When I got engaged I was overwhelmed by all the possibilities but also all the budget restraints. I was extremely blessed in that my parents decided to fund the wedding and gave me a reasonable budget. My first thought was that is awesome, money! My second thought was I can definitely come in under budget and save my parents some of their hard earned money.
Here are some of the ways that I had the wedding of my dreams without going broke:
1) Flowers from Costco:
I started out by talking to some local florists about what I wanted and was fairly impressed by what some of them could offer me. Then I found out that Costco does wedding flowers! They have a variety of package sizes and for the amount and quality I received none of the local florists could even come close.
I got beautiful off-white rose bouquets, corsages, boutenierres, and centerpieces. They all came fully assembled with pearl pins in the roses and handles wrapped. Everything was ready to go, all we had to do was stick them in water until it was wedding time. I also really appreciated that I received a call after I placed my order online to confirm the details of the order and my wedding date and then another call an hour after the flowers were delivered to make sure I was satisfied.
I wanted more flowers than the 6 centerpiece bouquets my wedding package came with. I had envisioned having a small bouquet of flowers at each table and so I also ordered a box with "mini-bouquets". For less than $100 I received 18 different bouquets with 15 stems in each. By giving up the control of exactly which flowers were in bouquets and not having each bouquet be the same I got gorgeous flowers for an amazing price!
2) Centerpiece Decor from the Thrift Store and Clearance Aisle
Okay, so to be honest it didn't all come from the thrift store and clearance aisle. However, I did get a great box of 25 frames for $2 from the thrift store because they weren't selling well and then I painted the ugly fake wood ones to be dark gray. I used the vintage frame table numbers article on Project Wedding as my inspiration and found some fun scrapbook paper, a calligraphy guide, and a big black marker to make the numbers. I also lucked in to an amazing bird cage for a card holder at a different thrift store. I was loving the bird cage idea but not loving the price tag associated with them on the wedding sites. This beauty was only $2.50 and I used leftover corners from my extra invitations to made the cards sign.
My many finds on the clearance aisle included: silver/purple mettalic ribbon, a guest book that has mini envelopes for guests to stick well wishes in, mini lotions and aspirin for out of town guest bags, and so much more. From the onset of planning any time I was out shopping I kept my eyes peeled for items that would be useful or I would be needing down the line. I think this worked well for me because I didn't decide on one specific item that I just had to have, I used what I found.
Another great part of my centerpieces was the vases. If I had decided on mason jars earlier on I could have found them at second-hand and thrift stores but by the time I came across the jar idea I didn't have time to find a few here and there. So I went to the local hardware store and bought two cases of 12 canning jars for a grand total of....$16! So much less expensive than even getting vases at the dollar store. I also used some cute skinny ribbon tied around the mouths of the jars to add some pizzazz and tie in wedding colors.
3) Always Buy on Sale
I can think of very few things that I purchased for the wedding that weren't on sale. I brainstormed what I thought I would want and need and watched the sale flyers for my favorite craft stores. I also took advantage of the 40% off coupons I would get at the checkout to get the more expensive items that don't go on sale as often. I rarely made a purchase if I found something I wanted that was full price because I knew I could get it cheaper. I started getting candy for the buffet after Valentine's Day because I knew some of the hard candies would be fine for a little over a month. I also frequented a local discount grocery that happened to have ivory colored M&Ms for 80% less than what I was finding at other stores. The only catch with them was that a few of the candies were broken, not hard to fix by picking the broken ones out as I fill the containers.
4) Be Crafty!
I know that most brides on Project Wedding already know all about being crafty. I have decided that an extra crafty touch on generic items can make all the difference both in making the wedding feel more personal and in making the budget. Three examples of this are my napkins, placecard/favors, and programs.
Napkins: I went to a wedding last spring with adorable napkins printed up with the bride and groom's name in their wedding colors. I loved the idea and wanted to replicate. However after researching prices I decided to try to just stamp some of my own napkins in order to add the special touch minus the special price. I bought a few big packs of purple and off-white napkins from the party store and went to work with my silver and purple ink pads. The results were hundreds of customized wedding napkins for under $10!
Escort Cards/Favor Boxes: Another budget bonus is that these boxes served double duty. I bought two sets of ivory favor boxes when they went on sale and then spent an evening stamping thank you on them and rolling the edges on the stamp pad to give an extra bit of color. Then I used little tags to write the guests' names and table numbers so that each guest got their own box to fill at the candy buffet. If I had ordered special boxes from a site that specializes in favors or weddings these would have been a small chunk of my budget but instead I put in a little time and saves a lot of money plus made them unique to our wedding.
Programs: I wasn't even sure that I wanted programs since they often get left behind at the church or thrown away and most of the invitation sites charge a pretty penny for programs. In the end I rethought the program issue and decided that the people who were coming to the wedding would want to know who everyone is and I wanted to publically thank all the people who I love most and who helped so much. So I decided to do long skinny programs with a third of a 12x12 sheet of cardstock behind a half sheet of printer paper with the information printed on it. I bought the cardstock on sale 4 sheets for $1 and the printing cost for the programs at a local print shop was around $5. The time it took to assemble the programs was the only downfall but even then I had my mom, aunt, and sister help assemble and we had fun getting them all trimmed, bejeweled, and tied.
So to sum it up consider vendors who are outside of the normal wedding sphere, look for wedding decor and items in unexpected locations, keep an eye on the sale flyers, and put special touches on generic items to make your wedding unique.
I hope my ideas have helped inspire you!
*Please if you use any of the photographs featured in this article give credit to my amazing photographer Jen Owen of Jen Martin Studios.*