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When Tyson and I started planning our wedding, we both knew that we wanted to find as many ways to save money as possible. The average cost of a wedding in our neck of the woods is approximately $27,000.00. I’m still flabbergasted when I read that figure – that much money for one day?! But I quickly learned, as I called various venues, caterers and photographers, that everything in the wedding industry tends to be expensive and everything adds up incredibly fast. And there is a mentality that a bride’s wedding day is supposed to be exactly as she’s always dreamed it to be and that everything must be perfect. And I will admit, I wanted our wedding day to be special and look like the picture I had in my head – I’m most definitely like the average female in that respect. 😉

Nevertheless, we were both determined, especially since we were paying for the bulk of the wedding costs ourselves. Since we’re planning to build our own house over the next few years, we did not want to dump all of our savings into making one day of our lives into a full-fledged gala affair.

I’m sure there were ways that we could have saved even more money, but it’s hard for me to find them at the moment. Perhaps once I’ve settled receipts and everything a little more on our budget work-sheet I’ll see things a little more clearly. But, in the meantime, here are a few ways we saved money:

1) Budget. I made an excel spread-sheet with figures of how much I hoped to spend on everything. From my gown to the tux rental, to the hall rental fee to the caterer costs, we put down what we wanted to spend on everything. Then, as we spent money, I added in figures of what it ended up costing. Having a physical budget sheet to look at and add figures to helped keep spending in check.

2) Network. Seriously, NETWORK. My hairdresser recommended the reception facility that we ended up choosing. A girlfriend told me to look on eBay for a veil. Two friends who got married within the last three years recommended the photographer to us. Other friends gave me great tips on how to go about searching for the best prices on things for the wedding. Use every resource you can!

3) If you can find options that are well below what you budgeted for that area, resist the urge to upgrade or get something more expensive just because you budgeted enough for that area. If you stay under budget in some things, you can use the left-over budgeted money to go towards things that go over budget or for things you forgot to budget for completely. For instance, we went over budget slightly with the caterer and completely forgot to budget for a wine toast. In the end, I cut back mercilessly on the table centerpieces and bridal party flowers budgets in order to put the left-over money towards the Hors d’oeuvre and the wine toast.

4) DIY. There’s a time and place for Do It Yourself, something that has become very popular in the wedding industry these days. But before you decide on a DIY project, make sure that in the end it’s worth it. Sometimes DIY can turn out to be more expensive than if you hired someone. And if you have too many DIY projects, you’ll end up with even more stress, something you definitely don’t need more of! So, choose your DIY projects wisely, but keep in mind that it can save you a lot of money.

5) Don’t let people convince you to spend more than you want to. As a bride, you’ll find yourself faced with lots of advice…and you’ll feel pressured to take all of it into consideration. Don’t spend more than you budgeted just to placate others. Remember, all of this is to celebrate the beginning of the marriage of you and your fiancé. It isn’t to make Aunt Mildred happy or to help Cousin Ann find a date, it’s for YOU. I’m not condoning bridezilla behavior, but I do suggest standing up for yourself and discarding any and all suggestions you don’t want, especially if it involves how you are spending your money for your wedding.

6) Make a list of the biggest things you need to do and try to get them done as soon as possible. When the stress levels are higher, you will find it harder to resist the urge to just spend more money because you’re tired of dealing with the aggravation of price-comparing, budgeting and working on DIY projects. If you feel like doing something and can get it done now, get it done NOW.

7) And last of all, remember: it’s just one day. You have the rest of your life to spend together. Save a little money for that. 😉