Cory proposed in September 2009. Naturally, I said yes, and we decided that day to get married as soon as I was done with school--in May, on the twenty-second, to be precise. We had eight months to plan a modestly-sized affair (about seventy guests) in my hometown. I was determined to have the entire event cost less than $10,000, and we stayed well within that limit. In the end, my parents spent less than $6000.
Tip #1: Enlist family and friends.
My aunt called us the day after we got engaged and suggested we use her church, a historic building in stone, nestled into a wooded neighborhood of the most eccentric and beautiful homes. The cost was rather high, but my aunt offered to pay for it as a gift--which meant that it cost her a third of what it would have cost us, because she is a regularly attending member.
My aunt also made the necklaces that the bridesmaids and I wore; the supplies were under fifty dollars.
My mom made the dresses for our tall and constantly growing flower girls for about $50 total.
A friend of my parents makes videos for our church--really good ones. So we asked him to film the ceremony and bits of the reception. He offered it as a wedding gift.
My now sister-in-law is creative with polymer clay and made our cake topper as well as an adorable mini sculpture of Cory and I.
Tip #2: Thrift + DIY
Look around thrift stores! Goodwill had a ton of glasswares that just needed a bit of windex to be perfect. The remnants box at Jo-Ann Fabrics had ivory taffeta, muslin, and a bunch of other fabrics, perfect for smaller projects. To cover the bulletin boards in the church's fellowship hall, my mom got a roll of butcher paper and tacked it up.
Tip #3: Use what you have--or what you can use again.
The frames we set signs in were from my bedroom.
The vases we used for the candy bar cost about $10 at goodwill, and they're wrapped up in a box to go in our home, once we move in.
Tip #4: Don't be afraid to mismatch.
Things look so nice when they're all mixed and matched around. The vases I used for centerpieces were about $2.50 a piece, and the finished effect of unique pieces set a nice tone. Just make sure things are still similar enough to work together.
Tip #5: Take on inexpensive projects, then do them in bits.
I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis, and I came across a ton of really unique projects. But I was also going to school full time, which included an hour long commute every day, and didn't have full days free, even on weekends, in order to do projects. So I took on things that could be done in short bursts.
I made headbands for the bridesmaids with the remnants from Jo-Ann's, all our invitations and save the dates, the signs, little stir sticks with each guest's name, my hairpiece (with a broken vintage brooch I already owned), a "ringbear" t-shirt for our ringbearer, our centerpieces, a slideshow of photos, and an ipod playlist (that we forgot to play).
In short, we reserved our funds for the major expenses--food and photography. You can take on the other details yourself if you enlist the help of others. Don't be afraid to delegate--but accept that people may not do exactly what you wanted. On the day of my wedding, I felt nervous that some things weren't going exactly as I planned, but ultimately, I didn't care. I was with my husband and the people I most love. Now, a month later, I keep looking through the photos of the day and see that everyone had a good time and the day was beautiful.
All linked images are by K.L. Phy Photography. If prompted for a password, type "wedding."