Getting married is supposed to be one of the best days of your life but it can also be one of the most expensive. Everywhere you turn, there are budget books and budget sheets and simply because something has to word “wedding” attached to it, it becomes way more expensive than if it wasn’t for a wedding. Literally, you have to consider everything from the venue, dress, vendors, all the way down to the napkins and every single sequin or piece of glitter. Having a wedding is a lot of work but there are a bunch of ways to make it much easier on your wallet. These are the tricks I used to save money and the vendors that helped me along the way!
1 – Venue
Picking a venue can be one of the most important choices you make (beside the dress of course!) but it can also be your most expensive. Look for up and coming places. They tend to be a bit cheaper than those established venues. Or, find a farm, winery, park, that you love and rent it out! Sometimes this can be wayyyy cheaper! Maybe a friend or family member has a membership to a club that rents out their hall for a discount to members and they can help you reserve a hall for your wedding! Try booking your favorite venue off season. Prices tend to drop substantially AND they usually throw in some sort of freebie. Wedding season typically runs from April 15th to November 15. I chose to go with a local place called Crystal Peak for my wedding and picked “off season” on April 11th. Since I was basically crafting everything and buying very little for my wedding, I decided I was going to “splurge” on my venue so I did not have to worry about the food. And, boy did I make the right decision. I went with them simply because of the food (a-m-a-z-i-n-g). The food had me sold. (Did I mention it was also super affordable and at least $30 cheaper per plate than any other place we looked at?!) So, I picked a date off season and saved what I could on my venue. I know that I could have saved a ton more by doing more of it myself but I just did not want to. It was one less thing to worry about.
2 – Wedding Registry
Normally, you create a registry for friends and family to shop off of for you and your new husband/wife but did you know that companies will actually give you free stuff simply for registering for some of their products?? No purchase needed! Check out some of the free stuff you can get:
- Amazon – Create a wedding registry and add one item to it within 24-hours to receive a FREE $20 Amazon gift card in your email in 1-2 weeks. For more information (click here).
- Set of espresso glasses
- FREE Neapolitan and Tuscan pizza when you register for the Pizzeria Pronto Oven
- Food processor-shaped USB Flash Drive when you register for $150 of Cuisinart products
- FREE $10 Crate & Barrel gift card when you register for a Kitchen-aid stand mixer, stand mixer attachment, and blender
- Crate and Barrel – Create a wedding registry and grab some awesome freebies. For more information (click here).
Other perks of the Crate & Barrel wedding registry include free save the date announcements, and 10% off unlimited purchases for 6 months after your wedding.
- Dillard’s – Get 3 FREE gifts when you sign up for a FREE wedding registry. These include, Free “I thee wed” wedding and home planner, shower enclosure cards, and a free heart dish when you register for $300 or more of Wilton Aremetale products (while supplies last). Your guests will also get free gift wrapping when they buy off your registry. Learn more about all the incentives you can get when you create a Dillard’s registry (click here).
- Williams-Sonoma – FREE Food Processor Shaped USB Flash Drive when you register for $150 or more of qualifying Cuisinart products. You can also grab a FREE Shun Hinoki Cutting Board when you register for $450 of qualifying Shun products. Find out more (here).
- Bon-Ton – Now through Sunday, 3/1, create a new wedding registry, add 25 or more unique items, and receive a coupon for $25 off $25 purchase.
- Wedding Paper Divas – 8 FREE Wedding invitation samples. Just use promo code FREETRY at checkout.
- Things Remembered – Register for the bridal newsletter and you’ll get a FREE personalized keepsake heart.
- The Container Store – Score a FREE Portable File Tote when you sign up for their wedding registry.
- Kohl’s – Grab 3 FREE gifts at Kohl’s when you sign up for a wedding registry. A FREE Simply Calphalon 7″ Santoku knife and Stainless Steel Trivet, FREE Wilton Armetale small heart dish, and a FREE Two-cup, petite saucepan.
- Sur La Table – Create a wedding registry and grab these FREE Gifts.
– Free Food Processor-Shaped USB drive with 75 recipes
– Free Pressure Cooking for Every Occasion Cookbook
– Free Cookie Scoop
– Free $10 Sur La Table Gift Card
– Free Cut-Resistant Glove
– Free Shun Cutting Board
– Free Steve Raichlen BBQ Seasonings
– Free Victorinox Swiss Classic Cutlery 4-piece Prep Set
– Free WÜSTHOF GOURMET 2pc Paring Knife & Shears
3 – Wedding Dress
Wedding dresses can break the bank! With all the bridal magazines and TV shows such as “Say Yes to the Dress”, we get an idea of a dress we have to have and sometimes it is just simply unattainable. Or is it? 🙂 I know that most everyone knows about the Davids Bridal $99 dress sale but I wanted something different. Something that not everyone could have. A special dress. A few years before I got married, I had run in to a wedding boutique that was going out of business. I was able to score a $3000 dress for a whopping $75! But, a few years later when I was actually getting married, I decided I did not like the dress anymore but I knew I did not have thousands of dollars to spend on a new dress. That’s where wedding consignment shops and Facebook groups came in handy! Beside your local Goodwill and Salvation Army (which tend to have dresses with shoulder pads and big poofy sleeves, I mean if that’s your thing, then more power to you) many states have Bridal consignment shops! Here in CT, we have a couple of them and we are one of the smallest states so guaranteed there is at least a handful of Bridal consignment shops in your area as well! This is where Google becomes your best friend! There are also local Bridal “tag sale” groups on Facebook too! Start searching Facebook for local ones because you will have to pick up the items you want! I was able to get my second dress through one of these Facebook groups for only $80. The tag on the dress was over $1300!
4 – Vendors
Ok, so you are going to need multiple vendors to bring your big day together. Photographers, DJs, event/party planner, cake maker, photographer, etc. And, you are going to have to pay for each and every single one of them and let me tell you it can cost you an arm and a leg (maybe even 2 legs!) but there is a super simple way to cut this categories pricing in half if not more! Social media. It is really that simple. Put out an S.O.S. on Facebook, Twitter, or whatever platform you use.
I was able to find friends who took photos, did make up, hair, crafted invites and center pieces and so much more. These were friends of friends, or friends from high school who all have regular jobs but have a hobby on the side (that I didn’t even know about until I asked!). Because they are your friend (or at least know you) they are willing to give you a discount and because it is not their full time job, they usually do not have a set amount to charge and are way more flexible to work with. Some of them may just be starting out on their hobby adventure and would be willing to handle some of it for free simply for the experience!
A Justice of the Peace can be super expensive BUT you may have a friend who is already certified, or simply ask a close relative to get certified. It only costs $50 to get certified and is much cheaper than hiring a JP for a couple hundred dollars (or more!) Plus, it is more meaningful to have someone you know or someone who is close to you overlooking the ceremony♥
A friend of mine loves to do hair on the side. A simple up-do at a salon can start at $80 and only goes up from there. That is a huge burden to your bridal party (or to you) to pay for. Your bridal party has so much other things they are responsible for paying for so anything to save them money, makes them that much happier with you! With having a friend who likes to do hair, it cut our hair costs by more than half simply because I did not use a salon. She was more than happy to spend the morning with me and my bridal party and then was a guest at my wedding as well so I had back up in case I lost a bobby pin, my hair fell flat, or I needed to be hair sprayed. Total convenience factor!
I was able to find a good friend of mine who runs a party planning business on the side (and I never even knew!) called The Party Buzz (please “like” her on Facebook just because she deserves it♥ ) and she created my name cards, made my bouquet, and my favors for a fraction of the cost that a normal “wedding” vendor would have charged! She does amazing work. It is all handmade, it can be tailored to your theme or your colors. And, they were absolutely stunning!
A lot of the items bought for my wedding (and for making the stuff needed for my wedding) came from the craft stores. Something that you may not know- Craft stores take competitors coupons! That means that Michael’s takes Jo-Ann coupons, Jo-Ann’s takes AC Moore, AC Moore takes Michael’s coupons or any which way you can split it which adds up to even greater savings. The only store exempt from this is Hobby Lobby 🙁 Boo.
I had done a coupon class and one of the ladies had let me know her husband was a DJ. We thought we had already had a DJ but gave a call anyway. Everyone that we called simply spoke to us on the phone and asked us to put a check or money order in the mail and they would see us the day of our wedding. We called another DJ and they said the same thing so we assumed that is how you book a DJ. That was until I gave CnT Entertainment a call. I could not have asked for a better referral! Carlos sat with me and went over every detail, gave me ideas, listened to my ideas and what I wanted and he made it ALL happen! Not once, not twice, not three times, but at least four times (for multiple hours) until everything was just the way I wanted it to be! (He might think I am crazy. Just a little bit) They worked with me on the price and my outcome was still AMAZING! My guests still talk about how good he is and always ask for his info. He commanded the room like a boss (and his booth was the coolest ever!) I have to give a big shout of to CnT Entertainment for making my wedding memorable ♥
I wish I could find a full pic of his booth but it is glowing behind him! (And, it changes colors. What?! 🙂
As a wedding present, a friend of mine knew someone who has photo-booths! Total score! She was able to get a deal for being friends with him and she passed that on to me. My friends and family had an absolute blast in the photo-booth and I had hundreds upon hundreds of photos to come home to and laugh at! (He gave me a USB drive at the end of wedding with all of he photos!) ShowStopper Entertainment had one of the best photo-booths I had seen! I had attending tons of Bridal fairs (do you know they give out free cake?!) and played in most of the photo-booths but ShowStopper Entertainment came with way more props than I could have ever imagined. And, they were separated and neat. Instead of having a big ole’ box of stuff to dig through, everything was neatly organized. That makes a huge difference to people! We stuffed about 10 people in to that photo-booth! Many of them give you a limit and all ShowStopper Entertainment cared about was everyone having fun! From the kids to the adults, (even the waitstaff!) all had their photos taken and as soon as they were done, they got a copy of their photos to take home with them. We all had a blast! Totally recommend 🙂
When I put out my S.O.S. on social media, I really did not have a clue what I needed or wanted. Pinterest had made me wedding crazy and at that point, I really only knew of the larger vendors. Then, I got a message from a friend of a friend. She made chalkboards. I thought that was pretty cool but did not really know what to expect. I met with her and she was super sweet and accommodating. She offered to do 2 large chalkboards for me for my menu and my wedding program (we had decided to save a tree). Months went by and then it was a few weeks before my wedding when I met back up with Molly. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but was just happy that she had done some work for me. When I walked over to her car and she pulled out the first chalk board, I was blown away. I was really expecting chalk. Like what I use on my driveway with my daughter and the fact that she made something so beautiful was just breathtaking. It is seriously something you have to see to actually believe that someone could actually make something like this! (She can ship these to you so she is more than just a local vendor!! Make sure to check her out at TheGroundsCollective.com)
Then, comes the make up! I am sure we all have that one friend who loves to play around with her make up. Or, a friend who sells Mary Kay. They have got to know how to apply make up so shoot them a message and ask! I was lucky enough to have a professional make up artist as a friend that I had worked with before (I was clueless about make up until she came over and taught me). I had to have her for my wedding. I had tried many other make up artists and just did not like them as much as I loved Pam. I knew she knew me and knew what I wanted. (That is another good thing about using a friend. They know you and your style and will make you comfortable!) It got so bad that my Maid of Honor even tried to do my make up and I just had to have Pam from KissAndMakeUp. Pam had prior engagements which she cancelled to come over. And, it was well worth it! Everybody loved her, she listened to everyone’s requests (she even answered all my mothers crazy questions LOL!) We all looked like ourselves, no one had a “cake” on their face and we were all recognizable. That’s what I loved the most!
Lastly, and of course most importantly, is the photographer. Your photographer will make or break your day because let me tell you- You will NOT remember most of your wedding. It goes by so fast that you probably don’t even have a chance to eat (I didn’t!) so it is the photographers job to get pictures to tell your story. And, mine did just that. Again, I used a friend! And, I am thankful I did! I was more comfortable spending my morning getting ready (and dressed) with someone that I knew rather than having a stranger photographing me getting in to my wedding dress (and without make up on!) The photos taken from my wedding are simply breathtaking. I was lucky enough to know Meghan from Don’t Blink Studios since high school and have already used her graphic design skills (yup, she is a Jill of all trades♥) for my business. She was able to capture moments that I was unaware had even happened. We have so much emotion in our photos and although we were unable to have a videographer, she truly made up for it. Her photos are breathtaking. Unreal. Gorgeous. One of a kind. The one thing you always seen so many of at a Bridal Fair is photographers. There are at least 10 at any fair you go to. But, you already have the power to find an amazing photographer at your fingertips simply by asking a simple question on social media. She offered, I grabbed her! And, I feel like I had the best photographer in the world and couldn’t be happier with the way my photos turned out. (The only complaint I have is that she made it that much harder to pick a small number of photos to have framed. LOL)
I hope that you were able to walk away a little less stressed out and that you really can have it all and still be on a very tight budget. If you have any other ideas, please feel free to Contact Me and I would be happy to update the post! Remember to share this with any brides to be (or husbands to be) to help alleviate some of their stress and keep some money in their pockets ♥