Congrats on the engagement!!
My Fiance are also footing the bill for our wedding/reception ourselves, and I put us on a $5,000 budget. I just don’t want to blow all our hard work in saving for the past 11 years together for one day. What I did before I started looking into anything was to write out a budget, and then create an xcel tracking spreadsheet. I divided everything into categories (Ceremony, Reception, Attire, Cake, Flowers, etc). Witin each category I listed the individual items. I created a budget amount for each category based on the Typical % of your overall budget that normally goes to that category (taken from sources online, wedding planning books). What I found was:
Ceremony 5%, Attire 10%, Photography 9%, Videography 5%, Stationary 4%, Reception 35%, Music 5%, Bakery 2%, Flowers 6%, Decorations 3%, Transportaion 2%, Rental items 3%, Gifts 3%, Parties 4%, Misc (license, newspaper announce, etc) 4%. If you run these #’s you will probably be overwhelmed like I was that some of your categories seem to only have pennies to spend…but don’t freak out…get creative.
After seeing these numbers in black and white it helped me prioritize what we could do without to put that $$ back into another category that is more important (For example, we threw out the transportation, no limo for us, we are not hiring a videographer, we are not throwing an engagement party or any other party pre-wedding that we are paying for). I then re-organized that ‘leftover’ money into the categories that were at the top of my priority list (photography, attire, reception). Doing this gives you a GREAT guideline to work within, and really helped me to keep $$’s in my head when I was planning, so that I didn’t blow the budet.
Now, onto how to keep costs within the budet #’s. I 100% agree with the brides that already posted on looking into resturaunts for the reception. We are hosting our reception at a local italian resturant on a Sunday evening. Since they are normally closed on Sundays, there is no fee to rent the space. You will find this with a lot of eateries that are closed on Sundays or Mondays. If you are willing to skip the traditional Saturday wedding, you can save $$’s on the reception venue going this route. Most will just have a minimum dollar amount they want you to guarantee. Shop around to find one that is reasonable and don’t forget the power of negotiation. Also this takes out the need for riduculously up charged catering, and bar service at a traditional venue. I also agree 100% with doing a hybrid of a open/cash bar. We are just providing a couple of kegs and four cases of wine, after that our family and friends are on their own…and contrary to some people’s beliefs, they are fine with that, they are there to celebrate our love for one another. A Resturant setting also can eliminate the need for decoration at the reception site and floral at the reception site. Our venue has single rose and candle centerpieces normally, and that is just fine with us! They also have nice linens, so that gets rid of that rental need. It also eliminates the need for table/chair rental that you would run into at a hall.
Next, figure out what you can DIY or halfway DIY. Etsy.com is a great site that offers tools for DIY’ing invites, and also great prices on pre-done invites. I found great things there for our stationary. We also decided to work with family to make our own cakes, HUGE savings… Can you say FREE other than the butter and eggs. I bought off the rack for my wedding gown, which got me into an extraordinary dress for minimal $$’s. Then I found a private, local seamstress to do my alterations. For my veil, I ebay’d it. And for my accessories and shoes… I have told myself that I can only buy it if it is on sale, from the stores I normally shop at.
We did splurge on photography, as it is my #1 prioirty, and on the band for the reception. All in all, I am only ending up over in the photo, music, and reception categories…but all in all am going to wind up right around my mark since I excluded things that weren’t that important to me.
Sorry for the long post, but I totally feel you…and You can totally do this!!!