My wonderful fiance and I got engaged this past April on his birthday and had the hopes of planning a wedding a year from that date. Soon afterwards, we learned that my future brother-in-law, who is in the navy, was getting deployed in November. My sister was expecting a baby in October so now we were looking at September dates for our wedding, only 5 months away!! Initially we were very nervous - since we are paying for the wedding ourselves, would we be able to afford it in 5 short months? We set our wedding budget at $10,000 and I must say, I am pretty darn sure we are going to fall under that budget. There are many, many ways I've been staying within my budget, but there are two key items that I can contribute that to:
1) Create a DETAILED budget and stick to it
I am pretty anal and very detailed, especially when it comes to money. I have been like this for the past few years and am proud to say I paid off all my debt (except my house) after reading a great budgeting book. There was no way I was going to put anything on credit cards or go into debt paying for the wedding. So I created the longest, most detailed spreadsheet using Microsoft Excel. Anything and everything I am spending money on has its' own category and it is really helping me to stay on track.
2) Use what's in front of your face!
We are having a beach-themed wedding in the backyard of a mansion in St. Augustine, Florida. My sister's home decor gave me the idea for our centerpieces. She has various clear glass vases filled with specific shells, one with just sea glass, a vase of sea urchins, shark teeth, etc. So now I have the beginning of our centerpieces. Why have everything be "matchy matchy?" We knew we wanted unique centerpieces at each table and now we can accomplish this. 50% of my centerpieces are going to be borrowed from my sister, while I will collect the remaining 50% over the next few months at our area beaches. Just last week I found 66 starfish that had just washed up to shore and died. Poor starfish, but lucky me! Those suckers are currently being bleached for the second time and will make perfect additions to our decor.
Our favors are music CDs with our favorite love songs. We already had the songs on the computer, and the blank CDs in the office, just had to purchase CD labels and clear cases. Our favors ended up being less than $.50 each. Super glue a shell onto the case and voila - the perfect favor.
I love to scrapbook as do several of my neighbors. One of them has an entire room in her house dedicated to scrapbooking - unique stamps, punches, ink, paper, etc. I purchased my invitation cardstock at a scrapbooking store that was going out of business for 75% off and had an "invitation party," where we created the design for my invitations, all the while using others' tools/creativity! Printed the invitations on our home computer (did not even need to buy another ink cartridge), and had an "assembly party". Good stuff!
There are many, many things that I am doing to save money. And I just LOVE when I record it all in my spreadsheet and I see that I am under budget in a certain area. Having our wedding 5 months from now is turning out to be a blessing in disguise. I am still able to have the wedding of my dreams, but don't spend 12+ months finding other unnecessary things that I want to be a part of our special day. Our wedding will be unique, US, very special, and under budget!