(While we build our new tutorials page, we’re starting every post with the word HOW until it’s finished.)
My mother’s address book is ten single-spaced spreadsheet pages long.
Needless to say, having a small wedding was never in my cards. So when it came time for A-Rob and I to tie the knot, the challenge was on to host a stunning event for 300 people without breaking the bank. Large sums of money make me uncomfortable anyways, so it wasn’t much of a stretch to find ways to save.
Here’s how we shaved costs on our wedding without sacrificing the elements we truly wanted.
Luckily, there are several great options for a girl on a budget. Cheaper wedding dresses can be found at thrift shops, online, and many other places but you have to have some luck. Unluckily, I’m picky as hell.
I’d tromped my little tail to pretty much every wedding shop in town and found nothing. It wasn’t until I took a deep breath and stepped into a high end wedding boutique that I found the dress of my dreams.
But dream dress wasn’t on the rack of $4000 Vera Wang gowns (though there were several of those I could have called my own), it was in the bridesmaid section where I found exactly what I wanted.
Empire waist, chiffon, pale yellow, and $350.
Shells were in that year. I found my necklace pendant attached to a hideous piece of jewelry on clearance at Macy’s for $15. I took the flower shell pendant off it’s original chain and secured it to my neck with sheer ribbon.
The beads in my hair were $2.00 from the craft store.
Shoes on clearance for $25.
Earrings were knockoff pearls that I’d worn to my high school prom.
We made our own. Though looking back, these make me laugh a little. We found a (probably copyrighted) image of a dandelion on the internet and doctored it with our limited 2002 Photoshop skills, then printed them onto blank cards from the paper store using our pixelated 2002 printer.
Some of my mom’s friends didn’t understand the dandelion and thought it was a golf ball.
The invites got all ripped up in the mail because I’d asked the post office to hand cancel them. I’d read on some wedding site that this would ensure they wouldn’t get eaten by the postal machines. Apparently though, post September 11, hand canceling means they get sent through a shredder.
But everyone showed up to the right place at the right time, so at least they served their purpose.
A dear friend of mine was starting his career in photography and generously offered to take our wedding pictures for free (though we slipped him a gift certificate to REI against his will to thank him afterwards).
For the reception, we asked a few camera happy friends to work the crowd and get pictures of the guests. In the end I ended up with 20 rolls of great photographs (yes, rolls of photographs, we’re old).
One of my best friends has talented parents. They’d made the flower bouquets for my friend’s wedding, so I asked them if they’d make ours as a wedding gift.
For the table centerpieces we had single potted flowering plants, which were pretty reasonably priced.
Do you remember that scene in Father of the Bride, when Steve Martin suggests they hold the wedding at their favorite restaurant, the Steak Pit? Of course his idea was dismissed by his movie family, but I thought getting married at a restaurant was genius.
Thankfully, one of the oldest and best Mexican food restaurants in town has a rustic brick patio perfect for weddings. It was covered in a canopy of rope lights. That’s all I really wanted anyways, rope lights. I may have partially been influenced by Ross and Emily’s wedding on Friends – you remember, the run down church made chic by strings of light?
We held the wedding and reception on that patio. Even with an open bar, it was half the price of many of the other wedding venues in town. And the best part, it was different.
As I write this, I realize something funny about weddings. No matter how perfect your dress, or the photographs, or any of the details, in ten, fifteen, twenty years, you’ll still look back and laugh at how corny you were.
So now it’s your turn, tell me about your wedding. Did you do anything to save on the cost? If you’re planning one, how’s it going? Is Ross and Emily’s your secret dream wedding too?