Planning a wedding has the stigma of being stressful and expensive and in most cases that's true. What if I told you I had a low stress, with in budget, great time planning our wedding? I know, I know, you don't believe me.I kid you not my friend. I enjoyed getting everything together and when the big day rolled around our wedding was everything I wanted it to be.
My husband and I paid for our wedding ourselves (with a little loan from my brother, that we paid back immediately after the wedding, thanks brother!) In doing so we didn't want to go buck wild on our bank accounts and be left with nothing as newly weds. We didn't skimp on anything, we loved our venue, the food was top notch, everything looked exactly how I wanted it to and we came in way bellow the $35,329 average wedding in the US. How the heck did we pull that off?!
Here's what I did to plan the wedding of our dreams, minus the stress and strain....
Pick whats most important to you
I personally never leave the house unless it's for good music, good food, or good company. So it was important that our wedding reflected that. I went into planning our wedding with the mindset of throwing a party I wanted to be at! The most important points and things we chose to spend the bulk of our wedding funds on were 1. Live music 2. Jaw dropping food and 3. Having our family and closest friends there to enjoy it all with. By establishing your absolute must haves before you do anything else you can be sure to have the wedding of your dreams regardless of the budget because once your important things are signed and paid for, everything else just falls into place.
Do it your way
This one kind of goes along with the last one. I feel like weddings get out of control because there are a hundred and one things you're 'supposed to' do or have for a wedding. Don't feel pressured to have your names monogramed on your napkins because that's what your cousin did for her wedding. This is your day and at the end of it you will be joined in marriage with your significant other regardless of how extravagant your napkins are. For example, the flower arrangements and bouquets weren't a huge deal for me. I'm not a fan of roses and cringe when I have to go up for the bouquet toss at weddings. So I chose to buy babies breath in bulk and make my own center pieces, boutonnieres and bridal party bouquets. For myself, I ordered some beautiful white hydrangeas, cut the bouquet toss and called it a day. The room looked beautiful and I was completely happy with how it all went down. By cutting out the things that are not as important to you and your spouse like flowers, silk chair covers or whatever it may be, you'll have more money set aside for life after the wedding. And that's where finances get real!
Get an all in one venue
So I mentioned food before. I'm bringing it up again because it's THAT important. I've heard a lot of the wedding planning blues comes from the stress of booking a caterer, picking flatware, linen, renting tables and don't even get me started on the cake! Then once all that is in order you have to orchestrate the dance of getting everything to your venue. Who's setting up? Who's tearing down? And before you know it you have all these moving parts. Yeah. I see how wedding planning can get ridiculous.
As soon as you start looking up potential venues, aim for the places that carry the weight for you! There are so many cute locations now that are a one stop shop! My husband and I chose to get married at Revolution Brewery in Chicago. It was the first venue we went to look at and didn't need to look any further. Not only was the space beautiful but all of their food is made fresh, locally sourced meats and produce, all their bread baked in house and wait for it... they make their own wedding cakes! Whaaaaat?! So delicious, ask anyone who's been to Revolution Brewery. (Again, food was a big deal breaker for us). We were able to have top shelf open bar, a dessert table and zero stress. We also chose to have our ceremony there which made it super convenient for our guests and well, us! For about 8k, we got our ceremony, cocktail and reception space, drinks all night, hors d'oeuvres, dinner, dessert, wedding cake, all chairs, tables and flatware, set up, tear down, on site coordinator and as an added bonus, brewery tours during cocktail hour! If you've been keeping track that's practically a WHOLE wedding!
I know a lot of banquet halls do similar packages but if halls arnt really your scene like they arnt mine, don't settle. There's a perfect venue out there for you!
Pick an off season date
I'm sure you've heard this option before so I'll keep it short and sweet. Picking a winter month to have your wedding cuts costs way down. Does it even matter what's going on outside if you're having an in door wedding? I'd say no. Our wedding was during a Chicago February but it was nice and warm inside :)
Side note, if you have your wedding during the winter that doesn't mean you have to have a "winter wedding." Our colors and decor unintentionally reflected more of a spring vibe but who cares? Life's what you make it and so is your wedding day ;)
I'd like to think I'm a pretty organized person by nature. In my group of friends I'm usually the one planning the get togethers and parties. So when it came to planning our wedding I treated it like one big party (which it was!). I obviously had never planned something to this scale before so the first thing I did, literally the day after I got engaged, was find myself a good wedding planner that came in the form of a 3 ring binder. It really was my saving grace. Let me tell ya, there are TONS of note books and planners to aid in the wedding planning process out there. I know this because I looked through just about all of them before I picked one. The planner I used was the All The Essentials Wedding Planner. What I loved about this one above the rest was the personalization it offered. Every possible element of a wedding from seat assignments to hotel reservations all have a place in this planner. There are sections in there that I didn't even think about like the after wedding transportation (?!?). There's just something about organized tabs hat give me so much peace, anyone else?! What I also liked about this planner was the fact that it was a three ring binder meaning nothing was set in stone. If there were pages in there that didn't apply, like porta potty rentals for out door weddings which I didn't need, I could just take the page out and toss it.
Using the All The Essentials Wedding Planner made it ridiculously simple to set a budget and keep track of which payments are going where and when things need to get paid by. I really don't know how people planned their own weddings before! Staying organized and having all your expenses laid out in black and white will not only save you the stress that is associated with wedding planning but save you the stress of accidentally going over budget, I promise. An extra bonus about getting a planner like this one is that it makes a great keepsake. Years from now I'll be able to look back and remember all the little details that went into our perfect day.
I can honestly say I had a good time planning our wedding. Would I do it again? Well, no, only because I'm not planning to get married again BUT if I had to help plan someone else's wedding, I would! Wedding planning doesn't have to be stressful and over whelming girls. You only get to experience this season in your life once. Try to make the best of it.
**BONUS** I also saved a pretty penny by shopping for our decorations on Amazon! I even got my flower girl dress on amazon after searching for months in store for exactly what I wanted. It was at my finger tips the whole time and it was absolutely perfect! I DIYed a lot of little details like our invitations and programs which made our wedding seem so personal. I'll put a few links bellow to some of the items I used on our big day. Happy Planning :)
Wedding Photography by Smeyan Photography