Wednesday, May 9, 2012

How do you start planning a wedding on a tight budget??

Since getting engaged in March, most of my free time has been in relation to the BIG DAY! The ideas are all circling my head. Something I've dreamt about forever is finally going to become a reality!  What I thought would be a great time quickly turned into the worst version of 20(thousand) questions EVER! As I've posted previously, everyone wants to give their unsolicited advice. And everyone has questions for things I just can't answer yet. Whew, what a headache!

Once I got a handle on the fact that this is MY wedding, and the only people I need to make happy are me and the man I'm going to marry, I was able to move past the annoying questions and focus on what I've always wanted. But it's not that easy.

How do you plan a dream wedding on a very limited budget? The Pre-Husband and I will be paying for the wedding ourselves. And until recently, we were a 1 income household. This means that although we now have 2 incomes, we have a lot to catch up on financially before we can even begin to start paying for wedding stuff. With that in mind, in order to start our planning we had to break down the things that were most important so that we could begin somewhere.

First, I have always wanted to get married on the water, or near it. I pictured sand beaches, nice weather, lots of fun. This is the one item in my "if I had a dream wedding where money is no object" plan that I will not sacrifice for. This will mean we need to look for inexpensive venues near the water in Seattle. Do you see the problem? Seattle is a pricey city that rains more than it has sunny weather! We will have to be creative in our venue searches and find something that we can afford that meets the criteria that is the MOST important to me.

Second, we decided we wanted something small and intimate. We only want the closest of family and friends. And that meant cutting down a big large guest list to those people that truly mean the world to us. Our preliminary list was a bit overwhelming, and more than 2/3rds of it was for my side (I have lots of family!) In a perfect world, I would invite all my friends and every last cousin and family member. But I know that the more people I invite, the more room I will need, and the more food I will have to purchase. (I'm on a tight budget, remember!?)

The last thing, the date. I want an outdoor wedding. I'm a sunshine kind of girl! Hard to believe since I've lived in Washington my whole life (and still haven't run away to warmer climates - but that's a story for another time)!  However, we want a date that means something to us, and also one that we don't risk the chance of rain. Financially we know that we will have to wait until 2013 to get married - but from there, where do we go?! We're still deciding (but its a toss up between March and August)!

So, how did you start your wedding planning? Did you pick a site and go from there? Did you have a large budget or a strict one? What were/are the most important things for your big day? I want to hear from you!

Peace and Good JuJu,


  1. I started at the beginning with the church and the hall (traditional wedding here) and my hubby started at the end, with the honeymoon. Divide and conquer kind of thing. We didn't have a budget but when we realized how quickly it was adding up, we had to make priorities.

    We had a big wedding, which I don't necessarily endorse, but if money is the issue, how about making it a cash-gift kind of wedding? That could help with your expenses.

    Having been married 13 years, I can give you one piece of advice: the wedding day is just one day. Before you put yourself in debt for years for that one day, that honestly, you will not fully remember, except when you watch the video, ask yourself, how important are the expensive details?

    Good luck :)

    1. Congrats on 13 years! I can't wait to be at that point one day! oh, the expensive details! I'm trying so hard to stay away from them! I'm having a friend do the photography and I've decided against the video. We're even skipping a DJ and will be running a pre-loaded ipod! And I like the divide and conquer idea! The Pre-Hubby already has ideas for the honeymoon, so I'm letting him have full run of it! Thanx for the Cash-gift wedding idea. not sure if it will work with our families, but perhaps its something we can explore! :D

  2. Holly,
    I started my wedding planning on Ebay. Really No kidding. I'll post a picture on Twitter so you can see, My dress was made for me, according to my measurements and I got it for under $50.00. (Late night auction special) You can also look at sites like mine or ThreadBanger and make much of your own stuff. Have a glue gun? There are many things you can DIY to have a fabulous wedding on a tight budget!

  3. I'd rethink the between March and August dates. That's prime wedding season when you are unlikely to get a discount on anything AND will have to compete with other brides for vendors. November to March is off-season and you're more likely to get discounts on your venue, caterer, photographer, etc. For instance, my venue gave me a F&B minimum discount of 76% because we opted to get married on January 6th -- and it's a pretty gorgeous venue. We're also outdoors for the ceremony and live in SoCal.

    That leads me to the next point. Why get married in Seattle? You've got a lot of time between now and next year. Take a couple of weekend road trips -- there are a bunch of three day weekends coming up. Drive down to NoCal (or all the way to SoCal) for your sunny weather. Since you're most likely doing this without a planner, google a bunch of venues you want to visit. Plan it so you can visit the majority of them in that one weekend (most site visits aren't more than 30-45min). Then ask the catering manager for a list of recommendations for vendors. On the next three day weekend, you could arrange to meet your finalists (after email communications to narrow down price, style, and initial first impression). Most other things can be done online. It'll take a lot of work, but you've also got a lot of time. And you theoretically only get married once.

    Also, I saw some commentators suggest cash gifts. This is technically an etiquette violation. You could put together a wedding website and mention how you guys are looking to put a down payment on the house, pay off student loans, go to school, etc, but to actually ask for cash is considered bad manners. Most people will get the hint if on your registry section you put a brief blob of text of things you're trying to save up for. But you should still do a smaller registry with multiple price points so that people who aren't comfortable giving you cash are still taken care of.

    My biggest piece of advice is to negotiate EVERYTHING. From your photographer, to your dress, to the caterer, to the florist. EVERYTHING. And cut your guest list. Even if you think it's bare bones, try and cut it more. The remaining guests at your wedding will benefit. We started at 78 and cut it down to 70 and the amount we're spending per head increased to the point where we can throw in a bunch of special items for our guests.

  4. I think they key to any economical wedding is friends/family. Anyone who can't be in the wedding can still contribute to making your day special. I still have really fond memories of friends who took pictures, friends who helped decorate the tables, bridal party helping me with crafts and bouquets. My parents did the same thing and still (27 years later) talk about how loved they felt with all of the hard work and contributions.

    Another thing is to decide what you absolute have to splurge on. Maybe it's your dress, the cake/cupcakes, venue. Just decide, and then work around it. For me, I really wanted to get married in a museum and found everything else on sale around it (flowers put together by myself and good friend, purchased at Safeway -Can also get them inexpensively at Pikes Place - our music was purchased on CD's and played by a friend, etc).


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