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planning a wedding? on a strict budget? So am I! I am a genuine believer in the rule that whatever can go wrong will. So, I started early. My wedding is 4 months away, and I have already had my share of stress! So, I am sharing some tips for planning on money saving to help out other brides!
Tip 1: Don’t break the bank! The wedding needs to be special of course, but that does not mean it has to cost a fortune! Prioritize your to do list. Decide what is most important to you. For me, the ceremony site is the most important. I wanted an outdoor wedding, but we went with a December date. Therefore, I set out to find a site to accommodate both. doing this meant being willing to spend extra. we ended up finding a beautiful greenhouse, so it will look like an outdoor wedding but be heated! This cost $2000, which was more than expected. I would not have agreed to this without extras provided by the facility. This facility provides the ceremony flowers/greenery (all but hand-held flowers), rehearsal time in the hall the week before, an isle runner, music selections, sound system, and set up. Therefore, the money was worth it. Ceremony flowers alone could cost $1000+ from a florist! Also, I will not have the usual headaches of making sure everything is set up just right, worrying about sound checks, and renting the facility a 2nd time for the rehearsal (which costs in other places as well).
Tip 2: Prioritize EVERYTHING!As I said, the ceremony site was most important to me. However, my fiance is more focused on the reception. I had him prioritize what aspects are most important. He and I both want music for dancing, but we agree that my fiance is great at making CDs. Therefore, we decided to hire my brother as a DJ for $100, and my fiance will make the CDs from previously downloaded music (my brother just has to announce aspects of the reception/events and change CDs) rather than paying a DJ service $500+! next was food. Our ceremony is from 10am-12pm, which ends around lunch time. we put the reception at 2pm to give a break for guests to get lunch. Now, we only provide the cake and inexpensive snacks. we are getting 2-liter sodas for $1 each at Schnucks and going to Sam’s for snacks in bulk. Alcohol will be cheaper by having 1 bottle of champagne/liquor per table. This also avoids guests getting too intoxicated and causing problems! we will display all of this in an attractive manner using fancy dishes borrowed from family. Providing a full meal costs several hundred dollars (especially when expecting over 100 guests), but a 2pm reception is not at a meal time, so a meal is not required. The 2 hour gap also gives time for a few more pictures and setting up the reception hall. we are using places like dollar stores and Wal-Mart to find nice decorations that are inexpensive. we found a building to rent in a local park, so the rental fee was not high, and sound equipment is provided for $25.
A tip for ceremony and reception sites: look at these first and make a decision far in advance! The best places are reserved months and sometimes over a year in advance, and you don’t want to miss something due to waiting too long.
Next on the priority list is flowers. I am making my bouquets using flowers in bulk, which will be discussed later in this article. Other wedding aspects are covered throughout the article, and you can prioritize what is most important to you.
Tip 3: Leave a LOT of time!We began planning a year in advance, and 8 months of that have passed – extremely quickly. having a year has really helped the financial aspects. Over the past 8 months, we have been gathering decorations. after Christmas, we purchased red and white rope lights at 50% discount. Our colors are red and silver, so this was perfect. we purchased other decorations that work with our colors and decor ideas as they came on sale as well. we have been able to space out payments for the many services and purchases needed for a wedding, so it feels a bit less expensive than it really has been so far. Additionally, having several months has allowed us time to price sites for the ceremony, reception, and peruse ideas to make our day perfect. we did not feel rushed to make a decision immediately, and places we liked were open on our date for the most part.
Tip 4: Family helpDo not be afraid to accept help from family! My parents purchased my dress and the cake – 2 major expenses. I felt bad about them shelling out so much money at first, as they have helped me out a lot in the past. However, my mother was thrilled to be a part of this process, and the help has been greatly appreciated! Also, if you have family members willing and able to participate in the wedding, use them. we are having 2 preachers: my uncle and grandfather. Additionally, my brother will DJ and be an usher. Members of my fiance’s family are willing to help with set up also. Use the help that is offered. Don’t beg, but don’t turn down help either!
Tip 5: Be creativeYou never know how creative and talented you are until your wallet depends on it! Order flowers in bulk and make your own bouquets. there are several sites online explaining to to create standard and cascade bouquets (using foam floral holders that can be purchased at any craft store). I am ordering flowers from a wholesale store and getting approximately 250 flowers for $200! You can spend this much on a bridal bouquet and 1 bridesmaid bouquet. With these flowers, I can create my bouquet, bridesmaid arrangements, boutonnieres, corsages, and a few centerpieces! I am practicing with fake flowers using online tutorials. You can find these using a google search or looking at some online flower sites that offer flowers in bulk. Now, mail order flowers can be nerve-racking. If you do this, make sure the site has a guarantee that involves replacing flowers immediately if they do not show on time. A refund promise does not make flowers magically appear if they do not show. Also, make your delivery date 4-5 days before the wedding to allow for delays. Read all reviews of the site as well (using a google search for independent reviews – not just what the site posts. I have chosen to go through a store, as the store will utilize all other stores in the chain to complete my order if any portion does not arrive on the promised date.Make your own invitations. This step I have already completed, and it was not as hard as it looked. Actually, it was a lot of fun, and I have a lot of pride in the fact that I made them myself. My fiance helped find the right wording, so I give him credit there! I found a site online dealing in specialty paper, and they had do-it-yourself invitation ideas. I used the idea and ordered the base paper (with included lined envelopes) and ornamentation from the site. before ordering, use google to search for coupons for your chosen site. I found a code for 30% off that worked but was not advertised on the actual site. I went to a local craft store and purchased the vellum paper of my choosing, and I purchased 50 folded blank cards (usually for thank yous). I cut the cards along the folded crease and then had 50 RSVP cards and 50 reception cards for a total of $7. These came with envelopes that we will use for the preprinted RSVP cards. I went to Walmart and got red ribbon for $0.44 per roll (used 2 rolls) and silver ribbon for $1 per roll (used 7 rolls). I printed the invitations and cards on my home computer, but we used the Internet to find the wording we liked. I used the red ribbon on the invitations according to the pattern we picked. I used the silver ribbon to line the RSVP and reception cards, and they go with the silver foil-lined invitation paper nicely without having to pay $30 more for complimenting cards. I had a lot of fun putting them together, and I must say they look like the picture from the online instructions! I spent a total of about $95 for 100 invitations, which includes the RSVPs, reception cards, and lined envelopes. I could not find any preprinted invitations for less than $200 (for really plain invites) including this. most of the nice designs were much more.
I have tried googling & supplier directories & I just get lost! I need a supplier that is cheap good quality with no minimum order.
My fiance and I have heard nothing but great things about destination weddings (he and I have talked about possibly getting married in Hawaii or the Caribbean.) Also the majority of our guest list is out of town to begin with (approx 125 of our 150 guests live at least an hour and a half away.) Destination wedding websites make these weddings seem like they are too good to be true. Are they truly less expensive and less stressful?
I got married in Hawaii and it was so much less stressful. (I’m MOH in my friend’s wedding; the amount of things she has to do and plan is overwhelming.) We picked a company we found online met the lady when we got there — she was the “coordinator” and the photographer. She arranged the minister – who was totally awesome and everything I had imagined arranged the location and brought her video camera and still camera. We opted to not have any chairs (only 7 guests and a 15 minute ceremony on the beach) no music no butterflies no cake — these were all options. Instead we bought some absolutely delicious cupcakes for our guests and bought them all dinner that night. So yes the stress level is just about zero.
Less expensive depends on you. Weddings are expensive because you invite a lot of people. It’s also expensive if you have a bunch of decorations. A destination wedding will be very expensive for your guests so you’ll have a higher-than-normal decline rate. But for you combining the wedding and honeymoon into one package it can be quite inexpensive. (We spent less for our entire 10 day trip that my friend is spending on her reception; she still has to pay for the dress the wedding venue musicians DJ etc.) But again it is what you make of it.
Ask yourself what’s important to you. For us it was a low-key ceremony and spending time with your closest family and friends. (They’re literally all across the U.S. so somebody was going to have to travel anyway.) We got a 10 day beach vacation out of the deal spent time with those who were close to us had an awesome wedding and fantastic food at a restaurant that night (we paid for our guests and it was very reasonable even with them picking whatever they wanted) and got to honeymoon in one of the best places I’ve ever been. It was so so so worth it I can’t stress that enough. But if you have a lot of elderly family members who want to see you get married or if you have several guests who wouldn’t be able to afford traveling thousands of miles away … you have to decide what you want.
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Notice decorations for holidays and parties in stores. we are using red and silver plastic table liners, which are inexpensive in department stores with a party isle – especially dollar and discount stores! Also, many of these stores carry helium balloons. we are getting metallic red and silver balloons, which we will tie to home-made paper weights (metallic paper wrapped around clean rocks or sand) tied with decorative ribbon. This is an elegant but inexpensive centerpiece/decoration.. Also consider the bowls with decorative beads (in a craft section or even an aquarium section) with floating candles/decorations. Set on top of a mirror plate makes an expensive-looking $10 decoration! Anything you see that seems to have decor potential, purchase it! get 1 of the item and experiment with your idea before buying more, so you can practice and not lose the idea. Also, you can take a picture of the item at the store with your cell phone, so you can look at it later and decide if you want it without buying it. This is great for ideas that would not require you assembling it with other items.
Tip 6: Know your budget and be willing to compensate!This seems simple and self-explanatory, but the budget can change quickly. A bride can be easily sucked in to wanting more and spending more, and income can change quickly, causing the budget to change. This is hard to prepare for but crucial. How have we done it? well, I estimated our total paycheck amounts each paycheck. I created a document outlining every payday up until the wedding. I made a list of all our usual bills and inserted them under the pay periods where they must be paid. I subtracted the bills from the estimated paychecks. Then I subtracted $150-200 for regular spending each check. Whatever was left was money for the wedding during that 2 week period. I then outlined all wedding bills (remainder of ceremony and reception balances, DJ fee, flower price, limo price, honeymoon, etc). I designated the money left over from each check to specific wedding bills. For example, after paying bills and designating spending money from the check on 9/5/08, the remainder is paying for the reception. The wedding allowance 2 weeks later finishes the reception and pays for the limo. Designating the money to specific bills is very important, as this ensures the unavoidable wedding bills get paid in time. That way, we do not spend the money on optional items before paying off the main items. Additionally, I am working overtime when able, and any extra overtime money goes towards the wedding to pay things off sooner. It seems like a lot of time to be at work sometimes, but it is worth it to know we will not be hurting close to the wedding!
Tip 7: Seasonal ConsiderationsUse the season of your wedding to your advantage. For example, we are having a December/winter wedding. Poinsettias are in season at that time. we found stores where poinsettias will be available cheap (3 for $12), and we will purchase these for reception decor. we will also use Christmas lights for mood lighting. If you have a near-February wedding, valentine decorations are abundant prior to the date. Use these for your decorations also! July or August wedding? Stock up on 4th of July decor (streamers, red, white, or blue decor without the designs if preferred). October or November? Use fall decorations for a natural look. The possibilities are endless!
Tip 8: Honeymoon planningChoose a site for your honeymoon that you have always wanted to see. If you choose a hotel with a nice room with a view, you do not have to spend a lot on a honeymoon suite or package. we are going to Niagara Falls. we saw “romance packages” for 3 days and 2 nights with lots of perks for $400 average. However, we chose a room with a view of the falls without the extra frills. we are able to stay 4 nights for less than the 2 night package, and we have a fantastic and romantic view! we will have more time to go to the attractions, which is important to us. we are not 2 people content to stay in a room for 3 days – no matter what the occasion! Now, if you want more of a quiet honeymoon with all alone time, then the honeymoon package may be for you. You have to decide what you want from your honeymoon.
Tip 9: Common problemsNo matter how careful you plan, something will go wrong. The key is knowing this and being able to compensate! A common fear (and my biggest at the moment) is flowers not arriving. This is a common fear because flowers do not last forever, and you cannot obtain them more than 5 days in advance and have them nice for the wedding. Therefore, make sure you have a guarantee that includes replacing flowers at the last minute if there is a problem. If the florist cannot offer this, I would not risk it! Another flower fear is arrangements being the wrong type, color, wilted, etc. This is why I am making my arrangements. If you are not controlling this by making your own, again make sure there is a guarantee. If there is a clause stating “florist may make substitutions based on availability,” get in writing what this means. see if it means different color shades or completely different flowers may be substituted. Make sure you are okay with the possibilities identified. ask if you can define what substitutions are available and what are not (can you nix a certain type of flower or shade? can you make sure the colors are not changed?). Make sure you have a say in substitution possibilities before signing any agreement!
Another headache is seating arrangements for the reception. This is an easy fix. DON’T DO IT! let people (other than the wedding party) sit where they please. If Uncle Joe doesn’t like brother John, they would not sit together anyway. Designate tables for immediate family and bride’s and groom’s side if you want, but do not lose sleep over seating. People will sit with who they know and like. You may cause more harm than good trying to dictate this!
Decorations are always worrisome. When possible, delegate this. As stated before, the ceremony decorations are provided and set up by our site. However, we are in charge of the reception decor. Use your bridal party to help with this! Outline what you want clearly (use diagrams for visual and spacing assistance), so they bridal party can follow this easily. do what you can before set up (such as tying the balloons to the centerpiece/decorations, having the table coverings stacked in order of the tables for easy set up, etc). You can be there to help, but, with easy and clear instructions, your bridal party can do most of the work!
You can expect to be worrying about anything and everything that can go wrong in the 1-2 months before the wedding. some compensation ideas have been outlined here. When you find yourself worrying about all the possibilities, relax. Write down these potential problems, and then write down ways to react to the problem. If the limo doesn’t show, have some one with a nice car lined up who is willing to drive you anyway (and have the limo number on speed dial to demand your refund later!). If you went with a florist who failed you and did not have the back up plans noted earlier, have local florists (even grocery stores with flowers) identified to use. have stain remover on hand (hand-held detergent pens) in case of spills. Write all of this down (and any other possible problems and potential solutions). You will have too much on your mind to think of these solutions on the spot, so a list will help greatly. Also, give a copy of the list to the maid of honor and best man for assistance. It may seem anal (and it is), but it will help tremendously if things go wrong!
Tip 10: ENJOY YOUR DAY!Once the day is here, don’t worry about what to change – it is too late! enjoy the benefits of all your planning and go with the flow. If there is an unexpected snag, roll with it. It will be a wedding memory to talk about in years to come!
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