June, the month of weddings...I bet you've been seeing "wedding stuff" all over -- driving past a church on Saturday afternoons, wandering through stores, etc. Weddings are in the air!
Your wedding is probably the biggest and most important "party" that you will ever have to plan. Our society tells us that it must be a "grand" (meaning expensive and extravagant) occasion for it to be special and memorable -- this is certainly not so! I loved my wedding. I still love my wedding. I love that it wasn't a stressful time for me, my fiance/husband, our parents or our friends. We had many people (even historically pessimistic relatives) that commented on what a wonderful, special and fun time it was. Now, you must be thinking that I had tons of time to plan this special day and unlimited resources -- not true! We planned our wedding in 8 weeks and did everything for under $2,000! (We got married in June of 2007, and had 250 people attend our wedding, so don't think that this is an outdated amount!) How did we do it? By keeping things simple and using our non-monetary resources.
Our StoryWe met while working full-time at a Bible Camp in Central Minnesota. Because of the nature of camps, we worked many hours together (along with others) doing various things -- cleaning bathrooms, making pizzas, working in the sound booth, leading trail rides, working on the ropes course, etc. We aslo hung out together in our free time (along with the other young adult staff). We got to know each other very well in a variety of situations. In late January, He approached me and asked me to think and pray about the possibility of getting married. (We were good friends at this time, but had not even talked about dating). We prayed about it for a couple of weeks and on February 11 we entered into an official courtship. We knew at this time that our plan was to get married that coming summer but we were not officially engaged because he has not asked my dad and did not have a ring. By the end of March we were officially engaged with the wedding date set at June 2. We began 8 weeks of planning the wedding, doing pre-marital counseling, and getting ready for the busy summer camp season. Getting ready for summer camp was more stressful than planning the wedding!
How We Did It
I liked planning our wedding in 8 weeks and would highly recommend short engagements to others -- if you know you are going to get married, just do it! (We were also 27 years old, so that made a big difference too.) We had to make decisions and didn't have the time to change our minds -- less stress! We also used an eBook, written by my now mother-in-law, that walked a through the wedding planning process so that we would not miss anything. It was a great help!
Wedding Dress -- Every girl dreams of her "perfect" wedding dress. I found that locally owned shops were the best places to look. I found my dress at the second place I looked. These smaller, locally owned shops often have some dresses that can be bought "off the rack" and usually have many of these at reduced prices. It is nice to be able to go into a store and only look at what you buy "off the rack" -- less choices means less stress! Also, cost and time needed for alterations is greatly reduced when going through a locally owned shop. Locally owned shops in small towns are even better. I paid $100 for my dress and it needed only minor alterations and hemming ($75). Because of the style of the dress, I didn't need to buy one of those fluffy pettycoat things (my dress had enough fluff built in). I made my veil for less than $5 and wore flip flops ($3).
Bridesmaid Dresses -- My two bridesmaids didn't like to shop and didn't even own a dress themselves, so since we are all about the same size, I went shopping for them. My goal was to find a dress that they would like that they could wear again. I bought three different sundresses and let them choose. It worked great and only cost $40 per dress!
Groom and Groomsmen -- We didn't want a formal wedding so the men wore black jeans and a blue dress shirt. Actually, they found the dress shirts in the perfect color on a clearance rack for $4 each!
Invitations -- Invitations can be very stressful and very expensive. We picked our wedding colors by going to a scrapbooking store and looking at the variety of paper colors -- we choose Typhoon Blue and Lemonade Yellow. We bought the blue paper and white vellum paper from the scrapbooking store and yellow ribbon from the fabric store and made our own invitations -- simple, easy and inexpensive. The most expensive part was the stamps!
Flowers -- Flowers can often be a major expense. We choose to use artificial flowers because then we could have everything done ahead and didn't need to worry about flowers wilting. I knew there was a 50% off spring sale at a fabric store chain, so while heading to my parents' home 4 hours away I stopped at this store in three different places and bought all the daisies and blue hydrenga flowers at each of them. I went back at a later time and bought other flowers for courages and boutineers. A year later I helped a friend with her wedding and she used real flowers but bought them from a wholesale flourist -- also inexpensive, but more to do at the last minute. All together I spent about $300 for flowers.
Decorations -- Most of our decorations we were able to borrow -- the archway, unity candle holder/stand, tulle, greenery, mason jars (as vases). We bought the unity candle and tapers (simple white ones from Walmart), tableclothes for the reception (single sized white bed sheets also from Walmart) -- which we have reused for many things -- curtains, quilt backs, table cloths...
Photographer -- My aunt does wedding photography as a side business. So, she took our pictures for the cost of film and develping. We now own the negatives and can get the prints we want whenever we want. Most people know someone that can take good pictures. The prevelant use of digital cameras makes this even easier -- just take LOTS of pictures and you will be sure to get some good ones. Also having multiple people "assigned" to taking pictures ensures that you get some great shots of family and friends enjoying your day. Another option is to hire a professional photographer to take the formal wedding pictures only -- this would reduce the cost greatly. If you can find someone that will give you the negatives or the "digital negatives" so that you can make your own prints, it will save you lots of money -- check out people that do it as a side business or on their own -- they will be more likely to deal.
Church and Reception -- We are very involved members at our church and they did not charge us anything for use of the church for the wedding. We used the fellowship hall for the rehersal dinner (make your own burgers with all the trimmings) and could have used it for the reception also. We chose to have the reception in the dining hall at the camp that we both worked at (less than 5 miles from the church). Since we worked at camp, we didn't need to rent that either. The cooks at the camp did our food (sandwich bar, fresh fruit, fresh veggies) for the cost of the food. They also did our wedding cake for us as a wedding gift (we had a variety of cupcakes -- fun, easy, lots of flavors!) What was really nice was that we could decorate in advance which reduced the stress of the wedding day -- we decorated the church on Thursday (we also were able to use lots of tulle and greenery that the church had) and the dining hall at camp on Friday afternoon. So by the rehersal on Friday evening, we were done -- time to have fun and relax and sleep before the big day!
Thinking "out-side-the-box" and using our resources, especially unique skills and connections, helped us to have a wonderful and fun wedding for very inexpensively.
What tips do you have for making a wedding great on a budget?