How I’m Saving Money On My Wedding

I’m not sure why Bryce was making that face. At the time we were having a lot of fun drinking free cocktails after a meeting at the Iron Horse Hotel, but it actually is the perfect face to describe how I often feel about planning my wedding.

Particularly when it comes to paying for it.

I really had a vision for what I wanted our wedding to be – not necessarily down to the details, but I knew there were certain things I couldn’t do without. Because of that, I also knew we would either need to find a get-rich-quick scheme or I had to figure out how to save money on the wedding anywhere I could.

So here’s what I did and maybe you could try it too:

1. Schedule the wedding for a Friday night.

Having a weeknight wedding isn’t appealing to everyone, but if you want to save money it’s the way to go. Not only do you save some nice moolah on the vendors for your actual wedding night (the biggest payoff for us was our DJ), you save money on any pre-wedding activities too. With a Friday night wedding the rehearsal is on a Thursday. Getting a private party room on a Thursday night is CHEAP (even at my favorite restaurant).

We are having a fairly small wedding. I have a teeny tiny family so they had already planned on spending multiple days with us and the same goes for some of our bridal party. Which night the wedding is on becomes irrelevant at that point. Most of Bryce’s family and our friends live close enough that they wouldn’t have to do anything more than leave work a little bit early on a Friday afternoon to make it. Not that I want to make anyone leave work early, but I really hope our wedding will make it worth their time!

2. Book an all-inclusive venue.

Pick somewhere that includes bad ass decor and refreshments!

More often than not, having an all-inclusive venue is cheaper than say having a tent in a park. Bryce and I had our hearts set on the Iron Horse Hotel for a long time, but we worried that it was just too much money and tried to find a better option. I did a lot of research and started to play with the idea of reserving some park space and renting a tent. The thing you have to remember when going that route is that you need to bring absolutely EVERYTHING in yourself. Oh, and they don’t usually have nice bathrooms. I don’t know about you, but the idea of my wedding dress in a port-o-potty was enough for me to nix that idea.

Well, that and the fact that once I added everything up it cost the same amount of money as the Iron Horse and didn’t include any of the perks like a free hotel room for the night or fantastic package deals from a five star restaurant. Not to mention that I would need to hire people to take care of that “absolutely everything” we’d be bringing in and at Iron Horse it will all be done without me giving it a second thought.

3. Shop smart online.

I bought my wedding dress online. Yep, I’m one of those crazies.  But let me tell you, I’m so glad I did because I saved $3,000. Three-freaking-thousand-dollars.

I knew what kind of dress I wanted (and what size) and every couple of days I would check sites like Preownedweddingdresses.com for the right one. When I found it I called my mom freaking out to ask if I should buy it right then and there. She said I should, so I did and all it needs are some minor alterations. Let’s face it, every wedding dress needs alterations no matter how you buy it. I was lucky that I knew what I wanted and I was even luckier that it was being sold online, but had never been worn. Those options are out there! You just have to be diligent about looking for them and be open minded about getting your dream dress in an unconventional way.

I also bought my designer shoes on sale from bluefly. Oh and I bought my headband from BHLDN on Black Friday…bought my spanx online with a coupon code…bought my cake platter & server online from ruelala

Should I keep going? I can’t even begin to tell you all of the money I saved by shopping online. I usually shop on sale days with coupon codes and I usually manage to find free shipping. It’s so easy. Just do it. Always remember to keep your vision in mind so you don’t get swept up in the excitement of cheap prices and buy something you don’t actually want!

4. Shop smart in person.

Bryce and I spent a couple of months going to a different Goodwill store every couple of days. We stocked up on assorted sizes of clear glass vases to use for centerpieces and almost every single vase was $2.00.

The exact same vases at Marshall’s were $10+.

Shop outside the box! I also needed 3 very tall vases and I found those at Target. I waited until they were on clearance and I scooped them up.

Then we went to Ikea and found some of what I needed to put in those tall vases for $10 total.

If you shop in the right places, buying is cheaper than renting. For example, that cake platter and server I bought at ruelala was $50 with shipping. To rent a cake platter from a bakery is $45 and that doesn’t include the cake server we would still need to buy. Plus, it’s a fairly simple platter that I can use over and over again after the wedding.

5. Get quotes & make reservations early.

When I contacted Iron Horse they quoted me at their 2012 rates, but by the time we actually had our meeting to book the space it turned out that they had just come out with their 2013 rates. I didn’t say anything in the meeting when they told me the price and it seemed high so that I could go home and confirm the quote I was given. Once I did, I sent a polite email back just asking about the price difference and told them I understood if the prices went up and I was happy to pay for the new rate but I wanted to check. They said that their rates went up for 2013, but honored their quote and saved us $1,000. It happened again when I went to block hotel rooms. They told me I could block 10 rooms originally and when I went to do it they said I could only block 8. Once I asked about blocking 10 they honored the quote.

I booked my hair and makeup appointments very early and just in time for the salon to comp me tickets to Milwaukee’s fanciest bridal show. Bryce and I went, got free swag & champagne, talked to a couple of vendors and left after 30 minutes. I had already been the year before, but it’s such a VIP experience that I would never pass up a free ticket!

Be an early bird. A very polite early bird. Which leads me to my last piece of advice…

6. Be nice to everyone. 

I am really nice to people. Poor Bryce is the one who has to deal with my mean side (thanks for putting up with me!). 
My point is, I’ve found that things get done a lot faster for me when I am nice, helpful, and provide as much information as I can to make things a little easier for whatever vendor I’m working with. Why wouldn’t you be nice anyway? Making friends with people is the fastest way to bring down wedding stress. People want to help friendly people, not bridezillas! People also want to give free things to friendly people.

Not that getting swag should be your reason for being nice! Geez.

A Green Tea Gin Hot Toddy I got after making a friend!

Occasionally I get upset about spending so much money on one day so I remind myself of what this is actually about – celebrating the first official day of the rest of my life with Bryce. When it comes to making decisions about spending more on a photobooth or extra thing we really don’t need (but I think we should have because I’m worried about guests being happy), I try to remind myself that this day will be beautiful and exciting no matter what I do and that money will probably be better spent on a boat tour to watch whales with my new husband.

Sometimes planning your wedding can suck, but getting married is pretty awesome.

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