I'm 26, not too far out of graduate school, at my first job, and have always dreamed of having a fabulous wedding. But, I'm a bit strapped for cash. With my parents help, and a relatively small budget, I'm planning my dream wedding for under $10,000. And by dream wedding I mean an awesome party, with great food, good music, lots of booze and even more dancing.
Here are a few ways that I'm avoiding a mini-bankruptcy:
1) Instead of invitations my friend and bridesmaid, who is also a graphic designer, is going to create an e-card for me that will link to a free wedding website that I created: http://www.ewedding.com/sites/nickolasandjessica/ The website has all the information that my guests need for the wedding, especially those who will be coming from out of town, and has an electronic RSVP function!
2) I bought my wedding dress from Etsy.com-a handmade e-marketplace. My dress was made by Ellana Couture and is tea length, so savings there. It's called the "Merilyn" and is $450: http://www.etsy.com/listing/43766620/retro-inspired-tea-length-wedding-dress
3) I'm not buying my bridesmaids dresses, nor am I having my bridesmaids buy their dresses (if I'm saving money then so should they). Instead, my bridesmaids will all wear the same color, probably black (who doesn't own a great little black dress?) and I'm going to purchase matching hair clips for them on Etsy.com (you get way better deals on things like this here than at bridal boutiques). Ditto for the boutonnieres for the groomsmen, as well as my birdcage veil.
4) I've chosen to get married at a local bed and breakfast, the Akwaaba Mansion in Brooklyn to be exact (http://www.akwaaba.com/brooklyn/). B&B's are great because they're cheaper than traditional wedding halls. Akwaaba is $1400 for 6 hours with use of both its indoor and outdoor spaces. Although I had to book all the rooms in Akwaaba as well I'll recoup that money by having out of town guests stay there for the wedding.
5) My fiance's best friend, Mark, will officiate the wedding. We're having Mark ordained online so that it's legal for him to marry us in the state of New York. Instead of spending $500+ on an officiant, we'll be spending about $25 for his ordination. Plus, Mark's super psyched about his special role in his oldest friend's big day.
6) One the advice of a caterer who was way of my price range I will be listing an advertisement for a private chef to create a dinner buffet for my wedding. I should be able to stay around $30/head this way.
7) Wedding cakes are beautiful, but I really like the idea of cupcakes. Cupcakes, especially in New York City, are expensive, so I'm going to order ice cream cupcakes from Cold Stone Creamery: http://www.coldstonecreamery.com/novelties/cupcakes.html They're delicious! I'm only having 50 guests (cupcakes come in a 6-pack at $9.99 each) so dessert will cost about $100.
8) Decorations are lots of fun, but I like them simple and on the inexpensive side. Avoiding the middle men, especially middle men in the wedding business, means nice savings. Rather than spending $50/orchid from a florist, I'll be spending $15/orchid by purchasing them from a wholesaler in Manhattan's flower district. I also love the idea of lots of candles. I found lots of simple, yet elegant candles and candle holders at Ikea.
With these savings I'm on track to throw down money on my priorty: the party aspect. I'll spend a good chunk of my wedding on staffing and liquor for an open bar during cocktail hour, served drinks during dinner and a rockin' DJ.