No one ever mentioned to me that weddings cost more than I will make in, like, 5 years. When I crunched the numbers and realized that my "dream-if-money-wasn't-an-object-and-could-have-anything-I-wanted" wedding was going to cost me over $15,000, I knew it was time to down size. In my opinion, a one day event should never cost more than your car...or house.
The first thing I realized that was costing my so much money was the venue. I currently live near a big city and quickly saw that "big city" venues are going to run you about $5,000-$6,000 just to rent the place; that's not including food! Originally, I'm from a small town in northern Wisconsin. To be honest, I had always thought I would get married up there but was just worried about the travel and extra concerns that may appear with not being in the same town as the wedding. However, when I found the hall I really like was only going to cost me $3,000 WITH food and drinks, I was sold. If there is a smaller town nearby where you live or where you orginally planned on having your wedding, I highly suggest looking there for venues first.
My parent's back yard.
The second thing I realized was that it is exteremly beneficial to utilize the people I know and the talents they have. I don't have to worry about the cake as my mother has years of experience baking and decorating wedding cakes and has agreed to give my cake as my wedding gift. My future mother-in-law is about as handy as they come with fabric and sewing and has agreed to make my ring bearer's pillow, garter, guest book, photo album and a "just married" quilt. She also has a friend who is a seamstress who has agreed to alter and bustle my dress at a low cost. A good family-friend of my fiance's went to cosmetology school and has agreed to do my hair and makeup on the day of my wedding as a wedding gift to me. A high school friend of mine has recently started a photography company and has agreed to do my engagement pictures and wedding pictures for a very reasonable discounted price. My sister and Maid of Honor is just about the most thriftiest person I know. A lot of the decorations and odds and ends for my wedding have been found by her at garage sales, outlet stores and the Goodwill. She's already saved me hundreds of dollars on decor.
The third thing I realized in planning my wedding is to really look at the things I care about having and the things I can completely live without. There are some extra things that are traditionally done at a wedding that I have recently realized I just don't care about. I feel no need to have two dresses for my wedding day. I found a dress that, when it's bustled, will double as a great reception dress, thus saving me from buying two dresses. I've also decided not to send Save-the-Dates as I have set up a free wedding website that has all the information my guests will ever need, which is more information than they would get on the card. I have decided to use Do-it-Yourself invitation kits from a department store as what the invitations look like is not a top priority for me. I've also opted not to do a candy buffet or dessert table. Yes, it's nice and they are pretty, but at the end of the day, is giving your guests candy to munch on really worth $500?
The fourth thing I realized is that you can rent literally almost ANYTHING. I learned this while looking for supplies for my center pieces on line. The center pieces I was looking at using were going to cost me about $60 a piece for all the supplies at a fabric store, so I began looking on line for supplies in bulk. I stumbled across a rental center that rents out glass jars, ivy chains, plates, mirrors, candles, etc. Renting things from a local vendor is a great idea because it is cheaper and you don't have to worry about what you're going to do with everything once the wedding is over because you can just return the supplies.
The fifth thing I have recently realized is to never knock the Do-it-Yourself stuff. Is it extra work? Absolutley. Is it worth it? Absolutley. I've already saved so much on flowers, decorations, invitations and so on because I've done them myself. I'm using fabric flowers for the boquets and putting them together myself (see picture below, however, this was just a first trial). I also have elaborate plans for a ivy vine and butterfly chandelier that my sister and I will be making. My invitations are do-it-yourself kits from a department store that will end up costing me less than $100 to make. There is no sense in paying extra money for something you could make yourself and still look good.
The final thing I have learned while planning my wedding is to truly know who I am and what I want. I'm not a super fancy or ridiculously sophisticated person so if my wedding venue doesn't look like thousands of diamonds hanging from the ceiling; I'd be perfectly fine. In fact, I'd prefer that. I will not spend a ridiculous amount of money on something for one day that I wouldn't want to have on any other day. I want this wedding to be a reflection of myself and my fiance; who we are, what we like, what we do; not how much money we can spend. At the end of the day, this wedding is about me and my future husband standing in front of all of the people we love most and confessing our love for one another, not about how many flower petals are on each table. If I see something that is TRULY just not me, I'm not going to incorporate it into my wedding. The last thing I want on the most fabulous day of my life is to feel like an awkward outsider.