Time Well Spent in Limbo

While deciding whether or not I was actually engaged, I jumped full force into wedding planning (better safe than sorry, right?). So about a month after our trip Vieques, I planned a fun day with the girls—we would eat some free cake samples and take silly pictures at a big bridal show in San Juan. But things did not go as planned; I was overwhelmed by all the detail that goes into weddings and got a real bad case of “sticker shock.” Wedding stuff is effin’ expensive! Five to eight dollars per slice of cake, $800 for a four-hour photo booth, $3,000 for decorations: there was no way I could afford any of that on a zero-dollar budget.

Yes, you read right: zero dollars. Some might think we are doing the impossible (or something just plain unhealthy to the psychotic bridal brain), but planning a no-budget wedding happens to work for me. You see, I was basically the anti-Bridezilla; I never dreamed about my wedding as a little girl. (Who in their right mind would be crazy enough to marry me?) I had no preconceived notions of what I wanted, something that has turned out to be a blessing in my wedding-planning journey.

My plan A (AKA eloping) meant minimal money spent and a great vacation for just the two of us, which to me sounded perfect, but it was shot down as soon as I proposed it to my parents. They wanted my large Puerto Rican family to be present at this once-in-a-lifetime event, so they offered to pay for the wedding. The problem with that is they have no savings and I really don’t want to spend a lot of my parents’ hard-earned cash. So against all bee advice, I will be planning our wedding without a budget but using the philosophy of finding the cheapest thing that I like and, in the words of the wise Tim Gunn, “mak[ing] it work.” In a way, bargain hunting for the wedding has turned out to be a somewhat fun and really eye-opening experience. We have come up with lots of different ways to cut costs, which have ended up being details that will make our wedding unique. One of these cost-cutting ideas was having an early morning ceremony followed by a breakfast reception. This alone has significantly lowered costs, as breakfast food is much cheaper than dinner and early morning for us means no alcohol or dancing.

Deciding on having an early morning wedding, a breakfast reception, and a set-in-stone guest list of 100 really early has helped shape the “feel” of what our big day will be like and has helped us figure out how to pull it off on a shoestring budget.

What big decisions did you make really early in wedding planning?


Mrs. Boa Constrictor

July 2
Isabela, Puerto Rico
Wedding Date:
May 2012
Restaurant Receptions
Budget Smudget
Add a comment


  1. Member
    MrsElopement 3033 posts, Sugar bee @ 9:23 am

    Miss Boa Constrictor I COMPLETELY UNDERSTAND!!! I’m graduating from grad school this year with mounds of debt and my FI has a great job but it’s not like we have saved for years. I literally don’t know how people do it. Luckily, my grandma paid for my dress and gave us some fundage but the rest of my family has no savings and little to contribute. I think you’re doing it the right way. I don’t like that we spend thousands upon thousands for wedding things.

  2. Member
    soyjoy222 3817 posts, Honey bee @ 9:27 am

    We decided to do a ‘no budget’ approach, as well. We have just been taking our time choosing things, comparing prices and then making the best choice for us. So far, we have been very money conscious, but we have not had the stress of staying within a certain limit. It has worked well for us. When I see something and think ‘omg that’s expensive’, I just move on.

    Another decision we made early on was to find a venue that covered food, cake, linens, furniture, etc. That really cut down on cost for us!

  3. Member
    Off the Hip 23 posts, Newbee @ 9:31 am

    before i was ever engaged i decided i was going to design, create and sew my entire gown. I read this book that was period based and i remember reading about how the bride in the book took each stitch as a blessing towards her upcoming marriage. she made it sound like making her wedding gown was a part of the ritual of marriage in itself. I fell in love with the idea and decided i would do the same. HOWEVER… i am no master designer when it comes to fashion design. so i did buy a pattern. i altered much of the design and came up with something i absolutly loved… i will say that i did run into one major issue. the pattern i had purchased was only meant as an over coat to a simple period gown and not a gown in itself. so more altering had to be done. I think i went a little crazy when i decided on a whim that my new inside pannel alteration was going to be hand dyed in pale lavender fading into the palest blue but it was alot of fun! i laid out this big sheet of plastic and attacked the fabric armed with spray bottles of my two colors! LOL my fiance was horrified when he walked in on my “creative explorations! I have not figured out how to leave a photo in a reply yet otherwise i would put one here!

  4. Member
    Off the Hip 23 posts, Newbee @ 9:35 am

    @Off the Hip:

    By the way making my own dress was a huge money saver it only cost me $30! i got the fabric for $25 total and then all the trim was $5 on sale and with a coupon to boot!

  5. Member
    globalmargaret 1785 posts, Buzzing bee @ 9:37 am

    Miss Boa Constrictor, I think you should wirte a book! There are so many brides right now who want beautiful weddings and have absolutely no budget there are a lot of people who are going to benifit from your future posts about this (me included). Thank you!

  6. Member
    Coffee cup 2319 posts, Buzzing bee @ 10:08 am

    You’re so lucky your parents wanted to be involved in your day. My FI and I are planning the thing by ourselves (meaning I plan, he pays) so we are looking for every available bargain and cutting things off left and right.
    It’s hard when your ‘just family’ event raises to the 200+ guests mark.

  7. Member
    Valdrine 264 posts, Helper bee @ 10:08 am

    We made almost the same decision! Morning Sunday wedding, free reception space through my mom’s job, lunch, no DJ…and for all the non-negotiable things, as cheaply as we can find it! DIY stationary, the works.

    So glad to hear someone else is throwing an amazing party on the cheap! Go you!

  8. mole Member
    mole 1242 posts, Bumble bee @ 10:19 am

    We have no budget either. We approached wedding planning like all of our major financial decisions: we decided what was most important to spend money on, and we looked for the best deals.

    The main issue is that we had no real idea how expensive weddings could be! I originally guessed we’d be spending 10-15k on everything. Well, not so much!

  9. boaconstrictor Member
    boaconstrictor 391 posts, Helper bee @ 10:36 am

    @arielle: I’m working with what I have. You can have a wonderful wedding at any budget! Good Luck with the planning.
    @soyjoy222: I totally relate to the “omg that’s expensive” reaction. For me most of the wedding stuff is. Like cake! Who would have thought that something made of eggs, flour and sugar would be so expensive (though I totally respect the time and artistry bakers put into making them taste good and look beautiful)
    @Off the Hip: Awesome deal, to bad I can’t sew to save my life!
    @globalmargaret: That’s the whole reason I wanted to blog for WB, you CAN have a wonderful wedding at any budget. Your comment just made my day!
    @Coffee cup: I am SUPER lucky and very grateful for their contribution. I wanted a small family wedding but not really possible when my parents each have 6 siblings I’m really close to. 90% of my guest list is family, so much for small.
    @Valdrine: Sounds like a great wedding! Go you too!
    @Miss Mole: Yay for no-budget brides! I had the same issue, wedding stuff is soooo expensive. Good Luck !

  10. Member
    miss.qwerty 206 posts, Helper bee @ 10:48 am

    A breakfast reception sounds like a great idea! Can’t wait to read more about your wedding as it comes together.

  11. Member
    stephk527 987 posts, Busy bee @ 11:24 am

    Miss Boa Constrictor, I completely understand early wedding planning! My fiance and I just recently got engaged (I’m talking within the past month) and I am ON top of everything. Granted, we’ve been together for almost 8 years, and I’m a super Type-A planner, so a lot of this has been ‘pre-planned’ for quite some time. . .but everyone from the photographers to the DJ has commended me on it. The way I figure it, the earlier we start, the less we have to worry about later. Although I could never have a no-budget wedding, I have learned how to ‘cut’ costs and where sacrifices can be made, if necessary. I’m super intrigued by your early-morning ceremony and reception, and am looking forward to reading about it! :)

  12. honey Member
    honey 1684 posts, Bumble bee @ 12:01 pm

    Your budget sounds like ours, and it’s working great…although I’m dying to know just how much we will spend when all is said and done!

  13. Member
    hisbahamamama 994 posts, Busy bee @ 1:39 pm

    I’m so happy your a bee and I can follow your experience. I super love weddings but lately the ones that cost mondo bucks have been turning me off. I’m planning on little to no cash but I’m positive it will be nice as the platinum weddings. I can’t wait to see you be creative and have a beautiful wedding I can ohh and ahh over!

  14. mspony Member
    mspony 9265 posts, Buzzing Beekeeper @ 2:22 pm

    We totally didn’t have a ‘budget’ either. It would have been great if we could have had a budget, but given our situation, we couldn’t predict how much we would have to spend. We figured out what we had to have and went from there. It worked out perfectly for us.

  15. Member
    RobynD99 123 posts, Blushing bee @ 2:24 pm

    same boat! Just trying to do everything as cheaply/smartly as possible. Good luck with your planning!

  16. Member
    Mrs. Rubber Stamps 821 posts, Busy bee @ 4:21 pm

    Good luck with your budget, Miss Boa Constrictor and welcome to the Hive!

  17. Member
    ScooterBride 286 posts, Helper bee @ 5:01 pm

    We’ve got diddly-squat to pay for our wedding, and what little side of my family I know certainly doesn’t have anything they can even offer to pay with.

    I’m making my own dress with the help of a friend, and I think I’ve spent a total of $50 on supplies for it (already had the sewing machine!). I’ve spent maybe $250 total on all wedding stuff… a few key pieces of decor or ceremony bits and bobs, a few personal wardrobe accessories that I will most certainly wear later, and that’s literally it.

    So far, the only thing I’m still worrying about for cost is location and food. But I’m hoping a few folks will help me out on specific ideas, and we’ll just see what we can do when we get closer.

  18. Member
    Future Army Wife 2213 posts, Buzzing bee @ 9:02 pm

    We’re using a similar method for money. We want to use our budget for the larger details (venue and food) and will be budget sticklers on the little things. The 50% off coupons to all the craft stores are going to start coming in handy, haha.

  19. coyote Member
    coyote 1933 posts, Buzzing bee @ 7:34 am

    I absolutely love the idea of a morning wedding and breakfast reception. It’s going to be amazing!

  20. boaconstrictor Member
    boaconstrictor 391 posts, Helper bee @ 7:47 pm

    @Miss Coyote: Morning wedding = yummy breakfast food YUM!
    @StephK527: “the earlier we start, the less we have to worry about later” I completely agree! It will make everything easier when it come to crunch time.
    @Miss Honey: Me too! I’m taking meticulous care of recording all my expenses.
    @hisbahamamama: Thanks! We can have wonderful wedding on a budget, you just watch!
    @Mrs. Pony: It’s great to know not having a budget actually works well. I’ve been afraid it would come back to bite me is the a^%

  21. boaconstrictor Member
    boaconstrictor 391 posts, Helper bee @ 7:49 pm

    @RobynD99: @Mrs. Rubber Stamps: Thanks and good luck on your wedding planning!
    @ScooterBride: Grrs. I wish I knew how to sew! It sounds like a great budget saver!@Future Army Wife: Those coupons are the best! Good luck with the planning.

  22. Member
    happyface 5777 posts, Bee Keeper @ 3:52 pm

    I wrote this on “Budget Smudget”‘s post but I can post it here too.
    I WROTE: “I don’t know how much our wedding will cost. It’s a DIY wedding and everything will be homemade or designed by us, not “store” bought.
    So far we have spent $31.61
    I honestly don’t think we will go over the $500 mark, but we will see…”

add a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Sent weekly. You may unsubscribe at any time.

Find Amazing Vendors