First of all, my fiance and I have been so blessed. When we started out planning our wedding, we were so stressed about money. We were contemplating getting loans or increasing our student loans (we're both students), to pull this whole thing off. Luckily, my dad offered to give us 10k. He said he didn't want us to start off a new life together being indebted for just one day of celebration.
So began my search for the biggest deals, discounts, tips, etc. on every wedding forum I could find. We also reached out to our family and friends to help us with their gifts, talents, and resources. So, here's how I'm doing so far and what else I intend on doing:
Invitations: I am designing them myself with the help of my older brother who is a graphic designer and web designer for the University of Phoenix. I haven't decided whether I will be printing them myself or sending them out. One of my friends works at a printing shop and could probably print everything for $300. Our theme is: "Traichuoi and Mr. Traichuoi sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G, first comes love then comes marriage..."
Website: My brother will be designing our website based off my invitations. It'll cost the $15 a year for a domain!
My mom's brothers and sisters will be in town and they are renting a huge luxury home to stay at while they are here. They will be cooking a huge feast of Vietnamese food for which the cost will be taken care of by them. We will also hold the rehearsal dinner there so I don't need to pay for a venue. It has large grounds and areas to eat and celebrate!
Officiant: The officiant knows me and my fiance for years and separately before my fiance and I even knew each other. He was there as my spiritual director and he was there for my fiance when his little brother passed away. So, he's been there with us through everything! He'll be doing our wedding for free, although we will probably gift him $100.
Musicians: All of our musicians are our friends and will be doing our wedding ceremony music for free. Two of our friends are music directors at two different churches and four of our other friends either sing at parishes or play instruments for them. Let me tell you, these friends have amazing voices and musical talent. We're so lucky to have them!
Bride's Dress: My dress will be custom made to fit my figure and proportions. It will be a traditional Vietnamese dress (an ao dai) made in Vietnam and will cost me about $150-175. Total steal!
Bridesmaids' Dresses:I will have six bridesmaids and one flowergirl. They will also wear an ao dai which will run about $40-50 and $20 for the flowergirl. The ladies will buy their own shoes.
Tuxes: I haven't found them yet, but I don't plan on them being over $100 each. Especially with some of the deals where the groom will get his tux for free.
Decor: Since we're getting married on Jan. 2, the church (we're Catholic) will still be celebrating Christmas so their decorations will still be up. Lots of white, flowers and candles...it'll be beautiful so I figure I really don't need any!
Programs: I'll be designing and printing my own so it should only cost some ink and paper. Not more than $15.
Venue: Free. Yep, free! Our reception will be held in Carefree, Arizona which is the most wealthy city in AZ. The site is absolutely beautiful and has a great view of the city. It also is one of the best spots to watch the sunset. Arizona skies are beautiful when the sun sets. It has vibrant orange, purple, red, pink, yellow. My friends and family will love it. How did I do it? I used to work for the place that's giving it to us for free. They said I had done so much for the community before that I don't have to pay anything.
Food: We're having prime rib dinners with all the fixings. How much? $10/person!! That's what I'm most proud of!!! Our friends are cooks and one of them works for a meat company. So not only are they not taking a cut for cooking, we also get a discount on the meat and food. I know! So blessed!!! I may add something to the entree or just have some awesome appetizers during the cocktail hour. The kids will be served a separate meal which cuts on costs. They'll probably have chicken pieces and grilled cheese. About $3/child.
Drinks: We're having an open bar during the reception. We're also having signature cocktails being passed around during the cocktail hour with possible appetizers. Total cost for drinks since we get to provide our own is budgeted at $1500.
Decorations: I bought some real touch orange orchids at save on crafts (30 blooms for $13; I bought 8 sets = $104) and I will be attaching them to branches we've collected for free. I also will buy 25 eiffel vases at Michaels for $8 each ($200). Hopefully, I can buy when I have a coupon for a percentage off to save money at Michaels. My inspiration:
Cake: Our cake will be made by someone who is starting up her business. She's making a cake for us at a whopping $150! She's been wonderful to work with.
Candles: I bought 45 candle holders from CB2 at $0.75 each. Each holder holds three votives. I plan on buying some more candles and holders from Candles4Less. Will probably cost me about $60-$75 when all is said and done. I've also bought a bunch of ribbons on sale from Michaels ($0.50 - $1.00) and $0.47 spindles from Wal-Mart. I have about 10 rolls. I'll be decorating the candle holders based off an article over at WeddingBee.com.
DJ: One of my soon to be Sisters in Law has a friend who is in the DJ business and we've booked him for $800. He's wonderful!!
Servers and Bartenders: These will be about 5-7 college students who used to be in my program when I was a youth minister. I'll be paying them $50 each and they'll get to keep all the tips collected that night.
Photography: One of the best in the valley is Carlos Weaver (www.carlosweaver.com). His pictures are amazing! He was really nice to work with our budget. We're paying $1200. We are having him take pictures during the ceremony and the bridal party, family pictures afterwards. Then, we will have one of my fiance's friends and others take pictures during the reception. We thought that most everyone will have their cameras, etc. that we really didn't need a professional photographer during this time. Also, my fiance's friend used to work for Bella Photography so he's experienced in taking candid photos (my fave). He's taking a small fee of $75 for the whole night!
I still need to worry about table linens, dishes, flatware, etc. but I have some good leads. For table linens, I plan on buying them all and reselling them after I've cleaned them. That way I make some of the money back as opposed to renting where I won't get any of the money back. I am also contemplating doing the same with the dinnerware. There's some great wine glasses over at IKEA that I plan on buying.
I think that's it! Thanks for reading...I gotta go finish some of my DIY projects!