- 5 years ago
- Wedding: February 2013
Since I joined this site just last week, I have felt SOOOOO thankful for the advice, and support that I have received from all of you brides!! Last night I had a dream that I made a post sharing with all of you the ins and outs of my budget-wedding planning process. So I thought I better actually do that!
First: Let me give you a background on myself
In February I will be having my first (and only J wedding)- however, I have had the great honor to be the “bride” at many formal functions which were thrown in my honor, many of which I served on the planning committees etc, so this isn’t my first rodeo and I’ve picked up a lot of useful skills. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to serve as Miss Washington 2011, and with this position comes many wonderful opportunities. I have attend dozens of galas, celebrity events, auctions, banquets etc. I’ve done photo-shoots, runway events, promotional videos, commercials etc. and through all of those events I was able to wear dozens of (very expensive) gowns and jewelry, and work with the top in the industry for hair and makeup (I’ve probably had over 60 updos just this past year). I have gone through “wedding diets” for things like the Miss America pageant, And through it all, I’ve learned and used beauty secrets that you probably wouldn’t believe.- I’m telling you all of this because as you read below I want you to understand that I have champagne taste on a beer budget, and although I am securing things for my wedding at extreme discounts, these items are not in the slightest bit “cheap.” The Miss Washington Organization is a nonprofit and we rely on the support of sponsors. A Large part of my job was pitching our organization to sponsors J. Now that it’s time to plan my own wedding (and pay for it without a dime of financial support from my family -If you want to know more about this please feel free to read my story at http://www.brittneyhenry.org) and to throw a day that will EXCEED the glamour of my prior experiences, I am applying everything that I have learned from my “pageant life” to planning and producing a $75,000 wedding on a $17,000 budget. Here is how I’m doing it.
What do I have to “trade” with. Step one, identify anything that you are GOOD at. Doesn’t matter what it is just make a list- and for me I included my fiancé’s skills as well, and also kept my Maid/Matron of Honor in the back of my head.
– I can film, create and edit videos like a professional using iMovie
– I’ve played violin for 16 years
– I consider myself an expert in all pageant fields
– Public speaking is def a strength of mine
– I have a large social media following and have consulted, ran, created many social media pages for nonprofits.
– I was a retail manger for a few years and have a good understanding of the retail/fashion industry
– Is a scratch golfer (you’d be surprised how many MEN want to improve their golf games with a lesson)
– Has played cello for 16 years
– Scored in the 99% percentile on his GMAT (= unmatched verbal and math skills)
The beautiful wedding cake that I want would run approx. $400. I also want a surprise groom’s cake as a gift to my Fiancé which will run for approx. $200. After a long search I found a fabulous baker who I meant at a Miss Washington event. She has a daughter who wants to compete in pageants and needs some help with her paperwork (LOTS OF PAPERWORK in pageants), her interview, and some overall consulting. I worked out a deal with the baker that my sister/MOH and myself would do a few sessions working with her daughter (pageant skills) , and my fiancé will edit all of her paperwork (those great verbal/writing skills). As a thank you, she is providing both of my cakes at no cost and even offered to deliver them. (I’d like to make a side note that I don’t believe in charging money for “pageant coaching” EVER. And I don’t personally support children competing in pageants. The baker’s daughter is 19.)
In Pageants one of the most important things to me was having a dress that nobody else had. My wedding dress needed to not only be that, but have enough WOW factor to even impress me. I found the dress of my dreams it was a Jim Hjelm and ran for over $5,000. Obviously I couldn’t afford it so I sent the pictures of the dress to a dress maker in China who has made several pageant gowns for me in the past. I made changes to the dress design to make it truly an original design and I paid $200 for the dress and a matching lace-trimmed cathedral length veil. I am super indecisive and when the dress arrived, it was beautiful but I had changed my VISION on what I wanted to wear for my wedding day lol. I sold the dress on ebay for $350. ( I HAD to upsell it because the price was so low that people kept thinking it was a scam or that something was wrong with it lol!) So the moral of this story is that designer labels are not necessary. I COULD have had the dress for $200 but I changed my mind.
I talked to the super nice owner of a small wedding shop and showed her some of my work on video blogs. Social media is SUPER important to small businesses right now and I offered to produce a little video for her store that she could use on their social media sites (my video editing skills and social media knowledge). In return she is letting me purchase my accessories at whole sale pricing. Retail stores mark up their prices double for whatever they bought them at. So she’s not losing any money by doing this, she’s just not making a profit (knowledge of retail sales industry).
This can be VERY expensive but I really wanted real flowers at the wedding. With a little bit of research calling around and asking various venues in the area who they thought had the most beautiful flowers, one venue told me that THE most incredible flowers that they had ever seen came from the WOMEN’S PRISON. I found out that the Women’s prison- about an hour from where I live- has a floral-resources program. They teach the inmates floral design as a skill to seek employment after their release. ( I know this sounds kind of crazy but most of these women are incarcerated for non-violent crimes and have voluntarily joined this program as a means to really change their lives around). They have a large number of women in this class and they are graded on their work. The program is overseen by a retired flower shop owner with more than 3o years in the business. So instead of a few people putting together all of my bouquets and centerpieces, one person will be assigned to EACH flower arrangement = quality work. I pay only the cost of the flowers at whole sale. The director told me that for an entire wedding worth of flowers, the average bride/groom pay $500. I have 6 bridesmaids, 8 groomsmen, 16 table centerpieces, 7 cocktail tables, 4 other tables, and aisle flowers. There are many floral design schools and programs that do this.
Since we all swim in the same friend-pool, three of my groomsmen have been in two other weddings already this year. They told me that the first tux rental ran approx. $250 when all was said and done, and the second wedding’s tux rental was $300. I’m not trying to make my bridal party go bankrupt and besides, I don’t like the look of tuxes anyway. Men’s Warehouse frequently has by-one-get-one sales on suits. I called the manager and told her that I needed 9 suits (odd number wouldn’t work for the standard BOGO) she agreed to give me 50% off of the total instead of the BOGO. I found the dark grey, three-piece suits that I loved priced way cheaper at Nordstrom rack. I told the manager and she lowered the price to match Nordstrom Rack (knowledge of retail sales business). We purchased 9 three piece grey suits, 9 addition sweater vests, and 9 white button up shirts for $190 each with tax. I ordered samples from solidcolorneckties.com of my wedding colors and then purchased 9 bowties and 9 pocket squares for $5 each and free shipping. TOTAL, each of my groomsmen are getting a three piece suit, a sweater vest, a white shirt, a bow tie, and a pocket square for $200 and they get to KEEP it.
I found my venue and fell in love with it when I first stepped foot there. It is for the most part, an all-inclusive venue-and it was way out of my budget. I noticed that the venue didn’t have a twitter, and had hardly any Facebook likes. I showed them some of the fb sites that I manage and offered my services (social media knowledge). In exchange for creating a new Facebook page, a twitter, and teaching their employees a social media workshop, they have paid for my DJ, gave me 10 additional guests (were paying approx. $150 guests) and added an additional passed appetizer during our cocktail hour. I estimate that this saved me somewhere around $5,000. In addition to that, we built such a great professional relationship with the venue and it’s owners, that they referred us to their preferred videographer (See below)
The videographer and the venue worked out a deal where the Videographer is filming our wedding in exchange for me filming a promotional video (using those public speaking skills) for their website, and also the venue using our wedding video to promote itself on their new social media pages (Social media skills).
My best friend’s sister got married this summer. Like many brides, her budget only allowed for either a photographer or a videographer and they chose photos. I knew she was upset about this and I offered to film her wedding and produce a little highlight reel (I am NOT a professional videographer and I just used my little hand held bloggie). She was so thrilled with my work that as a thank you so gave me all of her vases and leftover candles! (video editing skills)
While I was filming that wedding mentioned above, I worked closely with the photographer. She was getting paid $3500 to shoot that wedding. I got to see the proofs because I needed some of those still pictures to create the highlight reel. They were BREATHTAKING, and I KNEW I had to have this photographer. A little facebook investigating told me that she was engaged. I contacted her with a three-prong bargain. “My fiancé and I play in a classical string trio- we’ve done dozens of weddings and could play in yours…would you be willing to trade services?” well typically our string trio runs about $1000. To make up the difference I asked her for a $500 discount in exchange for me paying her upfront IN CASH. Paying in Cash allows you to barter much easier, and is very valuable to independent vendors.
I am currently working on dozens of other similar deals, trades, barters etc.
To sum this all up here is my advice:
- Identify any skill that you have that could potentially be something to trade/bargain for
- Cash is powerful in the bartering business
- Don’t be afraid to ask!
I hope this was helpful for a few people! I didn’t include any photographs because I don’t want anything leaked on the web. I also didn’t include the names of my vendors because I didn’t ask their permission about sharing our “deals” in this post and didn’t want to cause any problems for them.