On July 4th, 2015, I married the man of my dreams, my soulmate, and my best friend. After many years of searching, we met at our local CrossFit gym, Crossfit Incendia, in Peoria, Arizona. It was a special day for us because it was when we fell in love. We chose to get married where we met because it had a special place in both of our hearts. It was a very special ceremony for us, but it was so impromptu that a lot of our friends and family couldn’t make it, so we decided to have a reception later on so we could celebrate our love and new life together.
Because it was so impromptu, we decided to have the reception without the usual formalities. I know the word “budget” and wedding makes anyone want to cringe and think of a hoaky and outdated themed wedding. But it certainly does not have to be that way. We had a budget and it was $5000. It is possible to have a beautiful party for a fraction of the price. On average, people spend at least $10,000 to $20,000, if not $50,000. We wanted to take a honeymoon of a lifetime traveling to Europe for 3 weeks instead of a formal wedding. I absolutely was not going into debt for my wedding, that was a huge no-no for us. It was going to be cold hard cash. NO exceptions.
This is HOW we did it:
1.KEEP A BUDGET
Your budget is your best friend. Stick to it, figure out how to manage it and keep track of everything you spend, have a separate bank account for it or do what we did, have a cash envelope so you know exactly what you are spending your money on at all times. I kept wanting to spend more and my husband kept reeling me in making sure I wasn’t just being spontaneous and wanting everything. Remember, YOU are in charge and don’t let anyone influence you because you are on a budget and remember why you wanted to do it this way in the first place. We wanted to have a honeymoon of a lifetime,so we had to allocate our money intelligently and NOT get into debt for our special day.
You must stay organized, keep track of when the caterer comes to see the kitchen, what time the DJ is going to start and how much time he needs to get set up. What time is your make-up artist coming? When are you getting your hair done? Make sure you pre-order flowers so you have enough. Make sure you always keep your budget with you and every time you buy anything, track it. I used my iPhone and kept a running tally of my funds and cash in my envelopes. It can be a pain the butt but it will be oh so worth it in the end.
3.PICK A REASONABLE THEME
My theme was shabby chic so I learned how to make mason jar vases, thank you gifts and a lot of the decorations. My friend’s sister also rents out Shabby Chic goods so I rented some of her inventory too that suited my theme. I went to Joanns with their 50% off coupons, Michaels and Hobby Lobby and they all price match so you can save some of your moolah here.
4.KEEP A GUEST LIST- YOU ARE GOING TO HAVE TO SAY NO
You are going to have to be ruthless and relentless here. Yes, you guessed it, your guest list may be suffering from guess-list bloat. Our guest list was easily over 150 to begin with and my husband and I together created a short list by using the dreaded process of elimination. You have to, it is necessary, so sit down, brainstorm and start making a short list. You CAN do this.
Weddings are notorious for people taking their non-invitation personally. Don’t let it deter you from your goal and your budget, just do it with confidence and in the end, people will get over it and don’t let their reaction affect your happiness and if it does, practice not taking it personally.
5.HAVE AN ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNER
My husband and I make a great team. We budgeted together and we would talk about the planning at least twice a week to make sure we were on track and within our guidelines. I wanted to spend more but there is a trade off and he kept reminding me that we were saving for our honeymoon too. Work together and if your husband isn’t your accountability partner, one of your friends would probably love to be.
6.FIND A CHEAPER CATERER
I wanted delicious food and I got a few quotes from different catering companies. Boy, this is another place where you can save A LOT of money. My highest quote was $2750 and what we ended up spending was $1300 with full service and we elected to have appetizers only. The food was ah-mazing.
7.BUY THE ALCOHOL YOURSELF
We hired our friend who is a bar tender to make and serve drinks.It was awesome! We got all of the alcohol we needed from Costco . We had beer, cider, vodka, and wine.
8.BUY THE FLOWERS YOURSELF
I pre-ordered flowers from Costco 2 weeks before my big day. The last thing you want to do is not be able to buy them when you need them the morning of your reception. Four friends and myself cut them up and put them in the Mason jar vases. They looked adorable and really beautiful and with many hands comes light work. I ordered 6 dozen pink roses and baby’s breath and had the perfect amount of flowers to decorate the tables at our friend’s home. It looked amazing, very classy and elegant.
9.USE A FAMILY FRIEND WHO IS A DJ
Our family friend is a DJ. You will be amazed at how much you can save if you ask around, don’t be shy, people may even gift it to you. My photographer was a gift, we were so appreciative that someone would do that for us and it helped us a lot because of our budget.
10.DO IT AT A FRIEND OR RELATIVE’S HOUSE
Our dear friends offered to host our reception at their house and it was beyond AMAZING. They had a huge backyard that was perfect for entertaining guests and it was just beautiful.
11.ASK FAMILY AND FRIENDS TO HELP YOU SET UP & MAKE PREPARATIONS
My mother in law, her sister and some of our close friends offered to help set up and decorate. The day before our reception, 8 of us went to the location. The tables and chairs had been delivered and we had to start decorating. Everyone is so creative and had some really great ideas. We put 2 people in charge of how to decorate and they worked together to place the chairs, tables, chandeliers, vases, and decorations so wonderfully, I could not have been happier. We all pitched in to help with the set up and it got done with no issues. People love to help on special occasions, it is also an opportunity to connect and bond with your friends and loved ones.
12.WEAR A BRIDESMAID DRESS
If you are on a budget, here is where you can save a ton of money. I never envisioned having a traditional white wedding dress that I would only wear once and then have it sit in my closet gathering dust, so this part for me was easy. I thought I would have spent at least $500 on my dress; I did try on wedding dresses but none of them resonated with me.
So when I tried on the blush pink dress I found at David’s Bridal, I had to have it! It was perfect and the best part was it was only $189! Score! You will be shocked if you look online and plan ahead if you do want a traditional gown, online stores have everything and can be fitted to you for a fraction of the price of a retail store. Ebay has amazing dresses that are well priced but you have to get it early enough to do alterations. David’s Bridal has a lot of specials too. I was really impressed with their selection and how easily I could stay within my allocated budget. Don’t be pressured to get a traditional wedding dress just because you think you “should.” This is YOUR day and you can wear anything your heart desires, plus save a few pennies. I have so many friends who spent anything from $500 to $5000 on their dresses only for them to sit in their closets and never be worn again. My dress was not going to break the budget and I was determined NOT to let it become a dust collector in the back corners of my closet.
13.LEARN TO CRAFT AND DO-IT-YOURSELF
One of my best friends is a very talented crafter. So for 3 days, we caught up on girl talk while we decorated mason jar vases and thank you gift cards. We had the time of our lives, she taught me how to craft and it was a total blast. It is amazing what you can do with a hot glue gun and a girlfriend. I never considered myself a crafty person but because I had a strict budget, I soon became one.
14.RELAX AND DON’T STRESS
You are going to get bombarded by your family and friends with “their” wishes and desires for your special day. You are going to have to be cool, calm and confident and ward off the desire to spend a lot of money on unnecessary items. You may feel like the “bad” guy every now and then, but I promise you, it’s worth it.
Stick to your guns and be confident in your decision. Don’t take what anyone says personally and move forward. You cannot worry about hurt feelings because you cannot please everyone, because at the end of the day, we all have a different opinion of our wants and desires, that is just called “life.” It is not that they or their opinions don’t matter, but you have to love yourself enough to stick to your strategy. This is YOUR special day and you can choose how you want it, you are the boss, so act like it. Be assertive when you need to and take charge.
In the end, this is the breakdown of our expenses:
- Catering for 100 guests appetizers only $1300
- Rental Chairs and tables $700
- Alcohol from Costco $200
- DJ $450
- Flowers from Costco $200
- My dress was from David’s Bridal, it was a bridesmaid’s dress $189
- Headpiece on sale David’s Bridal $40
- Sash for my dress David’s Bridal $60
- Shoes $40
- Grooms attire from Men’s Warehouse $500
- Professional Make-Up Artist $100
- Bar tender $150 and tips
- Thank you cards and stamps $30
- Thank you, Taffy, $60
- Thank you bags and labels $70
- Burlap, ribbons, and random extras $350
- Cake made and designed $200
- Bouquet $100
- Invitations $90
- Location was our friend’s backyard and it was FREE
- Hair- my sister does hair so it was FREE
- Photographer $300 (one of my friends gifted this to us) FREE to us
- Marriage officiant was my girlfriend so it was FREE
I could not have asked for a more perfect day. Everything looked stunning and elegant. I was not stressed out, well…. maybe just a little, but because we were so organized, we didn’t have to worry. It even rained at the end of the night, which is meant to be good luck.
This is all up to YOU. Have confidence, be organized, maintain your budget, don’t take anything personally and most of all, have FUN. Weddings and receptions are notorious for being stressful and the bride and groom remember stressing about everything that is or is not done or perfect on their special day, don’t let this be you.
This is really a celebration of the beginning of a union of love. It is meant to be one of the happiest days of your life! So be true to you, what YOU want is the most important thing at the end of the day.
If you are really serious about winning with your money and start your New Year off on the right foot, download this great budget, and……. it is FREE!! www.moneypeach.com/budget
Many blessings, love and luck on your journey.
Cheers to your wedding day on a budget.