What should you do when your budget won't budge? Seek advice from thrifty brides like Gracie! What I love about Gracie (aside from her name!) is that her wedding planning experience summoned all of her best qualities - determination, resourcefulness, and...well, grace. Some brides (like myself) keep costs down by eliminating luxuries that people have come to expect at a wedding. But Gracie and Paul were able to host a fairly traditional wedding and reception with all of the perks for a mere $7,500! And they did so without losing sight of the deeper meaning of their wedding day. Introducing the darling Gracie:
My name is Gracie and I married Paul on our six year anniversary on May 15th, 2010 at The Edge of Webster in Webster Groves, Missouri. I am definitely a “brave bride” in so many ways.
First off, I was very grounded during the planning of the wedding in the way of not turning into a typical bridezilla at every turn. The focus has to be that this is your wedding, not just another party. Every moment of this is about you and your husband to be (not just you like most people think). I had to tell myself every day during the planning process to just let things slide and go with the flow. For instance, the best man of the wedding had to back out three weeks before the wedding due to military reasons. This would put most on edge to the point of calling the man up and giving him a piece of their mind. I would be lying if this didn’t flash through my brain. After a couple deep breaths, I had to say “ok, who else can we have?” It’s as simple as seeing the problems in a different light.
When it came to keeping budget, I should get a wedding day medal. When we first got engaged, our budget was definitely below the average. We had to keep our eye on the cost of everything from the venue to the decorations. The key to keeping with your budget is to shop around, shop around, shop around. As a bride, you must do this with EVERYTHING! We saved well over $1,500 in venue (ceremony and reception in same place), decorations, photographer, and food alone. A great way to start is to sit down with your fiancé and write down everything you want in your wedding. This will aid you very well when searching for those must haves (and help you from getting those little to big items that you just plain don’t need).
For example, when I thought of what I wanted in my wedding gown, I knew I wanted something that would be hard to find, which usually means more money. I found the perfect dress in a little boutique, but it was $2,500. This was ridiculous to me. So, I went to the internet and searched for a 40’s style dress much like Audrey Hepburn’s dress in “Funny Face”. That’s when I came across Dolly Couture. Like most would be, I was a little worried about buying my dress online. What is it came in a big pile of fluff? What if I spend all this money and time and I hate it? What if doesn’t come at all? But, with the reassurance of past Dolly brides and the absolutely great staff she works with (who answered all of my millions of emails with every little concern I had) I made the $600 purchase for a one of a kind dress. I must say when this dress which was custom fitted for me (which I highly recommend to have every measurement taken when having a dress made because I didn’t have to tug, pull or adjust my dress once all day!) came in the mail nine weeks later and tried it on, it was the first time I felt like a bride because I had my dress.
But now back to the budget. A great way to stay budget savvy is to shop local. Our four tier wedding cake from Lubeley's Bakery for only $375. That included delivery, set up, and three different layers and fillings. Even though most do, choose your photographer by looking at all locals. We found Cindy Lee Photography which cost $500 that included a cd of 500 pictures, touch ups on all photographs, and four hours of picture taking. (The best thing about her was that she didn’t pull us away from our celebrating. She took amazing action photos of everyone.) Although most brides won’t, the big way we saved so much is by a lot of do-it-yourself projects. Invites, centerpieces, programs, even the envelope holder were all done by yours truly. Instead of our invites costing over $200, designing a three piece invite and return labels myself, the final total was $120. A great way to save on postage was to use postcards as RSVP’s and thank you’s since the postage is half the cost of regular postage.
A final note on budget is to not neglect cheap stores. Our centerpieces were three cylinder vases, a white candle in each, black stones, and a variety of red accent (beads, confetti, red flower petals, etc.). All of these pieces were from the Dollar Tree. You can buy in bulk and have it shipped to a neighboring store so you don’t even have to pay shipping. The total cost of our wedding for 160 guests, full buffet from Maggiano's Little Italy (including salad, bread, chicken parmesan, fettuccine alfredo, and baked ziti), decorations, DJ (Rockstar DJ's Inc., Quain), Photographer, cake, and everything in between was $7,500. Like I said, shop around and save!
I am also a “Brave Bride” by staying true to myself. I am originally from a small town where everybody gets married at the same place and has the reception in the same venue. Although all have different colors, they all mesh together. I wanted my own style and my husband’s style in our wedding. After all, it’s about you right? With this in mind, we wanted the simplicity. Our colors were black and white with accents of red. Simple, yet elegant. We wanted to include our ethnicities in our day. We had Italian food for both of our Italian backgrounds, I walked down the aisle with my dad to bag pipes since we are Scottish, and we had a Jewish wedding under a borrowed huppah since I’m Jewish. Keep it simple when keeping it “real”. You don’t want to go crazy.
Something that I kept saying to everyone the day of was “thank you”. I can’t tell you how many times I told my parents that during the time before the ceremony during pictures. I was thankful that they were there with me and happy with my life they helped create. I kept saying thank you to my two bridesmaids, one of which was my new sister in law and the other my best friend. I was so greatful that they both were there, willing to help in any way they could to help me have a perfect day. I also thanked everyone involved with the wedding. The bakery when they dropped off the cake and set it up, the rabbi for helping with everything, the DJ for making sure the music was perfect and we were ok, the caterers for serving everyone with ease, and everyone who came to witness our marriage all got multiple thank you’s throughout the night. It is important to do this, because at the end of the day, they were there for you and your husband (and maybe for the food too!).
There were definitely things I worried about that turned out perfectly in the end. One was the centerpieces. Although we wanted to do them ourselves, I was worried that the centerpieces were too much or too plain for our tables, but following the Italian tradition of taking home centerpieces, every guest had some in hand and loved them! Another worry I had was uninvited guests. We had 160 guests total to attend, and I was worried about the unwanted raining on our big day. Our venue was only capable of holding 200, so it would definitely be noticed if there were un-RSVPed guests there. But again, there were no uninvited guests, and there was actually an extra table in the back from some guests not showing. The huge worry I had was the weather. Our ceremony was inside, but our venue had amazing landscaping around it for pictures and I was worried for rain or the typical Midwestern storm. It must have been fait again, because it was raining in the morning, but by the time we were ready for pictures, it stopped and the sun made an appearance. (My only complaint was that it was around 62 degrees and windy, but no rain was the main deal.) The last worry I had was the parents. My now husband’s parents are divorced and remarried but still have some bad blood between them. My worry was that the stress of the day would cause an all-out brawl, and my dad being the man he is, would have to weigh in on my new mother-in-law’s behalf. Luckily, everyone was calm and nice to one another though out the night. When it comes to these worries, the only thing you can do is be ready for them if they come up.
It is hard to pick a favorite moment of the day. Of course one would be the second we were at the end of the aisle after the ceremony, having a minute to see each other in our married light and sharing another married kiss. One that I know I will remember forever is dancing with my dad to one of our favorite songs. He was trying to make me laugh the whole time so I wouldn’t cry. Also with my dad, he had no idea that we would be walking down the aisle to bagpipes or that I would have my great grandfather’s tartan around my flowers with my grandmother’s (his mom) favorite pin holding it on. The smile on his face was priceless and bigger than I had ever seen. After the wedding was over was a huge moment also. Getting back to our apartment in the rain and running up the stairs to the door was one of those movie-like moments were we knew we had done it and were completely happy.
The entire wedding experience taught me multiple things. One of which, that I can’t say enough, is to definitely have a big cry a couple of days before your wedding. I know it sounds nuts, but trust me, it will keep you from having a blubbering moment at the time of ceremony. The wedding also taught me that less is more. I still tell people to this day about how much we saved and still had an amazing wedding that we still get compliments on even now. The day also taught me to take in everything. The night went by so fast, that my husband and I had to recap everything when we got home. It was definitely one of the most beautiful and amazing days of my life if not the only.