Last month I announced how I got engaged and was super excited about it. I kind of dropped a ball with that post and mentioned we would be planning a wedding rapidly despite our debt and I would still try to have my dream day on a budget. Then I pretty much just left you guys hanging and scratching your heads.
Getting engaged and starting the planning process the week of was a lot for me to process but I wanted to prepare a series that would explain every step of my planning from a financial standpoint along with a little fun, since I do run a personal financed blog and all. Also, I think this new series will help others understand that you can have your dream wedding without spending $26,000.
I wanted to start things off by sharing our budget, what we’ve done so far, and what we plan to do to pull off our dream wedding day without overspending.
Again, Why We Aren’t Waiting to Get Married
- Lately I feel like I’ve been sacrificing everything. I want to do something now that makes me happy and I don’t want my debt to control that.
- I feel like a wedding is just a day, a marriage is supposed to last forever so we might as well do the planning quick and not drag everything out. Plus, it might end up costing more if we give ourselves too much time to plan.
How We Came up with Our Dream Wedding Day Budget
We both agreed that a realistic amount to shell out for this wedding would be $7,000 total which would mean $3,500 from each of us. This would represent how much money the both of us want to spend total. If family members want to help us out or cover an expense they can, but we want to pay for most of the wedding by ourselves.
We decided to split the venue between our parents, so we are paying half and our parents are splitting the other half four ways. Other than that, I believe we can budget properly and pay for everything else ourselves.
In order to come up with our budget of $7,000, we considered:
- Where we wanted to get married. (Getting married in the suburbs is way cheaper than doing it in the city)
- How many people we wanted to invite (Around 100)
- Our income and what we could afford to set aside each month
- What we really truly wanted at our wedding
Being Honest about What You Really Want
I want a nice ‘dream wedding’. Luckily, my dreams are not super luxurious and I’m willing to compromise and not attempt to have it all. I brought up doing a backyard wedding at my mom’s house and while we both agreed that might save money, we decided to go with an all-inclusive venue because it would be less stressful to have everything set up and coordinated for us.
What’s important to me and what I care about the most and would like to see/have at the wedding
- Our first song. We haven’t decided yet.
- Custom vows. We are both writers, so our vows should be interesting 🙂
- Booking a nice, spacious venue
- Providing a meal for everyone
- Getting to see all my friends and family members and share this experience with them
- Pretty centerpieces and decorations
- Gorgeous bouquets, whether they’re real or fake. I haven’ decided yet.
Things I don’t really care about that much or want
- Expensive engagement photos
- Save-the-date magnets and cards that are going to cost a pretty penny to order and ship and will probably just end up lost or in everyone’s trash a few months later. Maybe we can just do a save-the-date Facebook event, haha.
- Photos of myself getting ready for the ceremony and looking a hot mess. I may invite the photographer right before the ceremony start time to save money and avoid having to look back at any embarrassing photos.
- A $1,000 designer dress. I actually like fashion and looking nice, but never in a million years would I pay that much for a dress I’m only going to wear once. Who can tell if it’s designer anyway?!?
- Getting everyone drunk. No open bar over here…
- Having a huge fancy cake. We might even do cupcakes. Cake is cake. It looks beautiful but ultimately you eat it and it’s gone. Taste is more important than appearance to us.
By deciding what I want and don’t want and communicating those ideas to my whateveryouwantbabe type of fiancé, we can start to pinpoint a vision and clear plan for having a wedding with everything we want that still honors our budget.
Getting the Big Expenses Out of the Way
If you’re planning a wedding, I would recommend getting the largest expenses out of the way first, then trickling down to the smaller stuff. I am lucky that we quickly decided on a nice venue that was within our budget to secure the wedding date. We pretty much knew what we wanted and the price was right with this location so we quickly put 30% and will pay the rest up by March.
I love that it’s all inclusive, the food will be buffet style, there’s no surprises or stupid miscellaneous extras like a cake cutting fee, and we even get centerpieces with fresh flowers included in the package. We will do a cash bar package for now, seeing as the venue price nearly doubled when they totaled up how much the cash bar would cost for 5 hours.
Now that we’ve got the food and venue out of the way, I may start looking around at dresses because I know it can take months to order things and go through the alteration process. We are also on the lookout for affordable photographers and cake options.
A Small Win: $20 Engagement Photos
Initially, I wasn’t in favor of doing professional engagement photos. In all honesty, you can save a ton by asking a friend or family member to snap engagement shots, then having your photos printed yourself. I figured we might just borrow my sister’s DLSR camera, take some photos together and call it a day. Then, I noticed a Groupon for a professional outdoor photo shoot for just $20.
The normal rate, $125 for a 30-minute professional shoot would have been out of the question. But for $20 and a few print photos and a high-resolution digital image included, I figured we should jump on it. The photographer took multiple photos so I’m sure they will try to sell us more images but it still won’t cost much if we decided to buy anything additional. Plus, we don’t have to purchase all the images we want right this second. They will be stored online where we can order them anytime or when a sale comes up.
Overall, it was not a bad start to my frugal wedding planning.
More From the Series
If you’d like more specific tips and strategies to help you save money on your big day without sacrificing your values, I recently released a 50-page digital guide called Save Thousands on Your Dream Wedding and you can learn more about it here. My guide includes real money-saving strategies, resources you can utilize when shopping for even the tiniest details, the strategy I used to go on a $400 week-long honeymoon and more!
What are some things that you like to see at weddings and some things you think are just unnecessary? Did you do an open bar at your wedding or would you?
STOP Living Paycheck to Paycheck
You can't break free from the status quo when you're living like everyone else. Get one of the free spreadsheet tools I used to pay off $35,000 of debt quickly, build an emergency fund, and break the paycheck to paycheck cycle.