How to Have a Wedding on a Budget

So, I wrote about how much fun we had, and how much our wedding cost, but for my last wedding post I wanted to write about how it was possible for us to do our wedding on the cheap. Or, at least what I think is cheap, under $3,200 isn't bad at all in my opinion.

Here are my 3 rules for making a wedding as affordable as possible: go local, be realistic and do as much as you can yourself.

1. Go local: meaning, try to source as much as you can as close to you as you can. Instead of going with a big catering company, maybe go to a local restaurant that you love and see if they can make and serve food for parties

You could get even more local (and affordable) by cooking the food yourself! I know this is fun for some people, but because we had 80ish people I did not want to spend FOREVER prepping food and then not getting to visit with people because I was spending all my time making stuff. You could however hire that out to someone who you know loves to cook. I can almost guarantee paying a cooking-loving friend to do your food is cheaper than hiring a big time catering company.

Go to a local flower mart instead of paying a florist. There are local flower marts in most metropolitan areas (after all, how do those florists get their flowers?) In the Bay Area alone, a quick search found them in SF, Oakland and San Jose. And if you don't go to a flower mart, consider getting them fresh that day from your local grocery store too. My dad and step mom did that for their wedding 25 years ago

aren't early 90s weddings the BEST? :)

I have several friends who did the same thing. It of course takes a little bit of work to do the flowers yourself, but it's AMAZING how expensive having a florist do the arrangements gets.

Last local item? The venue. Consider having it at your house, or maybe a friend's house. We of course couldn't imagine having it in any other place besides our backyard

And it was perfect for us. There is also frequently a lot less decorations needed because you're not filling a ginormous space. You do of course need to rent tables and chairs, but that literally can only run you a couple hundred dollars (ours were just over $300), and it's way more affordable than the likely (at least) couple thousand you will pay just to rent the place (and then there's always the rules about catering). Plus, it just feels a lot more intimate and personal. I loved sharing our house with everyone and getting to have it in a place where we are every day of our lives. It just made it so special.

2. Be realistic. Let's be honest people, if you have an affordable wedding, it is not going to look like Kim Kardashian's. Get it out of your head now if you want an affordable wedding that it is not going to look like this

found here

It's just not possible, and you have to be okay with that. It certainly can look beautiful, but it's not going to look like it cost a million bucks - because it didn't. Maybe that wedding picture above is from a wedding that cost $10,000. Now that's expensive to me, but maybe that's a budget wedding for you. Whatever the budget, don't have ridiculously high expectations about unattainable finances. If your wedding is going to cost $10,000, don't spend $8,000 of it on a dress you're only going to wear once

Best Wedding Dresses From Bridal Market Fall 2013.  Vera Wang gown.
found here

I already find the idea of paying thousands for a dress you will literally only wear once for a couple of hours quite strange, but if you must do it - even consider second hand shops. There's a great one on 4th St. in Berkeley for instance. Of course, I'm crazy and spent less than $50 on my coral sundress, but I loved it, and it fit my personality

And probably the most important factor...

3. Do as much as you can yourself. Seriously, this one is huge.

You can pay A LOT of money paying other people to do things for you, and certainly if you're having a wedding that costs a shit ton of money, are having 200 people or are maybe doing a wedding in another, further away location, it would make sense to hire help, but I'm amazed at how much money is wasted on people paying other people to do things for them for weddings. Absolutely 100% do as much as you can yourself, and ask your loved ones to help you from time to time. I got SO MANY offers for help, and it was wonderful. I also LOVE doing crafty projects, and planning things, so getting ready for the wedding was fun.

Of course, some might find the process of planning a wedding daunting, but honestly, I feel like it's nowhere near as hard and stressful as people say. We had 3 months from the time we decided to get married to when we actually did it, and up until the day before I would say I spent a total of 15 minutes being stressed out (of course the day before the fucking rental people showed up at 5 o'clock when their window of delivery was 11-3 and NO ONE at their office was picking up their phone for 90 minutes, so that will stress you out...)

How did I stay relatively calm, cool and collected? I made lists. I made a list of all the things I needed to buy, the things I needed to craft, the things I needed to do to the house and then things I needed to do day of. I kept all those lists on my computer in an excel file so I could add to them and check things off as the days and weeks went by. As soon as I thought of something I just added it to the list. And it was fun getting to check things off all along the way

Having the list allowed me to prioritize items - I bought easy decorations (like the baseballs, sunflower seeds, paper, etc.) WAY in advance just to get it out of the way because I knew those things wouldn't "go bad." I waited on buying all the wine, beer and drinks till much closer. But because I was checking things off as I went, there wasn't nearly as much to do as the day got closer because I had prioritized what needed to get done.

And do the decorations yourself people! I LOVED our paper chains and banners and balloons and butcher paper tablecloths with crayons

Everything was fun, colorful, affordable and practical. Just yesterday I took all the butcher paper from the tables and cut out all the fun messages and pictures that people drew on them. It was a really simple and cheap way to cover all the tables and it resulted in fun memories I'll get to save. And the paper chains were a huge hit with everyone and (like I've said before) they only took me 3 nights in front of the TV but they made such a giant impact and were by far the most asked about decoration that people loved.

I certainly perused the shit out of Pinterest to come up with ideas. Almost none of my decorations were original, but I spent a couple nights looking around on the internet for ideas for decorations for parties that I felt like fit with our personality, budget and feel we were going for. Pinterest and the internet are invaluable for ideas. But of course, don't go on Pinterest and feel bad that you're party won't be the best wedding ever - it's hard to not be hard on yourself when Pinterest has picture perfect event pictures. Your wedding or party will not be like that, and it's okay (remember, be REALISTIC).

I think the thing I loved hearing the most from people was that it was so "us." Many people mentioned it many times - the party just felt like it fit us well. It was laid back, simple, colorful and had decorations that fit our personality - baseball, peanut and sunflower seed centerpieces, cast concrete guest "books" for people to carve their names into, a slide for kids on the grass, and lots of colors all around. It felt more personal because it was personal: we chose to decorate in a way that fit us

Another thing you can do yourself: music. Unless you're having a GIANT party, I don't quite understand why people get DJs. Chris and I have a pretty epic CD collection...

...so he went through all of our music and made a playlist. If you don't have the library we do - buy music on iTunes to make your playlist. Then hook up a stereo (we even just used our work radio). I don't think people could really tell the difference. Sure, there wasn't someone handing out glowsticks and weird sunglasses, but I don't think anyone was really missing out.

The last thing that we actually couldn't do completely ourselves, was set up! Here's where we accepted the help of many people, but it certainly went along with our DIY theme. I had made a list of all the things we needed to get done day of, taped it up on the garage and accepted the help of our parents and siblings. They were happy to lend a hand and it helped SO MUCH. They transformed our backyard and helped ease the stress day of. And we could not have been more lucky for all of their help.

So there you have it folks, the wonderful party we had, how much it cost, and some of my tips for how to make a wedding (or some other party) more affordable. That way you have more money to spend on the rest of your lives :)

Alright, I promise I'll be back Monday with house posts! I painted the nook in the ceiling on time for the party, but we still need to hang up that light...


rosedel said...

Did anyone get a picture of the ticket bouquet? I'd love to see it.

scotdog98 said...

This was so much fun to read about! Chris looks so proud and that dress (and color) look beautiful on you! Zoe is just a total doll. I love that this was so "y'all". And, I only know y'all from your blog, lol!

I have to be honest and say my eyes kind of bugged out at the hot dog catering fee - but I've never tried to feed 80 people, lol!

You're so lucky to have nice weather - I'd be stressing over that big time with an outdoor event. And, parking, lol! I'm worried about the logistics of having a party with 80 people and where they would all park in my neighborhood.

So happy that everything worked out so perfectly for you! It was really fun to read about!!

meryl rose said...

Rosedel - I don't think so! :( I totally should have had someone do that, grrrr. I'll hunt around my photos. I actually do think Chris' mom took a photo of my dad and brother walking me down the aisle and I think you might be able to see the bouquet...

Scotdog - I'm so happy that you could tell that the party was "us" even if only from knowing us online :) That makes me so happy! Yes, the catering was a still a bit high, but it is pretty average in terms of "fast casual" places around here. Adding in Bay Area costs on top of national averages certainly makes prices seem a lot higher. I will confess, our street looked CRAZY, but it's actually fairly wide, so having a ton of cars parked certainly made the street full, but there were two sides to park on, there's a two one way sections that are wide also...it looked crazy but worked out fairly well :)

Carrie @ Hazardous Design said...

Congratulations guys! Looks like it was a fun celebration!

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