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Saving on Weddings (and photos!)

December 16th, 2015 at 07:03 am

Alright, since I don't have anything terribly exciting to update and the photos are working again, I figured I would upload some wedding photos and talk about some ways we saved some $$$ while planning this year! Also how we saved some headache on the day of.


DH and I - isn't he handsome?!


1. We kept the guest list low.



Both DH and I are a bit lucky that we don't have huge families, and I don't really talk to most of my family - so we were able to keep it reigned in pretty easily. I know that's not the case for most people, but having a guest list under 100 people eases the budget significantly. We also found it important to only invite people that we are truly friends with. Our parents didn't invite their friends, there were no third cousins we've only met twice. We paid for it all, and we called the shots. It was really nice, though, because we were able to actually spend quality time with the people we truly care about.

2. I bought a pre-owned dress.


This photo makes me look like a Disney princess Smile


The dress thing was a bit of an evolution - I had planned to go very casual, and bought a dress that was very pretty, for $30 online. After a few months, I started second guessing myself and shopping around a little more. I found the dress I ended up wearing (an Adrianna Papell) on a site called Tradesy.com - and bought it for $160. I spent another $80 to have it altered last minute (I bought it about 2 weeks before the wedding! haha). But I loooooooved it. I understand that the dress is such a huge part of a girl's wedding day, but I couldn't bring myself to spend an arm and a leg for something I would only wear once in my life. There are so many great options out there, and pre-owned is a great one.

Similarly, my bridesmaids dresses came from Modcloth - and were about $40 each.



3. We had a stock the bar party.

This was a friend's idea, and was GENIUS. Instead of having a traditional bridal shower, DH and I threw a stock the bar party. We got very few traditional gifts, and instead everyone brought a bottle of liquor. We didn't have to purchase any for the wedding, and the mixer package we purchased from our bartenders was incredibly affordable. We still have so much left over, too. haha. It definitely cut out a great bit of the expense - but we also had a venue where we brought in all of the vendors.

4. We DIY-ed most of the decorations.

We rented table cloths, but everything else was brought in. I purchased bulk lace and cut the runners myself. My MIL brought the jars with the simple white carnations. The photo frames are filled with vintage maps or illustrations of places DH and I have traveled to - or are special to us. I bought the frames over time from Pat Catan's and TJ Maxx. The prints of the maps came from my printer at home. We borrowed many of the other jars from friends who got married a few months before us, and the pie stands were borrowed as well.




Our guest book was an old Atlas - we asked people to sign a message near a place that was important to them.


I hand-lettered this chalkboard I got from Pat Catan's. Very proud of that one Smile


5. We kept it casual.

Our wedding took place at a barn, so the rustic atmosphere definitely justified using disposable plates, silverware, and napkins. The rental place was going to charge us $0.25/fork - and I don't have the stomach for that, even with under 100 guests. haha. We also did BBQ for dinner, which ended up being about $16/plate. The very few bites I had were delicious. haha.

As far as flowers - I think we spent just over $300 at the florist - for my bouquet, 3 bridesmaids bouquets, the boutonnieres (6 all together), and 2 corsages for the moms. My florist was AMAZING, and though the bouquets are filled mostly with what they would consider "filler," they did them so tastefully. When she asked if I was "okay with hydrangeas," I thought of course I am! I requested some freesia be put in - but the rest was up to them. Natural and lovely. All of the flowers at the actual reception were just white carnations purchased in bulk by my MIL.





6. We spent where it was important to us.

Because we saved quite a bit elsewhere, we were able to spend a bit more where it was important. We didn't really do favors (MIL brought mints in little boxes, so that was that) - but we did spend an extra $100 for the venue to have a bonfire. We only spent $70 on desserts (pie is my fave!), but we made sure we had a great DJ (still very economical) so that our guests would enjoy the night. Our rings weren't expensive at all - mine was around $700 and DH's was under $200. But we were able to get a venue that was gorgeous all around, and rent extra time to prep the barn and take photos, so we had a piece of mind.







7. We had everything all in once place. On a Friday.

As a wedding photographer, I can tell you that there's nothing better than having the whole shebang in one beautiful place. We were able to get photos done quickly - and only hired our photographer for 6 hours, to catch the important parts (getting ready, formals, ceremony, highlights of the reception), our DJ covered our ceremony and reception, and cost the same as it would for a traditional reception. That, and our buffet opened right after the ceremony ended at 5pm - so we could forego appetizers during cocktail hour and get the party started quicker! We also swung by our local burger place and picked up 50 hamburgers on the way to the hotel so there was an afterparty meal as well. That is when I actually ended up eating. haha.


Right after the ceremony. We're both so happy Smile


Having the wedding on a Friday wasn't what we intended to do originally, but ended up being the only day we could find a venue we liked. But it was fantastic. The ceremony started at 4:30pm, and it was a lovely, relaxed day. Our venue didn't give us a discount for a Friday event, but I know many do.

All in all, we spent under $15k. Still a big chunk of change, but it was exactly what we wanted. And an absolute blast. Our goal with the wedding was to make it personal and throw an amazing party that people really enjoyed. And if I say so myself, we absolutely killed it.



Hope you guys enjoyed the photos Smile

18 Responses to “Saving on Weddings (and photos!)”

  1. creditcardfree Says:

    Beautiful! And great tips. Smile

  2. Ima saver Says:

    You are a beautiful couple! I think your wedding was great!

  3. laura Says:


    Loved this post. Totally agree with you about that dress. It *was* perfect on you. Looks like a lovely start to a wonderful future. Smile

  4. MonkeyMama Says:

    Beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

    We did a lot of the same things. We chose to have our wedding on a Sunday because the venue was *free* on Sundays. We kept it all in the same place too, for which we got a LOT of compliments. So much easier for everyone all around. Of course, the other benefit of choosing a non-Saturday wedding is that it is so much easier to plan. I only remember starting to plan our wedding about 4 months in advance, and there was no schedule conflicts with anyone we wanted to hire. Very low stress. IT was a good compromise for us. (I REALLY wanted to just elope or just get married at the courthouse, but my dh has such a big extended family locally).

  5. debt-free by thir-ty Says:

    Your dress is beautiful! And your day looks like it was truly lovely! This was so helpful as I'm in the midst of wedding planning now Smile I really wanted my guest list to be smaller, but DF's family is helping out, so they ended up contributing to about 1/3 of our guest list.

  6. snafu Says:

    Thank you for sharing photos of your wedding. Wonderful day with happy memories is exactly what a wedding should be. Delighted you had the venue, decorations, guests, food, party and details you wanted. Wishing you both a joyful marriage full of blessings and delights.

  7. Kiki Says:

    Such a beautiful day and couple! Lovely-thank you for sharing.

  8. ceejay74 Says:

    Thanks for sharing! What a lovely, thoughtful, personalized, affordable wedding. Smile

  9. FrugalTexan75 Says:

    What lovely photos and a wonderful wedding day!

  10. creditcardfree Says:

    Gorgeous, gorgeous. What would you say you spent the most on? We were married on a Friday also. And I think everyone has the best time at their own wedding. If I had to do it again...I'd copy you! Smile

  11. VS_ozgirl Says:

    Gorgeous pictures! Proof that you don't need to break the bank to have a wonderful day to remember Smile

  12. PatientSaver Says:

    I'd say you did a pretty good job, and that's coming from someone who would be hard-pressed to find over 40 close friends and family to attend a wedding. I like the atlas idea..lots of thoughtful touches and i think most would agree $15k is great for a wedding.

  13. CB in the City Says:

    What a beautiful couple you are! I feel all warm inside just looking at the pictures of your lovely wedding. Wonderful!

  14. pjmama Says:

    Thanks to everyone for the kind words Smile It really was such an amazing day!

    @MonkeyMama: A free venue?! How fantastic! We also got a lot of compliments for the structure of the wedding - I don't think people realize how exhausting it is to have to travel and waste time between the ceremony and reception! We had about 8 months to plan ours, and I thought that was about perfect. 4 months I think would have killed me. lol.

    @debt-free by thir-ty: If our family was helping out we would have definitely been fine with a bigger list. And congrats and good luck Smile Don't let the details get you down!

    @creditcardfree: We definitely spent the most on the venue. It was $2800 to rent it for 8 hours - and then we paid for extra time, setup and teardown, as well as all of the tables, chairs, tablecloths, coolers, fans, etc. Our venue nickel and dimed us to death. It was absolutely gorgeous, but definitely not a budget venue. In retrospect, though, I think we would have went the same route we did. It was so convenient and beautiful.

    @PatientSaver: Those little details were what I loved the most. I really wanted it to be personal. Every bit of decoration had a meaning, and we wrote our own vows, too! It was so much fun to read through the atlas after the fact.

  15. joanne Says:

    Your pictures are lovely, and your dress is beautiful. It looks like a beautiful wedding too.

  16. MonkeyMama Says:

    PJ - For 4 months' planning - we kept it VERY simple!

  17. Livingalmostlarge Says:

    So wonderful. What a lovely day! Congratulations. We did 55 friends and family and under $15k for wedding and honeymoon. Photos were $4500 and venue was $4500 for everything!!! Everything else came in under $5k.

    I got married at the Honolulu Moana Surfrider. I should post an old picture.

  18. pjmama Says:

    @Livingalmostlarge : You should post a photo! That sounds beautiful!!

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