1. Look into prom or bridesmaids dresses as your wedding dress!
a. Prom stores – I found my wedding dress at Deb. I wasn’t looking for my dress there, but I was shopping with my friend at the mall & I knew that was the dress I wanted. It was technically a prom dress, but it looked wedding-ish to me. It was $120 & fit me perfectly!
b. Make sure it already fits – Keep in mind that you’ll have to pay for alterations in addition to your dress price (unless it fits you perfectly as-is). Something I wasn’t even anticipating when I went into the bridal dress shops. I found a dress on clearance for $200 but I would need to spend an additional $250 for alterations. That’s more than the dress itself! I’m glad I went with the Prom dress :).
c. Make sure you really do want your dress before you buy it. So many brides purchase multiple dresses because they buy a dress based on what their friends/family/salesperson says, try it on again & don’t like it. My advice? Don’t rush! Don’t be afraid to go back to the store alone, or with another person. If you feel pressure, go back later. You may save yourself a few hundred bucks!
2. Use shoes you already own… they fit, they’re comfy & no extra money spent!
Unless you have a short dress, no one will notice your shoes. I personally love it when brides wear non-wedding shoes under their dress! My advice? Use shoes you already own! I found my shoes at a consignment store & bought them just because I liked them about a year before my wedding. They were wedges & had little sunflowers on them, which matched my theme. You don’t have to have plain white or ivory shoes; you can have fun & add a little color. Also, using your own shoes means you won’t have to worry about blisters or sore feet from new shoes!
3. Make your own invites/save the dates, or get DIY ones!
a. Make your own invites. We created our own Save The Dates using our engagement pictures & Adobe Photoshop, however there are free programs you can find online for editing, such as Picasa. We got to create our Save the Dates exactly how we wanted them.
b. Utilize Facebook. We created a Facebook Event for the wedding, put in the details & sent it to who we wanted to come. It was our wedding e-invitation. You can also send out “real” invitations too, but the e-invitations would be fine.
c. Make them in postcard style! We also made “real” wedding invites on postcards. Postcards save you $ because you don’t have to buy envelopes & you save around 16 cents/ea just in postage.
4. Try flowers that never die (fake or paper ones)! I have always loved getting flowers, but they never lasted. Even with the greatest of quality and care, after a few weeks they went from vase to the trash. I love sunflowers, and was ecstatic to find very realistic looking sunflower bundles for $1 at the Dollar Tree. I bought flowers for my 3 bridesmaids bouquets & my bouquet plus extra flowers for decoration & best of all, they’d never die. Cost? $30!
I also bought vases at the Dollar Store to put the extra flowers in for decor. Vases similar to those, at Target were around $4/ea.
5. Consider this, to help your bridal party:
To help my bridesmaids, I let them chose their own dresses, with the condition that they be black with white. Two of my three bridesmaids already owned black & white dresses. The third one wanted a new dress anyway, so she picked one she liked & would wear again. Same with the groomsmen, they wore what they already had (for the most part).
Since all my bridesmaids had mix & match dresses, I bought them each a matching necklace (as their gift) so it would tie them all together. Kohl’s has amazing sales, often you can find 15% to 60% off their items, or buy 1 get 1 sales. Price? $25 for 3 necklaces.
6. Do your own makeup & hair
We all did our own makeup & hair on the wedding day too. We’ve all done our own hair & makeup for the majority of our lives & we were all confident we could do that on the wedding day. One of my bridesmaid’s mom helped her, so there was no cost involved for us. My mom is great with makeup & did some finishing touches for me, but other than that, we got ready ourselves, but together.
7. Find your vendors on craigslist: photographers that are up & coming are awesome. DJs are there, Bakers, etc…
Where did I turn to to find my 2nd photographer? Craigslist! I posted an ad on craigslist & got TONS of responses. One response was from a photography student at the local University whose work was phenomenal. He only charged us $150!!!
I will say the little splurge on your wedding you will want & remember is your photographer. You can find a great discount on a craigslist photographer, but it can be a gamble. I’ve seen great work come from craigslist photographers & I’ve also heard complaints. They’re going to be newer to the wedding field, so keep that in mind & meet with them first (ask to see an entire wedding they’ve photographed).
In addition to the wedding, see if your photography package includes an engagement set. This is good to do because it gives you a chance to work with the photographer before your wedding. Some photographers include this for free, others charge $100 or $200 or more just for this. We did a DIY route & took our own engagement photos. We set my camera up on a tripod & used the remote (you can use your camera’s timer instead). We had a date day at the park & had fun & took pictures. If your engagement photo shoot isn’t included with your photographer, you could always ask a friend to photograph the two of you.
8 . Friends are your friends :). Ask them to help. Most friends have an amazing talent that could help with your wedding. Also, family members too!
One of my best friends is a very good photographer & she offered to photograph my wedding as her gift to us. That’s like a $1000 free gift! Some of my friends are VERY crafty, they helped me with DIY. One of my friends offered to make me a veil, another friend made my garder belt & she did an AMAZING job! It doesn’t hurt to ask… if your friend has a talent, just ask if they could help you. Now, don’t make them do everything, but its a lifesaver with their help. Plus, it made things much more special :).
9. Have a Cake & punch (or tea/soda/coffee, etc) reception! ~OR~ a potluck!
My groom & I love Dr. Pepper. It is our soda of choice & all our friends & family know it. We wanted to incorporate Dr. Pepper into our wedding & rented a soda fountain. It was fun, unique & cost us around $25 to rent (including the soda)!
Mmm, cake! I love chocolate cake, he doesn’t. He loves white cake, me… not so much. We wanted to provide options for our guests (maybe, as well as for ourselves) & we opted for Costco cakes. We got 4 sheet cakes that were beautifully decorated, 2 chocolate & 2 white cake. It cost around $50 for all 4.
We also bought 300 paper plates & 300 forks & 300 napkins & 300 cups (yup, the Dollar Store again!)… it cost us around $30.
You could ask your family members to each bring a specific food item & have a potluck style wedding.
10. You can use your engagement ring as your wedding band, or if you have promise rings, you can use those.
For our ceremony, we exchanged our promise rings. They fit us perfectly & it meant a lot to exchange them with each other. We had planned to get our wedding bands during our honeymoon. We thought it would be more romantic & fun since we went out of the country for our honeymoon. However, nothing there fit us. I currently wear my engagement ring as my wedding band, it fits me so well & I love it & my fingers are really small so wearing 2 rings would bother them. We’ll upgrade my husband’s ring later, when we have the money.
11. Host a jewelry show, or buy your wedding jewelry from a friend who sells jewelry, or use jewelry you already own!
I helped host a jewerly show… all I did was open my home up to my friends. I got to choose who could come, so no random strangers were at my house. Because I opened up my house & the jeweler sold to those ladies, I got anything I wanted 30% off PLUS I got credit for jewerly. Chances are, you know someone who sells something, like Avon or Tupperware. Well, there are people who sell jewelry. Its an awesome company & they have great, high quality products with affordable prices. Allergic or sensitive to metals? 2 of my bridesmaids are extremly sensitive to metal & this didn’t affect them at all. You can find a local seller through Premier Designs.
12. Don’t buy tons of books/magazines, just ask for them!
Chances are, you have a friend who got married who got lots of wedding magazines & no longer needs them, or who could loan you some of hers. Or try craigslist! Post an ad asking for old wedding magazines or books & you’d be suprised at how many people are willing to help out. It is fun to get a few, but not necessary. Also check out your local library. My library offers a wide variety of magazines to the public. Get a wedding planning book, some places offer them for free. I got mine free when I signed up for StateFarm insurance at one of those bridal fairs I’ve been asking you to go to :). I got another one from my friend who was recently married.
13. Have fun, think ouside the box, what’s important/special to you & your groom but not a ‘typical wedding’ can make your wedding stand out & fun!!!!
Incorporate things you love into your wedding. We danced into our wedding. Why? Because we thought it was awesome & we also love how Jim & Pam (from the Office) get married. This was completely free & it was fun & everyone loved it! Do you love dancing? You could do that! Or you could do a choreographed dance at your reception. Fun things that are free that give your wedding a different feel & you get to express yourself too :).
14. If you don’t need it, don’t get it!
We went without favors because, most people don’t even notice, & the rest don’t always take them. I’ve been to quite a few weddings & most of them had TONS of favors leftover. Money that could have been spent elsewhere, or saved.
15. Book things early to get low prices, & get that pricing in the contract!
If you know the vendor you want, book them & get the pricing in the contract. I had one photographer I was very interested in for my wedding, she had photographed a friend of mine’s wedding & it was awesome. I checked her pricing later, & it went up about $700. I ended up going with a friend & loved her work. I just know pricing usually goes up, so book early (be sure you want them thou)!
16. Bridal Fairs! Go to Bridal fairs & enter in the contests they have. I won engagement pics, a value of $75 (I already had mine done, so I had them chose someone else). I also won a few hundred dollars off a certain DJ, but we had an ipod as our DJ. They had giveaways & prizes & if you went with certain vendors there, they gave you a really big discount!
17. Compare with others! If you get a price quote from someone, don’t stop there. Look around/ call around/ visit other vendors to see how much they’re charging. See if other places will match that pricing.
18. Negotiate! Feel free to negotiate pricing with your vendors! Worst thing that could happen is they say “no”.
19. Thrift stores! Goodwill, Ebay, Garage Sales, Salvation Army. We found our toasting glasses at a yard sale for 50 cents… new they’re around 20-40. I’ve seen tons of wedding things at thrift stores. Check em out!
20. Coupons! Retailmenot is a great website that gives coupon codes to stores. I use this site all the time, & its saved me hundreds.
21. Got sweet skills? Share ’em! Barter! Seriously, if you have a skill that you could share with others, ask your vendor if they would consider doing a partial trade. I offer that to clients (I’m also a photographer) & its awesome because its a win-win!