Semi-amateur wedding planning advice...

Like I've mentioned before, ever since I got engaged, people keep telling me how stressful wedding planning is. You always see those pins about "How to have a great wedding for under $6,000" or "Using the dollar store!" But honestly, from this end of things, it's a lot easier than it seems. We stayed well within our budget, and even splurged a little. And the best part is, it's been fun! So here is my advice for anyone trying to plan an inexpensive wedding without pulling their hair out in the process.

#1: The Budget: My parents gave us $5,000 toward the wedding, apologizing the entire time because they thought it couldn't nearly be enough. Keep in mind, Caleb's family is paying for tuxes, ties, and the wedding luncheon, so take that out of the budget. Once we started looking, we realized this was more than we could possibly need for what we wanted! Granted, we haven't sent out invites yet, but we've only spent $3,500 and we are basically done. Pretty good, if you ask me. So how did we do it?

  • Decide what you can live without. Caleb and I just aren't traditional, and we consider ourselves pretty practical. The more we thought about it, the more we realized we really didn't need certain "traditional" aspects at our wedding. We chose to do without flowers or a cake. (I know, some of you are probably dying right now, but hear me out.) We got beautiful fake flowers for centerpieces which (bonus!) we can use as gifts to bridesmaids afterwards AND decorate with in our house. You leave on your honeymoon right after the reception, so by the time you come home all your flowers are dead anyway. As for the cake, we shopped around forever and people kept telling us, "You freeze the cake and eat it all year, there's always so much left over!" I'm sorry, but if I want to spend $500 on a cake, I'll have a fresh freakin cake every time, thank you very much. And one where a strangers hands haven't been all over in the frosting. The other argument, "You have to have pictures of you feeding each other cake!" I'm sorry, explain that one to me. Or better yet, show me ONE person who displays that picture in their house. Exactly. The point is, maybe you can't imagine living without flowers or a cake, but there are probably some aspects of your wedding that you can live without. And as an added bonus, we used the money for the cake to rent a photobooth, which will be way more fun!
  • Bridesmaids & Groomsmen.  All my time being a bridesmaid, I'll admit it, was miserable, probably because most of the brides made me stand in line with them and greet all the guests. So first of all, not doing that: just us & the parents, maybe. Second, dresses are expensive! I had some buy us the dresses, some request that we buy them (annoying- when am I going to wear this again?) and one who did what I'm doing- gave us a color and set us loose. I'm asking my bridesmaids to wear a grey dress with colored shoes. This way, they can buy a dress they actually like and still wear it afterwards! For the groomsmen, we have a friend who sells ties for $5, and we're just getting tuxes for Caleb & the dads. (Mostly because my dad hasn't owned a suit in...ever.)

#2:Find what you have to have, and do that first. Mine was a little tricky, because we are getting married in the temple, but also having a ring ceremony. It makes for a busy day, and lots to plan for! I found the times Caleb and I felt stressed were when other people got overly involved and told us we were doing it wrong. But delegate- if you don't care what you have for your rehearsal dinner or luncheon, let someone else who has done this before decide. I think the moms especially love to get involved, but don't want to step on anyone's toes, so let them give advice and make decisions and be in charge too- but only where you feel you don't have strong opinions anyway.

#3: Get crafty. How on earth did anyone plan a wedding before pinterest came along? It's been a lifesaver! I've been lucky, because my fiance loves to help me with all the projects I get myself into, so we get to spend time together AND get stuff done for our wedding. We made all our own centerpieces, plus Caleb is great with Adobe Illustrator, so he made our invites, tags for our favors, and some other fun printouts. I'd say 90% of our wedding is homemade, and maybe some people would hate that, but I think it perfectly fits us!

We had so much fun making this sign together, it was the perfect team-project. Plus, it only cost about $5.00 to make. Score!

 (Oh, and we cheated a little- we went back and forth on what to do for a backdrop and just couldn't agree. Then we stumbled across one of my friends wedding photos from last year and angels started singing "halleluia"- her backdrop was in my colors! So I texted her and lucked out that she still has it and is willing to let me use it! So that brings me to another point, use your resources. You don't have to buy everything.)

#5: The dress. Maybe I was easy because I had no expectations- I didn't have a clue what kind of dress I wanted, or what would look good on me. I ended up buying the first one I tried on! (Don't worry, I tried a couple others too, and they just weren't me!) The best advice I got about the dress was not to question it. If you find one you love, buy it. And then stop dress shopping, for pete's sake. You just confuse yourself. I spent $700 on the dress, and I got $100 off for buying it that same day. I still thought that was pretty expensive, but I guess if you watch Say yes to the dress, I'm doing great! (And for the record, if I could have found anywhere to rent a dress, I would have done that, hands down. My soon to be sister in law bought her dress on clearance for $100, then resold it after her wedding for $150! When Caleb heard that, he said, "Well why don't we do that?!")

#4: Shop online. Not only can you find better deals, but you're much more likely to find unique items, and in bulk when you need them. I was looking all over for these puppies:

and finally  found them online at They were a little more expensive to buy in bulk, but we decided it was worth it since we can sell them afterwards. (My hunt for them proved they are pretty big for weddings and parties right now, so we're hoping they'll be easy to resell.) Also, the other day I found them at Zurchers, and they were glass as well but more expensive and didn't have the cute decal on the front. But if I hadn't found these first, I would have gone for those!

#5: Don't forget why you're doing this.  The day after I got engaged, I woke up at 7:00 in the morning, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, just because I wanted to put my ring on and stare at it and daydream. I think as little girls we are always fed the notion that our wedding day is the best day of our lives, and that leads to thinking we have to have the perfect wedding, or we won't be happy. But think about it: it's one day. It will go by so fast, you'll need the pictures to remember any of the small details. Honestly, I am much more excited for the marriage than I am for the wedding. 

Oh, and don't forget to include your fiance in the planning. It's just as much his day as it is yours.

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