10 Ways We Saved and Splurged on Our Wedding
Now that June is here, wedding season is well underway. If you’re a bride or groom-to-be, you may be coming up on deadlines for making decisions about your wedding. You also might find that you’re coming close to the limits of your wedding budget. Unless you’re the son or daughter of a royal, you’re probably going to have to compromise on your wedding in some way.
My husband and I planned our wedding in about six weeks earlier this year. We definitely had to compromise on a few things for our families and for budget reasons. We prioritized the things that mattered most to us and cut back on the things that didn’t. In the end, I thought our wedding was perfect for us. To give you some ideas for your own wedding planning, I want to share ways we saved and splurged on our wedding (but still kept within our budget).
How We Saved
1 | Pass on the beachfront wedding
When we first moved our wedding from San Francisco to Southern California, I wanted to have a beachfront wedding. Almost no one in Northern California has a beach wedding because beaches are cold and uninviting. When the opportunity came to have one in Southern California, a beachfront wedding is all I thought about. SoCal water is warm and the weather is heavenly. What more could one want for a wedding? That was until I started getting quotes from these types of hotels and properties. We received quotes of $10,000 venue fees and $15,000 food minimums. We still needed to hire other vendors such as the photographer, DJ, and florist. I scratched that idea pretty quickly.
2 | Booked a package deal
We found a great package deal with the Chapel of Orange in Orange, CA. If you want to talk about getting a steal for a wedding, this is it! At our first meeting with the owner, we described the basics of what we wanted and she gave us a quote of $8,000. I had to pause for a moment. Did this quote include catering? How to could it be so low? I was seriously confused. The quote did include catering. We ended up adding to our package, but we thanked our lucky stars that we found this beautiful venue in the first place.
The Chapel of Orange offers several packages that are customizable to your preferences. The larger packages include the venue (chapel and reception hall), DJ/music, flowers, photographer, officiant, and catering including the cake. The venue also had all the linens I needed, chargers, centerpiece décor, and Chiavari chairs for me to use at no extra cost. At many places, you’ll be quoted a lot more for these things or you’ll pay a pretty penny more to rent them.
3 | Bought my wedding dress on sale
Being the frugal type, I knew I didn’t want to spend a lot on my wedding dress. I found the perfect dress, the Adalynn from BHLDN, on sale for only $567! Not bad for a dress that retails at $1800.
How did I do it? I started researching wedding dresses a few months before we actually got engaged. I looked at all types of dresses to become familiar with brands and styles. Then I searched used wedding dress sites and eBay. The BHLDN Adalynn quickly became first choice. I found out that BHLDN was holding a sample sale last July and called to see if they would have the dress in my size. They wouldn’t, but the dress was on super sale online with an additional 20% off if I purchased it over the phone. I was sold!
I saved more on my wedding attire by wearing shoes I already owned. I had a pair of nude heels that I knew would be comfortable enough to last through a night of standing and dancing. I chose to wear them with my dress, saving myself the cost of new wedding shoes.
4 | Reused flowers
We saved more by repurposing flowers from the ceremony to use for the reception. Our package from the Chapel of Orange included some florals. We picked eight bouquets, which were placed on the front chapel pews, and two garlands placed around the chapel during the ceremony. After the ceremony, the venue coordinator moved those flowers to the reception hall to use as the centerpieces for our guest tables and the sweetheart table. I was really happy to see this because I didn’t want to spend a lot on flowers knowing that we would not use them again beyond that night.
5 | Cut the guest list
Cutting our guest list was both intentional and unintentional. When we planned to have our wedding in San Francisco, our guest list was a little over 100 people. Our plans changed and we then planned a wedding in Southern California with only six weeks lead time. That necessitated us planning something smaller. We also knew that a lot of people wouldn’t be able to travel to the wedding due to having prior plans or having young children. All of this brought our original guest list down to about 60 people. When you cut the guest list by 40%, you will save a lot of money.
How We Splurged
6 | Ordered extra food
I have been to weddings where I've stood around after the ceremony waiting my turn to take pictures. When I finally made it to the cocktail hour, all the food was gone. You know what they say about hungry people? They get angry! We wanted to make sure that our guests had enough to eat, especially since I come from a family of big eaters and we didn’t want anyone angry with us. We provided three appetizers instead of two and opted for three different meat or seafood entrees instead of two. It may have cost a little more, but we had plenty of food and no one left hungry.
7 | Gave edible favors
We wanted to thank our guest with nice favors since most people had to travel to attend on short notice. I would’ve liked to have ordered customized favors, but we started looking at for favors only about 1-2 weeks before the wedding, leaving little time for manufacturing and shipping. Instead, we decided to give each guest a box of 6 freshly-made macarons from a local bakery. I’ll admit that I paused for a second before signing to accept the charges for that one. I’ve never spent so much on sweets in my life! Our family and friends loved it though, and I got to eat the extras!
8 | Opted for extra hours and entertainment
Our reception would have ended at 8 PM because our package came with only 4 hours of entertainment. We paid for 2 more hours of the DJ so that the party entertainment could go until 10 o’clock. It was well worth it for a few more hours of dancing and fun. We chose to save here by having the photographer and videographer finish at the originally scheduled time of 8 PM because most of the reception events like the first dance and speeches would be over. One additional touch was hiring a photo booth, which was a hit with the children.
9 | Hired a videographer
I was absolutely sure I wanted to have a video of my wedding. I love seeing old videos of friends and family. Videos show so much more of a person’s personality that pictures can. You hear a person’s voice and see their body movements and facial expressions. I always wish I had more video of my grandparents. Knowing that, I wanted a video of my husband and me on one of our happiest days for our future children and grandchildren to see.
While videographers can be expensive, we were able to get a great deal for one through our wedding planner. The videographer gave us a good deal too since we booked him on just a few weeks’ notice.
10 | Went on a post-wedding mini-vacation
My family decided to make my wedding a mini-vacation since almost everyone had to travel to SoCal for the wedding. We have several young children in our family, some of whom had never been to Disneyland. We knew they would love it, so we spend the entire day Monday following the wedding visiting Disneyland and California Adventure. Let me tell you, it’s not for the faint-of-heart physically or on the wallet. When you factor in hotel, admission for an entire family, and food, it’s a splurge.
I was 5 years old the first time I went to Disneyland. I still remember how excited I was to visit. It was my five-year-old self’s dream come true! Looking back now, I’m so thankful to my family for bringing me there as a young child to create those memories. I was equally happy to create those memories with my young nieces and nephews this time around. That said, we won’t be going back to Disneyland for a few years!
It’s no secret here that I love saving money. That was absolutely true when it came to my wedding. We decided to save where we could and spend where we wanted. While I was briefly disappointed about not having a beachfront wedding or having as many friends present at my wedding as I would’ve liked, my thoughts turned quickly enough to all the great things about having the wedding that we did have. At the end of the day, I married my sweetheart, and you’ll be marrying your sweetheart too. That’s the most important thing.
What did you save and splurge on for your wedding? How did you decide? How did you feel about it afterwards?