Going into wedding planning, John and I knew that we had to be smart about our wedding budget. I was leaving my job of five years to move to where John’s stationed and we’d be making two moves in five months.
Obviously, those things had an impact on our wedding planning. But we both agreed: we wanted a timeless, elegant wedding. The trick was figuring out how to do it on a budget. Here are a few things I learned from 14 months of wedding planning:
Have a plan. It took me a while to decide what I wanted for our wedding, but when I finally made up my mind, I had it figured out to the last detail. I was able to create a plan of action for the most expensive parts of the wedding. I used the weekly 40%-off coupons from Michaels to buy large glass cylinders for table centerpieces. Yes, that meant that I could only buy one a week (although I enlisted the help of my sisters and parents), but it also meant that I was able to buy 28 vases that retailed at $363.72 (before tax) for $218.23. Had I bought these at the last minute, I would have spent $145.49 more.
Pay attention what, where, and when you buy. This includes coupons, sales, websites and stores that aren’t typical wedding supply stores. We used Snapfish for our Save the Dates ( and spent less than $70 doing so), ExclusivelyWeddings.com for invitations (and reaped the benefits of buying during President’s Day Weekend by getting 35% off our purchase), and Ikea for some of our wedding decorations (read how we saved $190 here). Last summer, I shopped Bath & Body Works on their semi-annual sale and saved 75% on 100 glass votive holders. Scope out clearance racks after holiday and seasonal sales. If you can, buy in bulk– many stores will give you a discount.
Prioritize your wants. John and I decided early on that we didn’t want to have regrets from our wedding, and we made sure to prioritize what was important. Even within those priorities, we were able to make some compromises that helped us stay within our budget. I wanted real flowers, but I didn’t mind using ones that were in-season and having smaller bouquets. I wanted a certain style of wedding jewelry for my bridesmaids and myself, but I didn’t have to have a particular brand. Knowing what we both thought was “worth it” gave us more wiggle room on some of the less important aspects of the wedding.
Don’t be afraid to ask for discounts or special considerations. I asked for discounts from every vendor we worked with, from our photographerto the reception hall to the wedding dress boutique. Because John is in the military, we were able to take advantage of military discounts. But there are more than just military discounts out there.
Ask about available promotions: depending on when you book the reception hall, they may comp the wedding party’s dinners; if you work with the caterer early, you may be able to lock in prices at a lower rate; having your wedding at a time that isn’t booked up may yield lower prices for various services. Think about the affiliations you might have: are you a teacher? student? When in doubt, just ask if they offer any discounts at all.
If your wedding vendor offers a package that doesn’t quite meet your needs, ask about changing it or what a la carte items cost. When we began working with our fantastic videographer, he offered a package that included a wedding trailer. We didn’t need it, but we did want all of the raw footage from the day. He was gracious enough to offer us the raw footage in lieu of the trailer. (And I am so glad that we had a videographer. At the wedding, I was flashmobbed and we would not have a video of it otherwise.)
Disclosure: This piece was produced in conjunction with a prompt from Credit Card Insider; however, I was not financially compensated for this post. If you’re interested in more wedding planning advice, join the conversation here.