Wedding Tips: Getting Creative with Your Budget
Planning the wedding of your dreams to celebrate the love that you and your partner share gives you the opportunity to show your friends and family all the cool and unique "things" that make the two of you so special as individuals and as a couple. As I'm sure you've figured out by now, creating your dream wedding can take a bit of money, too.
Some people might think it's taboo for a wedding photographer to talk to you about money, but I’m committed to being open and honest with you in order to give you the best wedding experience possible. I know that a lot of money gets put into planning your amazing wedding adventure. Sometimes, it can seem daunting when trying to figure out how to invest in all the pieces that you and your partner are dreaming of. The easiest way for you and your future spouse to afford a wedding that makes your day special and memorable, without going into debt, is to make a budget realistic to your situation and stick to it. Plan out the essentials that each of you feel must be included, make a second list of elements you would both like to include, but could do without, and create a third (wish) list of things you’ll add only if all of the items on the first two lists are achieved.
Yes, this is easier said than done, but sometimes following advice given by plain-speaking voices of experience can help make your wedding truly meaningful and less stressful. So, how can you go about accomplishing this?
Does someone in your family and friend group have an artistic flair? You could buy your room and table decorations in bulk at discount stores. Besides including the three required elements (love & support, gifts, and food), perhaps your wedding shower could include a wedding decoration-making session in place of the games shower hosts often struggle to create. Rummage sales are a good source of unique items that can be used as decorations, too.
Any green thumbs in your family and friends circle? Do you know anyone who would allow you to wander in their home garden and cut fresh flowers to use as wedding party flowers and table decorations? Could you approach owners of local greenhouses, give them your flower budget and order, and offer to work for them by planting, watering, or weeding in exchange for a reduction in the cost of flowers? Buying flowers from local vendors at the farmers' market (depending on the season) can be another economical way to buy loads of florals on a budget.
What about that star of the wedding clothes, the bridal gown? For those who have a special dress that’s been lovingly handed down to you or was hand-sewn for you that you can’t wait to wear, cost isn’t an issue. Other brides-to-be may enter bridal shops influenced by TV shows about brides with huge budgets, sorting through and discarding expensive designer gowns. These may be reality TV shows, but they’re not your reality. When you go to bridal shops in search of the perfect dress, remind yourself that you want to choose a dress that makes you feel wonderful and is within your budget. You won’t have a price tag dangling from your dress as you walk down the aisle and hopefully no one will try to examine your dress label at the reception to see if it has a famous designer’s name on it. Many brides have stories about out-of-season or going-out-of-business sales where their dresses were bought for less than $100. A bride who worked at a Wisconsin thrift store bought a beautiful, never-worn wedding dress for a minimal amount of money.
If you don’t have the time, energy or inclination to try the suggestions above, you may want to think about following some of the suggestions below for earning extra money to increase your wedding budget:
work extra shifts at your present jobs
temporarily take on additional part-time jobs such as driving for Uber/Lyft, or working at a local restaurant (having spent 8 years in the hospitality industry, I can tell you that the hours can be long, but if you're at the right establishment, it can be super lucrative)
sell unneeded household items–I'm looking at you, college ping pong table sitting in the corner!
become a vendor at craft fairs (crafts could include Christmas ornaments, furniture, quilts, photographs, note cards, garden art, and so on.)
list extra rooms in your house on Airbnb (I'm an Airbnb host and I LOVE it. Feel free to ask me about my experiences if this is something you've considered but are a little hesitant about.)
ask that your wedding shower be a coin shower
withdraw money from investment sources you might have, such as from a Roth IRA or life insurance policy. Don't have either of these set up? Check with the pros at Northwestern Mutual, they can get you started planning for the rest of your life and suggest some short-term investment options for you as well!
take out a loan if you can comfortably pay it back
charge your wedding costs to a credit card with a great rewards program that you pay off as you go and use the points to pay down the balance
have a conversation with parents, if it’s appropriate to your family situations, about what their contribution might be
Ask your wedding party to "gift" you one of your vendors! I've had a number of wedding parties team up and pitch in to pay for part of, or all of, my couples' wedding photography experiences. Because really, do you need another ten KitchenAid accessories from the groomsmen who didn't know what to buy that you know you're not going to use (unless you're super into that, in which case, I'll take a batch of peanut butter M&M blondies, please!)?
You and your spouse-to-be should ask yourselves, “Will buying (fill in the blank) really make our wedding and reception more meaningful and memorable?" Set your expectations, goals, and a budget that is going to ensure you enjoy your special day without any unhappy or uncomfortable clouds on the horizon. You’re planning for a marriage, not just a wedding day, and you get to design it in the way that feels the best to you.