When I first got engaged I was thrilled – the man of my dreams (hilarious, hard-working, soft-hearted, God fearing, wonderful all-around) wanted to spend his entire life with ME! We had been dating for 2 years at that point, and I was so ready to say, “I Do!” I immediately got into planning mode and began taking my Pinterest wedding board ideas into full swing (yes, I had a wedding board long before I got engaged…) However, I quickly realized two things: 1. Weddings are incredibly expensive and 2. I have a very limited budget. Every venue I found cost as much as my entire wedding budget – or more! Just to use the venue!
My parents and fiance’s parents were very generous in helping us out with what they could, but even with their help, I knew pulling off my “dream” wedding was going to be tricky.
Now, 8 months later, I can officially say my wedding was everything I could have wanted it to be and more – and I was able to make it happen even with very tight finances. I know so many brides-to-be are in similar positions (we’re at that age where it’s more shocking if we don’t see a “newly engaged” social media post each week), and I want to encourage all those ladies that if you’re a bride on a budget, don’t fret! I did it, and so can you!
Tips for Planning Your Wedding on a Budget
BE SMART ABOUT SEARCHING FOR VENUES
The venue was probably the most difficult thing to find – I knew I wanted something that had an outdoor ceremony and indoor reception, and I wanted it all in one location (picky, I know). However, I knew I could make it work. Instead of googling “wedding venues in Phoenix” I decided to research “unique event sites in Phoenix,” simply because tacking on the word “wedding venue” is instantly going to increase the price of the rental place. Even though they were beautiful, my budget couldn’t afford any traditional venue. I had to think outside the box. We ended up renting out a small nature center that was extremely affordable (less than ¼ of the price of traditional venues) and absolutely beautiful. Parks and churches are also great options that can sometimes be rented free of charge.
After the venue was chosen, there was so much more on the to-do list: flowers, catering, decorations, photographer, a DJ, the dress, invitations, rehearsal dinner…the list (and costs!) never seemed to end! There were so many things I wanted for my dream wedding, but I just knew I wasn’t going to be able to have it all, and that made me feel so discouraged. With current pop-culture and reality television, it is so easy to get wrapped up in shows like Four Weddings and Say Yes to the Dress, where the brides have unlimited budgets and a wedding coordinator to plan their entire lavish $50,000 day. However, the truth of the matter was that that bride wasn’t me, and I had to realize that that was okay. You’re not any less of a bride because you can’t afford peonies in your bouquet or floor length tablecloths for your décor.
SET YOUR PRIORITIES
Some of the best advice I received was to sit down with your fiancé and prioritize the things that are of utmost importance to each of you. Are you dead set on having an incredible professional photographer but couldn’t care less about the “dream dress”? Do you want to cut back on flowers and décor so that you can be inclusive and invite more of those extended family members? Choose what works for you – every wedding is unique and fit to that specific couple. Make it your own! Even though you will have to compromise in some areas, you will be sure to have the most important things done the way you want them.
After that discussion, I expressed that my priority was the venue, but that I also cared a lot about my dress. Don’t limit yourself to chain bridal retail stores for a gown – I knew I had a tiny budget but still marched right into a Scottsdale high-end bridal boutique convinced I could find something on sale, was honest about my tiny budget (I’m talking $500 people!), and walked out an hour later having found a dress that surpassed my wildest dreams hugely discounted because another bride had purchased it and changed her mind (P.T.L.) Yes, I recognize this doesn’t always happen, but sample sales and last season gowns are fairly easy to find!
THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX
For everything else, I once again thought out-of-the-box. I signed my mom and her friend up for a free DIY flower arranging class at a local wholesale florist so that they could create handmade bouquets for me, rather than paying a professional to do them. We also enlisted sweet and talented friends as our photographer, videographer, and DJ to cut back on those huge costs. Instead of a wedding coordinator, I had a girlfriend (who has an incredible eye for design) help create centerpieces and put the venue together the morning of the big day. My mom’s friend is a graphic artist and she handmade (and printed!) our invitations as a gift to us. Multiple of my girlfriends who had recently gotten married let me borrow hundreds of dollars worth of décor for centerpieces and tables. The point is, don’t be afraid to ask for help! Your friends and family want to be a blessing to you during this time, and allowing them to help makes them feel like a part of the big day.
Piecing everything together wasn’t easy, and I frequently got discouraged. I prayed daily for trust and peace, as our expenses seemed never-ending. Jesus knew financial insecurity was one of the biggest areas in which I needed growth, and he truly used my engagement season to remind me of his consistent faithfulness and provision. Does this mean he will always provide a hugely discounted wedding gown, or help you get a bonus at work to pay for the day? Absolutely not! But I am convinced that he will provide the resources to help you feel special no matter what – so be on the lookout. 🙂
Lastly, remember, your day is going to be beautiful, and not because you are wearing your dream dress or because you are saying your vows in your ideal location. Your day is beautiful because you are starting eternity with your best friend in front of all your family, your friends, and most importantly our sweet creator – and nothing is more beautiful than that.
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This post was submitted by Maggie Miller, who wants to encourage fellow believers.