Many modern couples plan and pay for their own weddings. A major benefit of paying for your own wedding is that you get to have it exactly the way you want it. That said, if someone offers money, they have some say in how things are done. If you believe that someone would not have what you want at heart, do not accept money from them.
1. Prioritize: If you are planning a wedding on a limited budget, you are probably willing to accept the fact that you can’t have the top-of-the-line everything. Think about what is most important to you, and spend what it takes (within reason, of course) to get it. For me, the most important aspect was having delicious food. I was fortunate to have a reception venue that took care of all the food at a very reasonable price.
2. Time: If you have the luxury of time, take it. About one year should be sufficient to figure out what you want to do, look around and find the best deals.
3. Use your connections, and don’t be afraid to ask around, use social networks, etc. We found a friend of a friend who was an aspiring photographer, and he took our photos for a tip. He was mainly looking for experience to build his portfolio, so he gave us a CD afterward, and we could make whichever prints we wanted. We also found someone to DJ for a great price through a connection.
4. Budget EVERYTHING! Always find out how much something will be right away, and get it in writing. Send in the deposit (if required) ASAP. Doing so will enable the contract drafting process to begin, and from that point, everything is pretty much set in stone. Keep a spreadsheet and stick to your budget!
5. Get married in a small town. You will have a lot more trouble staying within budget in a big metropolitan city. Drive out to a charming smaller town and check out the area. You might be surprised by what you find!
6. Think outside the box. Want a beach wedding, but all the hotels are too expensive? How about renting a house on the beach? Looking for something with history, but the area tourist attractions are too expensive? Check with your local historical society to see if they can recommend anything that might be more affordable.
7. Don’t stress. We ended up with a blessing in disguise, so to speak. Just before it was time for me to order invitations (thank goodness I hadn’t already), my reception location plans crashed and burned. The company was bought out, and even though I paid the deposit and had a contract, they weren’t willing to keep the same prices for food and had procedures that were extremely strict and money-grubbing. Since I had to order invitations to get them out in time, but now had to find a new reception location, I was in a bit of a crunch for time. Fortunately, The American Legion was available, it was just renovated, so the room was lovely, it was considerably less expensive (both the rental and the food), and the food was delicious. As a bonus, the management was laid back, and we pretty much had free reign. It was perfect.
8. Don’t skimp on bridesmaids. I have heard of people not having bridesmaids and/or a wedding party to save time, hassle or money. Your bridesmaids are invaluable. You don’t need a truckload, just two-three should be fine. Your wedding dress may seriously limit your mobility (there is a lot of poofiness under it), and you would be surprised at what you might need help with. Aside from that, I don’t know what I would have done without my bridesmaids. There is no way I would have been able to do all the decorating and everything on time without them. They were so helpful with decorating and more than willing to do anything they could to help. I couldn’t have asked for better girls to stand by my side. That said, the wedding party does not have to be a big to-do. I didn’t pick out dresses, shoes or hairstyles for my bridesmaids. Our colors were red and black, so I just asked that they wore a plain black dress and plain black shoes. That was a nice and easy choice because every girl has a nice black dress, and if not, being in a wedding party is a great excuse to get one!
9. DIY is great. Don’t overdo it though. Have someone to keep you in check. My husband and my sister were these people for me. These people should have a decent grasp on your crafting abilities (or in my case, lack thereof), and be logical about time. Whatever you do, do not plan anything major the day before the wedding, and get help! My mom and I (mostly my mom) made chocolate covered pretzels as favors for our wedding, and they were a bit hit! Since I’m more computer savvy than craft savvy, I designed my own programs and had them copied at an office supply store for around $30.
10. Take advantage of sales. I noticed that January-March tend to be great times to buy anything wedding related since industries that depend on weddings are usually trying to clear inventory to make way for new merchandise. Sales are an awesome way to save money, but remember to stick with your budget and don’t buy impulsively. Just because something is cute and on sale does not mean you need it or will still want it later.