3) Skip the tux rental
Scott got SO MANY compliments on his suit that he wore on our wedding day, and the best thing about it was it did not break the bank at all AND it's his for keeps. Rentals also just kind of stress me out lol.
I am so sad H&M doesn't have his exact suit for sale anymore to show you guys, but they still have tons of really trendy and inexpensive options, like this similar pants and jacket combo for just a little bit over $100.00. Scott and all of our groomsmen also wore this shirt from H&M. The accent of the black buttons, in our opinion, totally eliminated the need for ties and was a super sharp look for our summer wedding! Then we let all the groomsmen wear their own grey pants and brown belts & shoes, so really all we needed them to buy was a $30.00 shirt.
A little inside joke of ours is how much I love sharks, so when we saw these socks at Express, we knew the guys had to be wearing them! I can't find the exact socks anymore, but they have tons of different, fun options for less than $10.00 a piece.
4) Utilize your friends & family!
I cannot emphasize this one enough! All throughout the planning process, friends would ask me if I needed help with anything. Instead of turning them away because I felt bad, I asked them if they could lend their talents and guess what - they were happy to!
My makeup was done by one of my bridesmaids, a friend did all of my bridesmaids hair, one of my close friends did all of our ceremony music, another one of my bridesmaids did all the calligraphy (including this cool sign with plexiglass and chalk), and Scott's aunt made our cake. All of them were more than happy to help. We made sure to give all of these people a gift to show our appreciation once everything was done!
5) Get married in a church
Venue was huge for me. I spent months and months pining over these gorgeous venues that cost $10,000+ dollars, only had like one Saturday available the whole summer, and could only seat 150 people.
I am honestly so glad we decided to get married at my church. If you are a member at a church, chances are they will let you use the space for free! They also are designed to seat a lot more people, so if you are having a larger wedding, I 10/10 recommend this. Even if you aren't a member, most churches will still allow use of their building for a small fee.
Instead of shelling out $100+ dollars to have a seating chart made for us, I purchased this seating chart template off of Etsy and had it printed at Staples! In all it cost us around $30, and we used an easel the church had sitting around to hold it up.
Wedding table numbers also sell at $5+ a piece, so we just decided to have a friend make them on card stock. I was super happy with them, and honestly, at the end of the day, no one cares if you DIY-ed things or if you paid big bucks for them, so save yourself some trouble and financial stress and do what you can!
Hopefully these tips are helpful and give you a good starting point for planning out the monster that is your wedding budget!
All photos by MW Photography