Getting married can be the best day of your life…and the most stressful.
I remember when my husband popped the question, our main concern after all of the dust and excitement settled was how we were going to pay for it. We joked that we wanted our wedding to look "grand" but didn't want to pay grand money. We also agreed that we didn't want to have to pay for anything or owe anyone for wedding expenses after our big day.
This was super tough because not only did we have a short engagement (about nine months), we got married in July, which is the peak of wedding season, so everything was way more expensive than if we would have gotten married earlier or later in the year. I have to say, the day after our wedding, we were so relieved that we didn't have to pay anyone else a dime. We were actually able to enjoy the moment and the day without having wedding debt hang over us. It took a lot of sacrifice, but it was just as perfect as I always dreamed. Here's how we did it:
Set A Budget
And stick with it. Seriously, you have to stick with it. If you set your budget with a little wiggle room, you won't feel like you have nowhere to go when the unexpected comes up, because it will. One of the things we did after we set our date was set an overall budget based on what we could really afford. We then divided the budget by the number of months we had left and decided to set aside that amount in our wedding fund. Of course, life happened multiple times during this process and we had to adjust. That monthly budget kept getting bigger and bigger as our wedding date got closer, but we worked it out and it paid off in a major way.
What Are You Willing To Sacrifice?
After we realized what we could really afford, we had to cut a few things short during the planning process. One of the most difficult things we had to do was lower our videographer package just a couple of months before our wedding. Our photographer was seriously the best and even threw in our engagement photos for free. This was a huge surprise because we had already planned to not take any. And they turned out amazing! But as our wedding day got closer, we realized we couldn't afford video and photos. So, we reduced our package to just photos. It was hard because who doesn't want a video of their wedding day to look back on? But it was tough choices like this that helped us stay within our budget and not get into debt.
Plus, we didn't have an unplugged wedding, so a lot of people filmed the ceremony and put it on social media. The best part about that is that we just celebrated our one-year anniversary, so all of the memories popped up and reminded us how amazing that day was. The sacrifices you'll have to make aren't going to be easy, and you might even end up crying it out, but if your goal is to have a debt free wedding, it'll be worth it.
About That Guest List…
So, you're engaged. Get ready for people to pop out of the woodworks! From family you haven't seen or spoken to in years, to childhood friends who in their minds are still your BFF, the list of people who feel like they deserve an invite to your wedding is seriously endless. If you're like me, you'll wish you could invite everyone, even people you don't know that well. But the guest list is also what makes the wedding super expensive thanks to high reception prices.
My husband and I dealt with this a couple of ways. We first decided to have an open wedding and a closed reception. A lot of people who wanted to come to the wedding made it clear they didn't care about coming to the reception, and just wanted to help us celebrate our day. This made us feel better about being able to invite more people. If you go this route, I would suggest having some sort of party favor or small gift for those who aren't invited to the reception. As for the reception, we had it offsite and only invited close family and those who played a major part in our relationship, and the people we knew would be influential for us during the ups and downs of our marriage. Sidebar: We also saved money by mailing out invitations, but instructing guests to RSVP on our website, so we wouldn't have to purchase postage.
Does It HAVE To Be On A Saturday?
Since our wedding was dead in the middle of wedding season, we decided to have it on a Friday instead of a Saturday. Thankfully, I always dreamed of having an evening wedding anyway. It also doesn't hurt that Friday weddings a popular trend right now. Listen, if you haven't checked it out, you might be shocked to know how much you can save by having your wedding on any other day than Saturday. While Fridays are cheap, Sundays are even cheaper. Let me just say this, the venue where we had our reception had a $7,000 minimum for Saturdays, and no minimum for Fridays. Even though it's a little more difficult to accommodate guests who are coming from out of town, having a wedding on a Friday or Sunday can make a huge difference. And your guests will understand.
Don't Sleep On Pinterest & Etsy
While millennials have been said to be spending whole salaries on weddings lately, this isn't the case for all of us. If you're going a little DIY with your wedding, don't be nervous! Just know that Pinterest and Etsy can be your saving grace. I found a dress for one of my flower girls and adorable floral robes for my bridesmaids on Etsy. And, I even found my own dress on Etsy! I ordered it in enough time in case there were any issues, because obviously that's a huge risk. My dress was made from an adorable woman in China, and cost less than $300, including shipping. Once I got it, it fit perfectly and didn't even need any alterations.
Please trust, there are ways to simplify your wedding, stay in your budget, and still have the day of your dreams.