WIC Drama, Chapter One: Ways to Trim Your Budget without Tearing Your Hair Out
There are five million articles on the internet on how to keep your budget under budget under the beginning budget and somehow you're still over by 5K because someone can't do math.
Actual video footage of most couples after the first budget conversation.
I'm not here to make you feel guilty for wanting more flowers on your ceremonial arch instead of a videographer.
What I do as a planner is try to assess what my clients' priorities are. If you're doing it on your own, it can be a lot of stress. In reality, this is likely the first time you're looking at making large financial decisions for something that isn't a necessity. If it isn't, though, bully for you, and this article probably isn't for you anyway.
Nothing like a good Y2K reference to represent prosperity.
The first questions you should be asking yourself are:
What is most important to you? What is most important to your intended?
What I'd like to discuss is the "misc" section of the budget. The one that's almost never in the budget. It amasses over the planning time in bits and pieces. By the time the wedding comes around, many people are wondering where hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars went.
It's on little stuff. The cute gifts to say, "will you be my bridesmaid/groomsman?". The over-the-top, $5 per piece invitation suite. It's not to say that you shouldn't buy these things; I'm just suggesting to add a section to your budget for things you didn't anticipate, and track your spending.
Beyoncé makes everything better.
That being said, here are the things I always put on the chopping block for budget brides:
Over-the-top invitation suites- These are cute, but no one's going to remember them. Also, inside envelopes are an extra expense, and they no longer make sense unless you're doing a wax seal or something decorative on it. This is a vestige of a time when the outside envelope went through a pretty good beating on the way to the recipient.
Budget Ideas- For save-the-dates, pick a photo and use a website like canva.com to design it, and then have it printed at an office store. For invitations, one page will suffice, and include instructions on how to RSVP by phone, or online. If you do stick with mail, be sure to put a stamp on the return envelope. It makes it easier for people to remember to drop the RSVP in the mail.
Inviting members of your bridal party with big gifts- There are examples of this all over Etsy and Pinterest. Boxed packages of engraved glasses, liquor, and candy. Personalized cuff links. Jewelry. It's all cute, but not something you need.
Budget Idea - Buy a bottle of wine, get your friends together, and ask them. If they're not in the neighborhood, just ask. No bribery should be required. They're your friends and family!
It's another reason to hang out with friends.
Mason Jars- Mason jar everything is incredibly tempting, especially because they're versatile. The trouble is, now they're trendy, and their costs are skyrocketing. Unless you're lucky and have a friend or family member that have a collection sitting around, the costs can add up.
Budget Ideas - If you drink, wine and liquor bottles are great for decoration and storage. If you want more mason-like storage, cut the tops off. Non-drinkers can do the same with sparkling cider bottles. Another alternate is to go to your local thrift stores and look for old bottles. Most thrift stores are overloaded with home goods, so they'd be likely to strike a bargain with you.
Out of Season/Pricey Flowers - This is one place that I always recommend considering cutting. A bouquet of orchids might be pretty, but they'll run you a pretty penny. Trying to get flowers that are out of season will cost you according to difficulty. They're living things.
Budget Ideas - Ordering wholesale flowers can save you money, especially if you already have a planner on board. The downside is that you'll need a team that's willing to put together the centerpieces and bouquets only a day or two before the wedding (two days will allow time for some of the blooms to open up). If you're using a wholesaler, order something small from them beforehand, so you know that the company is reliable. Another option would be to order from a local farm. The downside to farms is that they typically won't let you choose what flowers you get. You can usually pick the color, however.
Personalized Anything - Matching robes, etched wine glasses, embroidered napkins- all of these things are cute for pictures, but most of them will end up at the back of the closet by the end of the year.
Budget Idea - Ask your bridesmaids to all wear white (or the same color) button up shirts for the day of. It will look coordinated, and no one needs to spend money. Also, personalized wine bottles- why? Just get wine and tape a tag to it with your friend's name on it.
Bride-to-Be Anything - This one should be fairly obvious, but they're just so cute! The "Feyoncé" shirts, the "He Asked, She Said Yes!" glasses, the "Property of..." shorts. The last one tends to stick in my craw, but that's my personal opinion. Fun fact: Mississippi was the first state to allow women to own property in their own name, in 1839!
You're engaged! You don't need a t-shirt to tell people- you have the ring!
Budget Idea - Don't buy it. Hopefully you won't be wearing it after the wedding! You'll already be figuring out what to do with, or repurpose, your dress.
Traveling Out of State for the Dress - This is a big one. Most people will budget extra for their dress- and that's great! But bear in mind that you will be making a trip. Gas, food, and tickets can add up.
Budget Ideas - Find the designers you love at the store you want to go to, and find a local salon near you that sells their dresses. Not only are you supporting a local business, but you won't have to pay the price tag that comes with one of those big-name salons. Sometimes, you're paying a 50% markup for that experience! Also, thrift stores will often have cool vintage dresses, or expensive ones, for a fraction of the cost elsewhere. I've found dresses that originally went for thousands, for under $100. It takes a little extra time, but the results are worth it.
There will be more chapters of budget savings, but I'll leave it here for now! If there's any advice I could give an engaged couple: enjoy each other. Save the money on the above things, and spend it on a weekend together. Or a puppy!
Real life footage of me, the morning after an event.