Thursday, January 17, 2008

Getting Married on a Budget.

'Wedding' is an expensive word. Search for it on line, and hundreds of retailers are ready and waiting for your click. The Internet has made wedding resources much easier to locate, but you may want to browse without credit card in hand. Most brides-to-be desire a memorable wedding day (and night). This desire should be attainable without emptying one's savings.

I got married in November of 2007, the tenth of November, to be exact. My husband's family has a tradition of tying the knot on the tenth of a month. I decided not to break the tradition and start off in bad terms with the in-laws. Unfortunately, the tenth did not fall exactly when I wanted it to, and so, I began the wedding planning process with a November wedding, in New York. I also began to diligently pray for an Indian Summer.

May through October tend to be prime wedding months. At the time, I didn't realize that the in-laws' tradition would save me money, but as I sat down with a variety of vendors, I kept receiving the off season' discounted price. We were able to book the reception place that I adored due to the fact that we had the first available weekend for that year. Though Indian Summer never showed, the big day arrived without a blizzard and we had a blast inside our beautiful reception hall. Unless you have always dreamed of a summer wedding as a girl, the off season wedding may be a good consideration for your budget.

Perhaps the best way to get married on a budget is to actually create one. And commit to it. This can be a difficult feat, but will truly pay off in the end. First, decide who is paying for your event and how much they are willing to spend. My parents paid for most of the ceremony and reception, so I discussed the price tag with them. We established a price and began to hunt for the bargains. I used an Excel document to create a budget spreadsheet.
When prioritizing your budget, I recommend placing a quality photographer and/or videographer on top of your list. I often relive that big day while sitting on my couch with our wedding album. Make sure you have the rights to use your pictures after the wedding; it's much cheaper to order pictures yourself from a store than through a photographer. Our photographer was superb in capturing the whole day, while not being intrusive or pushy during those special moments.

Another great way to save money lies in the wedding invitation. It's easy to become absorbed in the type of paper, envelope color, dimensions, and wording, but remember, the guests will eventually throw away the invitations. So if you, or any of your friends, have a tidbit of artistic talent, buy the materials yourself, label it as a party, and recruit your creative friends over for the afternoon to help make your invitations. Just have the assembly line ready to go when your guests arrive. Craft stores and websites are ideal for wedding savings. Many have specified wedding aisles or links, and I hit up Hobby Lobby during their 50% off wedding sale. 
Who you invite is also a big part of your budget. If your guest list is huge, so will be the amount of money it costs to cater the guests. We aimed for a target of 150 guests. We ended up with about a hundred confirmed guests, which gave everyone enough elbow room at the dinner table. I also kept my bridal party small. It's not easy, but selectively choosing your nearest and dearest, whether its your sisters or your best friends, will save on money for gifts, the dresses and shoes, bridesmaid luncheons, etc. Because of our small wedding party, we were able to buy the bridesmaid dresses for the girls.

The wedding dress can be a major part of your budget. Begin with an idea in your head of the look you want. What flatters you? I perused the wedding dress websites before driving to a bridal boutique. I knew ahead of time that I didn't like the way I looked in a strapless dress, and preferred a dress with a tank neckline. Believe me, when you get to the bridal store, this will save you time. And time is precious too. I managed to find a beautiful dress in the last-of-the-line room; it was a "what you see is what you get." But I found a lovely dress that fit and it was the size and style I was looking for! I paid under $200 for my wedding dress!
Your wedding day will be a wonderful time, filled with family and friends celebrating you and your love. It truly is unforgettable. Be content in who can be there with you. Shop wisely. Keep in mind the whole point of the budgeting and head ache; you have found a person to share the rest of your life with. Congrats!

Have any additional tips on getting married on a budget? Please comment.

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