Price out all your options. Doing things way ahead of time is really the key to making a wedding affordable and nice. Granted you will be investing time. But nothing that is worthwhile is free. You will either spend time or money getting things together.
I would just say, it is important to beware of false economy.
This is why planning is so important.
If you’re thinking of making your own anything: invites, decorations, food, whatever – make sure you consider the true, full cost of all the materials and tools that you’ll need.
Don’t forget to account for wastage, too.
There were some things it was definitely much cheaper for me to make myself (Dollar Stores/eBay are your friend), but for example, by the time I accounted for everything, it was cheaper to just order printed invitations. When you compare the price of invitations that are professionally printed to those that we can make ourselves, even paper can bring you in range of the cheaper options.
What I have noticed with a lot of the printer is that they tend to offer cheaper invitations the more you order. That is the case with Galet Press and others that I have seen. Some of them offer as much as half off and that would be hard to match if you were to make them yourself.
For decoration try your local thrift stores. You will be amazed at how many high quality decorations you can find for cheap. You just need to be creative. Turn old glass bottles into vases, woven baskets into napkin holders, raid your local thrift stores for decorations. They may look silly or dingy in the store but once you take them out, clean them up and apply your vision to them you’ll have super unique and affordable decorating taken care of. It’s also a fun treasure hunt.
Do you like to cook?
Everyone says catering your own wedding is too much work but we have been part of some that were very relaxed and the couple said it was easier than they expected.
I think that one reason people like the is because it’s fun if you plan and think creatively about your options. Here are some food ideas if you want to try:
- Do it BBQ style with tons of fun sides. Borrow grills in advance. You probably have a grumpy uncle or two who would prefer to man the grill instead of make small talk.
- Reach out to local soup kitchens or shelters who have a certified kitchen if you want to do any of your own cooking/baking in mass production for sides and dessert. They most likely have all the pots and pans you’ll need. Offer a donation in return or better yet, donate and also volunteer your time during their meals!
- If you have a local university or community nearby, put the word out that you’ll pay a certain amount per hour to serve food and clean up. So much cheaper than a catering company and they’ll be happy to make some extra money. Just make sure you meet them first and give them a good rundown of their responsibilities. It helps to have a designated person you know be the coordinator of wedding day logistics like this they can go to instead of coming to you in the wedding day chaos.
- If you don’t get married on a Sunday, reach out to local churches and borrow tables and chairs. Offer a donation in return.
- Buy beer in bulk at distributor and put it in a self-serving cooler. We lucked out and had one of those old fashion tubs at the farm for ours. If someone really needs something stronger they’ll bring a flask.
- Put out tons of water and ice tea in place of a huge bar
- Shop at Cosco for your food supplies, champagne and other things not covered above
- For dessert, throw a pie baking contest and have people bring a pie or dessert if they choose (confirm at least enough in advance to have it covered). Figure out a fun way to judge which is the best and give them a small gift. Just make sure you have your own special wedding dessert covered though for cutting the “cake”!
Depending on your preference, cheaper metals may also be an option. For example titanium is know for its durability and it has beautiful symbolism for a wedding. Gold and other precious metals are expensive but that is about the only thing that they do for the wedding.
Add candy to an old mason jar or tea tin. We had assorted lolipops in tins to do double duty.
The Wedding Party
If you have a wedding party, encourage them to wear whatever they’d like with your color and style in mind instead a certain dress or suit.
Look at vintage shops for wedding gowns and other attire.
Offer To Let Friends Help
Reach out to friends. They want to help!
My favorite memories surrounding our wedding day were the times gathered around friends shucking corn, setting up lawn games and spending hours picking wildflowers in my friend’s backyard.
When I helped my brother organize his wedding I made this very suggestion. So many people thanked him after for asking for help which was what I told him would happen. The couple was pleased and so were the guest.
I’ve always said the best / most fun weddings that I’ve been to have been ones where the families get to take part.
Catering the Rehearsal Dinner
My parents and I did the rehearsal dinner and our families loved it. We had a local thai restaurant cater the reception. We sat down with them beforehand and sampled the dishes and even got some hints about traditional thai wedding food. This was really special for us since we love thai food so much.
We were a little apprehensive but it turned out excellent!