Fellow Luncher @djevoke has asked a question about wedding planning that I recently answered and now I'm turning it into a full review!
Our wedding day was August 12, 2006. The only thing that's changed since then, perhaps, is that even more brides are on a budget today. Honestly, if we were to do our wedding over again, I think we would have just had a fancy pic nic instead of this formal, traditional, banquet type thing. I love weddings! I wanted everything to be perfect, and it was, especially the ceremony. But I still think we could have cut more corners and saved even more money that we so badly needed a year later for a down payment on a house.
We spent a total of about $10,000 on everything, food included.
I would have skipped the limo and just borrowed a nice car from friends or relatives.
I would have skipped renting real linens and glasses.
Hiring a college student photographer with a good eye worked perfectly for us, we love our photos and only spent $300 on that!
My dress was worth it, sort of. It came to $800 with alterations, I loved it, I felt like a princess and that's what I always envisioned. Though I am not sentimental and now I'm trying to sell it!
The venue was a total steal for us. We rented a hall at a local church by the ocean in an affluent neighborhood. It was only recently build, brand new commercial kitchen, huge windows, the amount of natural light made all the difference in how the entire wedding reception felt. The rental fee was $250! The best deal ever!
I would have had just one bridesmaid/groomsman. Yes, it is fun to have all of your girl friends. But they don't have to be part of the wedding party to have fun with you at the wedding. I would have just picked my best friend/cousin and my husband would have his brother.
We spent $600 on flowers (brides bouquet, bridesmaids, boutonniers for the guys, two large bouquets for the ceremony that we then moved to the reception, and one low bouquet that was at the candle lighting/in front of us at reception) . Granted they were gorgeous and it was one of the cheapest deals we found at the time. Then later at a friends wedding I found out they spent about $250 on the same amount of flowers and they got them at the grocery store! I didn't know they do special occasion arrangements!
The money I spent at IKEA for decorating was a great deal. We just bought a bunch of the rice paper lamps and placed them in a design I thought up (I'm an Interior Designer by profession and I was inspired by the lighting design class I took the previous year). This set the mood for the ceremony, everyone loved it, and it was something nobody has ever done among my friends/relatives.
The one thing I immensely regret? Not getting a videographer! What were we thinking?! Of course it is all about what's important to the two of you. Something that was a must have for me might not be so important to you.
So what are my tips for a visually, emotionally, and financially successful wedding? Here they are:
Get a contract from all your vendors, have everything in writing (we didn't get one from the caterer who was an acquaintance of my parents, he gave us a different price tag at the time of payment).
Pick striking colors that set the mood you envision. Our blue and yellow were perfect for our day!
Either pick a venue that serves as decorations itself, or a simple one that can be adorned - don't do both.
Enlist in talented friends, family, colleagues for entertainment/music, photography, videography, cake, flowers, hair, alterations, etc.
Skimp on wedding day jewelry. I don't mean skimping on what you wear but on what you spend. I spent a total of about $40 on all of it, nobody could possibly tell what was real or fake and it looked great. Oh, and if you wear too much bling - it just might compete with you! Keep it simple, you are the star, not your jewelry.
Make your own invitations. Even if you have a large guest list (we had 160), this isn't that complicated and will save a ton. We paid about $70 for all our invitations and assembled them with the help of a good printer and my bridesmaids. They were beautiful and simple. Common, it's just a piece of paper, it isn't nearly as important as some other things!
Do your own make up. I did mine, it doesn't take a scientist. Just make sure you try your look before the actual day. One thing I really dislike is when the bride has so much make up on she is barely recognizable, that's just ugly in my opinion. You don't need a ton of makeup to be beautiful, no matter what size dress you wear.
Ask someone to move the flowers from the ceremony to reception, that way you don't need to buy as many.
Delegate anything and everything for the wedding day so you don't need to be thinking about anything.
Take lots of photos of just you in the wedding gown, you will wish you had them later (like when you want to sell it or print a portrait).
Get a good night's sleep before the wedding day. Priceless.
The day of the wedding, relax, laugh at the wrong flowers, crooked cake, and late limo. Enjoy this very short special day, but most importantly the life you have ahead of you together.