My fiancee and I are purposefully setting our wedding budget for less money than my parents gave me. We are viewing it as a fun challenge and by setting the budget for less than it actually is if we go over a little bit we'll be fine and not accruing any debt. While this is all very logical and strategic, it does mean that an already smaller than average budget has been cut down. When people ask me what my budget is I get a lot of looks and head shaking, however I have not yet broken out into a bridal panic for two very big reasons.
1. We will be saving money on our wedding by using the connections that we have to cut down cost. My sister's former roommate is a wonderful cello player and will be doing our ceremony music, her other best friend from high school makes cakes and we are asking her to do cupcakes for our wedding with one small cake for us to cut. That same amazing sister of mine used to do hair for theatre productions in high school and college and did my hair for prom and homecoming, it only feels right to ask her to help me get ready on this very special day. I have a friend who is an amazing seamstress who will be helping me make my veil. My mom, sister, and I used to run a landscaping business together and they have always put together beautiful arrangements, while we are doing candles or live plants for the centerpieces to save on cost, I know I can trust them to make gorgeous bouquets for the wedding. What about favors you ask? Well my step-father is an amazing cook and baker, how about everyone gets a yummy snicker-doodle cookie as a sign of our appreciation! Invitations are a bit of a pain, and can be a huge challenge to the budget, luckily my fiance's uncle teaches graphic design, and I've also found free designs on-line. We have a long engagement so I have no problem printing out invitations at home and doing DIY touches to make them look and feel special (plus my mom learned calligraphy for her wedding and can help my address all the cards in beautiful handwriting). My favorite money-saving solution thus far though was my fiance's idea for our save the dates; we recently went on a cross-country road trip and he had the great idea to pick out postcards from all of the places we visited along the way. Soon our guests will be receiving postcards from all across the country with handwritten notes asking them to join us in our next great adventure, marriage!
2. For those things that we don't have amazing insider connections for, we'll either spend money on or do away with. When I start to think about all the "have-to's" and "should's" I just remember that the only thing I "have to do" on my wedding day is marry my amazing fiancee. Our wedding is about us, not stuff, and repeating that to myself regularly helps me keep sight of what is really necessary to make that day special and wonderful, and what is extraneous.