Budget Savvy Bride - My Preparations


My Budget Savvy Wedding

I work for a nonprofit, humanitarian organization, so I wanted a wedding that was cost conscious without compromising quality -- i.e., full of bargains and discounts. I am blessed in that my fiance's family has generously agreed to help out with the wedding, but that still doesn't justify being wasteful or irresponsible on my part. A dollar can go a long way to save lives in many countries around the world.

The wedding will be 200+ people on Saturday evening in center city Philadelphia, so the majority of the expenses will be on the reception. But I did get an amazing deal at the Ritz-Calrton due to a cancelled corporate function.

Wedding attire:

I found this Davinci dress at RK Bridal in NYC, but was able to get it for about 40% off at www.netbride.com. The dress fit perfectly, except it was too long. After being quoted $425 to hem my all-lace dress and add a simple bustle by a well-known wedding dress tailor, I shopped around and found a tailor in Chinatown who did all the alteration beautifully for $120 and in just 2 weeks time.

To add some sparkle, my sister and I bought beads and sparklies at Michael's, and my mom is hand-beading the dress. 




During the reception, I'll be wearing this beautiful Jovani dress that I snatched up at Loehman's for $50. Regular price was marked $500. Literally, 5 people asked me where I got the dress as I was walking over to the cash register. My future mother-in-law is taking it in around the bust so that I won't have a wardrobe malfunction at the wedding.

I am using my older sister's cathedral length veil, and I also scored a blusher on Craigs List for $15.


Church Decoration

$0! It's a beautiful church so I will not be decorating the inside at all.

However, on the outside door, I am thinking about hanging our initials, which will be made out of a foamboard and paper flowers, which will probably cost me $5.

Branch Centerpieces


My fiance's family has a big backyard, so we'll be cutting branches and using them for our centerpieces. I bought 6 large cylinder vases off Craigs List for $30, and I'll be buying 14+ more vases from Ikea, at around $6 each.

My mom also bought a big bag of acrylic beads during her trip to Asia for my centerpieces. Over one weekend, my mom, my dad and I popped in a Korean drama and stringed together 140 strings of beads to put on my branch centerpieces. The beads, fishing line, metal stoppers, etc. cost about $100 - a huge saving over purchasing premade ones at local crafstores! The final product should look something like this, minus the candles:



The day before the wedding, I'll be making a trip to Produce Junction to pick up hydrangeas. They reportedly go for $5 for 3 bunches. My sister and I will make bouquets for 6 bridesmaids and myself. $55, including ribbon.

Chopstick Favors

I was flying in and out of China a lot for my overseas posting, so on one of my trips, I went to a market and purchased 230 pairs of chopsticks for $70. These are very good quality, solid wooden chopsticks, that I haggled down from $2 per pair. I will be making individual favor tags for them.

Wedding Invitation and Other Stationery

I designed my own invitations using Microsoft Publisher and got 200 sets printed in China for about $200. This includes the invitation, addressed envelopes, map enclosure, RSVP cards, and Save the Dates on sparkly, thick paper. It took a lot of research and overcoming language barrier to find a reliable and honest printer that wouldn't overcharge a foreigner like me, and still do a small printing job like mine. I still got way too many printed for what I needed.


I have been monitoring various websites very frequently to scout various free offers. Weddingbee is my favorite place for finding free offers, and we were able to find a local photographer to do our engagement photos for free. I'll be doing a bridal session with a different photographer, also for free. I'm also using my engagement photos to make my own guestbook on MyPublisher for around $40.

For the wedding itself, I realized that Philadelphia has a limited supply of photographers, which means that the good ones are very expensive, and the affordable ones are very bad. I expanded my search and booked a NYC photographer, whose work is beautiful. Even with the travel fee, I will save at least $500 by using him than hiring a local photographer of similar caliber. I'll receive all the photos on a CD, and will be making my own album on MPIX for $300.

Make Up and Hair

Research really pays off! Established make up artists and hair stylists charge a hefty fee. I wanted the bridesmiads to spend less than $100 for both make up and hair, but this seemed almost impossible because beauty vendors listed on wedding websites were all charging significantly higher than that.

Then one day I stumbled upon a website geared towards models, where you can find local, experienced makeup artists who freelance. Membership to the site is screened, and each make up artist has a profile with an extensive portfolio. While their work is just as beautiful and even more stylish than some of the traditional make up artists, their prices were a lot more affordable.

I found my freelancing hair stylist by reading through blogs as well. She wasn't listed in any of the wedding websites' vendor sections.


$670 - ceremony dress + alteration + hand beading done by my mom

$50 - reception dress + alteration done by my FMIL

$15 - a cathedral veil from my sister and a shorter veil

$215 - 20 centerpieces

$55 - bouquets

$5 - church decoration

$200 - invitations, save the dates

$115 - bridal hair and makeup

$0 - engagement shoot

$0 - bridal session

$40 - guestbook

$300 - wedding album


Last Updated: August 4, 2013 at 12:36 am
Tags: Budget
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