My husband and I got married back in February, and it was a wonderful, beautiful ceremony. It was also super budget friendly and planned in 8 weeks! I figure I learned a few things about planning weddngs, and it makes sense to share some tips for those of you out there who might be planning your own wedding, or helping a friend plan theirs.
KNOW WHAT YOUR PRIORITIES ARE
Are make-up and hair important to you, or could you have a friend do these? Is it important to you to have the ceremony outside, inside, at a church, somewhere else, etc? If something isn’t a huge priority to you, don’t spend a lot of money and time stressing about it. For me, getting married in my in-law’s backyard was a very important part of the ceremony. My make-up was not. Having a good photographer that I trusted was important to me. Having fancy chairs for the ceremony was not. Figure out what’s important to you and your soon-to-be spouse, and prioritize money to those elements. Go cheap or forgo what doesn’t matter.
DIY IS YOUR FRIEND
Lots of things you can outsource take time. Getting professional stationary, custom favors, etc. And many of these things cost a lot of money too. Figure out what things you can DIY and be happy with. For me, we just sent out Evites instead of invitations – FREE! I made my own programs in Microsoft Publisher, which meant almost no turn-around time, getting them exactly how I wanted them to look, and having a minimal cost (I had to buy a ream of cardstock). However, if you don’t have the design bug, you might want to see if a friend could help you out here.
ORIENTAL TRADING, MICHAELS AND OTHER CRAFT STORES ARE GREAT FOR DECORATIONS
Little touches can make a big difference, and don’t have to be super expensive. My sisters-in-law bought fake yellow flowers and tulle at Michaels and made beautiful chair decorations. My brother’s girlfriend bought and decorated little bubble containers for the recessional. I bought some yellow and white Chinese lanterns to hang around the yard. None of these things cost that much, but they added some beautiful touches to the wedding and reception.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO BUY YOUR DRESS ON EBAY
My dress is a J. Crew Arabelle gown. I fell in love with it when I saw it on J. Crew’s site, but at the time I was planning my wedding, they were out of my size. I stalked it on eBay and quickly found one in my size (new, with the tag crossed out) for half the price! Even with the alterations, it was still under $300 total, which is insanely good for a wedding gown. (By the way, my husband found his tux at a local vintage store for a mere $35, no alterations needed!). You can find a lot of good stuff at consignment shops too, especially ones that focus on formals.
(Note: While I do love to sew, I did not want to make my own dress. I know I didn’t have the sewing chops for something that fancy yet, and I knew it would stress me out to try to make it in 8 weeks. Unless you’re an amazing seamstress or have a friend who’s an amazing seamstress, it’s better to buy a dress. Especially if you’re on a time limit).
KEEP THE BOUQUET (and other flowers) SIMPLE
Unless of course flowers are one of your big priorities. I knew I wanted something really simple, 1) because I can’t stand the idea of spending a lot of money on flowers that get seen once, 2) because I wanted the focus to be more on how beautiful the location was. My bouquet was six white roses, one for each year me and my husband had been together. I also had the florist work in two blue pieces of jewelry – one from each of my grandmothers. We used live flowers to decorate with – a couple potted gardenias around the ceremony, little potted marigolds at the reception table. It looked lovely, and we were able to take plants home as a memento.
RECRUIT YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS
You don’t have to do this by yourself. You’re getting married – in general, most friends and family will be happy for you and want to help out. Delegate – find ways to let others help you. My mom, mother-in-law, step-mother-in-law and sisters-in-law were like my planning team. They helped take on various jobs that needed to be done so I didn’t go crazy (I was working full time while planning this by the way). On the day of, everyone pitched it. Family helped set up the chairs and last minute decorations. My aunt and uncle picked up some of the food on the way. My brother-in-law shucked oysters for the reception (one of my favorite foods!). My sisters-in-law helped serve gelato. We hired friends too – our officiant is a good friend of ours, my husband’s known our DJ for years, and we met our photographer back at the library where we first worked together.
One note here – if you’re hiring a friend who does whatever you’re hiring them for professionally, pay them their regular rate, unless they offer their services as a wedding present or directly offer you a discount. It’s rude to assume that just because you’re friends they’ll give you a cheaper rate – they’re doing this for a living, they deserve to get paid properly for their services.
THINK OUTSIDE THE CAKE
Wedding cakes are mad expensive. And my husband and I both dislike cake. After doing some research, we found a local gelato place that offers 5 liter take-out containers for $30 a piece, and include cups, spoons and napkins. We got four different flavors for a total of $120 – way less than most wedding cakes. Plus, it was tastier, created good memories for our guests, and was all around awesome. There’s lots of other non-cake options out there too. Of course, if a fancy wedding cake it your thing, go for it. Just bear in mind that a lot of bakeries need a lot of notice, and the price gets crazy fast.
DO YOUR OWN MAKEUP
I always wear minimal makeup – a little powder, maybe some mascara and eyeshadow. I knew I didn’t want to have tons of makeup on my wedding day, or I wouldn’t feel like myself. So rather than pay someone else to put more makeup on my face than I would like, I did my own. I did treat myself to a new eyeshadow though. Still cheaper than getting it done professionally.
CROWDSOURCE SUGGESTIONS FOR VENDORS
Don’t know who to hire for something? Ask your friends and relatives who have gotten married recently. Ask for recommendations on Facebook, Twitter, etc. My regular salon charged some huge fees for wedding hair styling, and it was going to be difficult to have enough time to go there before the ceremony. My cousins, who both got married recently, suggested the hairstylist they had used, who was willing to actually come to the house. So much less stressful, and more affordable than my salon too.
PHOTOBOOTHS ARE TOTALLY WORTH IT!
This was one of my priorities – I knew I wanted a photobooth. Our photographer offered it as an add-on to her package, and it was some of the best money we spent. Some of the best pictures from the wedding came from the photobooth – the kids had a blast, my aunts and uncles got crazy, some of our friends re-enacted Star Trek scenes. We did the disposable camera thing too, but those photos were no where near as good as these. Trust me, photobooths are worth it.
So that’s my review of our wedding and how we did it in 8 weeks. It was fabulous, wonderful and totally “us”. Five months later, I don’t regret a thing.
Have you ever planned a big event in a short amount of time? What’s you favorite tip for getting it done without going crazy or broke?
(All photos in this post taken by Kimberly Yau)