I got married a little over a year-and-a-half ago. So the process is pretty fresh in my mind still. I am sure that there are other ways to be frugal with weddings, but here’s what worked for me.
- I picked up a copy of How to Plan An Elegant Wedding for $5,000 or Less. Seriously. (I probably should have just googled ideas, but that’s where I started.)
- I wanted a modest wedding gown, but I also wanted an inexpensive gown. I googled “modest wedding gown” and found a local place where I could try on some dresses, which I did. I didn’t like anything there, but I figured out what size I was in the brand I liked best. Then I went online to the store and bought a dress on clearance from that dealer. It cost about $300 with shipping and a dress bag because my wedding was in another part of the country (see our story for the complete explanation). I did have to get some alterations but I got them at the dry cleaner’s in the small town where my family lives and where the wedding was held. My parents paid for the alterations.
- Have a friend do your flowers. I was blessed that one of my bridesmaids used to work at a florist’s shop. She did my flowers for free. We did pay to get her dress altered, and for the flowers themselves. We ordered the flowers from a co-op kind of flower market. I think all the flowers (5 bridesmaid bouquets, my bouquet, 5 groomsmen boutonnieres, 1 child boutonniere, and maybe 8-12 other corsages and boutonnieres for other family members and wedding participants) came to a bit over $200. We did roses for some of the boutonnieres and all corsages. The groomsmen and child boutonnieres were made from mini calla lilies and the bridesmaid bouquets were 3 calla lily stems wrapped and pinned. My bouquet was a clutch rose bouquet with stephanotis throughout with little pins in them. Looked like it was out of a bridal magazine but for MUCH cheaper!
- Grow your own flowers and pick wildflowers. For pew bouquets, we ordered a few supplies on Save-On-Crafts, an online website with lots of great craft resources. Then, one of my family’sneighbors grew a bunch of cosmos flowers. We ordered some asparagus fern and snapdragons with the order of flowers from the co-op. The night before the wedding, a bunch of friends picked the cosmos, wild Queen Anne’s Lace from the fields around our house, and grapevines. Then the next morning, my cousin (another wonderful decorator!) blessed us by making the pew arrangements. We had pre-wrapped cones with leftover material from the bridesmaid dresses. So we had “pew cones.” Once again, it was a look like out of a bridal magazine… but for a fraction of the price!
- Speaking of bridal magazines… I did buy a few “idea magazines.” I didn’t invest in those huge, fat bridal magazines though since I had shopped for my dress online. I just bought a couple of magazines with just decoration ideas, flower ideas, or cake ideas. All my flower ideas came from the magazines.
Have friends cook for your reception! My mom had two friends that volunteered to put together a reception menu and cook all the food. It was incredible. We decided not to have a sit-down reception, but more of an hors d’oeuvres reception with a couple of salads, crackers, meatballs to be eaten by toothpick, etc. It was simple but really tasty! We trimmed a lot there by not having it catered.
- Have a friend bake your cake! One of our family friends came all the way from Hawaii on free military travel (her husband is in the army) to bake our cake. And it was beautiful! I wanted a vegan cake. It was delicious – even our friends who aren’t vegan thought it was wonderful! It had a lemon “cream cheese” raspberry filling and was very moist and tasty.
- Venue. My dad teaches at a theological seminary, and I’d always liked the chapel, so we reserved it for FREE! It seated about 300 people. I think we had somewhere around 200 guests. We did have to pay for the reception venue which was a fellowship hall at a local church.
- Photography. Unfortunately, you may need to splurge in this department. My parents didn’t – they had a friend do their pictures, and it didn’t work out. I know so many others with similar sad stories so I decided I would splurge a little bit. I found a friend who was in school running a photography business. His work was beautiful, it was the style I like, and it was fairly reasonable. And he provided a CD of the pics to his clients. So I went with that photographer. And I’m SO glad I did. The pictures turned out beautiful.
- Tuxes and bridesmaid dresses. We just had the guys wear black suits and had matching ties made out of cloth to match the girls’ dresses. The girls’ dresses were made by a family friend. She charged about $80 per dress.
- Make your own invitations. One of my friends made gorgeous invitations for us (with engagement pictures that another one of our friends took, also for free.) They were vellum overlaid on our picture on top of another solid sheet of paper. The vellum, picture, and paper were tied together with a pretty organza ribbon.
- Clip coupons for JoAnn’s or Michael’s stores, and watch their sales! You’ll need ribbons, and maybe even artificial greenery or flowers depending on your style. I was blessed to have coworkers who brought me their extra coupons on a weekly basis! I became a regular at those stores.
- Buy your honeymoon on Orbitz. We bought our honeymoon on Orbitz and we went to Montréal, Quebec. The hotel that we stayed at was gorgeous and it was a fairly good deal for a flight plus hotel. (Oh yeah, and this was back when the exchange rate was better!)
I uploaded a couple of our wedding pics here.
Anyway. Here’s a list of how you can start out your marriage on a happy financial note! For more frugal ideas, visit Frugal Friday.