You will no longer have access to your Project Wedding account on or after March 30, 2017. Save any photos or information you'd like to keep and join WeddingWire for your all of your wedding planning needs today. Learn more »

budget savvy bride: samantha’s story


Before I got engaged, I knew a lot goes into planning a wedding: time, energy, resources... money. I didn’t realize, however, just how much money goes into a wedding (at first, I was only obsessed with the little details like invitations). Once I did get engaged (YAY!) my first plan of action, aside from deciding the theme/vision, was to sit down with my fiancé and talk about and ultimately determine the budget. After multiple discussion, we determined our budget would be – get ready for it – $5,000. Yes, roughly $15,000 below the average cost for a wedding (there was no way my fiancé and I would be able to spend anywhere near that much for our wedding unless we won the lottery!).

Having a budget of $5,000 (not including the honeymoon), I knew I would have to be very resourceful, patient, creative and willing to let go of things we didn’t really need in our wedding.

While I am still in the early planning stages, there are several ways I plan to save. How, you ask? I'd be happy to share:

1. By being engaged for a lonnng time.
By the time my fiancé and I will be getting married, we will have been engaged over two and a half years! Although it’s not helped the anticipation, the length of our engagement will have helped save us money because we have been able to wait for sales to purchase items for the wedding. It’s also been extremely valuable to the two of us (especially given the current economy) because it’s allowed us to easily put aside money to pay for the wedding while not affecting our everyday lives (and putting us in debt!). And, if that’s not enough, it’s allowed us time to search for a venue that fits within our budget and has what we are looking for in a venue.

2. By prioritizing and making a list of what we (no exceptions) want.
After determining our budget, my fiancé and I (mostly I) decided we would need to make a list of our priorities and what we wanted when it came to our wedding. Instead of a list with elaborate floral centerpieces, fancy light, a limo or other cool ride and an amazing videographer, our list was simple: our dogs at the wedding, good food and drink, a simple and intimate [fun] celebration. The next step was to make a list of things we’d need to create this. If either of us came across something we liked for our own wedding, but didn’t fit this, it was put on the back burner. After we take care of the priorities and we have the extra money, these back-burner ideas will be included. If we don’t have the money for them, they simply won’t be.

3. By having a small guest list.
For several reasons, my fiancé and I decided to keep our guest list contained to
family and close friends. As of right now, our guest list is 70 people max. Since most are out of town (and given the current economy), we think 50 will be able to attend.

4. By having the ceremony + reception outside, and at the same location.
By having the ceremony and reception outside, we will need
less decor (read: less expenses) because the nature surrounding our venue will suffice. It’s beautiful and free. Why not showcase it? Having them both at the same location equals less expense. Instead of paying for two rentals, we only need to pay for one as we don’t need transportation between sites.

5. By having a wedding on a Sunday.
While there are other reasons my fiancé and I are getting married on a Sunday (Sunday’s believed to be the luckiest day according to Italian tradition and the day my own parents married), it also helps our pocketbook. Unlike Saturday weddings, getting married on a Sunday can save you hundreds, if not thousands, a lot of vendors offer discounts for Sunday weddings.

6. By limiting our vendors.
We determined early on that aside from the venue, vendors can add up to an expensive wedding. Because of that, my fiancé and I decided we would make a list of priorities for vendors we needed for our wedding as well. Those that have made the cut (as of right now) include a caterer and a rental company for ceremony seating. Since our venue comes with tables and doesn’t allow live bands or DJs, we won’t need to rent tables and chairs for the reception and a great stereo system will serve as the ceremony and reception music. Any flowers used in our wedding (either for bouquets, boutonnieres or centerpieces) will be DIY-ed, along with the desserts for the reception. And my fiancé’s cousin will be our videographer, while my dad and a friend of the family (self-proclaimed "professional" photographers) will be snapping our pictures.  

7. By bringing/supplying the drinks.
The venue we will be using allows us to bring our own drinks. Along with sodas, tea, lemonade and water (that we’ll
buy wholesale), we’re planning on supplying locally-brewed beer and wine. To limit the amount of hard liquor, we plan on having three signature drinks. And we’re nixing the champagne; we’re letting our guests toast with whatever drink they have in their hand.

8. With a bigger than big list of DIY.
Aside from doing the desserts for the reception and floral aspects, I plan on a lot of DIY projects. These include all the paper-related things (from the save-the-dates to the thank you cards), my own dress, my own hair and makeup, decor items and a photo "booth".

9. By bargaining and being resourceful.
I know negotiation is a big part of the wedding planning process, especially with vendors. And while I haven’t had the chance to do this yet, I definitely plan on negotiating with my very few vendors, especially the caterers (I plan on contacting caterers, letting them know they aren’t the only people we are seeing and asking if we can change the menu for a reduced price, as well as if they have plates for the children at the wedding). As for being resourceful, I have a few ideas:
*I plan on calling local florists (when the wedding gets closer) and asking if they have any discarded rose petals that I could have them instead of them throwing them out. I’m sure if I call enough florists, I will have a nice amount of rose petals that can be used for tossing as we leave the ceremony as man and wife. The worst that can happen is they say no.
*I also plan on using eBay to find items we will need for our wedding.
*And while this doesn’t necessarily affect our wedding budget, I also plan to use American Airlines for our out-of-town guests’ transportation, since they offer discounts for group traveling and reduced car rental rates if the guests book them through Avis.

10. By keeping things simple.
This will probably be one of the things that’ll help us save the most (since it helps with planning and the venue/vendors used). As you’ve read previously, my fiancé and I decided we wanted a simple wedding (I personally think simple equals intimate, which equals romantic). Some examples of how we how to accomplish this:
*My fiancé be wearing nice dress pants, a nice dress shirt and maybe a tie (no tux... or even a suit).
*I will be wearing a simple gown I make myself, the flip flops I wore to my high school senior ball (my fiancé was my date; it was the first time we dressed up nice) and simple jewelry.
*My bridesmaids will be able to wear summer-y dresses without having to match each other. They will also be wearing nice flip flops or sandals they either have or can find inexpensively. Same goes for their jewelry.
*The groomsmen will be wearing nice dress pants and a nice dress shirt (possibly short-sleeved).
*There won’t be elaborate decor for the ceremony, just benches for guests to sit on and maybe a sand castle and a bamboo arch.
*The bridesmaids will carry bouquets of their favorite flower in white and my fiancé will be surprising me with my bouquet (northern Italian tradition; Italian runs in my fiancé’s veins).

Hopefully this all keeps us under our $5,000 budget. The things we want can’t necessarily be bought; you can’t buy family and friends to be there (well, maybe you can... but that would be kind of creepy), or pets. You also can’t buy the romantic, personalized ceremony or the love. Because of that, I’m okay with cutting out some things we don’t necessarily need, such as the flowers (they’ll die in a day or two anyways), because in the end all that matters to us is that the day is filled with happiness and love, we’re surrounded by the people we love and that love us back, and we’re married to each other at the end of the day. And forever.

Last Updated: June 7, 2009 at 3:58 pm
Tags: Budget
Log in or Sign up to post a comment
Missing profile

Find Your Wedding Vendors

Featured Vendors Near You

Chat About It