September 29, 2015

Our $2,500 Wedding

Hubby and I have been married just over a year now… we got married on July 4, 2014.  We joked that we picked a holiday so neither of us could forget the anniversary… but seriously.  Also – how fun is it to have an extra day off work and fireworks every single anniversary?! Score!

From the day we got engaged to the day of the wedding was 2 months and 3 days {yes, we are certifiably insane, thanks}.  We dated for about 4 months before getting engaged… I would not normally suggest that dating/marriage timeline {ha!} but that’s a story for another day.  We are both frugal people.  Our life goals encompass more than expensive wedding meals and a grand ballroom.  When we were planning the wedding, I read that the average couple spends something like $27,000 on their wedding these days.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!  That’s just not us.  We knew it wasn’t us to spend that kind of dough on one day and it wasn’t us to want some grand soiree.

We didn’t set a firm dollar amount budget for the wedding… Instead, we tried to keep everything as inexpensive as possible, while still ensuring the wedding experience we dreamed of.  If there was an item or activity we really loved, we were certainly willing to splurge on it.  If it wasn’t something that made us jump for joy {hello, custom printed napkins?} we gladly struck it from the list or found a frugal alternative.

I can’t tell you what we spent exactly - I tried to track every penny we spent on the wedding, but when you plan a wedding in 3 months, sometimes every penny doesn’t get tracked.  The total cost of the wedding, though, was under $2,500!  We also sold some of the décor items after the wedding and made a few hundred dollars back.  I think our out of pocket total was probably closer to $2,000.

Having a frugal wedding means that sometimes you have to think outside the box!  It also means you will be doing a LOT of the work yourself.  If you’re not comfortable planning, building, scheduling, ordering, etc… this may not be the route for you.  I’ve broken down our major expense categories and how we saved money in each.  The numbers in each category are rounded up.

ATTIRE {Total spent: $500}
I went to a couple of local bridal shops to try on wedding gowns.  Once I found the style I liked, I ordered the gown off eBay.  Someone had purchased it new, then never worn it.  I got a brand new dress for a fraction of the price!  Side note, I also ordered a few cheap {$50 or less} dresses on ebay, but my mom wanted me to have the slightly more expensive new dress {~$200}.  A local woman altered my dress so it fit perfectly.  I bought the guys’ ties at Kohl’s and Michael’s whole outfit at JC Penney.  The groomsmen all wore the tie we bought with jeans and plain dress shirts.  The bridesmaids each bought a navy blue dress from wherever they wanted.  We had a fairly casual wedding and I’m certainly not a matching-dresses-from-David’s-Bridal kind of bride.  I could have saved a little money here by not buying the cheaper dresses at first, but we still didn’t spend $500 total {and I ended up donating the first dresses locally}.

This was the morning of our wedding I believe.  Don't leave projects until the day of the wedding.
Seriously - what was I thinking?!
DÉCOR {Total spent: $200}
My mother was a SAINT with the décor.  We {and by “we”, I mean SHE} decorated hundreds of glass and tin containers to use as centerpieces and décor around the ceremony and reception.  I literally didn’t make a single one.  It was fantastic.  We bought lots of craft supplies at Hobby Lobby and off local buy/sell/trade sites and made just about everything.  The reception tables were covered with brown paper from Menard’s.  We used the glass and tin containers, added flameless candles and sat them EVERYWHERE.  I was also fortunate enough to borrow some wedding decor from one of my bridesmaids {who got married two weeks before we did}.

My mom and I made the invitations.  We used cardstock from Hobby Lobby.  I designed the invitations and inserts.  We used twine to tie the reception details to the main invitation.  To further save on money, we hand delivered all of the invitations we could.  Stamps are expensive, yo!

We went with local venues for both the ceremony and reception.  The ceremony was at our church.  We rented a local barn for the reception.  It was about a 10 minute drive from the church.

FOOD {$125}
One of the perks of the reception location was that they let us bring in our own food.  We planned our ceremony for 7:30pm so that we didn’t have to serve a meal at the reception.  Our immediate family made tons of desserts for the reception.  We also had several snacky foods to complete the salty and sweet spread.  Honestly, we weren’t missing anything by skipping the meal.  Really the only food products we bought were paper goods and beer.  Priorities.  {And you better believe those napkins were not monogrammed.}

My new{ish} sister-in-law Erin is a great photographer!  She took our engagement photos, then agreed to shoot the wedding.  We definitely saved money over a “professional” here and I loved that we were comfortable with her.  She was way more fun than a stranger!

I have to take a moment here and point out how much we did NOT do for our wedding.  We didn’t order/buy a wedding cake {a friend made it}.  We didn’t pay a calligrapher {a friend calligraph-ized our place cards}.  We didn’t pay a wedding planner/coordinator {I did all the planning and a friend was the day-of coordinator}.  We didn’t buy readymade décor {my mom and I made most of the décor ourselves}.  We didn’t hire musicians or a DJ {our family friends are so talented}.  I didn’t go to a beauty shop {a friend did my hair}.  I didn’t pay a make-up artist {holla to my Mary Kay lady/bestie/MOH}.  I didn’t buy an expensive bouquet {my photographer made my bouquet… year, she’s obviously uber talented at… just about everything}.  Can you see the trend here?  We were able to keep our wedding low budget ONLY through the immense help from our friends and family members!  If we didn’t get the chance to say it enough, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for making our day so special!

If I had our wedding to do over again, I would make a few tweaks.
-I would probably start the ceremony a little earlier than 7:30pm {6:30 maybe?}.  By the time we got pictures taken and got to the reception, it was pretty late.  We had planned to have live music at the reception, but ended up with just the DJ playing.  It was a great atmosphere, but I would have enjoyed more time at the reception.
-I would have started pictures earlier in the day.  I thought we were starting with plenty of time, but it ended up that we ran out of time and had to cut the time slot for Michael and I’s pictures alone together.  We got together with our photographer a few weeks after the wedding and took more pictures of just the two of us.  Still, it would have been great to have more photos of just the two of us that day.
-I would take more time off work the week of the wedding to get things ready.  I only took off the day of the wedding {a Friday}.  I should have taken AT LEAST another full day off work to get things ready.  There were little things that didn’t get done that would have been nice.

That being said, we made such great memories at our wedding!  More importantly, it was the start of our marriage.  Throughout our engagement {and even on the wedding day}, my mantra was “as long as we end the day married, nothing else matters”.  That really kept me focused on the important thing {MARRYING THIS STUD} and helped to minimize my stress levels… I mean, as much as any bride’s stress can be minimized.

I am so glad we didn’t do things “just because that’s what people do at weddings”.  We truly made the experience our own and I wouldn’t have it any other way!  We had some traditional elements and some very non-traditional ones.  It was a perfect combination of our personalities and truly ended up being the family-like atmosphere we wanted to share with our guests.

Looking back, I am so glad we were smart about our finances with the wedding!  Our marriage is so much more than a wedding – and I have such special memories from that day {ones that would not have been improved with designer ANYTHING}.

*Photo credits for the photography here goes to Erin Miller.*

No comments:

Post a Comment

Want to share your words of wisdom or reactions to our projects? We would love to hear from you!