Date: January 5, 2013
City, State: Branson, Missouri
Number of Guests Invited: 350 (225 attended)
While planning our wedding, I consulted tons of other brides’ blogs, articles, tips, and tricks! I could not have done it without their help, so this is my way of giving back. I hope you can find something that helps you!
If you are like me, you are probably wondering how you are going to plan the wedding of your dreams on a budget that is a little more “restrained.” Believe me, I spent a few months on the verge of defeat—I mean C’MON, $2,000 for a CAKE?! Wedding prices can be downright ridiculous. But I want to tell you right here, right now, that your “perfect” wedding IS possible (and within your budget too)!
So take a deep breath. No really, I mean it. Breathe on three. One”¦two”¦three! Relax! You CAN do it and you WILL do it! All you need is determination and a little elbow grease. Enjoy the ride!
(If you want a shorter recap of this post, check on the more concise version here!)
Tip #1: MUST-HAVES
As a starting point, I would recommend making a list of things you absolutely must have for your wedding. When it comes to planning on a budget, you will have to make some sacrifices, so you need to know what you are not willing to sacrifice.
For example, our must-haves were:
- Dancing space at the reception
- A DJ
- Real flowers
- A coffee bar
- A reception venue that was not too far from the church
- Enough tables and chairs to fit everyone
- Freedom to invite as many people as we wanted
Maybe your must-haves are: dinner for guests, beautiful scenery, and a photo booth, etc. Knowing your must-haves is important when it comes to shaping your budget.
Tip #2: Know your numbers!
Next thing you must do is know your numbers. Know how many guests you plan to invite, how many you think will actually attend, how much you are willing to spend, and how much time you have to plan.
Here are our numbers:
- We invited 350 guests.
- We planned for 225 guests to actually come.
- Our budget was $5,000.
- We had nine months to plan.
Here is the first place you can save yourself lots of money. If you have a shorter guest list, your cost goes down rapidly. However, one of our must-haves was the freedom to invite as many people as we wanted, so our guest list was rather HUGE. With a larger guest list, food costs and venue costs shoot skyward. In order to accommodate a large guest list, we decided to have dessert reception. We made the decision to sacrifice the possibility of serving dinner.
Now that you know our must-haves and numbers, I will walk you through how we spent our budget.
Wedding Day Costs
Venues (Wedding and Reception): $950
Sam and I got married on January 5th. Seeing as we lived in Missouri at the time, it would have been far too cold for an outside wedding. We needed to find someplace inside to have the festivities. Luckily, in Branson, Missouri there are plenty of options.
Wedding Venue: $350
Our church home was in another town and would have been too far away from the reception venue, so we had to find another church to be married in. Let me just say, THIS WAS THE HARDEST PART OF MY ENTIRE WEDDING-PLANNING EXPERIENCE. I had no idea how hard it would be for us to find a church. I must have called over 30 churches in the area and I kept getting “No” or “Sure, but our fee is $1,000 for non-members.” I understand that a church can’t say yes to every request, but we needed to find a place!
I remember after one particularly saddening conversation with another “No” church, I just sat down in a corner and cried in frustration. I called Sam and said, “Well, looks like we will be getting married in aisle 12 at Walmart because no one will take us!” Of course he responded with something like, “Well, you will look just as beautiful there!” But I just wanted to continue my pity party.
Anyway, I finally found a church that said they would take us! Their fee was only $350 AND the church could fit our large guest list.
All of photos were taken by Jessy Scott. Check her out at Jessyscott.com!
Alternative Suggestion: Venues
Don’t have your heart set on a church? Get creative! Look for places that might not usually hold weddings like: Movie theaters, your neighbor’s barn, a car/history/art museum, a zoo, a park, a garden, a campground, stables, a roller rink, a bowling alley, etc.! Use your own town’s resources! You can truly have a unique and memorable wedding, and you might find the venue prices are lower at a place that is not exactly “wedding centered.”
Reception Venue: $600
Yet again, we had to find a reception venue that: was inside, was big enough to seat 225 people around tables, had room for a DJ, and had room for a dance floor. We were so blessed to stumble upon the Camden Inn and Conference Center in Branson.
We got lucky because they gave us a really great deal. We got the room all day, including chairs, tables, and linens! All for $600! We also agreed to fill for them at least 10 hotel rooms. We had a lot of friends and family coming in from out of town who needed a place to stay anyway, so this was not a problem.
Tip #3: Ask for a lower venue price in exchange for filling up hotel rooms! It is a win-win!
Alternative Suggestions: Chairs, Tables, and Linens
You may choose a place where these things are not provided. One cheap option that I looked into was possibly borrowing/renting tables from local churches (or a community center). A lot of churches have their own tables and chairs and might be willing to let you borrow them or rent them to you for a lower price. It never hurts to ask! This idea is one that I got from this other bride’s post. I got a lot of my own ideas from her post so please check it out!
Now about linens—I would suggest buying them, NOT renting. Their are thousands of brides out there who are selling their wedding linens. Most of the time these linens are in great condition and are far cheaper than renting! Check sites like eBay, Tradesy, Craigslist, Amazon, and other wedding websites. Another perk of buying linens is that you can resell them later if you want to!
I really do believe that finding a great photographer is of the utmost importance. This is the person who will be with you ALL day on one of the most intimate days of your life. You not only need someone who can take great pictures, but someone who makes you comfortable and confident on your big day! We were so lucky to have a great friend who is also an amazing photographer, Jessy Scott. Almost all of the pictures I have used in this post were taken by her! She agreed to do our photos for $500. WOW that was such a blessing!
Here is one of my (many) favorites that she took that day:
Tip #4: Have the same photographer take your engagement photos. If you use the same photographer for both events, you might get a better or packaged “deal.” More importantly, your photographer will get to know you as a couple and you will get to know your photographer. This will make your special day more comfortable for both sides!
I asked one of my really good friends (who is a master with a camera) to video the ceremony and some of the reception. He went above and beyond. He did such a great job, and I would have been completely lost without his tech help that day! Thank you, Nich Peltz!
Alternative Suggestions: Photography and Videography
As you can see, we really took advantage of our friends’ talents! If you can, I suggest you do too! If you are searching for someone to hire but don’t want to pay $$$, look into some photography students. College campuses can be your best friend. There are lots of talented people wanting to fill their photography portfolios! Post wanted signs around campus and I promise you will get some replies! Just make sure that you thoroughly check out their photos before you hire them. Make sure their style is your style!
Music (DJ and Live Band): $445
A DJ was on our must-haves list. We LOVE to dance, so a DJ was a necessity. We did a lot of research and eventually decided on a company called Disc Jockeys Now. They are a national company that sets you up with a DJ in your area. They have an online deal that promises you five hours of music for $445, and we got the “party lights.” (There are other deals too.)
It is pros and cons time! This may be the only time that paying less came back to bite me in the bottom.
I would give our DJ service a B-, maybe.
Pro: We saved $$$.
Pro: The DJ found the song “Sweet Pea” for our father-daughter dance!
Con: We did not even know who our DJ was until two days before the wedding! AHHH!
Pro: We saved $$$.
Con: They said we would get to meet with him and we never did. Because we never got to talk with him, we could not talk about expectations. We want a more “chill” vibe, and he kept giving us more of a “club” vibe.
Pro: We saved $$$.
Con: He did not even have time to read over our reception timeline, so he missed quite a few cues and messed up a couple of moments. It was not even his fault because the company had JUST hired him for the job. I was stressed, he (DJ) was stressed.
Pro: We saved $$$.
Our experience was not terrible; it just was not great. From the company’s reviews, other people were very happy. I think ours was just a fluke, but still. Overall, we still had a great time, everybody danced, and I would do it over again. I think if I was to do it over again, I would really insist on meeting the DJ in advance.
Tip#5: No matter where you find your DJ, insist that you meet in advance. Just like meeting your photographer, it is important that you and the DJ are on the same page. They can serve you best if they know what you want!
Live Band: FREE
This was another case of having talented friends! A couple of my good friends, the Petersens, are in a bluegrass band and are just all around awesome! Check them out at www.petersenfamilyband.com! They did our music for the ceremony (no, not bluegrass). They kindly learned a couple of songs and played them on the guitar and violin for us.
They also played at the reception for our first dance, and they lead everybody in an old fashioned square dance! IT WAS SO MUCH FUN!
Alternative Suggestions: Music
DJ/Band: Put a wanted ad out there. You might find a hidden gem! OR you can always make a playlist of music on a MP3 player and hook it up to a sound system. Think about it—it will be your perfect music because YOU chose it! All you need is an outgoing friend to MC for you!
Paperworks (Invitations, Ceremony Programs):$210
Wedding save the dates and invitations can get expensive fast! We chose some less traditional means in order to cut down on costs.
Save the Dates: FREE
To be honest, we did not send out save the dates. Nowadays everybody is so connected online that everybody already knew we were getting married! Most everybody already knew the date too! We thought it might be redundant to send them out, and we wanted to save $$$ so we just didn’t.
The front of our invitation
A friend of ours, Lilly K. Huxhold, is a graphic designer and made our invitations look awesome! If you are looking for someone to hire for a project, you should check her out here.
(Please excuse the pictures of the invitations—they were taken by me and I do not exactly have a talent for it.)
The inside of our invitation
Tip#6: Use those college students! You might be able to design your own invitations, but if you are like me and need some help, put up wanted signs on a college campus (or website!) asking for a graphic designer. Lots of talented students would either work for free or for a little cash!
Invitation Prints: FREE
Some good family friends (the Banks, thank you!) own a copy shop in Branson, Copy Run. They were SO good to us and gave us the prints free as a wedding present! Seriously, thank you!
Stamps are expensive. 🙁
We got ours at Walmart! Six packs of 50 at $5 each!
RSVP Cards: FREE
We did not include RSVP cards. We decided to save on stamps and paper and go the route of doing our RSVPs through a wedding website. Ours is still up if you want to check it out for ideas, etc.!
Tip#7: No matter if you send out paper RSVPs or do them through a website, you might have a hard time getting everybody to RSVP. At some point you are just going to have to guess how many people are going to show up. A general suggestion is to expect about 60% of the people you invited to show up. This is the number we used and it was just about accurate!
Ceremony Programs: $45
My husband designed our programs (a man of many talents). We just wanted simple programs that got the job done. We made ours double sided so that we could use less paper. We got everything done at Staples.
Pack of Card Stock: $15
Printing and Cutting: $30
Alternative Suggestions: Invitations and Ceremony Programs
I would definitely recommended going to a local print shop to print your invitations out. Their prices are normally better than ordering them online. OR you could go completely online and make the whole process FREE. Most everyone has an email address, so why not send your save the dates, invitations, and RSVPs that way?! You can always just print out and mail a copy to the few who don’t have an online contact.
If you want to save paper on the ceremony programs, I have seen where couples write their programs out really big on chalkboards or on a slideshow. Everybody can read the same one and you can use it as a cute decoration!
The Snazzy Attire: $945
Wedding Dress (and Accessories): $795
My dress was only $300! I got my dress at Gracie’s Bridal in Springfield, Missouri. I was so blessed to have my grandmother buy my dress and accessories for me! The dress was originally selling for about $400, but I asked if the store would sell me the sample dress off the rack (instead of ordering a new one) because it was already my size. I got an awesome discount and I got to take the dress home that day! My alterations cost about $100.
Tip #8: Ask if you can buy the sample dress of the rack! It might save you $$$!
WARNING: Buying your dress online might be tempting, but please be VERY cautious. There are loads of scam wedding-dress websites out there (like Weddingdressbee.com, etc.). Always do your research before you commit. Find reviews online. Can you speak to an actual person from the site? Is the company located in some place you have never heard of ? Are they only using stock photos to advertise “their” product?
My accessories were almost more than my dress!
My belt was $200.
My BEAUTIFUL veil was $150.
My shoes were only $20. I got them from Payless Shoes.
My necklace was FREE—I borrowed it from my mom.
My earrings were only $10. My husband bought them for me online (eBay).
My headband set was $15—I bought them off of the sales rack at Charming Charlies!
Alternative Suggestions: Accessories
Don’t want to pay extra for the blingy accessories? Maybe you could DIY your belt and hair piece! There are plenty of tutorials out on the internet to help with this. Lots of brides make their own veils/belts. OR you could borrow! Use an old family heirloom, or borrow from a friend! OR check those wedding resell sites!
The Groom’s Attire: $150
We got him a suit instead of a tux because it better suited (haha, see what I did there?) the type of wedding we were having. We got his suit from Touch of Class in Branson. The rental (tie included) was $150. Didn’t he look snazzy!? Seriously, I am a lucky woman.
Groomsmen and Bridesmaids Attire: FREE
All of our wedding party paid for their own attire, so that saved us a lot of money. We are lucky to have such dedicated friends to work with us on this! We did try to choose more affordable options.
For the ladies, we found the cheapest and best option to be David’s Bridal. Each dress was only $99, and they looked beautiful!
The Groomsmen all got their semi-suits from Touch of Class. To cut down on costs we did not include a jacket for them. They only paid $55. I really liked how the difference in dress set my husband apart. They all looked so handsome!
Flower Girl/Lantern Girls/Ring Bearer/Banner Boys: FREE
There seemed to be a theme for our wedding…PEOPLE. We invited LOTS of people, we had a HUGE wedding party, and we had A LOT of kiddos in our wedding.
My mother in-law and the parents of the kiddos paid for their clothing. We tried to find affordable options for them too.
He thought he lost the ring and ran back to get it!
For the boys they just wore khaki pants, white shirts, and a rental tie. I don’t think their outfits went over $30 each.
For the girls I searched for a LONG time and eventually found a great website for their dresses! Unfortunately, I am having trouble tracking down the website. 🙁 Please let me know if you can locate it! I do know the brand, though! We bought the girls American Princess dresses. Each dress only cost $29.99! When they came in the mail, we were happy to see that they were beautiful and quality dresses!
Tip #9: The internet has lots of places to buy the kids’ outfits, but kiddos grow! So if you are ordering outfits WAY before your wedding, don’t forget to account for any growth that will most likely happen!
As I mentioned earlier, we decided to have a dessert-only reception (I LOVE DESSERTS). This means that we had to plan the wedding between meals. We only had two options for a wedding time: between lunch and dinner OR after dinner. We went with a 1:00 PM wedding time, with a reception immediately following. (We took our pictures before the wedding.)
Tip#10: To save loads of $$$, plan a reception that avoids a major meal time.
Both Sam and I are not really cake lovers, so we had a “donut cake” instead! We got our donuts from St. George’s Donuts in Springfield, Missouri. They are THE BEST. The best part is that we did not have to have anybody cut the cake because people could just grab one. Our guests loved the donuts! We got 250 for around $155. A steal!
Alternative Suggestions: Let Them Eat Cake…or Not!
There are SO many other options out there. It is YOUR wedding, so do what you want! Wedding cakes can be expensive. You can save money by exploring other options. Plus, you might end up with something that you and your guests like better. Pshhh tradition smadition. You can do cupcakes, cheesecake, cookies, Rice Krispie treats, a chocolate fountain! The options are endless! If you are set on that six-tier cake, then make the display one out of iced Styrofoam (except for the top where you cut) and feed your guests sheet cake from the back. It tastes the same. They always take the cake to the back to cut anyway, so no one will know the difference and you save $$$.
250 Cupcakes: ~$60
- 15 boxes of cake mix cupcake liners
- 15 cans of frosting (If you whip the frosting it actually stretches longer.)
- Baking labor: FREE (Thanks to my dear sister Kassadee and some friends!)
19 Pies: ~ $150
All the pies were from Sam’s Club. Sam’s Club became my favorite place. We got the pies, took them out of their boxes, placed them on the cute table, and voila! Yummy pies that look professional! (Pre-cut the slices smaller so each pie feeds more people!)
250 Cookies ~ $63
- Three 84ct variety cookie trays from Sam’s Club at $21 each
- Chex Mix: 15 31oz bags at ~$75
- Peanuts: 9 52oz tins at ~ $72
- Mini chocolate bars: 3 Hershey’s 56oz bags at ~$36
Side note: We ended up buying WAY too much food. We could have gotten away with buying half as much! Our wedding party got lots of free food I guess, but you might be able to buy even less than we did for your own wedding!
Tip#11: Food that has to be kept chilled or warm will generally cost more than food that can just be set out. With chilled or hot food, you suddenly are paying for the means to keep it at the right temperature, AND you have to have someone man the food. Try to find things that can be put out in bulk so that you save $$$ and you don’t have to exile one of your relatives to the food table.
Alternative Suggestions: Serving a Meal
If you are set on a larger meal, having a small guest list helps a bunch. Try to have your reception at a place where you can bring your own food. Venue food is often WAY expensive and outside catering can be cheaper. A pasta-related meal is normally a cheap option. Meat is expensive. OR you could have a good old fashioned potluck. Have your guests bring a dish instead of a gift. OR look into having a breakfast/brunch/lunch reception instead of dinner; you give your guests a meal but it can be on the lighter side!
One of our necessities was coffee. (I think it tastes like a skunk, but Sam LOVES it!) We also did not want to have one of our relatives stuck refilling the drinks, so we catered the drinks from the local Golden Corral restaurant. They gave us a fantastic deal. They even sent a worker to run the drink table! We took a guess at how many people would drink each thing.
- Coffee (with creamer and sugar) for 115 people at $1.05 pp: ~$121
- Lemonade for 170 people at $0.60 pp: ~$102
- Water for 250 people: FREE
- Arnold Palmer for toasting for two!: $1
Tip#12: Look into catering your beverages. That way someone you love doesn’t have to spend your wedding manning the drink table. Catering beverages can be surprisingly cheap!
Alternative Suggestions: Beverages
If you have a willing friend/family member who would not mind running the drink table, then by all mean use them! We just decided not to if we could manage not too! Borrow some fancy beverage dispensers and set your own table up! OR create a beverage bar. Buy water bottles. (This isn’t the most environmentally friendly option, but water bottle packs are cheap!) I would suggest buying at least two water bottles per guest, and even more if your reception is outside or if there will be a lot of dancing. After you have your water bottles, go buy a bunch of those nifty single-bottle flavor packs (Crystal Light, Kool-Aid, Powerade)! Now your guests can choose what flavor they want. You could put the different flavors in different containers and make it look super cute! I don’t really have any suggestions for alcohol (sorry!). We never planned to have any at our wedding, so I have done zero research on that subject.
This is, in my opinion, the hardest part about planning a wedding. The decorations will probably take you the longest. Let me tell you right now, Pinterest makes DIY look cute, fun, and simple, BUT IT IS NOT. DIY is hard work. You will save a lot of $$$ with DIY decorations, but you will pay for it with your time and sweat. That is just truth. Having said that, it was worth going the DIY route in my opinion.
Tip#13: DIY is HARD and time consuming, but it is worth it. Make sure you have time, patience, and a great group of friends and family to help. Don’t re-invent the wheel—look online to see what other brides have done, and if you like it, copy them!
Going to Sam’s Club for flowers was one of the best decisions we made. Their flowers are cheap and BEAUTIFUL. They are floral-shop-quality flowers. Go to their website and check them out! We decided to go with buying only baby’s breath flowers (AKA gypsophila, million star). To be clear, I don’t like having baby’s breath flowers in a normal bouquet, BUT a bouquet completely made of baby’s breath is cute!
Not only were they cheap, but they were wintery, elegant, and whimsical. I ordered three six-bunch packs from Sam’s Club, and they made a bride’s bouquet, eight bridesmaid’s bouquets, two mother’s bouquets, 15 boutonnieres, 15 aisle decorations, and 10 table centerpieces, AND we had flowers left over!
Alternative Suggestions: Smell the Roses…or Not!
Buy your flowers from a local farmer OR buy them online from Sam’s Club! If you are not set on real flowers, buy fake ones OR make paper flowers! If you are not set on flowers, I have seen brides use little windmills, lanterns, purses, etc.
Ceremony Decorations: ~$200
Our wedding had like a “woodsy-wintery” theme. Our colors were blue, winter green, brown, and white. Basically, natural winter colors. We chose this theme for many reasons.
- We both love the outdoors.
- We were getting married in the dead of winter.
- Sam’s parents own a wood shop so the theme spoke to his family.
- Also, both of our parents already used this woodsy decorating theme in their homes, so we could re-use FREE decorations!
Tip#14: Play to your strengths! Form your theme around what you already have and save $$$. Is your home decorated with a nautical style? Have a beach-themed wedding! Have you collected beautiful art pieces from all over the world? Have a travel-themed wedding! See what I am getting at here? We saved loads of $$$ because we used what we already had!
We did DIY burlap bows and flowers for the pews.
And we had a DIY lattice/burlap backdrop. We also had winter trees and lights behind us.
Then we had lots of little things everywhere like pine cones, wooden “S&K” tokens, chalkboards, candles, pictures, and lanterns.
Out of all of the things we used, these are the only things we actually had to buy:
- Chalkboards (2). My talented mom DIY’ed these using poster board, chalkboard paint, and burlap
- Burlap “To Love, To Cherish” sign. DIY using burlap and paint (my mom again!)
- Wood burner for tokens. We chopped the tokens using a tree from the yard.
- Burlap aisle bows. Mom, the master of burlap, made these.
- Some of the lanterns (5).
- Some blue, white, and green tulle.
- A few extra sets of string lights.
- Pew hooks.
We bought things at Walmart, Target, Michaels, and Hobby Lobby. Whatever we didn’t buy, we borrowed!
Reception Decorations: ~$403
Most of our decoration budget went here. To decorate the food tables (please see pictures in the “food” section), we mostly used stuff that our parents already owned. There are many perks to having relatives that own a wood shop!
To decorate the wedding party’s table, we set out Mason jars for the bridesmaids to put their bouquets into. We also had tulle with lights under it to give the table a pretty glow!
You can see the head table behind us in the picture below.
Side note: We are playing the “shoe game” in that picture. You should do it. It is fun!
Tip#15: Use the bride’s/bridesmaids’ bouquets as decorations at the head table! As an added bonus, your ‘maids will have a place to put their flowers while they are dancing!
We had three different table centerpieces.
The first centerpiece had baby’s breath flowers in an Eiffel Tower vase. We wrapped some ribbon around the vase and piled the bottom with pine cones. Thanks for the picture, Seth Marton!
The second centerpiece sat on top of a wood slice (FREE from my in-laws’ wood shop). We used a wood “S&K” token, a vase (that we filled with blue rocks, wrapped twine around, and put a candle in—on the twine were two paper flowers), and a Mason jar with a letter around it.
Side note: Every single mason jar had a letter on it. Sam and I had to do long distance during college, so we would write each other letters every week. We both chose a letter to be featured on the Mason jars. When a candle is put in the Mason jar, the letter glows.
The third centerpiece had a vase filled with blue rocks with white sticks sticking out of it. These centerpieces were FREE! We borrowed them from our church! I don’t have a fantastic picture of that centerpiece but you can kind of see it in the left side of the picture above.
On every table were also brown linen napkins. These were FREE. We borrowed them from a friend. (Thank you, Bill’s family!) Pictures of the bride and groom were on every table, along with a pen and instructions to leave a note on the back of the picture. We gathered all of the pictures and put them in a photo album. The photo album acted as our guestbook!
Other than centerpieces, we had lots of other little things everywhere. We DIY’ed the cute sign that you can see in the picture above. We also had a game table that had board games and cards that the guests could play with if they did not care to dance.
On the game table Sam and I also had coloring pages for the guests to color. We had a friend, Victor Pierce, draw cartoon figures of us so that we could have unique coloring pages! He is so talented! Check him out here!
We also used the pictures at a second reception we had in New York!
Scattered here and there were:
- Winter trees of varying sizes
- Wooden “S&K” tokens
- Battery powered tea lights (We were not allowed real lit candles.)
- Mason jars wrapped in our personalized letters
- Blue, green, and white tulle
- Wooden signs painted with labels like: “Coffee,” “Snacks,” “Dancing,” etc.
- Picture frames containing pictures of the bride and groom
- Scented pine cones and greenery
- More vases with paper flowers or white sticks in them
- Twine/ribbon to add color
- Baskets/bowls/serving trays for food (all FREE, borrowed)
Like I said, we borrowed a LOT of the decorations from our own homes. Here are the things that we had to buy:
- Eiffel Tower vases: 24ct for $50 (I bought these used from a local bride! This was a steal!)
- 8-inch vases for paper flowers: 24ct for $24 (From Dollartree.com—they have tons of cheap vases!)
- 48 Mason jars: four 12 ct packs at $11 a piece, $44 (from K-Mart)
- Scented pine cones: 5 bags at $2 a piece, $10 (from Michaels’ after-Christmas sale)
- Twine/ribbon: ~$30 (We bought these from Walmart, Hobby Lobby, and Michaels.)
- Lanterns: I already accounted for these in the “Ceremony Decorations” section.
- Battery powered tea lights: one 24 ct pack for ~$10 (from Walmart’s after-Christmas sale)
- Burlap rolls for bows: 5 rolls at $3, $15 (from Hobby Lobby, on sale)
- Burlap fabric for tables/wrappings and blue/green/white tulle: ~$60 (From FM Stores Fabrics in Springfield, Missouri—they have great prices! We got a lot of fabric/tulle for the price.)
- Picture print-outs for displays and table signing: ~$100 (I printed mine out from Target, but you can probably find a cheaper method!)
- Crayons for cartoon coloring: two 64 ct packs for $5 (from Walmart)
- 4 extra picture frames: ~$10 (from Walmart)
- Colored scrapbook paper for paper flowers: $2 (I stumbled upon a super cheap scrapbooking section in a knick-knack store in Branson, Missouri. I got eight scrapbook pages for $1! I bought 16 pages and paid $2.)
- Paint for wooden signs (wood was free): ~$3 (craft paint from Walmart)
- Cartoon illustration: $40 (payment to illustrator)
Tip#16: Use the internet! Consult Pinterest, blogs (like Weddingbee!), wedding websites, etc. to think of affordable wedding decorations! Compile your ideas and start researching to see which ones may be more affordable.
Alternative Suggestions: Centerpieces
There are so many more centerpiece options out there besides flowers in a vase. (Plus, flowers cost $$$!). Get creative! Display your favorite quote or picture. Use your food as a centerpiece with different types of cakes/cupcakes/pies at each table. Set up a board game at each table OR head to a flea market and pick up some cool knick-knacks that match your theme!
Miscellaneous Items: ~$340
Plates/cups/forks: ~$100 (bulk from Sam’s Club)
Wedding “look” makeup: ~$50 (I just bought mine from Target.)
Bridesmaids’ gifts: I bought eight freshwater pearl necklaces off of eBay for my ladies to wear on the day! ~$40
Groomsmen gifts: Sam bought seven copies of The Art of Manliness (book) off of eBay for his guys! (It is a pretty awesome book!) ~$50
Tipping: All of our tips (DJ, coffee worker, etc.) ~$100
Tip#17: Don’t forget to account for tipping! A lot of people will work hard to make your day special, so remember to show your appreciation!
Alternative Suggestions: Wedding Party Gifts
For a more affordable gift, you can go the DIY route with personalized dress hangers, picture frames, jewelry, etc. OR consider taking you wedding party out for a fun experience instead (free concert, paintball, canoeing, camping, bowling, laser tag, or a fancy home-cooked dinner). Use the resources you have access to! For the kiddos, go to a local used bookstore and pick out some books for their age. Most kids love to read, and the knowledge they will gain from the books will last longer than a toy!
Other Ways We Saved $$$
Parents’ Gifts: Just like our letters on the Mason jars, we each wrote our parents letters and put them on jars with the materials we already had.
Sendoff: Instead of paying for birdseed, bubbles, sparklers, or ribbons, we had our guests form a line and put up their arms for us to go under. We felt very loved and the pictures looked very cute!
Transportation: It was not important for us to have a fancy getaway car, so we just used our own!
Hair and makeup: A good friend of ours (thank you, Natalie Morgan!) is a stylist, and she offered to do my hair and makeup as a gift. It was such a blessing to have her with me all morning! All of my girls did their own hair and makeup. I just wanted them to be comfortable so I didn’t care if they “matched” or not!
Wedding planning/directing: We planned and designed our own wedding. I asked my mentor/friend, Jo Beth, to come to the rehearsal so that she could direct the ceremony. I loved sharing those moments with her!
Kids’ ceremony items: We made the “Here Comes the Bride” sign and the heart ring holder at my in-laws’ wood shop. I decorated a basket that we already owned for the flower girl. For her “petals” we bought a $1 used book and cut the pages into little hearts. You can kind of see them in the picture below.
Elbow grease: Almost everything we used, we made ourselves. We DIY’ed everything. We saved by not having to pay other people to make our stuff!
So there you have it! *Drum roll please…*
GRAND TOTAL: $4,980
We loved every minute of our wedding and we did not have to pay an arm and a leg for it! It took a LOT of: work, help from our family/friends, research, time, love, creativity, and a LOT of help from other brides.
So please, share this with your fellow brides/grooms! And know that you CAN do it!
Please leave a comment letting me know how your own wedding adventure goes! You can also let me know if you have a question or another suggestion/resource about money-saving that I left out!
Don’t forget to check out my blog and follow me for future wedding posts and teaching posts! I hope this helps you a half as much as other brides have helped me!
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