There are as many types of brides as there are decisions to make for your big day. I’m the type of bride who wants the day to be beautiful, but still laid-back, and needs to do it all within a tight budget.
When my fiancé and I started planning our wedding—no matter how much knowledge I thought I had to begin with—there were countless costs that we never thought of, making it pretty difficult to stay within our budget. If you’re planning a more casual wedding, here are a few ways that may help you keep costs down.
Buy your gown at a sample sale.
Gowns can be incredibly expensive, so waiting for a sample sale can be a huge help. I found mine at a Tara LaTour sample sale, where I scored it for 1/5 of its original price! If you know you have a gown budget to stick to, don’t hesitate to call bridal salons ahead of time and ask where their pricing starts. It could save you a lot of time if they don’t have much in your price range. Tip: L’atelier Couture’s amazing sample sale is Aug. 26-30. Call and make an appointment. You won’t regret it!
Do your own flowers.
Believe it or not, it’s becoming quite popular to get flowers from a local farmers’ market or wholesaler and have family or friends make the bouquets and arrange the vases. I originally planned to order my flowers through Costco in bulk. I didn’t think much of it until I heard a horrible story about a bride whose flowers showed up four days early and they couldn’t use them at the wedding because they were all wilted. Not wanting to deal with a hassle like that, I found a flower shop near my wedding site and asked the owner if she could sell me flowers in bulk. She was able to give me exactly what I wanted for a fraction of what I had budgeted by offering it to me at wholesale cost. All I have to do is call three weeks in advance to place the order and she’ll have it all ready for my personal attendants to pick up on the big day! Tip: Instead of boutonnières, our groomsmen will receive a pocket square as part of their gift. Not only does it look nice, but they can use it in the future, too.
Choose an unconventional venue.
I will admit, having our wedding at my grandparents’ home is a huge money saver, but there were plenty of hidden costs we didn’t think about. If you have a friend or family member who is willing to host your wedding on their property, definitely give it some consideration. But also know that if it’s not typically a wedding venue, you’ll still have to rent everything that a venue would have, and that can bring on extra stress and cost if you’re not prepared for it. We had to price out a tent, tables, chairs, an arch, bathrooms (!), lighting, and more.
Have a friend design your invitations.
If you’re lucky enough to have a design-savvy friend or family member (even if they’re not a graphic designer by trade), see if they’d be willing to mock something up for you. I started a Pinterest board with inspiration and my friend brought exactly what I wanted to life. He enjoyed it so much that he offered to also design our table numbers and menus to match the rest of our invitation suite. There are plenty of printers in town that will print your invites on paper they have, or on something you provide. You just have to be willing to do a little research! Tip: Our save-the-date postcards were printed by Insty-Prints in Edina and it cost us $36. We bought a custom stamp for the front of the postcard from Etsy ($35), and postage was $0.33/card.
Ask your married friends for advice.
I wanted a magazine-worthy wedding. Many brides do. I was so excited about having the theme I wanted and everything perfect that I made a couple silly decisions early on. My first décor mistake was deciding that I wanted all of our guests to eat off of mismatched china plates. It works perfectly with the décor I’m going for, but it was becoming a huge stress. Once I had acquired about 30 place settings (dinner plate, salad plate, dessert plate) over several months and become quite frustrated by it, I asked a married friend for any advice she had about planning a wedding. She told me, “Don’t worry about what people eat off of. They won’t remember anyway.” It was all I needed to nix my idea, as well as the stress and extra cost of it. Now my caterer will provide the plates and our rehearsal dinner festivities just got a place setting upgrade.
Stephani Bloomquist is mspmag.com’s associate managing editor. In her spare time she pretty much just plans her wedding (and sometimes helps plan her friends’ weddings, too). This September she’ll marry Eric D. Johnson, who she just happened to meet when they were both interns for Mpls.St.Paul Magazine.