This is a guest post by Carmen Sechrist of Life Blessons, a personal blog with a religious and frugal bent.
From the day I got engaged until I walked down the aisle last July was 10 weeks–two and a half months. We had little time and an even littler budget – less than $5,000, a quarter of the national average – for the whole dress-rings-flowers-food-honeymoon she-bang. At the end of those 10 weeks I had the wedding of my dreams: an outdoor affair brimming with beautiful wildflowers, a long strapless gown, all my loved ones together and a weeklong honeymoon in the woods.
Limited guest list
This one you’ll read on every wedding website. If you want to save money, cut your guestlist. The site that we found had a capacity of 150, so that became our guest list. We only invited family and our best friends. As we started adding other church friends or coworkers, the size swelled out of control. Rather than pick and choose, I sent an email to friends that I had to cut to explain the situation and let them know how much their friendship means to me. People (particularly those who had been married before) really seemed to understand.
A hidden benefit in limiting the guest list was eliminating the need to impress. That was something I worried about in the beginning – what would so-and-so think about this? – but when we cut the list to those who we knew were there for us and for no other reason, that was no longer a concern.
Let people help you
People will ask if there’s anything they can do to help. Do not feel bad about taking their offers. One of my friends asked if she could help and because I was living out of town at the moment, I asked her if she’d be willing to research places to get my hair done. A week later, she had prices for me at places her friends had gone. One of the places frequently runs deals through local radio stations to buy a $50 gift certificate for half off. She suggested I buy up a couple of those, and I did, so I ended up getting my hair done for half-price. Team work really does pay off!
We pulled favors from a variety of friends and relatives. An uncle offered us his summer condo in the Smoky Mountains. A friend who was starting his photography business offered us reduced rates and another friend who was graduating from baking school helped with our cake. My sister crafted an adorable cake topper. More than saving us money, these were gestures of love.
Make a decision and move on
I’m not much of a decision-maker. I like to deliberate and weigh my options before moving ahead. In my wedding planning, I had to learn to break free of this desire to entertain every available option and instead decide if an option fell in the “good enough” pile and go with my gut. I realized my wedding was only a memory and I made peace with every off-the-cuff decision instead of worrying.
There’s all this pressure to find “perfection” and believe that only “new” things will do, but that’s not true. I read a story online about a woman who was days away from her wedding and she still hadn’t found “the perfect pair” of shoes. She realized every time she put her dress on she wore the same pair of heels from her closet. The heels looked good with this dress. Why keep looking? For her, it was a revelation that she could wear something she already owned.
I tried as much as possible to use items in my house. Picture frames I already had to decorate the mantel of the stone room, an old picnic basket from the basement to hold favors, a favorite bedspread to throw over the cake table. Because my wedding décor leaned toward a shabby-chic garden incarnation, this hodge-podge approach worked perfectly for us and no one noticed. The best part is that not only did it save me money but it also saved me time, as I was not wandering the aisles of shopping center upon shopping center searching for the elusive “it” item.