My fiance and I both earn under $35K/year and are paying for our wedding entirely by ourselves. You would be hard pressed to find someone who could pull-off the elegant large wedding we are having for anywhere near as cheap as we are doing it. My December 12th, Florida wedding for 120 people is costing me under $6K. Here are some of my tricks:
First-off, I enter every wedding related contest I can find: So far I have won MY WEDDING GOWN!!! The Maggie Sottero - Nadia, a $1,000 dress for FREE. I have also won a custom designed Unity Candle.
Secondly, I am using friends as vendors: All are professionals at what they do, but since they are dear friends, they are giving me amazing deals. My wedding photographer is charging me only $300 for the entire wedding day, start to finish, plus an engagement session and giving me full rights to all the pics. My videographer normally charges $1,000 per wedding, but is doing mine for $400 and is doing some special editing for free that normally he would charge extra for. Also, I used to work in a fine-dining restaurant in my younger days and the amazing pastry chef is doing my awesome cake for $200 for 120 people, it has a ton of fondant work, so it would typically cost over $500 if I were to go to a cake shop. My friends are in an awesome local band that we absolutely love and they are going to play my reception for free as a wedding present to us. One of my bridesmaids who is a professional seamstress with a degree in fashion design will be making my veil and will be altering my gown along with my bridesmaids dresses for free. Like everyone says, it's not what you know, but who you know:)
Thirdly, I try to cut corners in any way I can: Rather than using fresh cut flowers for centerpieces and pew decorations, I am using peacock feathers. Peacock feathers is my theme. I bought 500 feathers & 200 peacock swords at wholesale for $150, rather than spending more than 4 times as much on flowers. I also shop for deals, I had seen packages of decorative sticks & branches and whatnot in my wedding colors around Christmas time for $5/bundle at Walmart (who would have thought I would find something so nice at Walmart? You never know), which I thought would make nice centerpiece filler. I decided to wait until after the holidays to see if they would go on sale and I was able to get it all for half-off. I also waited until Michaels had a sale on vases plus I had a coupon from their mailing list and bought all my vases for a quarter of the original price. I am also cutting costs on my wedding favors by making peacock feather Christmas ornaments with my left-over feathers and some simple & cheap crafting products from Michaels. I will also be getting my invitations for FREE from the Tuxedo company I will be using. Sacino's has a deal where if your groomsmen rent 4 or more tux's, the groom's is free, you get free invitations from Carlson Crafts, and each groomsman gets $25 off their tux. For my save-the-dates, I ordered free business cards from VistaPrint which I customized with my wedding information and bought business card stick-on magnets from Home Depot for $10/50 pack and made my own magnets. My work has a postal room where they meter mail which I am allowed to use for personal mail, so I took advantage of the free postage to save money. I also had my bridesmaids buy their dresses early because the dresses I wanted were being phased out this past January for Spring collections and were marked down on clearance, which saved them $50 (plus the free alterations from my friend). I am making gifts for them as well (peacock feather earings), which will save on costs. I felt a Limo was a complete waste of $$ and my fiance is a huge Ford Mustang fan (every car he has ever had is a mustang). Turns out a friend of mine has a candy-apple red 1965 classic Mustang Shelby and he said we can have it for the day, we get an awesome car & saves us $300!!! We also waited until Carnival Cruiselines had a huge sale and booked a 7-day cruise to the Western Carribbean with a balcony upgrade for $500/per person. Also, since we already live together and have almost everything we could want on a registry, we did a honeymoon registry, where your guests buy you excursions & whatnot for your trip. Even my designer jewelry will be "borrowed" (my something borrowed) from bagborroworsteal.com saving hundreds of dollars.
Lastly, I seriously shopped around for venues: I already knew I was going to get married at a church, so we became members of a local church with a ton of history and charm (a historical landmark) which is saving us over $1,000 for the ceremony as compared to non-members. Hands-down, my reception venue is the best deal in town. It will be at a golf country club with an awesome view. It is completely ours for the entire day & night as late as I want it for. The only thing we have to pay for is food & bar. There are NO FEES: no facility rental fee, no cake-cutting fee, no dance-floor rental (already has one), no table/chair rentals, they will buy linens & dye them my colors for free, they own the tableware/cutlery so no charge there. The food is totally reasonable at $25/head for a 3-course plated dinner with combination entree beef & chicken. We will be saving money on the bar by doing open bar for beer & wine with a cash bar for liquor. I am also saving money on food by making it an adult only reception, so no children to feed.
All in all, I know that my wedding will be absolutely wonderful and that all the hard work budgeting and bargain hunting is well worth it. My friends and family are there to bear witness to my fiance and I declaring our love and commitment to one another and will be happy with whatever we provide. I have a bachelor's degree in finance and am an expert at budgeting so I refuse to spend my life-savings on a wedding and I also refuse to continue to pay for it for the next 5 years. I will not charge a single thing on a credit card, because I feel that if I can't afford it, I don't really need it. With the way the economy is right now, I can not justify overpaying for anything so I will haggle and sale shop whenever possible. Rather than spending $30K on a wedding, I will be putting the money I save from my $6K wedding towards a down-payment on a house, which will probably be a foreclosure to save even more money. Good luck to all you brides out there and I hope my experiences and tips help you with your planning:)
My Free Gown:
'Nadia' by Maggie Sottero courtesy of 93.3 FLZ's 'Running of the Brides' Radio Contest and Elaine's Bridal Boutique - Sarasota, Florida
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