I’m a self-proclaimed frugal babe. I use coupons, stick to a spending plan (some people call that a budget but the word “budget” makes me feel confined), and refuse to carry credit card debt. When my hubby (then boyfriend) started talking marriage, I immediately told him we would elope because I wasn’t having a wedding. He was completely on board and so excited that he didn’t have to go through all that wedding drama. A little after we were engaged, we were driving home one day from church, he looked over at me and, out-of-the-blue said, “I really want to get married in a church in traditional service.” Without hesitation, I agreed.
I never thought I would have a wedding; I’ve only wanted to elope. So, I never saved for a wedding and neither of one of our families were able to help us. I adjusted our spending plan so we could start saving more and put off my dream for new windows for the house until the fall or next spring. I wasn’t very excited about having a wedding, but I was excited about figuring out how to have a wedding on the cheap. I set our budget, made a fabulous spreadsheet and within a week of setting our date I had a theme for our wedding; the internet. After all, we met on Match and what better way to celebrate that than by using the internet as much as possible.
Who says we have to be traditional? Unless you “have” to have that 2k dress (and quite frankly there are beautiful knockoffs for fractions of the costs) go a non-traditional route. I went with my mom and my best friend to David’s to try on dresses. I had to see what would fit my body best. We found one, but I wasn’t paying $800 for it. So I started searching on the web. It took three days to find the Alfred Angelo version for $425 and another two days to find a similar one on Ebay in my size for $229.99. I didn’t buy used though, I had mine made by a Chinese dressmaker. I had to get it altered. Fortunately, I know an amazing seamstress who altered my dress for $100, she even included a steam and press the day of the wedding. My dress is amazing and it is even better that I only spent $330 for it. I know several people who have bought used and gotten great deals. Tip: Don’t rule it out just because it isn’t a “traditional” way to get a dress.
Amazon had a sale on some shoes one day and I found these babies for 12.98, the white version was 59.98 at the time. We have a prime account, so there was no shipping charge. The best part, I can wear them again! I also bought a pair of Footpetals when there was a coupon code for Weddingbee readers. Okay, I bought several footpetals. But I spent 35.97 on the ones for the wedding. Tip: Sites like Amazon and Endless have great prices and always look for coupon codes.
Hubby knew right away he didn’t want a tux. He was going to wear his dress blues (he is in the military). And I was all for it. After all, there’s no cost for something you already have. But after spending 10 hours at a military function in his blues, he said he wanted a suit. He needed one anyway, so off to the Mall. We found the exact suit he wanted at Macy’s for $270 (after tax). He went online to Macys and found his shirt, tie and shoes on clearance and used a coupon he got in the mail after buying his suit. The total for all three was right at $100. Tip: Shop smart, check for sales and coupons.
I read this fabulous book called Bridal Bargains. In it was a section on flowers and a great website called freshroses.com. I bought all of the flowers for the wedding for $104 including shipping. The downside is that I had to put them together myself. Oh, what’s that, hubby’s mom used to work part time for the local florist. Score!! Supplies for flowers $8.65 using a Michael’s coupon. Also, we didn't have bridal party and we didn't use flowers for the reception. Tip: Flowers are pretty and look amazing in pictures, but there are alternative routes that will still look amazing. And make sure you listen to recommendations. I talked to several people who used the site I used and all gave glowing recommendations. I will give one as well. All you have to do is look above at those pictures.
We got married in our church, or rather my hubby’s church (why we attend two churches is a whole other article). Because we attended faithfully we were able to use the church free of cost. We only had to reimburse the church for any out of pocket expenses. Of course we gave them a donation and paid our fabulous priest. We got married the Sunday after Easter, and the church was kind enough to leave the lilies in the church so we didn’t have to buy additional flowers. The church is gorgeous as it is and needed nothing else. Tip: Check with the church you attend or grew up in, they will most often charge you less.
We were going to have an iPod reception, but something wonderful happened. My Hubby is a Photographer/Videographer with the Military. A good friend of his came to ask him to shoot his son’s wedding. Because he doesn’t do wedding, Hubby refused payment. Then his friend offered to DJ our wedding in return, and he was awesome! The ceremony music cost $100, the church doesn’t allow CDs so we used the church organist. She was great enough to learn some music for us. We played some music from “Kingdom Hearts” for Hubby to walk in to, “Kiss the Girl” for me to walk in to, and the Zelda theme for us to walk out to. Tip: Remember what is important. Is having tons of dancing important? If it is spend a little extra to get exactly what you want. But if its not, then don't sweat it, save the money get an iPod and have friend MC.
Hubby works with tons of these people and he happened to shoot one of their weddings a few years ago. In return, she did ours. I now have a girl-crush on this fabulous woman. It seemed like she barely took any pictures but I have tons. We also had a different friend do our engagement pictures. Tip: The best doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Try art schools for students or photographers just starting out. Or find a friend who can do it.
This is where the money is spent. We had a guest list 185, but 120 confirmed. I went to a smaller hotel that doesn’t do weddings very often, but was in the process of a several year remodel and image change. Because they wanted to get more weddings their prices are fairly low right now. Plus, we got married on a Friday night. We had to pay for the food, drinks, tax and gratuity. We served a pasta buffet and lots of appetizers. We didn’t provide alcohol, but we did provide anything else the guests wanted to drink. For everything we paid $2,760 and the food was amazing. I thought it would be so-so at best, but everything was just so good. We didn’t want cake, so the hotel provided tiramisu free of cost. We were also very honest about going somewhere else if the price wasn’t right and we gave them a number that they had to come in under. They came in $600 below the number we have them. Tip: Don’t be afraid to set limits and ask for extras. They can only say no. But you know what, so can you.
The centerpieces were pictures of us at various times in our lives. We went through our parent’s album and found pictures of us in similar poses. We bought picture stands on Ebay for $25. We used our own paper to print the pictures. Hubby photo-shopped them together. He’s awesome. Tip: The best centerpieces are the original ones. I’ve had several guests comment after the wedding how cute and personal the centerpieces were. You don't even have to have centerpeices, but if you want them, be original, be yourself, but most of all, find a way to do it for less.
Other Odds and End:
Stationary: I found all my invitations on Ebay for $28.25, and Thank You cards for $12. We printed everything ourselves.
Necklace: Amazon had a sale on jewelry after Christmas and I was able to get $10 off my necklace, which can be worn again.
Rings: I bought Hubby’s ring on Etsy for $67, he loves it. My rings have been in Hubby’s family years and were promised to him a long time ago. Though we have anything in either of my rings, they are priceless to us.
Favors: We spent less than $100 for Kisses, bags to put them in and a basket to hold everything.
Bridal Party: We didn't have one. No drama, no dresses to help pay for, no shoes to pick out, no jewelry to buy. While that's not for everyone, having no bridal party suited us.
Guestbook: We didn’t want to put a lot of money into something we may never look at again and we didn’t want to print a bunch of our engagement pictures to put on display. So we combine the two in the form of a Blurb book. Cost – $40.07.
Other: We researched EVERYTHING before we purchased to make sure we got the best price. We also made a list of everything in order of importance and stuck to that list if one of us got a little wedding crazy.
We budgeted $5,000 for the wedding and we spent $4,503.84. (It would have been less had the people that didn’t show up actually tell us they weren’t coming. We had 20-30 people not show up and at a cost of $20 a person, that would have saved us $400-600.) We did it by shopping around, being honest with our vendors, using friends and family, and not going a completely traditional route. Also, we used the internet as often as possible. We have absolutely no regrets and we have no debt from the wedding either!! However the best tip I can give you is to remember what is important. It is not the dress, the pictures,the shoes, the music, or rings. Those things are nice, but the marriage is what matters.