Kyle and I got married on June 29th, 2019. It was hands down the best day of my life, and I absolutely loved planning all of it. I did it all with the help of Kyle, Shaylynn, and my mom, and I learned so much along the way. I hope this helps somebody out there!
I bought a wedding planning binder and put EVERYTHING in it.
Receipts, coupon, offers, pictures, contact numbers, vendor decisions, bridal party, guest list, thank you list, etc. The Knot has an awesome binder that I purchased from Barnes and Noble, and I highly recommend it. It had pages and pages of planning that I didn’t even think to plan which was so helpful. I didn’t use every single section because some didn’t pertain to our wedding but was still super helpful. I kept a pencil bag and empty folders in the binder to hold receipts, confirmations, etc.
I created our The Knot Wedding Website very soon after we got engaged.
This website was great for when I was on the go because it had a few of the big things that the binder does. I mainly used it for the guest list, RSVPs, registry, and travel accommodations. I totally ditched the RSVP cards in our invites and just told people to RSVP on our website. Sooooo much easier that way- I can’t even express it!
I wrote out our budget on paper and on the app. I am a hands on learner and planner and doing both of those things helped me stay accountable and keep track of our expenses. If you don’t plan, you WILL go over budget. Include the things you absolutely HAVE to have and see how much you have left to spend on things not quite as necessary. The Knot app and binder has a great budget tool.
My MOH picked out the bridesmaid dresses.
I can’t explain to you how helpful this was. Your girls should be comfortable and feel good in the dress they have to wear all day and what better way to make sure they do than have one of them pick it out! Shaylynn tried on about 10 dresses, and I could instantly tell when she found the one she loved. It was so lovely and looked amazing on EVERYBODY. One less thing for me to have to decide!
I went with local vendors for all things food.
Our favorite Mexican restaurant catered our wedding, and it saved us literally thousands of dollars. They had a time where they came to the venue after the ceremony when we were taking pictures and quickly set out the food and left. They put it all in throw away containers, and it was such an easy and not stressful way of doing it. I just bought plates, cups, and plastic ware at GFS. It looked so fun, and the food actually was amazing. I’ve been to so many weddings with professional catering, and that food is not my speed. As for the cake, we used Nothing Bundt Cakes. They created a two tiered cake for us to cut and dozens of mini bundt cakes in different flavors for our guests. They came in little containers which made for super easy clean up and no extra plates. My dad and brother just picked them up the morning of the wedding and brought them to the venue. They also tasted 10x better than any wedding cake I’ve had. I still get compliments on them! We also purchased our own alcohol from Sam’s Club and one of the groomsmen was in charge of meeting the bartender at the venue before the ceremony to transfer all of it to him. That saved us a huge chunk of change. Thinking out of the box and less traditionally helped us find exactly what we wanted at a fraction of the cost.
I sent a “details” card with my invite.
Instead of an RSVP card, I sent a card that had our website on it and explained that they could find where to RSVP, our registry, travel accommodations, and all other details there.
We registered at Amazon and Target.
No matter what you need, Amazon is a MUST for registering. They have absolutely everything, keep a list of thank yous for you, and give you a huge discount on everything you didn’t get. Target does all of those things too, but I used it more for decor/clothing which was also AWESOME! Plus, since we connected our registries through our wedding website, a portion of every gift was sent to our charity of choice.
We got ready at home instead of the venue.
We found a venue that was a great price for the hours we wanted to be there for the ceremony and reception. A lot of places give you a price for the whole day, but that wasn’t the case for us. We decided that my bridal party would get ready at my parents’ house, and Kyle and his guys would get ready at our apartment. It worked really well for us, gave us more time, and just felt more relaxed because we had all day and anything we could ever need.
I bought my dress IN MY SIZE.
I have heard of so many brides buying dresses in sizes so much smaller than they are at the time in a hopes that they will lose enough weight to fit into it. HOW STRESSFUL AND AWFUL!!! Please do not do this!! Your wedding isn’t meant to be something that makes you feel like you have to lose a crap ton of weight. It is about proclaiming your love and devotion to your partner who loves you just the way you are. There is nothing wrong with working out and eating healthy, but don’t become so obsessed that you only stress yourself out and makes your engagement a negative experience.
My MOH was the only one who stayed with me the night before the wedding. I am a girl who NEEDS her sleep and so are most of my bridesmaids. We decided pretty early on that Shaylynn would stay with me and everybody else would meet at my parents’ house the morning of the wedding. All of them voiced to me that they slept much better at their own house and felt ready for the day because they were well rested. They had all been in weddings where the bride makes them stay the night (which is fine!!), but they spent the whole day being exhausted from sleeping on the floor. It was also really special to just have Shaylynn there. My girls and I had plenty of time the morning of to spend time together, and it was perfect!
Give your families a strict number of people they can invite. Okay this tip makes me sound super snotty, but I promise I’m not. When we picked the venue, we knew upfront that we could only invite 150 guests total. We had planned for that with our moms before we even toured it, and everybody thought it was doable. We didn’t plan well enough because between us and our moms, our guest list was over 400 people. I hated having to cut it down but we both returned the lists to our moms with a few new rules. They both had to take a certain number of people off the list completely and then highlight a certain number of people who absolutely had to get invites. The rest would get invited after other people RSVPed no. I seriously know how bad that sounds, but it was something we just had to do. If we could go back, we would have written out the friends we wanted to invite and then given our moms a certain number of guests they could invite and that’s it. It would have caused many less arguments (still some, just less;) and less stress in the long run. Your wedding is about YOU AND YOUR FIANCE. If you don’t even remember your second cousin or haven’t talked to your great step aunt in 10+ years, take them off the list and don’t give it a second thought.
My mom made the reception flowers, and a florist made the ceremony flowers.
After meeting with a florist I loved, I realized it would cost over $4000 for her to do all of the flowers. My mom offered to do all the flowers for the reception, and they turned out AMAZING. My florist made our bouquets, boutonnieres, and pergola flowers. We decided on the flowers together, and my mom ordered most of the same flowers from Kroger so they all matched. My mom also made a lot of extra flower arrangements that I used to decorate the aisles, cake table, guest book table, gift table, etc. I was so incredibly happy with them.
My mom did all of the decorations.
On top of the flowers, my mom came up with all the other decorations. I told her from the beginning that she has free reign to do what she wanted because she knows me best and decorating is not my strong suit. It took SO MUCH stress off of me, and I am so thankful for her.
We picked our venue first and photographer immediately after.
I immediately met and hired a photographer as soon as we had the date and venue. If I had waited, Keely and our venue would have been booked. We only toured one venue and booked it that same day. I can be so indecisive so when we loved this place, we jumped on it. Keely was so knowledgeable and was so helpful with the timeline planning. She went above and beyond, and I am glad that I went with somebody who was experienced. She stood up for me the whole weekend, was always there when I needed, carried around my make up the whole time, and kept everybody on track. She wasn’t afraid to be the bad guy and do things the way we wanted and not anybody else. Our engagement photo session was included with our price or else we wouldn’t have done them. I am so glad we did!! It helped us get to know her and vice versa which made our wedding photos so much easier.
Lose the individual ceremony programs.
These were such a waste of money to me. I paid a sweet girl design a template that listed everything that would have been on on a program, mom printed ONE the size of a poster at a print shop, and put it in a plastic frame. We set it on an aisle by the ceremony site for people to see as they came in, and it saved hundreds of dollars. It was super cute too!! (We did the same thing with the seating chart).
My fiance and I were ALWAYS on the same team.
There were a few people who thought if they spoke to Kyle without me, they could get what they wanted. A marriage should not be like that, and Kyle was so supportive during all of the planning. It was never “Miriam doesn’t want that”, it was ALWAYS “We don’t want that so no.” He never put the blame on me and always presented us as a united front. I am so thankful for that.
We stayed at a hotel right by the airport.
We thought about just staying at our apartment or in a hotel near our venue, but I am so glad that we splurged and drove an hour after the wedding to be in a nice hotel by the airport. The drive gave us time to relax and talk about the wedding before moving on to the honeymoon, and we didn’t have to worry about driving far when we woke up.
We shuttled to the airport. This ties to the one above because it was so helpful having a shuttle make sure we get to where we needed to go from the hotel to the airport. We drove Kyle’s car to the hotel, and my mom and dad had the spare key so he could go pick it up the next day and drive it home. That saved us so much hassle, and we didn’t have to pay for parking all week. My dad had our itinerary and was at the airport to pick us up when we flew home.
ALL INCLUSIVE RESORT.
Need I say more? Yes? Okay. We thought about allllll the options before we opted for Sandals. This saved us so many headaches in the long run and was the safest route. Once you pay for it, everything else is free once you get there and planned out for you. If we had tried to do all of the things we did by planning it ourselves, it would have easily cost us twice as much. The people at Sandals were so helpful and kind. We highly recommend it!!
Our DJ introduced us first, and we introduced our wedding party.
Kyle and I both had planned something to say about each of our bridal party members to explain who they are and what we love about them. All my girls cried, and it was fun to hear what Kyle said about his guys.
Ditch the traditional guest book.
Kyle and I opted for this sign from Etsy that all of our guests signed. It’s so beautiful, and we will always have a wall to hang it on. We knew we would never look at a guest book, and it would just go to waste. There are so many options out there so pinterest it up!!
Kyle wrote a note on the bottom of my wedding shoes for me to find on our wedding day.
He knew I didn’t have a “something blue” so he wrote a love note in blue on the bottom of my shoes to have for the rest of my life. It was so special to read that right before I got ready to walk down the aisle.
We created our own thank you cards.
I uploaded our favorite wedding photo to Staples online card making site, chose the style I wanted, and printed them the same day. So much cheaper, quicker, and easier than any other place I found.
Our last dance was just us. Our DJ kicked everybody out of the reception barn, and my photographer helped line them up for our sparkler send off. While they got ready, we had the whole barn to ourselves for our last dance. This was so insanely special, and one of my favorite memories from our wedding. Plus when we were finished dancing, everybody was ready to send us off!
There we have it!! All the things I did (or would do now) to plan our wedding on a budget and make it the best day ever!! If you have any questions I didn’t address, please leave me a comment below or email me!