If your anything like me, you probably grew up watching Disney princess movies and turned into a hopeless romantic at the age of seven. So when I got engaged I thought “Hey! I got this! I’ve been planning this wedding for my whole life!” Little did I know that weddings are really freaking expensive! According to The Knot, the average cost of a wedding is $31,213… That seemed like a lot of money to spend on one day. So me being a full-time college student and frankly, not having $31,213, I needed to find some ways to save money while still having my dream wedding.
Luckily, I was able to find ways to have a guest list of 150 people, and everything I’ve ever dreamed my wedding could be. I was able to spend under $12,000 on the entire wedding, rings, and honeymoon. I know that’s not chump change or anything, but I believe that’s a pretty good deal for how perfect my wedding was! I got married in Florida, on a Saturday, in the summer, which is basically the most expensive place and time to get married. Avoiding these things would probably be my first piece of advice. But, if you’re like me and these are a must have, I have some ways I saved on other expenses that you can hopefully use as well. I have compiled all of my big purchases for my wedding in hopes they will give you some ideas and tips to save some serious cash on your own wedding!
Weddings can be very stressful to plan and can seem way too overwhelming. But when you’re having a wedding on a budget, a wedding planner might be something you can do without. I was able to plan my wedding by myself (with some friends and family), while being a full-time student and working full-time. So if I can do it, you can do it too! Pinterest was probably the most helpful tool while planning. Being able to organize all of my ideas and inspirations in one area really helped me to stay focused. Pinterest also offers some extremely useful tools such as timelines, free templates, tips, and DIY ideas.
Another helpful tip to make planning your wedding easier, is to give yourself a large amount of time to plan it. I was engaged for a year and a half before I got married so I had plenty of time to plan everything without getting stressed. This will also save you a lot of money because you can have time to look for the cheapest options possible.
Venue, Caterer, Cake, Coordinator, and DJ
I got extremely lucky with my venue. I got married in Brooksville Florida (my hometown), at the Shabby Chic Barn. It is was the most beautiful venue I’ve ever seen and we were one of the first couples to ever get married there. This venue also offers amazing package deals. My package included the venue, all rentals, the caterer, the cake, my day of wedding coordinator, and my DJ for only about $8,000! This was the majority of my expenses so I was ecstatic that it was so convenient and affordable. According to wedding-spot.com the average price for this venue is now $15,475 to $19,915 for a ceremony & reception for 100 guests. So the price has definitely gone up since 2015, but keep in mind that these “average packages” might be more extensive than the one I purchased, so I would still give them a try! If the price of this venue is still too expensive for your budget, my biggest piece of advice would be to look into venues that are just starting out, like this one was when we got married. You never know what you can find with a little research!
The caterer that was part of the package, was the owners catering business called Greg’s Catering. We were able to pick exactly what we
wanted to eat for the wedding and the food was delicious, like honestly it was so good! The cake was made by Cake’s by Dot and was just the way I wanted it to look and tasted great! I just showed her pictures of a cake on Pinterest and she made it happen! I actually did not plan on using a coordinator till about a month before my wedding. I thought that I would just organize everything the day of the wedding myself, but thank God I didn’t. I have no idea what I would have done if I didn’t get the coordinator! She organized the entire rehearsal, she set up all the decorations, told everyone where to go, paid everyone that needed to be paid at the end, and basically took care of every little detail that I would have totally forgotten about! To be honest, when I picked Good Vibes Entertainment for the package I was really nervous. I have been to SO many weddings were the DJ is extremely cheesy and just plays the “cha-cha-slide” and the “cupid shuffle” on repeat. I made a Wedding Playlist and listed every song that I wanted to be played at my wedding just to be safe. However, Chad has an awesome website where you can add all the songs you want for him to play as well as the timeline so he can announce everything appropriately. He really was an awesome DJ who could read the crowd and knew exactly what song to play. Altogether I could not be more happy with the vendors that were provided by the venue. Honestly, I could not think of one complaint if I tried!
If you’re going to splurge on anything for your wedding I would suggest doing so on the photographer and cinematographer. In my opinion, this is the most important part of your wedding because the photos and videos will last a lifetime. I did get lucky and found an awesome photographer and cinematographer for REALLY cheap. But when I booked them, they were just starting their careers. Now they have both done a lot of other weddings and are in high-demand. They are both still reasonably priced but not exactly like I paid last year. Stephanie Keeler was the photographer for my wedding and you can see some of her beautiful work throughout this article. She really has an eye for lighting and can basically make everything look beautiful. Impulse Media Group did the cinematography for the wedding and you can watch the video HERE. My wedding was actually the first wedding they ever shot which initially made me nervous, but if you watch the video you could never tell.
Although Stephanie Keeler and Impulse Media Group are the best in my opinion. I know there are some people like me that can not afford much. If you end up finding out you can not afford them, I would suggest looking into students at a local college who are majoring in photography or cinematography. They might not have a lot of experience but I bet you could find someone who has a great eye and knows what is current for a really great price. They may have not shot a wedding before, but you could always ask for a sample of their work to see if you like their style.
If there is one thrifty find for my wedding that I’m most proud of, it would definitely be my dress. Anyone who has ever seen my dress falls in love with it, especially when I tell them how much I paid. My dress was a total of $294. How? you ask, well I bought it from China. You might be thinking “that’s the riskiest thing I’ve ever heard of!” But I actually bought it from Etsy which is a very reliable site. If you haven’t heard of Etsy you definitely need to check it out! The shop I bought it from is called Lace Bridal. I was not too nervous about buying it, because the shop has over 400 five-star reviews. I just sent her my measurements, and my dress arrived at my doorstep, on time, and exactly my size, I didn’t even need any alterations. I know for some people “saying yes to the dress” is a big deal, so they could never imagine not having that whole experience. To me that experience was not worth $3,000 for some cookie-cutter dress that I would only wear one day. This Etsy shop has over 100 beautiful, unique, high-quality dresses that range from $200-$600. I honestly have no idea why anyone would buy a dress from anywhere else.
I didn’t actually buy my bridesmaid’s dresses but I think it’s kind of ridiculous to make you bridesmaids pay even half the amount of what you payed for your dress. Bridesmaid already have so much stuff to buy and things to plan, why not cut them a break and find some cute dresses on the cheap? I decided that my nine bridesmaids and I were just going to go to the mall and see what we could find. We ended up going to Forever 21, finding these blush-pink sun-dresses that they had nine of in every size for $25. Then we all went to the shoe store across from Forever 21 named Call it Spring, and they bought nude flats for $25. And that was it. They were done. And they all looked beautiful and effortless for a total of $50.
Breaking News: You don’t need a Diamond engagement ring! This might seem sacrilegious of me to say but really, it’s true. Diamonds are not even the rarest stone! The reason they are so expensive is because of the “eliteness” that society makes them up to be. I did not buy my engagement ring, and I really did not have a say in the matter, but I did make it clear that I did not want a diamond engagement ring. My husband really out-did himself with my ring. He got it from Zales and it’s a rose-gold, morganite, and oval-shaped, everything I’ve ever dreamed of. I still get compliment on it everyday and my husband didn’t even have to break the bank to get it for me. Why would anyone want a small diamond engagement ring just to say they have a diamond? Who knows.
For my husband and I’s wedding bands, we ordered them on Etsy from a shop called TinySparkleStudio. They are both rose-gold and are made from recycled gold. We paid a total of $469 for both rings, and they’re still going strong today! My ring is a tiny-little band but I didn’t want it to take any attention away from my engagement ring.
Finding the right decor for my wedding was a pretty intimidating task. I had so many ideas that I just could not imagine them all coming together! I got my inspiration from Pinterest and also just going to thrift stores and finding things. All of my centerpieces and most of my decor was from thrift shops. I would go to Salvation Army every Wednesday (when everything is 50% off) and buy all the cute books, doilies, mason jars, glass containers, and any rustic-vintage things I could find. For my favors, I found 150 mason jar mugs and painted the face of them with chalk paint so my guests could write their names on them. They were the drinking cups for the wedding but then they were able to take them home. I could not give you an accurate price on what I paid for all my decorations but if I had to guess I would say it would be around $200.
I never realized how expensive flowers are until I was getting married! I could not bring myself to drop $1,000 on something that would be dead the next day! Luckily, my taste in flowers is very simplistic and minimalist. All I wanted was a bunch of baby’s breath everywhere, and a few blush roses for my bouquet and cake. I called around to many different florists to see who could give me the best price, and that’s when I found Allen’s Florist. They were able to give me exactly what I wanted for only $200. If you can’t live without peonies or orchids for your wedding and you’re still trying to save money, I would suggest calling wholesale companies or places like Sam’s Club or Costco to find a good deal.
Invitations can be pretty pricey, especially when you account for all the stamps you have to buy. Stamps are $0.47 cents each and not only do you have to buy them to send out the invitations, you also have to buy them for your guest’s return letter. For my guest list of 150 I had to spend $141 on stamps alone. For your “Save the Dates” I would suggest just doing an online version. I found a free template to create mine, and then just posted it to Facebook so I’ll my friends and family could at least know when I’m planning the wedding. To save money on the actual invitations, I decided I would make them myself. I found a free template on Pinterest, that you can find HERE. All I needed to purchase was the brown card-stock, the paper doilies, pink ribbon, and the envelopes! I printed them all for around $50 dollars at Staples and then I used a paper-cutter at my school. It wasn’t too difficult and it definitely saved me a lot of money.
I feel like whenever we told people we were going on a cruise for our honeymoon, they didn’t think it was very special. I do not know why some people have a stereotype that cruises are lame, because to me they are the best vacations ever! You get to travel somewhere new, get unlimited food, have pre-planned activities, and not have to worry about the details for an extremely reasonable price! We went on a six day cruise to the Bahamas for around $2,000 including all of our excursions. It was such a fun and romantic time, and I’ld do it over and over again if I could!
I hope that some of this information about my wedding is relevant to you and can help you ease some of the stress that comes along with planning a wedding. If you still have any questions about any part of my wedding please let me know. Thanks for reading!
Venue: Shabby Chic Barn- (813) 909-3414, https://www.shabbychicbarn.com/
Cake: Cake’s by Dot – Dot Graves: 727-560-9085
Caterer: Greg’s Catering – 813-997-7333
DJ: Good Vibes Entertainment– Chad Stypmann: 813-312-3264
Photographer: Stephanie Keeler– http://www.stefaniekeeler.com/
Cinematographer: Impulse Media Group: (813)786-5030
Florist: Allen’s Florist- (352) 796-4541
Wedding Dress: Lace Bridal- https://www.etsy.com/shop/LaceBridal?ref=l2-shopheader-name
Wedding Bands: TinySparkleStudio- https://www.etsy.com/shop/tinysparklestudio