Hi everyone! Although my fiance and I have the complete love and support of our families, we do not have any financial support. We just relocated across the country for jobs and are recent college grads (paying off many school loans). However, I have dreamed of my wedding day my entire life (like all brides), and want it to be a fabulous party with as many guests as possible! I feel that having many friends and family members present is our number one goal.
To make this happen, I have thought of a few ways to cut corners. Some are small ways - which quickly add up in terms of budget savings! I am not comfortable sharing dollar values, (I hope it's not required), but I wish that these ideas may help another bride save a few bucks! :)
Where we saved the most: Photo and Video:
Lucky for me, I majored in filmmaking in College. Currently, I am teaching digital video production at a media arts focused University. I wish I could shoot my own wedding video, but obviously I can't. So, I have been completing small videography jobs for a co-worker friend of mine to help her with freelance work. In exchange, she (a professional) will be shooting my entire wedding day video for free! See the photo below- here I was shooting some footage at a world record event- the most amount of Parrots in one place at one time! (Check out the blue bird at the end of my camera). It was very smelly, and loud, but hey- whatever it takes to save those hundreds a videographer would normally charge!
For photography, I went to the photography course instructor at the University. I was able to look through portfolio books/samples of work taken by senior students who were about to graduate and become pro photographers in a matter of months. Many of these students were even specializing in portrait photos! Jackpot! I interviewed 3 students whose work I loved and chose 2. I am only spending a couple hundred dollars total on this. In addition, the students are able to add real life event work to their portfolio, so they are totally on board. I will receive an all-rights cd copy containing all the images they take- which I will touch up in Photoshop and print through a discounted online printing service like Snapfish. I recommend checking out a local University near you to see if they have film or photography programs with eager students looking to make some extra cash. (Same college-searching tactic works with string trio players for the ceremony music!)
Our florist is a woman I met through networking at local bridal events. She actually works for a larger florist to cover major events in the city- but she does smaller work out of her home. We meet at Starbucks, so as not to disrupt her family life. :) This woman orders flowers direct, in bulk, creates the bouquets and centerpieces at her house, and then delivers with her family van. This cuts out the middle man, she does amazing quality work, and it is saving alot while still have the real flower look and smell. I'm going with lime bouquets, similar to the one below...
Meals: This is always one of the most budget-busting areas. Work with your caterers, tell them a price you are comfortable with. Changing up a meal choice a little may affect the price alot. We switched up specialty veggies for those that were in season the month of the wedding. Ingredients can be swapped out for lower-cost ones. Ask about vendor and children's meals. Also, how about pre-paid wine bottles and beer kegs with a few specialty liquor drinks. These options are saving us plenty.
Rings: We bought my wedding band today! (not wearing it just yet of course). I picked a band that was classified as "fashion jewelry" instead of under the bridal category. It is just a simple, pave set diamond band, but since it was not in the "for brides" category, the price was ridiculously good. Check your nearby Outlet stores for deals also.
Dress: I bought a designer gown that had been worn in a fashion show. Because of this, it was discounted as pre-worn (even though the time it was worn was under 1 hour on a clean white runway). I also accepted a dress that was less costly, but wasn't quite what I was looking for...I am having it altered to make changes in the design. Just be careful- not all seamstresses will make such severe changes, because some feel it "compromises the designer's vision". (A sentence I heard several times). Oh well - it fits my vision!
Hair and Makeup: Do you have a hairstylist that you routinely visit at a salon and love? Ask her if she'd consider taking a day off and doing your wedding! My stylist just happens to know great makeup technique as well. Since she has become a friend, she is giving me a great deal, is honored to be a part of the wedding, and will save me hundreds from salon markups or those beauty-on-wheels options.
Tuxes: Ours is an outdoor lakeside wedding, and to take a modern and casual spin, our guys are wearing gray suits. They look the same as the tuxes (from what I can tell). We found most tux shops rent suits, as well as all other needed accessories. However, this only works if you're going for the laid back look that we are.
Invitations: One word: Etsy. This website has hundreds of amazing graphic designers and artists with full businesses online or just looking for some freelance work on the side. Here is my designer, Diane's, site: click me. Her invitation sets start at only $2.50. She will do whatever custom work you'd like. I priced it out - you cannot buy the paper, ribbon, gems, and printer ink for the cost she sells these invites at. And that's not even considering all the time it would take you to put everything together! Diane gets invites done start-to-finish in 8 weeks. I cannot wait until mine arrive!! Thanks Diane!
Rehearsal & Ceremony:
We are fortunate enough to be renting a beautiful lakehouse in sunny Florida. We will be holding both the rehearsal dinner and ceremony in our very own backyard! For the rehearsal, the bridal party and family will enjoy my fiance's excellent BBQ skills, and many have offered to "bring a dish". After we get through the rehearsing, we will spend the day out on the lake with those we love, preparing for the big day. For the ceremony, we are hanging paper lanterns and twinkle lights from the huge cypress trees surrounding the serene lakeview. We will shuttle guests just a few minutes away to our hotel-reception location. (You didn't think I was going to do everything myself, did you?)
Thanks for reading! I hope some of my ideas might help a bride somewhere out there! Best of luck to all those planning!