Monday, December 30, 2013

My Top 25 Wedding Tips

I planned and executed my wedding for a fraction of the cost that it could have been.  Use my tips and tricks to save thousands!

1. Pick an up-and-coming venue:

After lots of searching, I almost gave up on having my dream wedding.  Most popular venues can be so expensive! They've been in business for a while and can charge the big prices because they know they will get it. (Especially in a rural area where I live, since there are not many venues to choose from.) To me (and my Fiance) $8,000 was too much to spend on just the venue itself.  We finally ran across a newly established winery and vineyard.  To rent their ballroom for the day they were only asking $2,500!  Keep in mind, newly established venues might not have a website or other forms of communication.  We found our dream location by word of mouth, so don't be afraid to ask around!  

2. Get married on a Sunday.

Lots of venues offer their facilities at a fraction of the cost on Sundays since it is not as popular.  Just think of how relaxing a Sunday afternoon wedding would be and then you can just hop on the plane the next day for your honeymoon!  (This worked out great for us since most flights go out on Mondays.)

 2.  Opt for an outdoor wedding:

We asked the owner of the venue to throw in the use of their outdoor space in for free if we reserved the ballroom.  They usually charge $100 an hour for the courtyard, but gave it to us free of charge just because we asked!

3. Share your rental chairs with another wedding.

Talking and asking questions to all you come in contact with will really help you in the long run!  We found out that there was going to be a wedding the night before ours and we asked if they wanted to split the cost of the rental chairs.  They were more than happy to do this since the chairs were rented for the weekend anyway.  (Another perk to get married on a Sunday!)  This saved us several hundred dollars!

 4. Pick an up-and-coming photographer:

Keep an eye out on facebook to see if any of your friends have started dabbling in photography.  In my case, one of my facebook friends had just started his own photography business.  His prices were great since he was just starting out and was trying to build his clientele.  We paid $700 for the rights to all of our images from our big day!  This was great since we were quoted prices as high as $3,000 for wedding packages from established photographers.

5. Buy your flowers in bulk:

We bought all of our flowers online from Sam's Club.  This was a risk I'm glad we took!  You order you flowers online and then they arrive on any day you pick.  Since our wedding was on Sunday, we decided to have the flowers be delivered on Thursday so that we would have time to fool with them and have them ready for Sunday.  I'm so happy with our decision!  The roses came very closed up, so this gave them time to open up. 

 Sam's Club offers a variety of packages.  They make ready made bridal sets that include a bridal bouquet, 4 bridesmaids' bouquets, 1 throw away, and 4 corsages.  These bridal sets come in several different colors.  I decided on pink because they had this vintage look to them.  Sam's Club also sells roses by the bunch.  I think we ended up buying 100 pink roses to go with the pink bridal set.  The roses went a long way.  We used them in centerpieces, decorating the gazebo, and making the men's corsages.  Just make sure that you follow Sam's Club's directions.  They instruct you to be home on the day of the delivery, immediately cut the stems and put them into water.  We used trashcans and buckets to store all of the flowers.  It was a a little overwhelming!  My mom's kitchen because an instant florist workroom!  We made sure to keep the house nice and cool for the few days that led up to the wedding.  Follow these directions and the flowers we turn out PERFECT!

We ended up spending about $600 on ALL of our flowers!  This is chump change compared to the local florist's prices!

6.  Make your own boutonnieres:

I am blessed to have such a creative and well-rounded mother.  She has had a variety of jobs in her life.  One of those was working in a florist department of a grocery store.  She was able to use some of the pink roses that we bought to whip up some awesome boutonnieres!  There are lots of youtube videos out there with detailed instructions to help you make your own.

7. Don't buy bridesmaid dresses:

I wanted my wedding to be affordable to my bridesmaids as well.  I hated the thought of having them spend several hundred dollars on a dress that they will wear only once.  We found PROM DRESSES at David's Bridal that were only $80 a piece!  They had built-in necklaces which also saved money!  I was not too picky with the shoes so each girl found a nude colored pair of shoes in a style of their choice and it made the ensemble a success!  Don't you just LOVE this look?!

8. Buy costume jewelry:

Buy cute faux pearl earrings at Claire's and give them to the girls with their gifts at the rehearsal dinner. I coordinated mine with the pearls to give a uniform look.  I just love little details!

9.  Use a big hair piece:

I found this feather piece and it gave me the option to have a simple veil.  I really like the look it gives for not a lot of money.

10.  Shop at craft stores:

I found huge glass vases and sticks at Hobby Lobby that I used with my Sam's Club roses to make statement pieces.  I spent about $100 at Hobby Lobby to create a high end look for 2 of my tables.  The ceiling was so high that I needed some vertical pieces to fill some space.  I chose to just do 2 tables with a high end look and then chose coordinating things for the other tables.  This gave an expensive look with a not-so-expensive price tag.

We found these letters and spray-painted them silver for an added touch.

 11. Use empty wine bottles:

Have all of your friends and loved ones to save their wine bottles.  Clean off their labels and their possibilities are endless.  I originally wanted to cut them and put candles inside, but later chose to just make my own labels for them and leave them empty.  Search Pinterest for cute quotes and sayings!  I bought cute paper at the craft store and added the quotes with a Sharpie.  You can also paint them with chalk paint!!!  

12. Use chalkboard paint:

You can buy chalkboard paint at Lowe's, Home Depot, and other home improvement stores that carry paint.   We painted wine bottles, silver platters, frames for signs and menus....the list goes on and on!

13.  Shop at the Dollar Tree:

We bought spherical vases and painted them silver to give a mercury glass look!  Just look around at what they have and let your imagination go wild!

14.  Shop at IKEA:

We bought candles there along with lots of $1 frames!  Put quotes, sayings, or pictures!  They are double sided and go with just about any wedding decor!  We also bought the white sheers for our gazebo there!  Clear vases or beer steins are perfect to display the bridal bouquets after the wedding (and keep them hydrated).

  15.  Shop at the thrift store:

We bought vintage suitcases and jazzed them up with a hand-made bunting and free printable letters from Martha Stewart's Website.  Add some burlap, and you have a stylish gift table!  My new Sister-In-Law helped a lot with decorations!!  So glad to have someone to help that loves vintage items just as much as I do!

16. Shop Craigslist, Ebay, and local websites:

I found my round, gray table cloths for $90.  There was only 19 and I need 24, so I bought white rounds at Sam's club to make up the difference.  It worked out really well, because I used the white ones for the bridal party.  I found the chair covers on a local sales website.  A girl had used them once, and sold them to me for a fraction of what it would have cost to rent them.  After the wedding, you can sell your items and pretty much come out with more than you spent on the items.  In my case, my sister needed them for her wedding too so we kept them until she got married...  You can also find other things on these websites in bulk like flatware, glassware, napkins and such.  I found that you can buy lots of these items for around as much or less than the cost to rent.

17. Shop Etsy:

You can find gifts such as personalized handkerchiefs, wine glasses, bags, and so on... makes it easy to find just what you need for all of those bridal party, Mother and  Father gifts!  You can also find local stores that do embroidery gift items.  I found a local store that made handkerchiefs for my Mother, Grandmother, and Mother-In-Law to be, and they gave me my handkerchief for free!  Etsy shop owners might do the same if you ask!

18. Make your own Groom's Cake:

I know that this sounds crazy, but I did make the Groom's cake.  There I was setting it up at they are trying to round me up to get my hair and make-up done!  Luckily Jon was in an up-stairs dressing room so he couldn't see me or the cake!  I made a 3-tiered cake with go-cart wheels as the cake stands!  My husband is an off roading fanactic so I searched Ebay and found his exact vehicle (a Land Rover, Defender).  I found some rocks in the aquarium section at Wal-Mart.  I put these all together and it was a hit!  For about $30 I had a one-of-a-kind cake!

19.  Accept gifts of love:

We did the whole cake tasting thing and picked out our dream cake...then the price quote came!  $1,200!!!  I could not believe it!  Then, a dear friend of the family suggested to my mom that she make the cake as a gift!  We accepted of course!  The down-fall...not sure how it would turn out since I hadn't really seen anything she had made before.  I learned to just put your trust in people and they will come through for you!  The cake was huge, beautiful, and had my favorite flowers!!  Lilies!!

20. Make your own cake stand/plate:

With some plywood, dental molding, and silver spray paint, my husband's family made us this one-of-a-kind cake plate!  They had glass cut to fit and it worked beautifully!  It's now a tradition in our family to use this as a cake plate for each wedding that comes along!

21.  Decorate the gazebo yourself:

Our venue had this gazebo for us to use, but it was lacking that special touch.  With sheers from IKEA (2 in a pack for $5, $40 total for my project), roses from Sam's Club, and baskets from Hobby Lobby, you can make a gorgeous background to get married in front of!  This would have be $1,000's of dollars to have this done, but you can do it yourself for under $100.  We just put roses and baskets on the front 4 posts to save money, but you could go all the way around with them if you want to.

*Note: Put a ziplock filled with water and wrapped with brown tulle to keep the roses hydrated.

22.  Use paint pens:

For a a pop of interest in photos, add something to the bottom of your shoes!

23. Use unexpected items:

Our last name is Converse, so we chose to have some pictures taken in "Converse" shoes!  Pick something that makes you (as a couple) unique and go with it!  Anything goes!  It's your wedding!  Celebrate!!

24. Use natural elements:

We had wooden blocks cut at the lumber yard to use in our centerpieces.  As I said before, all of my tables were different and we need height since the room was so big.  The wooden blocks were just what we needed to add a little interest to our tables.  The wood was cheap and the guy cut them for us for free!!

25. Embrace the atmosphere of your wedding:

Whatever venue you choose, embrace it!  Draw attention to the details and enjoy the simplicity of nature's beauty!  

I hope that these tips help you come closer to your happily ever after...picture!

The After Picture

* Special thanks to James Crowley Photography, Michele Baerns, Mom, Lynette Meaker, and our family for contributing to our Happily Ever After!