If you're like most women, you've been planning your wedding since you were a little girl. From the gorgeous gown and cascades of flowers to the perfect reception at the perfect location, you've envisioned your special day, right down to the very last detail. Unfortunately, not everyone has hundreds of thousands of dollars to spend on the details you dreamed of, but with a little creativity, your low-budget wedding can be just as fabulous as the one you dreamed of as a young girl. In fact, a low-budget wedding offers you the opportunity to make your wedding a unique and memorable occasion for everyone involved.
There are several ways you can cut costs without sacrificing your dream wedding:
Think "Off Season"
The first step in planning your wedding is selecting a wedding date. Summer is the busiest time of year for weddings - but also the most expensive. Choosing an "off-season" wedding (think fall and winter) can save you a bundle in location rental costs. Plus, you can also take advantage of the uniqueness of each season to help "decorate" your wedding or reception. October and November foliage can provide a beautiful and unique backdrop for your wedding as well as a wealth of wedding and reception decorating ideas. Major holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas also bring distinctive decorative items and party goods (lights, unique candle holders, napkins, cups, plates, ornaments as centerpieces or wedding favors) that can be used as decorations for your wedding and reception, but at a fraction of the cost of typical wedding decorations.
Dollar-type stores are gold mines for wedding decoration and supplies. From paper lanterns to supplies for clean up, these stores sell everything, and they sell it cheaply. Candles and lights are generally a large part of any wedding theme, and dollar stores sell both, so stocking up on these items here won't break the bank.
Thrift stores and garage sales also provide a wealth of wedding accessories. You never know what you will find, and the price is always right. Many times you'll find antique vases, table linens and dried florals that will work beautifully for your reception.
Ask for Help
Call on your friends and relatives to contribute. An artistic friend can help you design invitations, and musically inclined friends can play or sing on your special day. Are there some outstanding cooks in your family or circle of friends? By all means, tap into their talents! Many foods are easy to prepare in large quantities and can be made in advance and frozen until the reception.
Wholesale clubs like Sam's are ideal for stocking up on sodas, beer and wine, and many grocery stores will give you discounts when you buy in bulk. Don't be afraid to check around for pricing - it can save you a considerable amount of money.
Wedding cakes can take a big chunk of your budget, so enlist the help of your friends. You never know when you'll find a friend of a friend who makes wedding cakes. Many times, these "weekend bakers" create beautiful cakes for far less than the cost of a bakery cake.
You've heard the stories, and it's true - a wedding gown can blow your entire budget. Before you take out that second mortgage or promise your first born, check bridal stores for clearance gowns, but also take a look at department stores. Stores such as Dillards, Foleys and Nordstrom offer an impressive selection of evening gowns and special occasion dresses, many of which make unique and memorable wedding gowns. And don't forget to visit consignment stores, where you may find the perfect dress that's only been worn once. Of course you can always have your dress made, or buy a very plain dress and transform it with your own embellishments and modifications. Not only will this save you money, but you can be sure you'll have a one-of-a-kind dress that YOU designed.
No one wants to do it, but trimming down your guest list is the single easiest way to keep your costs down, since food and drinks at your reception can eat up a large part of your budget. Limit your wedding to family and close friends that you enjoy being with. This will keep your expenses down and make the day more personal.
If you absolutely can't bear to trim down your guest list, consider having your wedding and reception earlier in the day, and serving limited alcoholic beverage. Guests typically do not eat or drink as much during the day as they do at night, and probably won't even notice lighter fare or a limited selection of drinks.
Make a Bid
You can find anything you want on the Internet, and wedding accessories are no exception. Sites such as The Knot and E-Bay function as clearinghouses for all things wedding. What someone "had" to have for their wedding is now the very thing they want to get rid of - quickly and inexpensively!
With a little work and a lot of creativity, a low-budget wedding can be the day you've always dreamed of, and a day your family and friends will remember fondly.