First of all, I have a confession. Jonathan and I talked about getting married about six months before our October engagement. That's really when the planning started. My sister will attest that I spent lots of time on the computer researching ceremony sites, colors, and much more. Once we actually got engaged I had a good idea of the look I wanted in my head.
One of the hardest decisions to make was where to have the wedding. After going over all the pros and cons in my head a thousand times and talking to Jonathan and my family, we finally decided on having it at Jonathan's home church. It is a beautiful church and the location alone saved us tons of money.
Here were some other money savers:
Church: we had both our ceremony and reception at the same place...which meant only one rental fee! Major savings here!
Dress: I started saving for my dress the May before we got engaged. I didn't shop around a whole lot. I actually went with the first dress I tried on. It wasn't thousands of dollars, but not dirt cheap either. I knew I wanted to save up for it myself and therefore not worry about how much of my parents' money I was spending on one item.
Flowers: I had to be a little creative here. My favorite flowers are hydrangeas, which also happen to be quite pricey. I definitely didn't want a fake bouquet, so I had the florist do the wedding party's flowers and that was it.
Ceremony decor: since I opted out of flowers for decoration I found an elegant (and cheaper) alternative - candles! After Christmas sales were great for this! I also created my own pew markers with some tulle, ribbon and vintage broaches. The effect was pretty and cost effective!
Reception decor: I definitely took a risk here. I knew my centerpieces would be very minimal if I went the traditional flower route. It took a while to come up with a creative alternative, but it finally came to me - books! I found lots of great vintage books (each under $3), spray painted $1.50 glass vases, and ordered 18 online for $20! I also kept an eye out for sales at Micheal's and Joann's and found all the flowers for either %50 or %75 off. The candles on every table were a gift from my aunt, and that was all I needed to complete the look! (I must admit that I could have done a lot more if I had more cash. I certainly wasn't short on ideas, but I had to just be OK with what I could do myself. If you don't have a lot to spend, don't try to do more than you can afford. If you have less that 5K don't try to go for a 30K look. It's just not going to work. Be creative instead.)
Photo booth: I really wanted to have one of these at my reception! However, I didn't want to rent a booth or make this huge monstrosity that I'd never use again. Solution: a piano, vintage hats and bow ties and creative friends to put it all together and make it fabulous!
Reception food: this was a major kicker! I highly recommend doing a dessert buffet. We saved so much money by doing this! I'm pretty sure we only spent around $600 on food for over 250 people! How great is that!
Programs: I did them myself. I didn't really want to, but I was last on my list of priorities. I had lots of ideas for creative designs, but it would have cost more than I could afford to have a pro do them for me. I had to prioritize what was most important and they were not top of the list.
Invitations: I found a design I liked online and ordered them, printed the addresses myself. Was it a major pain in the butt? Yes. But was money saved? Yes.
So there you have it. I'm sure there were a few more minute things, but I can't remember anymore.