I’ve always liked the idea of a wedding, but wasn’t sure I ever wanted one for myself. I absolutely wanted to be married, but a wedding wasn’t a huge priority. Fast forward to meeting the love of my life, who whole heartedly wanted a wedding and here we are! I’m going to start a mini wedding series because
A. I want to relive it as often as I can
B. I learned sooo much and I want to make sure y’all learn from our triumphs and our mistakes.
After having the worst experience ever with a bunch of venues (more on that later), we went back and forth trying to decide if we were even going to have a wedding. We did not want to go into debt for our wedding, and I was pretty afraid that once we started planning I would blow our budget. Again, they’re not really my thing. I was actually really happy to note that we were quite strategic and did really well with our money.
Here is what you came for...
- The dress
Ok. I had two. I know, it’s excessive but I had reason. My grandmother passed away well before I was born and my mom had her wedding dress. For as long as I could remember it was moved from house to house usually in a cardboard box in a Dillard’s dress bag. And by dress bag, I mean the clear plastic ones that are like used at a dry cleaners. I wasn’t sure I wanted to wear someone else’s wedding dress, but it was definitely a contender. One of S’ and my first conversations revolved around my dress. My darling groom was adamant that I “wear a wedding dress. As in, a dress specifically for a wedding.” He knows me too well. Honestly if not for my picky groom, I would have grabbed a prom dress or a gown from Dillard’s and been fine. In fact, I had already bought a stunning dress from Dillard’s that I was going to tweak a bit, but was so classy! While not the traditional white dress, it was a stunning gold and ivory hi low gown. It was a few hundred dollars, and I did not purchase it on sale because I was terrified they were going to sell out of my size. Buuuut my traditional groom wouldn’t have been happy to know it wasn’t a “wedding dress” and I really think he would have cried when he saw me in a patterned dress, and not in the way one might want when your groom first sees you.
I also really wanted to experience all the traditional wedding things that you go through as bride and groom. And I wanted to go to a shop and try on wedding dresses and wave and strut like I was made for the runway. Again, more on that experience later. But I did figure out that I wanted to wear my grandma’s dress and have a wedding dress of my own. After trying on dresses I knew what I wanted. And thanks to Pinterest I found it... But for $3,000 or so. I argued with myself for months because “I’m only getting married once” but also “I’m wearinng that dress for a few hours max”.
I looked everywhere for this dress online, but couldn't find it. It only showed up in big cities and I knew it was so far out of our price range that it wasn't going to happen. I ended up looking on this site called Tradesy.
Way back when I used to be cool, I was a beta user on twitter who found this group of amazing girls. Anyway, one of them had a sorority sister who started this little site. I was a beta user on there too and was in awe of all the things on there. If you click this link you’ll get $20 off your $50 purchase. And that ladies and gents where I found my dress. It wasn’t exactly the same one as Pinterest but it was completely brand new, the same brand, the same concept and only $400. Tradesy was running a special and took $50 off $400 or more plus free shipping. I got my dream dress for $350 and it still had the plastic on it. Brand. New.
So go try on dresses and then find one online for a fraction of the cost.... or wear your grandma’s or wear both.
2. The Decorations
We got married on September 22 because I love fall, and because I really wanted the leaves to be changing. The leaves really don't start changing until October, however that is birthday month and S was already trying to combine my wedding and birthday presents so I put the kibosh on that and September it was. Since usually you start to plan a year+ before your wedding and you pick your colors and theme first, that makes it super easy to find decor.
We went really original and chose a "fall" theme with burgundy, navy, champagne (which is hard to find sooooo gold), and grey. Which was kind of excessive (but more on that later! Y'all are going to have sooo many wedding posts to read!!)
So knowing that gave me a game plan. We didn't have a venue nor did we know how many people/tables but we had colors and a theme. So with the help of my mom and nother mother (S's mom) we scoured the AFTER Halloween and Thanksgiving sales. We bought our decorations at like 75% to 90% off. No one knows or cares how much you spend on decorations. Our centerpieces were 75% to 90% off from Michael's premade flower arrangements. Our signs were from Hobby Lobby purchased with coupons, or in the clearance section. I also found some super cute signs at Homegoods. My mom is ridiculously creative and wrote on all the signs. The groom, my brothers, S's brothers, my sisters, my parents, nother mother, and a few of my bridesmaid had a paint party and painted pumpkins, glittered centerpieces, and added flowers to them as well. My nother mother made food and we all had a blast. My mom and nother mother would also find things when they were out and about too.
We ended up with a few too many pumpkins, but for the most part were spot on with the amount of decorations needed.
3. The party favors
Yeah... we were already paying for your meal sooo we didn't give away favors. I had noticed at other weddings that unless the favor was edible, they were forgotten. It wasn't important to us, and honestly took away one decision we had to make. You have to pick out so many things for your wedding that it is a relief when there is one less thing you have to choose. I don't think anyone even noticed there weren't favors.
4. The Flowers
If you want real flowers and that is something you won't compromise on, then you do you. I wanted real flowers until I saw the cost, and decided I would rather put that money towards a venue. My bouquet was 3 premade bouquets from Michael's, the holder was $19 from Amazon, and I bought some Harry Potter book page flowers from Etsy for $20. My mom used leftover flowers from the centerpieces as well. All in all my bouquet cost about $80. I am pretty lucky since my mom is so crafty, but I am sure you can have a bridesmaid watch a youtube video. The bouquets for my bridesmaid were also premade ones from Michael's and were $10. We could have waited for a sale, but we were getting down to the wire and really just needed some. For the mothers, aunt, and grandma I found cute little fabric flowers and (someone) made them into brooches.
My darling, opinionated groom wanted fresh flowers for the boutonnieres. (That is the hardest word to spell btw.) I was like "I am not figuring that out!! I can't do it!!". This was towards the end when I was getting a bit frazzled. He finally decided that fake flowers were fine. Hobby Lobby will randomly have buy one, get one half off sales in their wedding section so I just bought the cheapest ones. I think they ended up being $1.50 and they looked fabulous.
5. The Cake
I may or may not have told my future husband that I have looked forward to cake tasting my whole life and it was the best thing to ever happen to me. He may or may not have threatened to call off the wedding. But for real, like cake tasting has been on my life bucket list. If I could cake taste as a job, I would. I love cake. And pastries, and pie, and cupcakes. But like a cake tasting... I can't even. Our cake was included in the price of the venue which was really cool and so we went cake tasting with their contracted cake lady. I was really disappointed when cake tasting consisted of like penny sized frosting tastes and a pinky size sliver of cake. It is safe to say that I was very let down with the whole cake tasting experience. But then S bought me some BBQ and bread and I was a happy camper once again. It really is the little things. But I digress. So honestly, just go get your cake from Sam's Club or Costco or if you have an amazing friend like I do who makes cakes because she's amazing at it and it's fun for her. Go to them. My groom received a surprise Groom's Cake made my one of my best friends and it was stunningly perfect and delicious to boot. We could have gone to Sam's or Costco and picked out a little two or three tired cake and then bought a sheet cake. The cake is cut in the kitchen and no one sees it. Also no one cares, they're getting yummy cake to eat.
I hope these tips help. We saved a ton of money with these wedding tips and were able to keep costs relatively low.
At the end of the day, your wedding is special, but all that really matters is that you are marrying the love of your life, the rest is just icing.