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The Plunge Project on Saving Money

June 15, 2010

Sometimes it’s easy to get wrapped up in the snowball effect of a blog and forget that there are new visitors who are all, “How do I jump in?!” I’ve had that experience on many blogs before (especially those, like this, of bride’s documenting the journey to “I do”) where I can’t tell where to start reading and I wind up leaving the page. I asked Nicole from The Plunge Project to bring us back to the basics of staying on a budget.


5 Ways to NOT Go Broke When Planning Your Wedding

When Lizzie asked me to guest post here on her blog, I knew I had to come up with something good for budget-conscious brides like the two of us. Like her, I’m on a budget. Unlike her, I am sadly not going to keep mine quite as low as $10,000 – although I totally could have, had I tried just a little bit harder.

But in the spirit of not going bankrupt in the process of planning your big day, here are a few quick tips I’ve come up with to save you, your hubby-to-be, and both of your families some money:

  1. Choose a date outside of wedding season. I’m in Tennessee, so our wedding season is long – April to October. Of course, that’s when the weather is nicest and the days are longest, yet our winters are mild and spring & fall tend to last pretty long, so we chose the date of November 6 – the first weekend outside of wedding season. Because the demand is much lower outside of the season, you’re often able to negotiate better deals on venues, catering, etc! Plus, you don’t have to fight for your date with other brides.
  2. Look beyond Saturday. Because my family is out of town, this wasn’t an option for us. However, I’ve heard of a lot of other couples having success with this money saving tactic – including my parents who were wed on a Friday back in the 80’s and swear by it. This is the same basic concept as choosing a date outside wedding season – there’s just less demand for a Friday (or any other day) than Saturday.
  3. DIY. There are tons of wedding blogs, magazines and TV shows that showcase weddings the vast majority of us could never even think of affording. However, I use these as inspiration and figure out ways I can create the same look on my own, with materials from craft stores, antique shops, thrift stores, yard sales, etc. It’s amazing what you can do with a little creativity and elbow grease! Plus, can you imagine what it will feel like to be able to step back on your big day and look at your creation?!
  4. Scour the Internet. I wrote a blog post on my own blog this week about a beautiful hairpiece I found in a store for $90. Because I don’t know that I would be willing to pay quite that much for a collection of feathers, I took to Etsy and found an even more beautiful one for half price. With a few minutes of online research, you can almost always find better deals than you could in a bridal boutique.
  5. NEGOTIATE! It’s amazing what kind of deals you can get by simply asking. I know it’s sometimes hard to have the guts to ask someone for a better deal, but you honestly have nothing to loose and everything to gain. And use your assets. For instance, I have an active social media presence and am fairly well-known locally for it. I’ve been able to utilize that and offer word-of-mouth advertising and social media consultation in exchange for discounts on services. Do you do a service that one of your vendors might need? See if you can work up a deal!

So there are 5 tips that can save you money. What ways have other brides saved?


Nicole runs the wedding blog, The Plunge Project — a place for real brides who want more than your average cookie-cutter wedding yet still have a budget to keep in mind. You can also find her on Twitter @PRNicoleV.

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23 Comments leave one →
  1. June 15, 2010 12:12 pm

    I think folks who have smaller budgets (like mine), it’s important to be realistic with what you have to spend and not hate yourself for it.

    I saw your post about the Baltimore wedding at the AVAM (beautiful museum) and I remembered how freaking sad I was when I found out it was way out of our budget. To rent the back courtyard alone would have cost me months rent, my arm, and my leg. And I was not about to be homeless or without my limbs.

    When we found out many of our “ideal” locations were out of our price range, we had to not only think outside of the box, but learn to be okay with it and remind ourselves that less money did not equal “sucks” or less than.

    • June 15, 2010 1:11 pm

      Definitely! Angie, I totally agree. I think being realistic is the number one thing to remember when you’re planning a wedding. Yes, some people have $70,000 budgets to work under, and those are a lot of the weddings that you see around, or even $25,000 (supposedly reasonable), is still way out of budget. I’ve learned very quickly to, even though I hate doing this in general, put my foot down with vendors. “Oh, Lizzie, we can definitely do a wedding for $10k here”

      No, NO No, you’re not listening: I want the whole wedding done under $10k, not just a venue rental with chairs and tables FOR that much.

      Learning to be realistic, put your foot down to stay within your budget and, I think, not always tempting yourself with creeping up on the budget (cuz it just creeps and creeps) are really important to remember.

      • June 18, 2010 3:00 pm

        I definitely agree on being realistic! It’s just not worth it to go completely broke for one day. I know it’s such an important day, but your life together (and not living in a box to pay for your wedding) is way more important! Plus, I really am a firm believer that you can have an AMAZING wedding on a budget, you just have to think outside the box & get creative 🙂

  2. June 15, 2010 1:05 pm

    I think Angie hit it right on with not only sticking to the budget, but being ok with it. It’s hard when you start wishing away at all of the pretty pictures you come across, only to realize that what seems SO doable really cost mucho dinero! hopes dashed, tears come forth…

    These 5 tips are so key but I think it’s so important for the couple to sit down and discuss what they’re willing to spend/what the budget is, and what they want their day to be about/and to look like, and how can they achieve that – does it mean waiting longer to get the $, does it mean adjusting the time of day for the party, does it mean an off the rack dress….but most important, the couple needs to be honest about their expectations with one another

    • June 15, 2010 1:13 pm

      Definitely agreed, Suzanne. Couples need to decide which “pieces” of the wedding are going to give to stay under budget: So photography is the most important piece to you? Great, $2k – $2,500 photographer, but passed apps instead of plated dinners. Maybe a standing cocktail reception…There are pieces that you can have be FABULOUS, but you have to sacrifice something.

      • June 18, 2010 3:01 pm

        I second both comments! Prioritization is key to having a great wedding, getting the most out of it, and staying on budget 🙂

  3. June 15, 2010 2:10 pm

    Love a good tip post! Love “Scour the Internet” and “Look Beyond Saturday”. I also think it’s really important to realize DIY is only a good option if it doesn’t cause you to almost DIE (theoretically speaking) before the big day. It’s helpful to realize that as the wedding day nears time may be worth more than money….maybe. 😉

    • June 15, 2010 2:24 pm

      Agreed. We’re debating over a blank-slate wedding and a restaurant wedding and the restaurant, though more expensive, is taking care of everything….from food to tables and linens and chairs, set up, take down….that’s worth something for sure!

    • June 18, 2010 3:04 pm

      Glad you like the post 🙂 I should have clarified — it’s definitely possible to do TOO MUCH DIY. It’s important to pick a few key projects to focus on and give yourself plenty of time to do them. I’m still 5 months out and am starting my DIY projects now. My photographer actually gave me a really good piece of advice — try to schedule one project a month up to a year or so out, that way you have plenty of time and a lot less stress!

      • June 18, 2010 7:38 pm

        That is definitely a great tip, Nicole, one project/month for a year…definitely would be much easier than trying to cram a bunch of projects into a couple of weeks before…and you’ll be much happier with the outcome!

  4. June 15, 2010 3:25 pm

    “Look Beyond Saturday” is huge. We had our eye on The Brazilian Room in Berkeley, CA – a beautiful spot I’d been to several times – but it would have cost us over $3,000 just for the venue, and trying to fit that into a $10,000 wedding just wouldn’t work. But then we realized – wait a minute, what about Thursday? Turns out that weekdays (even in peak wedding season) are $600 for a 5 hour block! We added 3 hours for $75/hr, but still, $825 for one of the most fantastic places around is a steal.

    We briefly wondered if it was “OK” to have a wedding on a Thursday, but then we realized that (a) most of our guests are local and (b) HELLO SAVINGS and we just honestly couldn’t come up with a single rational reason not to pick a Thursday.

    So we did!

    PS – though we thought we were totally awesome and thrifty, we are running into some issues with the list of approved caterers and trying to get them to work with us on meeting our budget – it’s been tough. My advice is to vet the approved caterers of a place before booking. We’re now looking into the self-catered option…

    • June 15, 2010 4:55 pm

      Definitely! Usually you can bank on the discount being OVER half to have it on Sunday, Thursday, and at some places, even Friday is cheap! I think it’s your wedding and if you wanna have it on a Thursday, you’ll save more by less people being able to make it that aren’t “as important” (I know, swear words during wedding planning), but the people who are life/death at the wedding will make it either way, even a 6am Monday morning, okay…but will you make it?

      I couldn’t agree more about checking out the approved caterer’s list, that was my first step once I got a rental rate from a blank slate. One place, for BARBEQUE, would have been $150/person. WHAT?! No open bar!

      Sometimes you can have an “unapproved caterer” for $2000 security deposit…as long as they leave without wrecking the place, you get it back. I would love to talk to someone who did that, see if they got it back and what not.

    • June 18, 2010 3:07 pm

      I feel you on the “approved caterers” list. My venue is actually managed by a caterer, so we don’t have a choice. Luckily for us, their prices are very reasonable and I’ve heard good things about the food. On a positive note, WHAT A GREAT DEAL you got on switching to Thursday. Way to go!

      • June 18, 2010 7:39 pm

        Yes! I love seeing events run by catering companies…more should definitely get into this…I think they often have way less of a wedding-y feel and more appropriate prices.

  5. June 15, 2010 8:10 pm

    always great to have tips like this! I was pleasantly surprised to see we have done most of them (minus the out of season one, hello August!). Apparently I’m lucky since I like such cheap things like bbq and camp lodges but cannot stress research enough for finding deals. Also, etsy is a great resource for things like fascinators, dresses, etc. Don’t discount big chains (cough cough Davids). Who else is wearing a wedding dress to your event? (if anyone is un-invite them!) Whatever you’re wearing you’ll look amazing even if 500 other brides have that dress. I had a great experience, found a great dress and spent under $500 on it. Also, ask for help! Both in terms of friendors and any help people are willing to provide. Not going broke is letting me focus on that whole i’m-so-psyched-to-get-married thing.

    • June 15, 2010 10:12 pm

      I love your comment on who cares if 500 other brides have the same dress…none of them will be at your wedding! Great advice.

  6. June 16, 2010 11:53 am

    These are great tips. I think we used every single one and our budget was very close to yours. One other tip: use friends and family! if you have friends with skillz, put them to work!

    • June 16, 2010 1:03 pm

      Heck yes, I wish I could give credit to whoever coined the term friendor, but it’s great.

    • June 18, 2010 3:11 pm

      Good tip! Sadly for me, most of my friends & family aren’t located in Knoxville. In fact, only 1 of my ‘maids is! So I’m trying to delegate across the country but it’s definitely much harder. Anyone have tips?

  7. June 16, 2010 8:57 pm

    I totally second the ‘friendor’ thing. If we had a dollar for every friendor we used… WAIT… we *do* have a dollar for every friendor we used, ’cause it’s money saved! Woot.

    • June 16, 2010 8:59 pm

      haha @bonafide. Definitely. It feels weird to ask at the beginning for us, because we live so far away from our friends now…feels like a hassle for them for their “imaginary” friends living way down in Texas, lol. But yes, friendors it is.

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