- 5 years ago
- Wedding: September 2013
I invented this game I play when shopping, where I try on clothes without looking at the price tags. I then determine how much I would pay for it, look at the tag, and if it’s under that amount I am good to go! As someone who never pays retail, I took the same approach to wedding-planning. People seem really interested when I talk about this, so I thought it would be helpful to post something for the bees.
Step 1: Ditch the dream wedding
In planning, I had a million vendors tell me that their service was the most important aspect of the wedding and that it was worth paying premium because “it’s my one special day.” What a load of crap. If I pulled out all the stops to have my dream wedding I would rent a private island and walk down the aisle with my groom Chris Hemsworth to a live acoustic by Sting. It’s a lot more affordable to build a wedding you love from the ground up than it is to finance your dream wedding.
Step 2: Determine your budget
Do this without looking at any averages, or asking other people. Just sit down and figure out how much you’re willing to spend on 12 hours. This number can change later if it needs to.
Step 3: Make a list of needs and wants
The thing about wedding sites is that they tell you that you need lots of things that you really don’t. Wedding centerpieces, guestbooks, favors, wedding dresses, photographers, videographers, and so on all didn’t exist 200 years ago. If you want them, that’s cool, but don’t kid yourself into thinking they’re essential. Rank them in order of priority.
Step 4: Figure out how much you’ll pay for what
It blew my mind when I started researching SF prices and found that the average photographer cost $4k. For me, it didn’t matter whether most brides pay $4k or $400k, since either would blow my budget. So I decided what photography was worth to me: $500. I decided what a live pianist was worth to me: $100. I decided how much I’d feel comfortable spending on a dress I could only wear once: <$400. And so on… The only thing I paid retail for was a caterer to set up, serve food and drinks, and break down everything.
Step 5: Think outside the box
You can get away spending less pretty easily. Start at the beginning of your list of priorities and work downward, researching competitive prices until you find the best one within your range.
How did I get the photographer and pianist? I posted ads on Craigslist and was flooded by responses. The vendors I selected were talented, professional, and I am very happy with the results.
I found my venue on Yelp and they charged practically nothing for Sunday weddings. My cake came from a Gilt deal, and the DJ from Groupon. The dress was from a bridal consignment store. Rather than hiring a makeup artist/hair stylist, I donated money during a fundraiser and got a spa party at Aveda. These were all quality products/services- just not at retail price.
Step 6: Splurge where it counts
The best way to look not-cheap is to spend money where it’s the most visable. I served only craft beers and top shelf liquor. This was possible because I ordered it through Bevmo instead of the caterer. The wine came from Grocery Outlet and cost $4/bottle instead of the normal $14.
I spent more on wholesale flowers than on my dress, because having flowers everywhere was important to me (and nice ones, not cheap mums or carnations).
Step 7: Profit
No one at my wedding (except my mom) had a clue that we spent as little as we did.
Ask me specifics about how to get wedding things for cheaper! I got great deals on literally everything for my wedding.