Katy Sez: My friend Vicky and her now husband had a five star wedding last weekend. There were Hawaiian dancers, amazing Hawaiian food, a band and a DJ, and she tells me it was all done on a budget! Of course, I wanted to know HOW, so she gave me and now you, the lowdown…
First of all Katy, I had a wonderful time this weekend and YOU saved me a ton of money. Having a friend who can coordinate day of, is invaluable– getting a coordinator or someone who knows how much everything could (notice, I didn’t say ’should’ b/c everyone’s should is different) cost is probably the first thing to saving money. (Katy, you know I will gladly repay you in-kind, so let me know when I can help!) Second, ironically I ran the same location scenarios on an excel spreadsheet that you’ve done here (including malibu house & restaurant). Unfortunately net-net, it is all about the same cost, so go for the location you love the most. The least expensive locations tend to be either hotel (b/c all rentals are included) or a park or beach owned by the city or county. I’d love to share what I did for my wedding if it’ll save others money, so this post might be long (deep breath) but here goes! 1) determine how much money you have to work with 2) figure out how you’re going to fund it (really fund it, not on plastic- don’t start your marriage on a fantasy) 3) write down ALL the possible costs that you might incur during your wedding (remember the little details like hotel room night-of, car to get you from one location to another, gifts for your bridesmaids, hair/makeup for you, your mom, girls… everything) and 4) prioritize which of these is most important to you, assigning each a budget. BTW- try to pay via a credit card that gives you $ back (but make sure you pay it off and don’t incur a finance charge!) For my wedding, I negotiated a flat minimum with the hotel, but made sure it included all tables, dinnerware, stages, chairs and dance floor (all that stuff adds up). I also negotiated in my wedding cake, hotel rooms for the night before and day-of. Since there was a hotel minimum to meet, my choice of entrees and absence of dessert (since there was wedding cake) allowed for premium cocktails, a groom’s cake, hors d’oeuvres and wine. I found my bridesmaid dresses at Loehmann’s and bought my veil ($17), Vera Wang shoes ($65) and flower girl’s dress on Ebay. I bought fabric and sewed the flower girl’s sash, to change the color to my color scheme. There’s no shame in low cost or used– it’s only 1 day and as long as it looks classy. In this case, all were new. My wedding dress is the 1 thing I badly wanted, so I paid full price… but I opened a credit card to get % off, bought it in Portland (believe it or not, that air ticket was worth the savings in sales tax) and I plan to ebay the dress soon to recoup the cost.
AFTER you get all this stuff together, THEN order the flowers, design your cake and stationary. Contrary to belief, “the colors of your wedding” is one of the last things to think about. Your bridesmaid dresses DON’T dictate your color scheme, so don’t get distressed if you can’t find the perfect color of pink. Find a neutral dress color and use your flowers & stationary to take care of it. P.S.- don’t be married to a type of flower. Give your florist an idea of the “feeling” and “color scheme” you want… then let him/her get creative within a budget. Start with a wishlist of everything, then scale back. You may have to pick and choose what you emphasize (ex: I had white carnations in my mixed white, green, brown bridal bouquet. Others may say ‘no carnations’ but trust me, they looked great). My florist (Jackie Combs) was amazing– let her partner with you. To save costs, I bought paper in bulk, printed my own invitations using Word, Powerpoint and Google images on my little home deskjet. I used the same paper & leftover scraps (if you get Kinko’s to cut your invites, have them save the scraps!) for my programs, escort card/favor tag & menu cards. It took a lot of time, so be sure to factor that in. For my favors, I shopped the after-christmas sale (everything was 75%+ off!) and when I tied a nametag to it, they doubled as my escort cards. Get creative and think after-holiday shopping… July 4th is coming up and you can get some very cool stuff. If you live in LA, the flower/gift mart is your best friend. My final comment is that everything is online– look for ideas and start compiling an ‘idea folder’. Know what you’re good at… and know what you’re not. It may cost you more time & money in the long run, if you’re not crafty and you try to do your own invites or if you’re not organized and you try to coordinate your own wedding vs hiring someone to do it. STICK TO YOUR BUDGET and don’t allow yourself to be tempted with “should haves”. Just because someone else had it at their wedding, doesn’t mean you have to! We didn’t exchange rings b/c what we wanted is not within our budget right now… so instead, we exchanged leis! Garter toss? Nope. Bouquet toss? Nope. Spa appointments for the bridesmaids? Nope. Inviting parents’ friends? Only 1 table allowed. Videographer? Friend. Honeymoon? Later.
But we had hawaiian food, fire dancers, a band and our close friends… just what we wanted. I hope this blog helps someone out there. A wedding is the worst nightmare 2 people will ever have. It’ll test the limits of your relationship, but 1 day is not the rest of your lives. Prioritize and you’ll get through this insanity just fine.