So the big day is approaching and you’re getting ready to reduce your wedding costs? Well, I’m here to hold your hand and coach you through all of the mistakes and financial epiphanies I had while planning our wedding. So, before we start hacking away at all of your new-found savings, I’m going to fill you in on a little info.
Everything I’m about to fill you in on is completely (and 100%) my own opinion. I made decisions and had to cut back on things for our wedding because I, personally, didn’t feel we needed it or felt it prevented us from walking down the aisle. I’m not a wedding expert or claim to be one. Simply a REAL bride who busted her ass to pay for her own wedding and wants to fill you in on some major cost savings. Getting married is terrifying enough, so to have bridal magazines and blogs telling you what you NEED to have at YOUR wedding is cray. I will say that it’s so easy to get sucked into the Pinterest swirl of fluffy tulle and golden-trimmed everything. You do what you need to do to make your day as special as you want it to be. People are bound to complain about SOMETHING so you might as well do what makes you happy. Now… off to pinching you some pennies, boo!
1. Electronic Wedding Invites or Save the Dates
Coming from a girl who LOVES print, I know just how important your wedding invites can be. We opted for printed invites for only our immediate family and everyone else in our list had the exact same invites sent electronically. Not only does it cut down on the cost (and reserves mama earth) but companies like Paperless Post allow you to keep track of who has opened the invite and who has RSVP’d (so when that RSVP date rolls around you’re not shaking your fist at your relatives).
2. Wedding Bands
Having a ring setting that you love is so important. But committing to a wedding band in the months you’re also saving for your wedding day can really amp up the pressure. You can easily skip on purchasing your dream wedding band until AFTER the big day. Esty is crawling with beautiful and inexpensive wedding bands that you can use until you’re ready to purchase the band of your dreams! As long as you’re not allergic to costume jewelry, WHO will notice the different? I won’t tell you which of my rings are fake and which aren’t because honestly, you won’t be able to tell from the photos alone.
If you’re opting to do family-style seating (think long tables lined together instead of separate circle tables) then the amount of centerpieces can really be reduced. I’ve seen more and more that brides are opting for smaller candles and decor versus the traditional, grand centerpiece that can easily cost $70-$150 a piece. Really get creative with the decor and find elements that speak to your style instead of covering your tables with expensive florals that end up thrown out at the end of the night (sad face). I made our table letters out of acrylic photo holders and gold paper. Our greenery blended with our scenery and our votive candles were fake and SAFE. LOL!
4. Destination Weddings
So you’re saying I don’t have to pay for food or drinks the entire weekend and my on-site wedding coordinator is included in my destination wedding? Tell me more. These days, it’s actually less expensive to get married in a destination wedding versus getting married in the United States. I spent every waking moment looking for a venue in San Francisco and was drained when the CHEAPEST venue I found would end up costing us a teeny $15,000 (LOL) sans food and decor (ay, mama). Most destination wedding venues include a free ceremony, cake, and sometimes allow you to come back to the resort for free on your wedding anniversary! When you have a large Mexican/Dominican family like ours, you realize that having a destination wedding is the best route to go because it really cuts down on the amount of people that will attend. Something to remember is that having your wedding in a location that is not local to your immediate family also means that there are people that might not make it (be in due to financial situations or otherwise) and it’s important to not take these sort of things personally. The most important thing is that the bride & groom (groom & groom / bride & bride / groom & groom & bride / you get it) show up!
5. Bridal Party Attire
YAWN. Aren’t we all kinda bored of the usual bridal party attire? All of your favorite girls in the same dress who ultimately hate you for putting them in said dress. Save your ladies or gents some dough and find attire that’s flattering to each person and ties in with the theme of your wedding. Go monochromatic, same color, or find attire from sites you wouldn’t typically purchase bridesmaids’ dresses from. You can even go out of the box and do a little scavenging by looking into high-fashion thrift stores where you know your piece will truly be unique!
6. Keep the Guest list to a Minimum
Look, I love my coffee lady, too! But if I added her and her plus one, well we’re looking at another seat, another table, another center piece, and now you get the idea. We wanted to invite so many people to our wedding but we kept our guest list to a minimum. Weddings are meant to be shared with the closest people in your life and you may look back on your wedding 10 years from now and wonder who half of the people you invited were. We had a beautiful 37 person wedding and we had the chance to sit down with, dance and talk to every single person at our wedding. I wouldn’t change that for anything!
7. Maximize your Location
If you decide to get married in the woods or chose a date during the winter seasons, use your surroundings as decoration. Let your Pinterest cup runneth over with snowy bridal photos or soak in every single palm tree if you decide on a beach destination. The point is, try not to spend too much time covering up the venue and/or location and maximize every detail of it’s existing character. It rained on our wedding day, and while I could have been the craziest bridezilla, I embraced it and allowed it to create this moody and beautiful backdrop to every photo. My dress was soaked and I danced all night in it. The puddles on the floor made for amazing light reflection, too. Work with what you have!
8. Hair and Make-up
Some ladies might get nervous about this one, but I did my hair and makeup for my big day. I can’t tell you how much that part of the day meant to me. I woke up, ate breakfast with my MOH, blasted the music real loud and found peace in knowing that I was creating the look for my husband to see for the first time. It was like getting ready for a really special date night and I was so excited to impress him with my skills. This not only saves you some cash but it ended up being the highlight of my morning to sit there, happy, singing and laughing while I took my time to get ready. If you’re a newbie with makeup, keep your look simple. Highlight your natural beauty by sticking with shades and tones of makeup that play up your eye color and skin tone. And if you’re feeling too nervous, practice during the weekends leading up to your big day. Bring your girls over and practice or get tips from them! This also applies to other items that you already do at home. Maybe you’re a stellar nail art gal or maybe you know how to do a sick line-up for your grooms. Use your skills, my friends!
9. Reduce the Bridal Party Number
Maybe this one is a little harsh, but your girl over here has about 50,000 cousins on one side of the family. I really wanted everyone to be included in our wedding, but the budget and stress prevailed. Having to coordinate tuxedos and dresses for 14 people sounded like a nightmare so we axed the number to 2. The people who love and care for you most will understand. At the end of the day, I was so thankful to not have to worry about picking out dress colors and gifts for so many of my girls. Instead, I spent my money on cards for everyone who attended our wedding and wrote hand written notes to each of our wedding guests.
10. Sometimes you CAN do it yourself
I realize that not everyone likes to DIY.. but I REALLY found myself liking DIY when I started to see the costs add up. Example: a custom wedding guestbook can cost you up to $300+ on Etsy and a photobooth company can charge upwards of $600 for a full setup. We’re talking a BOOK with BLANK pages for your guests to write their names in and a box where people go to take SELFIES. Are we both reading the same sentence? That’s 900 bills altogether, y’all. So, I took my happy behind to Michael’s and purchased a blank photo album, filled it with lined paper, and traced our names on the front in gold. I had an old polaroid camera that was collecting dust and found extra film on Amazon for the CHEAP. I maybe spent $60 on this in total and we were back in business! Our sign-in book was a polaroid selfie station and was not only a HIT at our reception, but was one of the highlights looking back at all the photos and notes from our friends with drunken polaroids of squished together faces and sweaty lens smudges. I’ll always keep that book so close to my heart! There are so many ways around these sort of things. Sometimes buying a couple boxes of pizza and asking friends to come over for a craft party ends up being way cheaper (and fun) than having to dish it out for a complete stranger to do.
Honestly, a lot of what stopped me from spending money was to stop overthinking things so much. WHO GIVES A SHIT if the wedding industry tells you that you need to spend thousands of dollars on a wedding video. I made our entire wedding video from our Go Pro footage, saved snapchats from our friends and footage from a dinky camera I’ve had for years and Luis and I spend our Friday nights watching it again and again.
The key take away here is to do what feels right in your heart and if you and your future hubby are fighting over expenses and allowing it to stress you out, then you’re probably taking your wedding in the wrong direction. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your crafty friends and it’s okay to let friends in on your wedding planning as long as they have your best interests at heart.
I wouldn’t change a DAMN thing about our wedding and I’m really hoping that you’ll be able to benefit from some of the things I learned. I’m planning to do a FULL write up about our full wedding story, so stay tuned for that. If you can’t wait, you can see our full wedding video here. 🙂
Happy wedding planning! If you have tips and tricks for other brides to use, please dish in the comments section!
So much annoying newlywed love,
Mel + Luis