When Bride Stephanie Fenn got engaged, the budget for the wedding immediately reared its ugly head as problematic. So, with careful planning and the cooperation of her family, she began to navigate ways in which to get the wedding of her dreams to cost under $5,000.
First stop: The Dress
I made a couple appointments with different dress shops, one being David’s Bridal, and the another was a shop called Ann’s Classic Affairs. We went to Ann’s Classic Affairs first because it came recommended from a friend, who said it had a large selection of affordable and modest gowns – having a sleeve and higher neckline was something I was specifically looking for. I went in doubtful I was going to find anything in my price range, but when we told the owner what we were looking for and what we could afford she walked us over to her clearance dresses. At first I was like…’you could of just laughed and told us to leave,’ but then she went over their prices on alterations and how they could make our budget work (under $1000).
I tried on four dresses and ended up back in the very first dress I tried on. It was a size 14 -and I was a 4- so to get me in they had to use the big clamps. They assured me that they could get it to my size and that it would be flawless. So we bought it, scheduled my fittings, and got a gorgeous ballroom gown with beaded and lace detail that made me feel like a princess It was truly perfect for my storybook theme and landed us well under our budget of $1000. The dress itself was $500 and cost roughly $300 for all the alterations. This gave me room to purchase jewelry, a head piece, and two garters-one to throw and one to keep. I guess I can’t say I am a relatable example for the bride that tries on every gown in ten different dress shops, but I would just say that if you got a tight budget, don’t be afraid to dive into the clearance racks!
The moral: If you have a tight budget look into clearance dresses and try shopping in non-“name brand” stores. If you do pick out a dress that doesn’t quite fit without alterations, then you want to make sure to pay attention to the cost and reputation of the stores alterations. Another solution would be to try renting a dress. This, of course, is a solution that would only work for brides that don’t wish to keep their dress.
If there is a will, there is a way!
I thought about making my own wedding invitations – it was what both of my older sisters did for their weddings- and I knew that a DIY invitation with a wedding invitation kit could be just as beautiful as any printed from an invitation company, but I just didn’t want to. Perhaps it was a bridezilla moment, but I had an invitation in mind and I didn’t have a clue, or ,as a full time student, the time to make them. So, after finding the ONE on Invitations by Dawn, I approached my parents with the $500 cost. Their reaction was predictable-‘that’s fine, but remember that means we can’t buy….”. So, I came up a solution: A Wedding Garage Sale! I put out a post on Facebook requesting donations from family and friends and asked to take any clothes, books, technology, or furniture off their hands. About a month later on a Saturday we held our sale. Most items were under $5, some even under a $1, but it turns out that a sign saying ‘help us pay for our wedding’ and some cheerful negotiating inspired people to buy and then buy more. We made about $650 in one morning. This not only allowed me to get the invitations I wanted, but it added $150 to our budget.
The moral: If you are on a low budget, get creative and generate extra funds! A garage sale, like Stephanie’s, could generate anywhere from $400-$800 if done right. It isn’t asking for handouts. You will be doing the work, and earning the right to be picky about the invitations you order. Other creative ways to earn extra wedding cash would be a bake sale or a car wash. Just try to figure out a service you can offer, and fill it!
One thing that really helped me save money was borrowing from brides that preceded me.
I got all of my white round table clothes from a girl who had her wedding the weekend before mine and whose mother just so happened to be best friends with my new mother-in-law. The trade was that we would help them set up and take down their wedding reception decor. Then, because I didn’t want to have just plain white table clothes, I got inspired by a image I found on Pinterest that had two squares of colored cloth that formed the extra color and design I wanted.
I wasn’t going to be able to afford buying square table cloths in the varied sizes, so I went with my parents to a material store and picked out cloth in my colors. I gave the picture example, the dimensions of the table, the material, and thread to my dad and told him not to mess it up (he is the one that sows in my family). The tables turned out EXACTLY how I wanted and cost us about $80 for all 10 tables.
The moral: Don’t forget to ask around. Brides should have each other’s backs, and if you know a bride that was married recently, don’t be afraid to ask where she got her materials for decor, and even, if you could use some of it. A wedding is one of those things that you don’t want to go trying to reinvent the wheel on. Get advice, ask around, and learn from other brides!