As I mentioned to my fiance this morning, when I got my wedding budget from my dad ($5k) I didn't think it would be possible at all to have everything I always dreamed in a wedding. And then as my mom halved, then halved, then halved again the budget she set aside for my dress because of the economy, I had a night where I just dissolved into tears. But everything is falling into place. It's incredible so far that I'm having the formal wedding of my dreams, and I'm coming in under budget so far!
My biggest save has been my gown. Only a day before the event, I learned of this year's first Boston Brides on a Budget, sponsored by Good Will (of all places). About 3 hours before the event ended, even though I was convinced I would be too late, I decided on a whim to go. I am still in shock when I tell you I found the dress of my dreams, and it was only $80. Brand new (well, a sample), never worn, never altered . . . perfect.
Then my shoes, another haphazard, unplanned surprise. I walked into a consignment shop one day, not even with wedding on my mind. There in front of me sat the most perfect wedding shoes, which were even on sale at the consignment store! So for $150 total (dress and shoes), I have the major pieces of my bridal attire.
I've been saving the Victoria's Secret gift cards I've received over the last few months, and have another $10 off coupon, and now have enough to purchase my undergarments at no cost to me!
When it comes to the ceremony, we have been extremely fortunate. Very close friends of ours are phenomenal organists, and will be playing at the ceremony without charging us their usual fees- a wedding present!
We chose to have the reception in a historic mansion that has been perfectly restored (an equipped with an in-house caterer!) We're saving a bundle on the reception because, like the church for the ceremony, it requires absolute NO decorating! Even better, everything is included in the cost of the venue (linens, chairs, flatware, stemware, tableware, service, food)! It is the most formal venue we looked at, and was by far the least expensive!
We're also saving on the center pieces. Because of food allergies, we had to get a separate small cake for the bride and groom anyway. We decided, instead of floral centerpieces and because we had to buy the cake anyway, why not use small cakes as the centerpieces! Guests can serve themselves the size piece they actually want, and we don't have to pay $100/table for the flowers.
We're not having reception musicians. Instead, our iPods will double as DJs to customized lists of our favorite music.
We are making the favors ourselves. The groom is a stained glass artist who is always looking for a chance to use up his small "scap" glass pieces. At no cost to us (because we're using up the extra supplies!) we're making stained glass light catchers for each guest.
Through family connections, we have access to really high quality printers. All of our paper goods (invites, save the dates, menus, seating arrangements) will be designed by us and printed by family, saving on all the invitation printing costs.
Sorry this is long, but one bit of advice for brides on tight budgets. You're probably hearing this from everyone, but don't be afraid of looking in non-traditional places. Look for all-inclusive packages when it comes to the venues. For everything else, don't overlook the consignment and thirft shops, Etsy, Craigslist, and estate sales! They're a budget bride's best friends.