Here are my suggestions to help you as you start the process.
Set a budget.
We did this and although we knew the prices of the major expenditures (venue, church, photography, cake) we just did everything we could to save money elsewhere. I worked diligently in the time consuming job of figuring out how to stretch the money we had allotted for this special day.
Decide what is most important. Invest your money in the things that matter most.
My daughter did not want to get married in the church fellowship hall. No matter how many ways we brainstormed (and believe me, we went round and round about this) to “camouflage” it the room was still unappealing. We spent a few weeks looking and analyzing before we came up with the perfect location. The venue was important to Rachel and we made it a priority.
We ended up hosting the reception at the Alumni House at the college I graduated from. We received a great discount and the reception was gorgeous.
The photography was also top of the list of “must haves.” Because my daughter has tried her hand at some modeling she loves the look of what I call “artsy” photography. As you can see in this post the camera loves her!
We got a tremendous price on an engagement shoot, bridal portraits and the wedding day itself. One of the photographers had taken pictures of Rachel before and we knew the finished product would be phenomenal.
Decide on a theme, an idea, or something to pull the wedding together.
From the very beginning my daughter was set on peacock feathers. We pulled the teal, royal blue and purple from that idea then used that as the theme for the wedding. My niece (who has a degree in interior architecture) began with the pattern in the invitation she designed and carried it through everything from the centerpieces to water bottles to pompoms to the custom designed cake. It was a stunning feast for the eyes!
Research, research, research.
The internet is a treasure trove of ideas and thoughts about all things wedding. Find a way to use those ideas at a much cheaper price by doing it yourself and/or comparing prices. Much of the physical running around can be eliminated by using the internet wisely.
Put the word out on facebook, email or other web avenues for assistance.
We put out a request for a venue for the reception and found our site from that advice. We were completely and totally thrilled with our choice.
Accept the gift of service from others.
None of our wedding personnel charged us. The pastor, pianist, keyboardist, guitarist, soloist, wedding director, wedding planner and servers at the reception all gave us the gift of their time and expertise.
Ask for a discount.
My mother (deceased a few months ago) was a charter member of the church we used for the ceremony. I spent all my growing up years and some of my adult years in this church. My daughter had fond memories from her younger days there and her dad and I were married in the same church. Because we asked, we only had to pay cleanup fees with no nonmember charges added on.
Allow others to help.
Donny’s mom graciously made the pinwheel sandwiches, vegetables and dips, cheeses and crackers. We made the fruit kabobs (400 of them), four different kinds of cookies, pretzel sticks, marshmallow pops, and punch. His family paid for the rehearsal dinner (held at the church) as is the custom.
Here are a few pics to whet your appetite
Some things are not included in this $5000 amount. My daughter bought her own dress and accessories. However, after all the expenses were totaled there was $600 left to apply towards this purchase, which only left her a small amount of money on the gown. Her fiance’s black suit and the ring bearer’s tux were bought by the groom’s parents. My husband and two sons all needed black suits, not included in this amount.
Obviously, this doesn’t count the honeymoon trip to Jamaica (bride and groom paid for). Rachel bought the gifts for her bridesmaids and Donny supplied matching ties and pocket squares for his groomsmen. This also does not include a mother of the bride ensemble or the junior bridesmaid dress.
I will do some individual posts on how we pulled this all off in the near future, but at the moment I’m still recuperating and trying to find our new “normal.”