We’re Back! Gosh it feels good to get back into the swing of things. I began writing this blog post before the wedding but got so overwhelmed with everything that I just did not have time to post it. I did however get to interview some good friends who have just recently tied the knot and I have added some of their advice for budgeting a wedding, their main priority, and what they wish they didn’t miss out on. You can count on some amazing pictures from the wedding and our wonderful honeymoon in Hawaii in next weeks blog! Anyway, this weeks blog is so helpful to anyone trying to plan a less expensive yet still amazing wedding!
My advice, give yourself time. Chas proposed to me exactly one year ago today. Back then, it felt like an eternity until our wedding day. Now, two days before my wedding day, I could have used more time. A friend ours is extending their engagement for two years. When you’ve been together for so long, that newlywed-honeymoon phase isn’t as strong as one would think. I mean gosh, we have lived together for a couple years now, part of the time we were in a pop up camper. I get it though, you’ve got this new sparkly ring on your finger and you get to say fiance now. But, you’re getting married.. you’ve got all the time to be husband and wife, enjoy the engagement together. This gives you more time to chill and get things done in a timely manor without having to buy and plan your wedding quickly. Also, Pinterest is your new free wedding planner.
Anything labeled wedding is going to be marked up. As I said before, if you have a longer engagement, you have time to look for deals, find sales, and buy or borrow used wedding decor. Everyone knows that the day after Valentines Day all the hearts and chocolates are 75% off. Look for your decor and what not’s after wedding peak season. DIY, do it yourself. I know many brides that make their own flower crowns, center pieces, and decor. My good friend Bethany shared with me that the night before her wedding, she and her bridesmaids assembled their own bouquets from a box of mixed flowers that Bethany picked up from Cost-Co. It saved her big bucks and gave her special time with her ladies!
Forget about the rehearsal dinner, gifts, fancy expensive jewelry, belts, shoes, etc. I didn’t really see the point of the rehearsal dinner. Its just one more thing. As far as gifts for the bridal party, they aren’t expecting anything from you. You asked them to stand by your side on one of the biggest days of your life. They’re honored. I gave my bridesmaids one job and told them to grab any dress they’d like that matches my color pallet. I wanted them to feel beautiful and buy a dress that looks great on them. Not only that but I don’t think you get to be picky on what your girls and guys wear if you’re not paying for it. I wasn’t going to give gifts at first. Looking back at everything these ladies have done for me, I couldn’t help myself. I got them all something different that I thought they’d enjoy. Nothing fancy. I just wanted them to know that I appreciated everything and I wanted to express that their thoughtfulness hadn’t gone unnoticed.
Chop the amount of time your photographer is there, amount of time at the venue, do your own hair and make up or ask a friend who’s good at it, make your own invites. We decided to get married on a weekday vs weekend. It saved us so much money. Not only that, but every caterer, DJ, venue, and photographer has a weekday available. Yes, your guests may have to work the next day, but who hasn’t gone to work with a hangover? Wedding season is June-September, having a date in winter and spring is less expensive and you are more likely going to find the perfect venue and not worry about it being booked. I thought I had everything planned out until a coworker excitedly asked if everything was all lined up, “Yep.” Who’s catering?” Ugh… Ooops. If I had a Saturday wedding, forget about it. I booked her a month before our wedding date. Use coupons from the businesses you love and get on their email list wait for promo codes. Just give yourself enough time to be able to wait for there to be a sale on what you want and need.
More guests means more of everything else, food, larger venue, more party favors, more time with the photographer etc. Less people can be more intimate which is what we initially wanted but yes, it’s hard to say no to people. Not allowing children can save you as well. Not only that but it changes the mood of the party when there aren’t any kids around, parents can relax and not worry what their kiddo’s getting into. People want to help, give them a job my cousins helped us with the party favors, a friend grew all of our succulents to give away, my aunt made our flower selfie station. Having close friends and family surrounding us on our big day felt so wonderful. It really put what our day was all about into perspective. The look in their eyes when they watched us dance for the first time made us feel really loved.
There are options on the internet to register for experiences instead of materialistic items.You can also set up a registry so that your guests basically help you pay for the wedding. As their wedding gift, they pay for a date for you two during the honeymoon, pitch in for a DJ, photographer, honeymoon, caterer etc. It was important to me to support a local business. We went with the Mixing Bowl located in our town and then also Amazon for convenience.
Chas was gifted his Grandfathers wedding band. It is such a gift to have this family heirloom handed down to him. Here’s the story about my ring… When Chas came home from a pack trip he walked into our pop-up camper. I looked up from my book at this exhausted and filthy man. He and I hadn’t seen or been able to talk to each other for a whole week. The first words out of his mouth were, do you want me to pick out the ring or do you want to pick it? I was so touched. Later that summer we were out on a pack trip with a group of retired teachers. We went on a walk to check on the horses and then sat in a meadow beside the Kern River. Looking up at the Big Tower Rock and watching the pups play in the river, Chas was twisting up a strand of tall grass. He began to ask me about my five year plan… “I don’t know man, Carpe Diem.” He gently put the grass ring on my finger. Thinking nothing of it, we started walking back to camp. I stopped abruptly. “Did we just get engaged?” Chas reply’s, “Do you wanna?” It sounds ridiculous but I just didn’t think he could ever do any better than that. He wouldn’t let me tell anyone until he got me a real ring, it killed me.
My dad happens to have a time share. We were lucky enough to go to Hawaii for our honeymoon. This is what we spent the most money on which I think is pretty important. Spending this time together in a beautiful location with little distraction was so wonderful. The trick to this is find out if anyone you know has a timeshare, not everyone uses their time shares every year. It’s pretty easy to trade in your week to a different week and to a different place. Its way cheaper than paying for a hotel for a week. Our room had a full kitchen too which really helped cutting cost from restaurants and bars. You can also ask friends or family to use their vacation homes, check into hostels, or go on a backpacking trip.
Time off work can get you. Chas gets paid salary which helped, while I had to use all of the vacation time I have accumulated. We planned our honeymoon around labor day, so we also got paid holiday time! Although, travel expenses get more expensive around holidays, so book in advance.
Travel Expenses- destination wedding. have it where you want it. The people will come, or they wont that’s fine, its your day no matter what people tell you. We wanted to get married up Mt. Shavano trail… The roads are 4×4 bumpy and narrow. There was a TEE PEE made of fallen aspen in a small meadow with Mt Shavano in the distance. I originally wanted an intimate wedding with siblings and our parents.
I don’t have the slightest clue. I feel that I am going about this pretty nontraditional, no veil, garter, no flower toss, no schedule really other than start time. No guest sign in sheet, no place cards, no flower girl, ring bearers, no washing the feet, just a kiss and party. Chas didn’t even think we were going to sign a wedding license. I put my foot down on that one. Kate, said she was going to make us sleep in different places the night before the wedding, that was her add in on old traditions but that just didn’t end up happening. My cousin took some blue flowers from my some of my moms service and made them into beads from petal beads for my something blue. Thanks to my photographer we did get the “first look” which we weren’t planning on not seeing each other but she made it happen. I am so thankful for her because she also made our first dance and father daughter dance happen.
Our venue provided a bar, chairs, changing room, restrooms, scenery, an arbor, microphone, speakers, and a sound system, for a price. The charges really add up, 10% cater kitchen tax, rainy day up charge, alter up charge, charge for table cloths. Get quotes in writing and ask about taxes before hand. Here are 10 ideas for a free venue: backyard, park, beach/ ocean/ lake, bar, back country/ forest, valley/meadow, botanical garden, Farm/ ranch, community building, warehouse building/ barn.
Food and Booze
We had a pot luck which worked out perfectly and it was so delicious. We also had a caterer, she told me that if you hire a caterer from a restaurant it’s cheaper than an individual. Bring up to your vendors that you are on a budget and you don’t mean to offend them with your cheap ass and that you appreciate their services. Compliment their work and let them know you’re asking for a discount. Doesn’t hurt to ask. My girlfriend Courtney said this was their biggest priority. They had a big reception and she said that she wished they would have just eloped and gone on a honeymoon.
This was my main priority. As a photographer I knew the importance of a good memory. I recommend trading services if possible. For my engagement photo shoot I posted on Craigslist that I was looking for a photographer who wanted some practice with an engagement shoot. I offered to help with editing, posing, and finding the locations in return, they could have all the images for their website and portfolio. For our wedding photographer I was looking for someone who wasn’t inexpensive, but would hook me up essentially. I went to a bridal show and found the perfect person. Her name is Catherine Eichel and this was her first wedding season. Yes, it’s risky to hire an inexperienced photographer but I loved her style and her portfolio was incredible. The package that she gave us was incredible and so reasonably priced. We signed a contract and communicated about what was important to us and gave her full access to the whole wedding day. Catherine is so thoughtful and amazing. She’s sweet, and goes above and beyond. She even stayed an extra hour because we never got to have a bridal shoot. She is very professional and trustworthy, she kept in touch and puts my needs first. She has great vision and attitude! To add to that, she was fully prepared and kept me calm, she had bobby pins, little scissors to clip off a frayed end off my dress, and kept everyone moving and just really got every detail of our wedding.
We made a wedding playlist on Spotify and I loved it. I liked every song that played. Pandora also has wedding playlist if you don’t have time to create a playlist. Chas is really into the music scene. We have many friends that have great taste in music. I asked a friend to put together a playlist and when ever I thought of a song I would have her add it. I decided the song I wanted to walk down the isle to and what our first dance song was and other than that I left it up to her and Chas. Spotify also allowed our guest’s to play a song that they wanted so everyone was satisfied.
I went to lulus.com. I also searched all over the internet looking at Davids Bridal and a bunch more and never found anything my style that was inexpensive. What I did was buy a $80 white dress that I loved and got it tailor to the way I wanted it exactly. My dear friend Crystal and her husband eloped at 19 years old. They called their friends and family and told them if they wanted to come and celebrate with them in Vegas they were more than welcome. Her mother made her dress in three days. It was so special to her. She was just so happy that she got to marry her best friend.
Look for flowers that are in season, it’s easier for the florist to find and put together. I wanted to go pick my own wild flowers but I just didn’t find time. My friend Crystal grew own party favors for us which was awesome. I also had a friend pick up the bouquets and flower crown for me so we didn’t have to pay for a delivery fee. I discussed with the florist (who I met at the bridal show), that I was on a budget. Tammi, the owner of He Loves Me! Flowers, is so passionate about her work that she understood completely and made my budget work, I wasn’t super picky on what flowers were in the bouquets so that helped.
What do you want? Funny, religious, traditional, quick, communion. Our friend was ordained and offered to do it for us. He’s hilarious, charming, and we both love him dearly. He wasn’t able to make it and I kinda panicked. A month before my wedding and no officiant. I posted on Facebook asking people in the surrounding area if they knew of anyone. I calmed myself down and decided that I would rather have friends and family come up to the mic and bless us with good wishes and advice and stories than to hire someone that I didn’t know to marry us for money. It sounds weird to me especially since we aren’t religious. Our buddy came forward and got ordained that very moment. He’s awesome and has been practicing all week. We are so happy to have friends willing to help us like this.
Worrying does nothing but give you cold sores. The main priority of this day is to marry your soul mate. We get so caught up in trying to entertain, feed and impress all of our guests that we look past what really matters. When I asked a handful of friends who have recently and not so recently got married, they all felt rushed. The day flies by and they wish they would have relaxed and enjoyed their day. After all, that’s what we’ve been planning for a year now. You can’t control everything and something is bound to go wrong. In my case, the music wasn’t timed correctly while walking down the isle… nobody noticed except me. It stayed sunny until about 7pm and then it down poured. I walked the three blocks with my honey in the rain in our wedding attire to our reception and I wouldn’t change it. Everything was beautiful and I couldn’t have asked for a better wedding day.