How I’m keeping my wedding under $8,000

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You don’t have to mortgage your future to have the wedding of your dreams.

Weddings are expensive unless you’re eloping. I played with the idea of running off and marrying my sweetheart quietly, but the reality is that most of us come with families and friends attached who would feel exceptionally hurt to be left out of our weddings.

However, including everyone who wants to be at your big day can become incredibly pricey, as I’ve discovered while planning my own wedding. With this in mind, I have compiled a list of some of the things I’ve done and used to keep my wedding under my $8,000 budget.

Think big

The day which you choose to get married may be dictated by when you can afford to get married. In the wedding industry, the most popular months to get married are June, July, August and September, which means you will be competing with other couples for wedding vendors’ services. Also, Fridays and Saturdays are also can be more expensive days to get married, since there are more people trying to get married on those days.

I’m getting married on a Thursday. I took into account that some people may not be able to make it or get the time off work to attend my wedding. However, because it is not a peak day, many vendors have drastically cheaper prices, which I have been able to utilize.

Before you decide to hold your wedding on a non-traditional day, talk to the people you absolutely must have at your wedding. If they can make it, then you can let the rest of the guest list figure it out.

For a numbers breakdown, here’s how I implemented this advice. I worked for The Falls Event Center here in St. George over the summer. I was able to get a 50 percent discount this way and spent $1,000 to book the venue for my wedding day.

While we can’t all get jobs at event centers, most of them run different deals throughout the year. During my time working at The Falls Event Center, I saw a range of deals, taking off $200—500.

Also, using a venue as opposed to holding a backyard wedding, the backyard sounds cheaper, right? But there are things to factor in. Where will your guests sit? According to costhelperweddings.com, chair rental costs start at $1.25. For my 60 person wedding, that would be $75 for the cheapest metal folding chairs. For the rental tables that can seat eight people at a time, starting at $25 per table, it would cost me $200 total.

Then there is tablecloths to consider, sound system, event tent in case of rain, maybe rental toilets, refrigeration of food and so much more. So while spending $1,000 on a place to hold my event sounds like a lot, I got all these things included in my venue contract, plus staff to help me set up the day of my wedding.

Avoid impulse purchases

There are so many little things associated with weddings, and it can be easy to rationalize away buying something cute because “you might use it in the wedding.” Make sure you have a strong idea of what you need before you start looking for wedding items, because trust me, it is hard to just browse through websites like Oriental Trading without having a clear idea of what you’re trying to find.

Also, watch out for pressured sales. With words like “the deal ends today” and “we can’t guarantee this [insert item] will still be here if you leave now,” you will feel the pressure to make that impulsive decision. This happened to me as I shopped for wedding dresses, and that is a costly purchase that deserves deliberation, not impulsiveness.

It was incredibly awkward to have multiple salespeople hovering around as I handled their pricey gowns. I went in with a firm budget; I did not want to spend more than $500. Many of these charming salespeople pointed out the value of a more expensive dress, and the quality I would give up for a cheaper gown. But I kept reminding myself that I really wasn’t interested in a gown that could double as a down payment on a car, and after over four long hours, I found my gown at the last store I planned to visit for $399.

To help combat my own impulsive nature, I’ve kept an Excel spreadsheet of all the money I’ve spent related to wedding cost. It is surprisingly little work to keep it updated, and when I buy an extra vase I may not need, I see the direct impact on my budget’s bottom line.

Time management

Do not procrastinate planning your wedding. But also don’t panic, you don’t have to plan it all at once.

This advice isn’t contradictory; it calls for good time management on your part. I’ve had about a year and some change to plan my wedding, and it was really tempting to sideline wedding details in favor of immediate school and work obligations.

One tool I particularly liked while trying to keep track of what I needed to do (and when to do it), was from WeddingWire.com. The website has you input your wedding information and then churns out a checklist of when certain items should be accomplished. It has helped me stay on track without feeling overwhelmed by the remaining details.

So grab your tools and I’ll see you out there my fellow budget wedding planners.