I’m not a wedding planner. So this may not be for everyone, but we were able to keep our expenses at a minimum for our needs for our wedding day. With Valentine’s Day just just past, a wedding in the family and reflecting on our marriage, I’ve been reminded of the ways we tried to save money for our wedding day. This has been a post that has been marinating in the back of my mind for a long time.
I read a lot of christian wedding/marriage blogs and searched out a lot of things to consider as we made our wedding plans. We tried to focus on how we were preparing for a life together, not just a big day of celebration.
We knew it was a day for family and friends. Part of me want to elope. To save on the bother and trouble. But we knew that marriage is a commitment to the Lord, and it’s a public commitment. It wasn’t just about us. It’s about publicly giving our lives to each other, for life. It’s also about making the day special for others.
Steven was a huge encouragement to me. He also put his foot down and vetoed a few of my ideas. He didn’t want me making the cake or reception food or invitations. For us, those things would not have been practical.
Things we had to consider. We were in Australia, wanting a US wedding to include my family. We also wanted to include Australian friends and family. Thus we had a ceremony in the states, and an Australian-based reception about a month after the wedding. We also had a US honeymoon, (Alaskan cruise), and when we got back here to Australia, we went to a rental holiday home for a week. There were things we spent more money on such as travel costs. But for everything else, I chose the non-fancy if possible mostly because of taste preferences.
A few things to note, most stores and websites will raise prices on anything labelled “bridal”. There is such a huge market for weddings, that companies seem to think they can squeeze out more money just because it’s for a wedding. Because of that, I avoided most of the usual wedding DIY and popular trends. We bought used for somethings, we used what was already available when we could and we borrowed a lot of things to be used just for the day.
Party stores/Craft stores do have reasonable prices for some things. Try to pick a colour theme rather than the wedding bells and doves or hearts themed items. We bought some things from the clearance sections as well.
Ways we saved money:
The Dress. I wore my mother’s dress. With only a few tailoring adjustments, it was the perfect dress of my dreams.
The suit. Steven wore a suit he already owned. That was fine with me. It was one less expense and I thought it looked great on him.
Flowers. I bought clearance flowers from the US craft store Michaels. We also bought some “Australian native” silk flowers from a local garden supply store and I brought over some silk flowers I found in Australia so bouquets and centre-pieces had a touch of Australian flowers. I made all the arrangements together including the corsages and boutonnieres. I had several months to work on them a little at a time and was very happy with the results.
Decorations. We borrowed tea cups and tea pots from ladies in our church for decorating around the fellowship hall. I labelled everything so things could be returned to everyone after the reception.
Flatware, paper goods and other reception things. One dear friend told us she would buy the clear fancy plastic flatware and clear plates and cups I wanted from Cosco as her gift to us. She also bought the napkins for us. We found the green plastic table cloths at a local dollar store and I found green lace curtains to use as table cloths.
Bridesmaid dresses. My dear mother-in-law made the dresses. She did a wonderful job.
Catering. Several ladies in my parent’s church organised the food. One lady searched out store prices and ordered platters for us at very reasonable prices. My dad paid for the food, but she gifted her time and skills to make the reception beautiful and delicious.
Venue. We were blessed to be able to use my parent’s church for the rehearsal dinner, rehearsal, pictures, wedding and reception. Church members pitched in to help with cleaning and prepping the building for a big event. One lady spent hours planting flowers at the front door of the church.
Groomsmen. We asked the groomsmen to wear black suits and white shirts. It worked out that no one had to buy or rent anything new. We bought special ties for the guys to have matching ties. We ordered from from CBD.com.
Photography and Video. We asked a member of my dad’s church to film the wedding. He and his wife did a wonderful job of recording the ceremony. He also recorded the music so we have that special part of our day. We asked an acquaintance of my parents to take our photos. They weren’t perfect, but overall we got the photos we wanted of our special day without paying thousands of dollars.
Jewelry. My cousin’s wife made pearl necklaces for the bridesmaids, and my niece to wear. There are beautiful pieces hopefully that can be worn again and again. We bought matching pearl earrings for me, bridesmaids and mothers to wear. The store made a deal for us, but they had to make a call out to all the stores in the ACT, NSW and Victoria to get enough of the right size for my order.
Cake. My mom heard of a lady who makes cakes for special occasions. I called her and she was able to make a perfect cake for our needs.
Wedding coordinator. One lady in my dad’s church helped make our day run smoothly. She kept the day going, and her help in that way was her gift to us rather than ask for payment.
Music. Our musicians played for us and that was their gift to us as well.
Housing. We have a lot of cousins nearby and we were able to find empty summer homes and rentals for most of the out of town family and guests. Families in my dad’s church hosted people as well so there was limited expense there.
Parking. Two volunteers helped make sure parking went smoothly and people were safe.
Ways we didn’t save money.
Travel costs. Tickets to and from Australia are expensive. We looked for a sale, but our honeymoon wasn’t the cheapest. We went on a cruise in Alaska. It was very special and relaxing and fun. (Side note, I was exhausted so we were the lazy people who didn’t do anything on board, but did take some day trips on shore.) I’ll have another post soon on ways to be careful with money on cruises.
Jewelry. We bought matching wedding bands we liked from the same store we had purchased my diamond. I think we paid the average price for our rings.
Other areas I’ve learned people can save money on weddings:
Make the dress. We didn’t because we used my mother’s dress. I think if someone has the skills to make the wedding dress and the time, then that is a great option to save on expenses.
Make the cake.
We didn’t. I learned how to make sugar roses a few weeks ago for a wedding cake for a family member. (No, I’m not making the cake, I was just helping with the roses.) From prices I saw 2 years ago, cakes cost about $8 per slice. So our cake for about 120 people should have cost $960. It only cost $230 or so because we hired a lady to make it rather than ordering from a big cake company.
Make the invitations.
We didn’t. We used an online ordering-printing company and they did a fantastic job and we loved our invitations. Some people make their own. I love paper crafts, but I had (still do sometimes) fatigue and a lot of pain during the months we were preparing for the wedding and I felt overwhelmed when I thought of making close to 125 invitations by hand. We paid about $150 US for those 125 invitations. It was well spent.
Do the Hair. A friend did the hair and make-up for my sister’s wedding. It was beautiful and affordable. We didn’t. We hired my mom’s stylist for our wedding. The stylist gave us a discount and she did a beautiful job. It wasn’t her fault that my curls disappeared to frizz before the ceremony. That’s the way my hair works. I chose not to wear make-up and was more than happy without it. I didn’t have worry about rubbing against anything or the colours running because of tears.
What we didn’t pay for or use at all:
Fancy cars or limousines. The bridal party everyone just came in their own cars. We left the wedding in my parent’s old pick-up truck (Ute). We did have our rental car “hidden” and it escaped major decorating for our driving to the airport for our honeymoon.
We were thankful to have so many people being part of our special day. It was a blessing to include each and everyone. It really was a church affair. I’m overwhelmed at the involvement of almost everyone in my parent’s church and our family.
Maybe you can use some of these ways we saved money for your own special day, or for another special occasion.