I have a huge family, so my fiancé and I knew from the beginning that having a small wedding was out of the question. We also live in Chicago and most of our family is there as well so we really wanted to have a downtown Chicago wedding. We knew right away that most of our budget would be going to our venue and catering. Photography was also important to me so we made that a priority on our budget list. Since both of us have just graduated from grad school, we wanted to keep the costs down as much as possible. After prioritizing a few things (venue, open bar, photography) we tried to come up with ways to save on everything else.
First, I bought my dress at David’s Bridal during the $99 sale. My dress wasn’t $99, but all the dresses in the store were on sale and because mine was being discontinued, I got $300 of the original price. I only ended up paying $500 for my dress which was well below what I thought it would cost and it was exactly what I envisioned; I didn’t fell like I was missing out on anything.
Next, we decided to get my fiance’s tux from the Men’s Warehouse. They have a promotion whereby if a certain number of tuxes are rented from them, the groom’s tux is free. We decided to have our groomsmen and fathers rent from there as well, thereby saving money on the groom’s attire.
For flowers, we got extremely lucky. I wanted peonies from the beginning, and decided that the only way to have them would be to arrange them myself. However, my mother’s friend graciously donated her peony bushes to our wedding and now all of our flowers will be free. We only want simple bouquets and centerpieces so we’re having our friends help us arrange everything in the days before the wedding. We’ve also decided to use empty wine bottles that we’re getting from a local restaurant as vases and table numbers.
(this is not our centerpiece, but the general idea from Martha Stewart, except we're using the bottle as a bud vase as well)
We’re designing and printing all of our paper goods (save the dates, invitations, reception cards, menus, etc.) ourselves and putting them together with friends. My father is also a great artist (in my opinion) so he’s designing a map for us to include with the invitation suite.
Finally, the last way that we decided to save some money was to have a cake buffet instead of a traditional wedding cake. We’re having 7 smaller cakes of all different flavors. Additionally, we’re having friends and family bake their specialties (Aunt Therese’s Rum Cake – Yum). And buying one slightly fancier one to cut. I’m making the cake stands using candle sticks and dishes found at Marshalls/Target/HomeGoods, etc. We’re only going to be spending about $150 altogether on the cake. A huge difference than the $800+ that we were being quoted.
We’re so excited that we’ve been able to get creative with our wedding. We think that it will make the day extra special and we won’t have to go into crazy debt or send our families into crazy debt. Hope these ideas help out some other people looking to save some money.