Linking up with all the bloggers!
I wish I could be the bride who could walk the talk when it comes to the biggest-money saving tips for wedding planning. Mr. Sweet and I hope to generously host our large, loving families (most who’ve traveled a great distance at great expense), but our options for an affordable reception are limited (though we’ve been told we’ve got the most reasonable one around). And given the variation in cost of professionals around the country for elements that may be priorities to you and your fiance (and any person helping you pay for the day), it can be hard to follow the same savings rules for your photographer and florist. However, if you’re like us, and still want to keep overall costs as low as possible and still be a beautiful wedding and comfortable experience for your guests, there are some small, simple things you can do that will add up to some great savings.
Magazines. Don’t buy them. Research if you can check them out from your local library. Some systems allow this! Or, for the price of a couple coffees, grab a bridesmaid and read through the selection at your local bookstore (you know the one). Use a camera-phone to take pictures of pages or photographs you want to remember. (From this bookseller, also be nice and put them back where you found them when you’re done.) Savings: upwards of $8…a pop!
Cut down on costs and coupon wherever you can. Example: need new shoes? Don’t budget the higher amount you’re willing to pay (or a relative thinks you should pay). Wait until a department store is having a sale and allows for coupons on top of this. Kohl’s, Macy’s, JCPenney, and the like all do this. Even better–stores like Macy’s give you a percentage of any purchase you make toward a dream fund set up on a registry. (Note: though you have to have a Macy’s card for the dream fund discount, it’s absolutely free to set up a registry…even with one item. So if you or a relative shop there regularly–hi, mom!–set that up!). We’re trying to avoid paying full price for anything wedding-related. Savings: at least 20% off retail.
Make low-intensity crafts. Okay, so I am not a DIY-bride. Thinking about making my own flowers out of book pages–no matter how precious–gives me agita. However, if you or involved loved ones are good with a glue stick and folding, there are some options. For example, invitations. Michael’s and hobby Lobby have inexpensive (especially with coupons and their regular sales!) invitation kits. These sets usually involve no more than a computer template, printer, and possibly gluing or tying on a ribbon. Just be sure to check the paper in a store (if you can) before buying online…the cardstock is on the thin side. Savings: after a new ink cartridge and depending on the number of kits, at least $50…maybe up to $200 if your eye was on fancier styles from a vendor.
Tap into your network. Have a graphic designer friend? Seamstress? Singer or musician? See if they will gift their talents for you or barter for portfolio credits, a gift card, or even an item from her registry (true story!). What could cost hundreds of dollars may not even amount to more than a C-note for materials/her time. We’re doing this for our print materials: save-the-dates (a friend took the photo with her spiffy camera), invites, and programs. Savings: literally, hundreds of dollars for all three.
Just say no…to most everything. Not doing a garter toss? Don’t need to buy one special, no matter how much David’s Bridal marked them down. Even if a Unity Candle or aisle runner is allowed at your church, if it’s not important to you or your groom, you don’t need the upwards of $50 each these little extras could cost. We’re not doing any of the above, plus, since my hair just won’t keep a veil, I’m not getting one. If any of the above are important to you for the significance they have to you and your groom, a way to save is to borrow any of the above from a friend or relative (just maybe not the garter). And definitely don’t listen to your mom/aunt/grandma/olde-school sister. You do not need a special dress slip and shapewear and pantyhose for a mid-summer wedding. I’d argue that except for the slip (to hold the shape of the gown if needed), you don’t need the other two. Savings: $50-$200 (new veils can be pricey!)
Find “free” first. You don’t need to spend $30 on a planner or hosting your very own web site. Take advantage of The Knot , Wedding Wire, and other such sites’ tools. And Microsoft Excel. That is your best friend for managing a master guest list. If you’re a concrete learner, print what you need on scrap paper. Sign up for every coupon, phone app, discount code, and weekly giveaway that you can (and that makes sense for you). Set up a Gmail account specifically for the wedding. I say Gmail specifically because it has three distinct tabs: primary (communiques from your photographer), social (social media alerts), and promotions (all your coupons…not sent to spam!). For example, Shutterfly partners with certain bridal outfits, so I got a (nearly) free photobook to gift to Mr. Sweet. You can use your offer to design a special guest book. Savings: tiny-seeming amounts that quickly add up to more than $100 depending on what you need.
Think outside the box. Our guest book is not a “wedding” guest bookthat gets the “wedding” surcharge. It’s a bargain-priced music sheet journal that I found for an additional 40% off. Given our theme of “words of love set to the music of my heart”, it fits! Plus, we’re not buying empty book boxes for the reception centerpieces at nearly $15 a pop, but using my own collection. Getting creative with the smaller details not only helps your budget, it brings more of you and your groom’s personalities to the celebration. Savings: varies.
Tell me brides, how’d you save money in the small ways?