I haven’t actually shared my news with all my readers, but as you can tell from my previous post, I recently got engaged. With my puppy, figure skating, and wedding planning, I have found it increasingly difficult to stay on track with regular posts. However, I have decided to help out other brides with their own wedding planning. So, without further ado, here’s my next post! (I will continue to update it as I go along. My wedding isn’t until September 2018!)
How to Save Money Planning a Wedding
You’ve gotten engaged! Congratulations! If you haven’t already read my post on How to Have a Zen Engagement, I highly recommend that you do so! I believe that the steps and advice there is crucial to keeping yourself sane and to avoiding “bridezilla” mode. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
One thing I do recommend before beginning any of these steps is getting a notebook/binder/folder where you can store ALL wedding related materials.
Decide on your budget for your dress. How much are YOU willing to pay for a dress that you’ll only wear ONCE in your life? Once you’ve decided on that, write it down in your notebook or on WeddingWire and stick to it! (To get info about WeddingWire, please scroll down to the end of this post).
Before going in to try on dresses, I knew that I wanted to spend between $500-$1000 on my dress. If I could find something cheaper, great! $1000 was pushing it, too, but I decided that for the right dress, it would be worth it.
Make appointments to look and try on dresses. Some women go to a few different shops before they find THE dress. I looked online at different wedding shops and one of them just happened to have a sale going on for the weekend, so I immediately booked an appointment. I saved over $200 on my dress. Including tax, I only spent $52 over my budget, but it was totally worth it. They didn’t have my dress in stock, especially because I needed a petite and I didn’t want the train, so they had to order it for me. It took about three months for my dress to come in, which is why I recommend looking for a dress FIRST.
Sit down with your fiance to discuss the budget for your ENTIRE wedding. That includes photographers, videographers, caterers, cake, florist, etc. Don’t forget to talk about the things that are absolutely necessary for your wedding. Example: do you really need to get married at the most expensive venue in town when you can’t even afford an $800 wedding dress?
My fiance and I didn’t know how much venues would cost, so we looked online at some random venues just to get an idea. Once we did that, we were able to discuss how much we could afford and were willing to spend on the venue itself. I wrote down the budget in my wedding folder.
Find a wedding checklist to keep yourself organized. You can find these online. I got mine from the Wedding Wire app and printed it out as well. Don’t forget to enter in your budget in the app or write it down in your wedding folder. (Keeping things together will save you a lot of headaches).
Talk to your fiance about WHERE you want to get married and start looking ASAP! Venues book quickly and also require a deposit. Go for something that you both like that’s within budget, don’t settle for something that’s cheap but looks shabby just for the sake of price. It’s better to spend a bit more on the venue itself and cut costs elsewhere. You both need to be happy about WHERE you’re getting married!
Now that you and your fiance have a venue budget and know where you want to get married (inside vs. outside, getaway vs. local, etc.), you can start looking online for venues that you like and that are within your budget, or a tad bit more. Start emailing them to inquire about their availability during the dates that you and your fiance agreed on.
My fiance and I looked at four places. Two were golf courses, and two were tents. We immediately made up a spreadsheet in Google Docs (we shared the document) where we wrote down the places we visited and uploaded pictures we took as well as some information such as cost and distance. We also listed what we liked and didn’t like. If the venues gave us paper information, I stored it in the wedding folder so we could look at them again later.
Once you’ve finished looking at venues, you and your future hubby can sit down and look at all the data again. Compare all the places that you’ve gone to and discuss which ones you liked and didn’t like. Start narrowing down the venues until you have two to pick from. Don’t rush into a decision either, take time to really think about it.
For my fiance and I, we looked at a couple more places after we saw one we really liked. Then we sat down and looked at all the places and prices. We kept circling back to the one we both really liked, especially the privacy, location, and the fact that the entire wedding party had a place to stay the night before and the night of the wedding on the property was also a huge bonus for us.
BOOK THE VENUE! Woo hoo! Remember to read the contract thoroughly before you actually sign it. If there are words or phrases that you or your fiance don’t understand, ask for clarification of the terms, and ask for them in writing. If you agree to the deposit and the following installments, sign the contract and break out some champagne. Looking for venues isn’t easy, but you finally booked one!
I literally emailed more than twenty venues and 85% of them were booked on both days that we chose to get married. It took about a week for me to finally get to the venues that were still available. Overall, the whole process of emailing, scheduling, and looking at venues took about a month.
Start researching for your wedding. All venues are different and some include catering, or decorations, etc. For example, my venue includes catering, so I don’t have to worry about it, except for cake. Go through the same process for all venue related items: catering, cake, decorations, rentals, alcohol, etc. It’s also important to get wedding insurance as well in case something happens. Better safe than sorry!
BEFORE you start looking at cake and decoration rentals/ buying your own decorations, you really need to think about the theme and colors of your wedding. What’s the season? What’s the style of your wedding: classical, vintage, rustic, etc*? What are your wedding colors? This will help you narrow down decorations. Once you decide what theme/colors you want, go on Pinterest and create a board for decorations and one for cake designs. Begin pinning some ideas that you like on your boards so you can show the decoration company what you are looking for. You can also send pictures of your cakes to the cake designers and get quotes for something similar.
Our venue provided us with a list of recommended vendors and the lady gave us the name of the company that she deals with directly for decorations. We didn’t have a choice on the company for decorations, but for cake, DJ, and everything else (except catering), we are able to choose.
When you look at catering, cake, etc. you go through a similar process of looking for venues. You have to find a place within your budget, that you like, and that’s available on the day you’re getting married. Go for as many tastings as you need before you make final decisions. If you have a bunch of places, you can make another spreadsheet for each type: cake, catering, etc. Go through the pros and cons and narrow down your selections.
* Don’t know what these terms even mean? The WeddingWire app has a quiz you can take.
Choose an officiant. Who is going to marry you? Is it someone you know like a family friend, or a pastor/priest at your church? Find out how much it will cost for someone to marry you and look at your budget again. you may have to shuffle your budget around depending on whether or not someone is charging you or doing it for free.
Is all this budget stuff making your head spin? Don’t like the layout of it in WeddingWire? No problem! I created my own spreadsheet to keep track of our budget vs. what we are actually spending. It makes things so much easier. On top of that, you can create a spreadsheet in GoogleDocs and share with your S.O.
Photographers and Videographers. Much like venues and venue-related vendors, you have to find the right photographer. Remember your budget and look around at the ones that you like. You need to find a photographer whose style you like. By style, I mean their photography style. What kind of poses do the couples do, what is the editing style like? What are the colors like, vibrant, faded, or clean/fresh?
This was an area that I had A LOT of trouble with. My fiance didn’t want to spend over $1000, but he didn’t realize that $1000 is actually affordable and the rate that most photographers charge. There’s a LOT of work behind photography that people don’t realize. I knew that it was going to be next to impossible to find someone who charged less for the quality I wanted.
I spent over two months looking at photographers. The ones that I really liked were way over budget, so I kept their information only so I could compare their style with other photographers. Unfortunately, I’m really picky when it comes to photography, especially since I used to model and I am an (amateur) photographer. I have my own particular taste in the finished product and none of the photographers that were available or within (my fiance’s) budget came even CLOSE to what I was looking for. I knew that we were going to have to spend a bit extra here and cut costs somewhere else.
It wasn’t until December that a coworker asked me how the wedding planning was going that I mentioned I couldn’t find a photographer that I liked. She recommended one that she had taken a session with and showed me her Instagram account. I only saw the first two photos and I nearly spilled my tea all over myself in excitement. She was EXACTLY what I was looking for! I followed her Instagram account and immediately emailed her asking if she was available and interested in photographing our wedding. Within a week we booked her.
Most photographers that I looked at charged $1,000 for only a few hours, but our photographer’s rates included an engagement session AND 6.5 hours of coverage. Now THAT’S more like it. Plus, her photography skill is spectacular! (There are NO affiliate links in this post).
<<Want to read more? Steps 11-16 are in another post: How to Save Money Planning a Wedding Part 2>>
About Wedding Wire:
It’s a FREE app that you can use, also online for desktop. It’s used in 14 different countries including Canada, the U.S.A, and Spain. For Canada, go to WeddingWire.Ca and for the U.S.A: WeddingWire.com
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