Wednesday, May 1, 2013

6 Tips for Wedding Planning on a Budget

While this is still an in-progress project for me, I thought I would update all of you on my wedding planning and give you some tips.

If there's one thing I've learned through the process of wedding planning, it's that you can drop a lot of cash on a lot of different things, but you don't have to. For those brides who are looking to save money or plan on a budget, there are plenty of ways to cut corners, and cost. My passion for inexpensive wedding planning has made me want to pass on insights to other brides who feel the pull on their hard-earned dollars.

Disclaimer: This is NOT my wedding dress. :)

Tip #1: Recruit!
This can be one of the biggest money-savers ever. It may slightly involve exploiting the talents of your friends and family, but if they love you, they won't mind too much. ;) Ask your friends to help with set up, decorating, crafting and creating. If you have a friend who is good at graphic design, ask them to create your invitations or programs. If you have a friend (or in my case, dad) who has beautiful penmanship, ask them to help with addressing invitations.

I also looked for friends and family members to do business with. A college friend is taking my pictures and my cousin is doing my flowers. Sometimes it feels weird asking for things, but don't be afraid to see if your friends will give you a discount on their services. Also, one of them may offer to give you part of the expense as a wedding gift (like the bridal party flowers), cutting down on cost.

Tip #2: Research. Do not go with the first place/offer/deal you find. That's the easiest way to get suckered into paying too much. Shop around, look at prices online, talk to other brides or married couples and compare. Sometimes a better deal is just a website away.

This also applies to attire. Stores like David's Bridal can pull you in because they're a one-stop shop, but their prices tend to be higher. Rather than purchasing a nearly-$100 flower girl dress, I found one online for $27. Check regular retailers like Kohl's and Target, or specialty sites like Etsy and Zulily. Better deals are out there, you just have to be willing to look.

Tip #3: Go digital. Creating your own free wedding website is a great way to not only get important info to your guests, but also save money. For my wedding, I am instructing everyone to rsvp on the wedding website I created with The Knot. Guests simply enter their name in a field and are then directed to indicate who from their party will be attending.

So, rather than spend money on rsvp cards, envelops and stamps, I created my own rsvp card using the "chubby business card" on Zazzle. It lists instructions for rsvping and lets guests know they can find more information on the site (like where we're registered, info on accommodations, etc.). We decided to go this route because we know most of our guests use or have access to the internet. You can also give guests the option to rsvp by email or phone.

Tip #4: Reuse and recycle. Of course every wedding should be unique and be totally you, but that doesn't mean you can't reuse old items. I recommend looking for your decorations at thrift shops and antique stores (if you can), or checking with recently-married friends to see if they have anything left over. A friend of mine offered to let me use any of the decorative items she purchased for her wedding, including lots of tulle (score!).

Shopping at bargain stores and thrift shops will help you find items for a cheaper rate than if you purchased them new. Similarly, you can find great deals at antique shops. Last year I purchased a huge glass punch bowl with an ornate iron base for only $15 at a local antique mall. I plan to use it in my home, as well as for my wedding, and I was already able to use it at a Halloween party (score again!).

Also, keep in mind other friends who may be getting married after you. They may be attempting to plan on a budget and your white lights, silk flowers or glass vases may go a long way in helping them save some cash. If not, consider gifting your centerpieces to family and friends after your reception ends. It's a great way to send them home with a little something extra.

Tip #5: Shop the sales. Okay, I know I said to avoid David's Bridal for somethings, but definitely keep them in mind when you're dress shopping. They frequently have sales and move designer dresses as they pass out of season. If you have enough time before your wedding, take a look at the dresses currently in season, then wait for them to go out of season before buying. (So if it's summer and your wedding will be in the summer, wait for this year's summer dresses to be put on sale, then buy. Your dress will still look perfectly in season come next summer.)

So even if a dress is currently out of your price range, chances are if you wait a few months, it won't be. I recommend trying on a few you love, but don't purchase. Keep a list of your favorites and check on them online until they go on sale. Then you'll be able to buy the right size since you tried it on in the store. (I wish I had known this when I went shopping, because there were a couple Vera Wang dresses I loved! I actually scored one that was already on sale while I was shopping, but I would've tried on some others if I had known they would be up to 50 percent off later!)

You can shop other sales for items like wedding bands, accessories, decorations, invites, etc. Keep an eye out for annual sales, coupons and discounts, clearances and end-of-season markdowns. I found a lot of things on sale at Michael's craft store that I used to create custom favors for my reception. If you're willing to hunt for deals and search for things you can use, you can save a lot of money!

Tip #6: Get crafty. If you're willing and able to spend time creating things for your wedding, you can save money by making your own stuff. Rubber stamps can be a great investment for things like favors, welcome bags and invitations. Order a personalized, self-inking return address stamp and save money on printing costs (and continue using it after the wedding, just change out the ink pad when it gets dry!). Order a customized monogram stamp for use on favors and other items. This also beats the cost of stickers.

I found large letter stamps for $1 each at Michael's. I bought three for monogramming, but at that price, you could buy the whole alphabet and stamp just about anything! So far I have used them on gift bags and reserved table cards for the reception. They add a personalized touch and with $1 ink pads, are an inexpensive way to leave your mark on just about anything!

Also, if your reception site needs dressing up, create your own ceiling decor or wall hangings with 3M hooks (especially good because most sites will not allow you to nail anything), tulle, tissue paper flower balls, white Christmas lights, cloth banners, Chinese lanterns, etc. Lightweight items will hang easily from 3M hooks, and you can use dowel rods to hang flat fabric. You can also create paper crafts to use on in table centerpieces.
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Those are the big tips I have from the wedding planning process so far. I will make sure to share any other tips/secrets I discover along the way. Throughout this whole process I continually think about how I would love to help other ladies cut costs, discover deals and feel good about planning a wedding that doesn't break the bank.

That said, if you have any questions to ask or advice to share, please comment or message me on Facebook. I would love to share ideas and help you if you're stumped or looking for suggestions. I don't think it's impossible to have a lovely wedding on limited funds, you just have to be willing to work for it!

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