My Budget, DIY Wedding: 6 Ways I Saved a Bunch of Money

I am going to join everyone else in doing a bit of reflecting today, on this past year and all that it has blessed me with. One thing stands out (quite obviously) and that is my wedding. Being admittedly obsessive-compulsive, the fact that I can look back on that day without any worries, anxiety or regrets is truly an amazing feeling.

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*Credit: All photos in this post were taken by John Munson at Beacon Photography.

With that in mind, I want to share a post that I’ve wanted to write for a while now. As I mentioned previously, planning my wedding is what reignited my creativity and inspired the creation of this blog. Since weddings are super expensive and only getting more so, and planning one can be extremely stressful, I want to share the 6 ways that I was able to save a boatload of money in planning my wedding:

1) Discounted and DIY Stationery.

Save the Dates: When it came time to make the save the dates, I was still very new to the whole wedding planning process (or strategy, if you will). I knew we had a very tight budget (I’m talking incredibly tight to the point most would find it unattainable) and large families. So I waited until there was a 50% promo code for save the dates at Minted and I ordered them. Easy enough – and I saved about $150 with the promo code!

Invitations: As the wedding got closer, I started pondering what on earth we were going to do for invitations. Knowing how expensive they are, I panicked a little. Once I got back on my one-minded, budget-planning track, I weighed my options. We could either order really crappy invitations because it would be all we could afford, OR… wait for it… we could make our own! If you can’t already tell by my enthusiasm, we went for the latter.

I had a bunch of leftover envelopes from a friend’s baby shower that I planned a few months earlier, so I decided to use those and then get more of the same. My husband (bless his soul) and I bought the extra envelopes at Staples. I ordered cardstock paper online from The Paper Mill Store in the texture and color I wanted, using a promo code to save me 40% on my order.

Once I had the materials, I used Microsoft Publisher to design the invitations which consisted of a main invitation, guest information card, ceremony info card (for our immediate family, as we had a very intimate ceremony), a silly “celebration rules” card and an RSVP instruction card. We had everyone RSVP online through our wedding website, so we saved money on an entire set of envelopes and stamps! We tied all of the pieces together with some twine and called it a day. *There will be a tutorial on DIY wedding invitations coming soon. In the mean time, check out this printable stationery checklist from DIY Bride. I used this and just adjusted it to fit my own vision.

2) Free Ceremony Venue and Discounted Reception Venue.

This one is pretty self-explanatory. We had an intimate ceremony with just our immediate family, and we had it in our backyard, overlooking the ocean with a view of the Boston skyline. And just like that we had the beauty of nature (free décor!) and a budget-friendly venue (free!). Aside from décor and attire, all we shelled out for the ceremony, other than the champagne and beers purchased by my new in-laws (I can’t thank them enough), was the $100 officiant fee.

For our reception, we chose the yacht club down the street from our house, at which my (now) husband is a member. Not only do local function halls tend to be less expensive than the bigger, more popular venues, but, with his member discount, my husband was able to save us over 50% on the fee for the hall! I knew that I would just have to create decorations that would give us the most bang for our buck, so to speak. The amazing views also helped, as they drew a lot of attention away from the hall itself.

3) DIY everything… no, really… everything.

My husband and I made our own photobooth and saved over $600. We also made our own centerpieces, arbor, bouquets, boutonnieres, guestbook, card box and the rest of the décor for both the ceremony and reception. A major way that I found to save money was by not having any real flowers. Yes, you heard me right. We did not have any real flowers at our wedding!

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4) Open Seating Plan and Delicious BBQ.

The key to keeping most any wedding guest happy is good food. It was really important to my husband and me that we choose yummy food options that would keep our guests full and satisfied. If you’ve ever planned a wedding, then you know how terrifyingly expensive catering can be. That being said, we chose a BBQ joint in our area (Blue Ribbon Bar-B-Q… yummmmm) to cater our reception. We saved some money by having them drop the food off and having the staff at the reception venue serve it. We also opted to have an open seating plan and let our guests choose where they sat. By doing this, we saved money on place cards. We also decided not to have a cake. Instead, we had a dessert table; I baked a lot of dessert breads and froze them ahead of time, while various friends and family members brought desserts to add to the table.

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5) No Professional Band or DJ.

We paid a friend to be our DJ. This allowed us to create the entire playlist ourselves, so we could ensure that the music being played would be something we liked. This did provide for a bit of a challenge because, as it turns out, we underestimated the length of our playlist, but it was just a minor hiccup in the day and really didn’t make much of a difference. In fact, I’m not sure if anyone else noticed. Since DJs can run upwards of $1,000+, we saved oodles of money in this area.

6) Thrifty and Fun Attire.

The total cost of both my attire and my husband’s, including the boutonniere and bouquet materials, was under $500. And $150 of that was for my cowboy boots (splurge!). Being shy and, I think, sometimes socially inept, I knew I wanted to buy my dress online. This might not be the best option for everyone, but it worked for me. After months of searching, I found my dress at Macy’s for $70 (and I got a promo code for free shipping). My husband and his groomsmen wore jeans and I ordered my birdcage veil and flower clip from Etsy. I chose to do my own nails and my future sister-in-law did my hair and makeup (she’s amazing). All in all, it worked out better and we saved more money than I could have ever hoped!

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