The big day is two months away, so now we’re getting into high gear planning for my frugal wedding. So far, I’ve spent $1060 for the dress, ceremony costs, and stationery. I’m feeling pretty good, but we still have a lot left. Next week, I need to address catering. As with the photography, I’m going with a professional/family blend. I’ll hire the pros for the sandwiches and serving help, and we’ll do the side dishes and cake. My biggest advice so far? Say “no” to the extras. . . it’s the small charges that can really blow your budget. How do you know what’s an extra and what’s necessary? Here are four steps for thinking it through.
1. Do Your Homework
Research things a little bit. You don’t have to be obsessive, but at least look at two or three places before you make a purchase. A good example is my wedding website. I almost jumped in and paid $30 for one, but a quick google search found a great free site. In just a few minutes, I saved $30! Under the “do your homework” category, I’m finding it useful to keep visualizing what’s important at the wedding. For me, it’s saying my vows with the future husband and celebrating with my friends and family. So, I’ll want to spend more on the food, but could cut back on stationery costs.
2. Don’t Buy Everything at Once
If possible, space out your purchases. I always find that I get tired and make poor decisions if I’m out on a giant shopping day. Try to take care of only one category at a time and don’t rush into any purchase. I saved $160 on my invitations by deciding that I could print the inserts myself. I’m going to save over $100 by not altering my dress. I bought the dress at a super-skinny moment around Thanksgiving. When I went in for a fitting, the seamstress couldn’t even see where to alter the dress. This was a big warning sign! Of course, she didn’t want to lose a sale, so she did figure out that taking in the back around my waist would improve things slightly. She also pinned up the bottom for a small bustle. However, I bought the dress thinking we’d have an indoor wedding, and I’d be in it for hours. Now that it’s an outdoor wedding, I’ll wear it for the ceremony and photographs and then change into something more comfortable. I’ve already spent $500 on the dress; it seems silly to spend any more for a custom fit. Since I didn’t rush in and alter the dress back in the winter, I can save that money for something more important.
3. Review Your Budget Frequently!
Don’t just set your budget and forget it. I have mine all written out in my planner. That way, it’s always with me when I’m out shopping or thinking about a purchase. Before I spend any wedding money, I look again at the budget. This week, we rented chairs and big serving dishes for the wedding. I knew that I had $130 left in the ceremony budget and $200 in the decorations budget for these items. Ideally, I would just spent the $130, but if something looked perfect, I had wiggle room with the decorations budget. From my research, I knew that chairs were 95 cents each. I also made a list of all the things we might want to rent. On the way there, the future husband and I went through the list and crossed a few things off.
4. Treat each budget line as a separate purchase.
It’s really important to keep the line item amount in your mind while shopping, not the total budget. When you think you’re spending $130, you’re more likely to say “no” to unnecessary purchases than when you think you’re spending $4,000. This has saved me a lot. I think many vendors make their profit off of folks who say, “heck, what’s another $80, we’ve got $12,000 to spend.” At the rental place, there was a $60 delivery charge for the chairs, basically doubling the cost of renting the chairs. At first, we were going to do it. I was just going to put the other items in the “decorations” budget. Then, it started getting complicated about when and where they could deliver. Since my wedding’s on a Sunday, we could pick up the chairs Saturday and return them Monday. Since the future husband has a truck and there will be lots of guys around to help, we didn’t need to spend that $60. In the end, I spent $123, seven dollars under budget!
So, that’s my advice on how to keep your wedding budget under control. Remember what’s really important to you; don’t rush into purchases; review your budget; and treat each category as a separate purchase. Next week, I’ll let you know how it goes on the food front!