Five Steps to a Debt-Free, Dream Wedding

When we got engaged, we weren’t sure how we would afford our dream wedding. We had little in savings, a growing education loan, and no expectation of a handout from our parents who also had tight finances.

wedding-aisleThese five simple steps were key to our success in planning our dream wedding for just $2,000 in a community where couples spend on average over $24,000 on their weddings.

1. The Rules of the Game

We all love the challenge of an exciting game. The goal is always the same: To Win!

By understanding the rules of the game and applying our creative thinking and other skills, we can achieve victory.

The same is true of budgeting for a wedding. Fortunately, the rules are simple:

Find out how much you can afford to spend on your wedding. Plan your dream wedding; but don’t spend more than you can afford.

In our case, we were big winners. We played by the rules, which said not to spend more than $2,000 to plan our dream wedding. Smart strategies led to a triumphant wedding day full of surreal beauty and the freedom of knowing that we were starting our married life without a penny of wedding debt.

2. Know How Much You Can Afford to Spend

To know how much you can spend, you should take a look at how much you both have in your savings accounts. Also, find out how much your parents can contribute to your wedding planning.

Consider how much you make each month. Also calculate your monthly expenses. You should also think about what your income and expenses will be once you are married.

The first few years of married life tend to be full of financial obstacles for most couples. So, you don’t want to add the heavy burden of wedding debt to your new life together. You may even want to have some extra money in savings to help your new life together get off on the right foot.

Also, consider how much money you will want to keep aside for your honeymoon.

3. Discover Your Magic Number

As you consider how much you can afford to spend, you will become more and more comfortable with spending a particular amount of money on your wedding. We were comfortable with spending $2,000 on our wedding. This was our magic number.

What is your magic number? Is it $10,000? …$5,000? …$500?

Do not be afraid of the number you discover. You will be surprised at how a bit of smart planning can make your dream wedding possible even though you can only spend a small amount of money.

Thousands of couples have been downloading our book “Wedding Planning on a Budget” to discover tried and true strategies for planning their dream weddings at a price they can afford. Like them, you can follow winning strategies to plan your dream wedding at a price you can afford.

The amount that you decide you can afford to spend on your wedding is your total wedding budget allowance.

4. Anticipate Where the Money Should Go

The best way to make sure that every part of your wedding is paid for without spending more than your wedding budget allows, is to assign portions of your allowance to different parts of your wedding. You can, for example, assign 50% of your total wedding budget allowance to your wedding reception, 10% to your wedding dress and other attire, and so on.

Once you know how much you plan to spend on your reception, you can divide that money between the various components of the reception such as Room/Hall Fees, Tables and Chairs, Food, Drinks, Cake, Linens, Service Fees, Staff and Gratuities, Rentals, etc. Of course, you only have to apply money to the components you plan to include in your wedding.

You can use our free wedding budget spreadsheet that calculates all of these percentages for you and keeps track of all your planned spending and actual spending to help you stay on target. Our wedding budget planner is available at Wedding Planning on a Budget

5. Making Your Budget Do the Work for You

Now that you know how much you plan to spend on each item of your wedding, you can begin using some winning strategies and creative planning to acquire each item or service at the price your budget says you can afford to pay.

Before making any wedding purchase, first consult your budget to find out how much you can afford to pay.
After the purchase has been made, record the actual cost of the purchase in your wedding budget.

If the actual price paid is less than what you had planned for, then you can afford to spend that much more on another item found on your wedding budget spreadsheet. If, however, you paid more than what you had planned for, then you must reduce what you can plan on spending for other items on your wedding budget.

In other words, the amount you actually pay for each item can be adjusted but make sure that all of the items end up totaling no more than your total wedding budget allowance.

You now know the rules of the game and how the game is played. With smart planning and by following some proven strategies you can, like us, achieve the wedding of your dreams at a price you can comfortably afford. We wish you a very happy wedding planning experience and a beautiful, dream come true wedding day.

Get Our Money Saving Secrets for Your Dream Wedding!

Download Wedding Planning on a Budget to discover how Tim, Lisa, and other couples have been saving thousands upon thousands of dollars on their dream weddings!


How to Plan a Budget Wedding that Looks like a Million Bucks

Contrary to popular opinion, beautiful weddings can be achieved while spending little to none of your (or your parent’s) money. We should know! We planned our beautiful dream wedding on less than $2,000 and want to share a few tips and ideas to help you plan your dream wedding on a tight budget.

champaignThe first thing you need to understand about planning a wedding is that the budget is your foundation. That is why we call it wedding planning ON a budget. Before you do any planning, you need to sit down with your fiancé and figure out what you can afford to spend. Consider what type of help your parents will be providing and what you have available in savings. The amount you are both comfortable spending is your wedding budget.

Once you have a set amount of money earmarked, it is time to figure out how you will achieve your dream wedding without spending more money than your budget permits.

You and your fiancé should develop a vision of what your wedding will look like and write it down. Ask yourselves the following questions: What aspects of your dream wedding are most important to you? What would make your wedding day a dream come true? Don’t be shy about flavoring your wedding with touches that reflect your personality. Personal touches not only add meaning, but make the occasion more memorable.

At this point you have two clearly defined goals: 1) A budget that tells what you can reasonably afford to spend. 2) A summary of how you envision your dream wedding.

Keep these written goals in a prominent place in your wedding planning folder and refer to them throughout your planning experience.

Now it’s time to save the big bucks! Most brides spend a lot of energy trying to get discounted wedding products and services. These are of course important to successfully planning a wedding on a budget. However, discounted wedding products and services are often not enough to help you achieve your dream wedding within your budget. In addition to discounted products and services, you should follow strategies that will produce FREE wedding products and services for your wedding.

Learn how to get not only discounted but more importantly FREE wedding products and services. Download the wedding planner that reveals how we planned our beautiful dream wedding on a $2,000 budget. Discover our proven tried and true strategies for planning a dream wedding on a tight budget!

Written by Tim and Lisa who planned their dream wedding on a budget of just $2,000 and now are sharing their money saving tips and strategies.

Bride and groom

It’s his day too!

Bride and groomI get so tired of watching wedding shows where the bride has a broken record response to everything: It’s My Day!

Yes it is your day, but don’t forget it is the groom’s day too.

I have watched Bridezilla shows, or any wedding show for that matter, where I seriously scratch my head and wonder why is the groom is going through with the wedding. If the bride is like this now, what will she be like after they are married?

Maybe the groom hasn’t imagined this day his whole life but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have opinions that are valid and worth considering. If you really don’t want to have the groom have any say in the wedding, do yourself and him a favor and leave him at home while you make all the decisions. The last thing a groom wants is to be dragged to wedding shop after wedding shop and then not even have a say in anything. He would much rather stay home and relax if you don’t care at all about what he wants.

Take a female family member or friend with you instead, or better yet, include the groom in the decisions.

Remember it is his day too.

Bridesmaids holding hot pink flowers

Beautiful Bridemaid on a Budget: Mix & Match to 1-Stops

Bridesmaids holding hot pink flowersThe wedding date has been selected, the lovely ring has been purchased, and—most importantly—the big question has been popped and answered in the affirmative. Now, it’s time to plan the wedding!

While some brides want to go all-out and spend tons of money on their special day, others are more interested in a low-key affair that won’t break the budget. This same philosophy about spending tends to trickle down to the attendants; in an effort to keep the bride happy, some bridesmaids end up paying a great deal for a dress they will probably never wear again. But for more casual and frugally-minded brides, it is very possible to plan a lovely wedding that will not cost the attendants a fortune.

Mix and match dresses

One of the most current and fun trends in wedding styles involves having each bridesmaid or maid of honor select a dress that she likes, looks good on her, and is reasonably priced. The bride may request a certain color, but beyond that, it’s up to each of her friends to choose what she wants. For example, if the bride wants a wedding with black and white colors and accents, it is very possible to find a little black dress that will look fantastic. Macy’s, for example, offers a terrific selection of women’s dresses perfect for bridesmaids. A wide variety of gorgeous choices start at around $48. To make choosing dresses as fun as possible, the bride can accompany each of her attendants as she shops.

Steer clear of bridal boutiques

Another way to help attendants save money on their dresses is to stay as far away as possible from bridal boutiques. Sure, these shops live and breathe weddings, and they often have a nice display of dresses that range from informal to more fancy styles. But, with the wedding-centric stores comes the higher price tags. This is why shopping at a regular department store can be such a good idea. As another idea, if the bride and groom are looking for a more old-school look for their wedding, it might also be possible to pick up some nice dresses at a vintage clothing shop. As a bonus, they are often very reasonably priced.

One-stop wedding shops can be helpful too

To be completely fair, places like David’s Bridal and the Men’s Wearhouse do offer some good deals on dresses, as well as tuxedo rentals for the guys. These stores are very efficient and can also handle alterations. Many brides and grooms like the idea of a one-stop wedding shop, where they can walk in, point to a dress and tux, get everyone measured, and be done with the whole process. David’s Bridal’s website currently features a wide variety of bridesmaids’ dresses in all sorts of colors and styles; most are priced around $189 or so. While this isn’t as inexpensive as what most department stores sell, it’s not outrageous and when they go on sale it’s possible to get some great dresses for much less money.

angry bride

Don’t be a Bridezilla

angry brideHow do you want your wedding day remembered? Do you want people to remember the beautiful ceremony and the fun reception, or do you want them to remember you were a terror of a bride?

Should you get everything you want for your wedding? Sure. Should you let people push you around? No. But should you be a nightmare constantly telling people that it’s your day and they need to shut up? No.

Weddings are important for your family and your friends as well. Try to include your family and make them feel a part of it. If they get too pushy, gently remind them that you get to make the final decisions. But don’t make everyone walk on pins and needles when helping you plan the wedding or at the ceremony.

You want your wedding to be a fun occasion not something to endure.

wedding survival kit

Be Prepared, Things Will Go Wrong — Advice & Survival Guide for the Big Day

If there is one thing I can assure you of on your big day, it is this: Something will go wrong! It is impossible to predict what it will be. But at least one thing will go wrong on the big day. And if you are really lucky, it will only be one small thing. But chances are, it will be more than one thing. I recommend a wedding survival kit to avert some smaller disasters that may happen. You may not be able to prevent disasters, but if you are prepared, you may be able to overcome at least some of them.

Even having a survival kit, there will likely be things beyond your control that you can’t predict or avert. For me, one unavoidable hiccup on my wedding day involved my caterer. The morning of the wedding, there was supposed to be hors d’oeuvres served to the wedding party before the ceremony. But no one could anticipate that his vehicle would be broken into that night and he would be late. As a result, my sister who has hypoglycemia nearly passed out at the wedding and we weren’t even sure there would be any food at all since we couldn’t get a hold of the caterer. In a situation like this where there is nothing you can do, you have to stay calm and hope for the best. We got through it. The caterer wasn’t able to provide hors d’oeuvres before the ceremony but he did get there in time to serve an exquisite meal at the reception. Also, my sister did not pass out.

wedding survival kit

Right click to save or print the wedding survival kit checklist.
(for larger image, left click the image and then use magnifing glass to enlarge)

Wedding Survival Kit

Here is a list of things I recommend you bring to your wedding to help with some common problems encountered at weddings:

Hair products:

Bobby pins, smoothing gel, hairspray, brush, comb, curling iron, and pony tail holders

Nail products:

Matching nail polish you are wearing, clear nail polish (also good to fix runs in pantyhose), nail file, and nail glue

Make-up products:

Chapstick, lip gloss, concealer, mascara, all make-up you are wearing for touch ups, and make-up remover

Toiletry items:

Q-tips, deodorant, toothpaste, floss, tampons, breath mints, gum, and perfume

Food items:

Granola bars, crackers, water, juice, straws, sugar packets, and maybe even a bib to prevent spills on your dress.

Sewing kit items:

Small sewing kit, needle and thread, safety pins, small scissors, buttons, tweezers, and straight pins

Clothing items:

Extra panty hose, extra change of clothes, pair of flats, extra heals, cushions for blisters, slippers, and extra earring backings

Medications and first aid items:

Any prescription medicines you or members of the wedding party personally use as well as pain relievers, antacids, gas relief, Imodium AD, cold medicine, antihistamines, cold sore cover-ups and medicine, throat spray, Band-Aids, and antiseptic spray

Eye care items:

Contact solution, contact case, glasses, eye drops

Miscellaneous items:

Super glue, duct tape, packing tape, double sided tape, scotch tape, Febreze, static guard, white chalk to hide stains on your gown, and stain remover like a Tide Pen, wet wipes, compact mirror, hand sanitizer, facial tissue, and a towel for the people cutting the cake (It can get really messy and it’s nice to have something stronger than napkins)

Phone numbers:

Phone numbers for everyone in the wedding party, caterer, photographer, videographer, wedding planner, florist, minister, etc.

wedding planning

It’s Your Wedding: Make Sure It’s Everything You Want

Don’t let friends and family change your vision of your wedding day. Anyone who has ever planned a wedding knows that there is pressure from family to do things their way. But remember that it is your wedding. You are the one who has to look at the pictures and you don’t want to look back and say “I wish I would have done things differently.” I found a very comical example of this on the first episode I ever watched of the show ‘How I Met Your Mother.’ The couple’s vision was to have a small outdoor wedding in a beautiful garden with only their closest friends and family (no more that 25 people) and an acoustic guitar. But as their wedding got closer, piece by piece every part of their vision was torn down. First the father did not want an outdoor wedding in New York City for fear of getting mugged, so the wedding was moved inside. Then the mom insisted that more and more people had to be invited bringing the number of guests to well over 100 people. Then the dad insisted that there be a harp player. By the end, nothing was the way they planned it. I found this hilarious because after seeing other people’s weddings, and planning my own, I know it is hard to avoid these same things happening to you. If you want your wedding to be everything you imagine, you are going to have to stick to your guns and not be pushed around.

wedding planning

Photo by Garrison Photography, Boise, ID

One example from my wedding was in regards to my dress. I picked a dress that was a cream colored, A-Line dress without a train. But some of my family did not like my choice because they thought a wedding dress had to be white with a long train. I seriously considered giving in and getting a more traditional dress to please them, but then I really thought about it and realized that there was a reason I picked the dress that I did. I did not want a large heavy dress with a ridiculous train where you can’t move without someone helping you and you can’t go to the bathroom without removing the dress completely. I wanted a light dress with no restrictive train so that I could move around on my own. So I stuck with my dress and was happy and comfortable on the big day. If I had given in, I would look back at pictures and always think to myself how I wished I hadn’t given in.

On the other hand, remember to include family. You don’t want to go so overboard that they feel alienated and left out. The day is important to them too. You have to find a balance between helping them feel involved without letting them run the show. Remember that you have to live with the decisions made about the wedding, so make sure you like what you ultimately choose.

Lisa Spooner is the author of the downloadable e-Book ‘Wedding Planning on a Budget’ and the editor of the popular wedding planning website

Wedding Budget Calculator

The Breakdown: Wedding Budget of $5,000

Wedding Budget CalculatorIf you are planning to stay within a wedding budget of $5000 then you will want to start with figuring out how to alot your $5,000 among the various wedding expense categories.

Figuring out how to distribute wedding budget funds is easy with a wedding budgeting tool that let’s you adjust what percentage should go towards each category of your wedding budget.

The wedding budget spreadsheet we used puts 6% of your budget towards miscellaneous expenses such as wedding license fee and tipping by default. We thought that was excessive, so we simply changed it to 2% and added the remaining 8% to another category that we felt needed more funds than given by default.

Using that easy to use wedding planning tool, we came up with the following $5,000 wedding budget breakdown.

$5,000 Wedding Budget Sample Breakdown

Dress and Other Attire............$  750
Photography / Videography.........$  500
Music / DJ........................$  350
Floral / Decorations..............$  400
Stationery........................$  300
Rings.............................$  300
Transportation....................$  100
Gifts / Favors....................$  100
Ceremony..........................$   50
Miscellaneous.....................$  100
Other.............................$   50

If some of those numbers are kind of hard to take, you can, of course, customize your own wedding budget breakdown for whatever wedding funds you have at your disposal using the wedding budget spreadsheet we mentioned earlier. Also, you can get wedding budget saving tips and advice from the bride who figured out how to save $22,000 on her own wedding from that bride’s website Wedding Planning on a Budget.

putting on the ring

My Experience Planning a Wedding as a Future Husband

“I wish I had eloped.”

More often than not I’d get this response when I asked people for advice on wedding planning. They’d follow by telling me to save money and do it in front of a judge. Have a small party after and spend your money on something useful. It’s really not bad advice when you look at it logically, but I discussed it with my fiancé and agreed that part of what we wanted was to bring our family together for our special day.

putting on the ringBut we also agreed that having the best photographer, food, band and venue wasn’t really necessary. You can have the wedding of your dreams without fuss or a $25,000 budget. Here I’ll give you my personal tips and tricks that made our wedding fun, easy, and affordable. If you have any additional stories or feedback you’d like to share, please leave us your thoughts in the comments section below.

How to Deal with Offending People

It seems most weddings tend to cause family grievances. People get offended because they can’t bring their friend or because they weren’t invited at all. Others get offended if you choose to get married on a beach instead of a traditional church. Some people will even get offended if the wedding theme isn’t something they had in mind. It’s like a wedding is really for everyone but you and your spouse.

From my experience, I suggest that you plan the wedding that you and your fiancé want and politely dismiss people’s suggestions. Tell them that you really appreciate their point of view but that ultimately you’re going to go with what you both most feel comfortable with, since it’s your special day.

During our planning we set up a temporary website about our wedding plans and just referred family and friends there when they asked or nagged about it. You could even set up a blog or a Facebook event page to keep track of everything.

Make a Wedding Email

Before you start wedding planning, set up a “wedding only” email account. The same could go with other things like college or vacation planning. I was married almost a year ago and I still get spam from bridal shops and other wedding websites. This email should be specifically given to your wedding vendors. That way, all of your wedding info will be together under one inbox and when the ceremony is over you’ll have no unnecessary wedding emails.

Stick to a Budget and Save

Don’t put yourself into debt because of a wedding. The last thing you want is to start the beginning of your lives together paying off a wedding dress for the next three to five years. Look for package deals that include food, drinks, and staff to serve a very tight group of guests.

In our wedding we were able to save big time by hiring an up and coming photographer for free. He wanted to break into the business and set up a name for himself but didn’t have the client list to back it up.

In exchange for our positive review and support he also gave each of our guests flash drives where he uploaded all of his photos. It was a cheap and elegant way to give our attendees copies of our photos and a gift to take home with them.

Remember to stay flexible and cut costs were you can. Stay on the lookout for time sensitive discount deals on venues and discontinued premium wedding dresses for a fraction of their price. Above all, do what you and your spouse really want to do. Don’t compromise and have fun!

About the author: Vincent Clarke is now happily married, and lives in sunny South Florida with his wife. Their wedding was understated and elegant, and went off without a hitch. With the money they saved on the wedding, they were able to take an amazing honeymoon to Costa Rica!

wedding rings

Rock Recovery — Don’t Lose Your Wedding Ring

I lost my wedding ring one cold winter night carrying groceries in from the car. My wife and I searched and searched but could not find it in the snow.

One of our friends has some great ideas to help you make sure you don’t lose your wedding ring:

It was a beautiful sunny day on Waikiki beach, the sea green ocean spanned out into the horizon where it was met by the slightly lighter blue skyline. My mom was playing catch with a football, laughing, hugging catches and trying to make throws that accurately made the football spin. Abruptly, the relaxed attitude of the day was replaced with panic.

“Oh my God! Mike! Mike! (my father’s name) I think I dropped my wedding ring!” Like hounds fresh on a scent my parents dropped to the beaches’ sandy floor, following my mothers trail from the day. My mother, now in tears began rapidly explaining why she had worn it instead of putting it away. My dad had recently upgraded the 25-year-old rock in light of the anniversary we were all vacationing for. With my mother in near hysterics, my father did his best to maintain his cool while trying to remember if the insurance policy had kicked in on the diamond-decorated gift that was only a few days old. Had my dad had known about lost wedding ring insurance protection, he may have not had to put as much effort towards maintaining his composure.

They dug and searched until the sky faded into dark purples and blues and pushed the sun down out of view. They paid metal detector aficionados to search and alerted the life guards stationed near us, but all was lost.

Unfortunately, nine times out of 10 a lost wedding ring results in bad days, not crazy news headlines you hear of the people who recovered their wedding ring by Good Samaritan Joe via Craigslist.

Don’t let this happen to you! Losing a wedding ring can be prevented, here’s how.

The Right Fit

Wedding bands that are even slightly too big will slip and slide up and down your finger. Be sure your ring is properly measured before taking it home.

Pocket Picker

Pockets aren’t a good place to store your ring when you’re not wanting to wear it but want to keep it on you. On or off, pockets are loose, not sealed and leave a lot of room for belongings to find their way out. Putting a wedding ring on a necklace is a safer way to keep your ring on you and in sight when you are doing something that requires the use of your hands. If you are playing sports or doing rigorous work leave it at home.

Insuring Your Ring

Insure your ring the minute you buy it. My mother only had her new ring for three days before losing it. Make the claim as quickly as possible. If your insurance company allows claims to be made over the phone, do that first and continue to send a written claim as a back-up. Include information like the policy number, date, time and location of the incident, ring value and the day the claim was originally made. When you make it to the jeweler again and choose to get a new ring or get a replacement you will have to sign a Certificate of Satisfaction which allows the jeweler to collect the policy deductible from your insurance company.

Do not Mix With Water

Water shrinks the size of fingers, something my mother unfortunately learned the hard way. Whether you’re washing dishes or hanging out at the pool, it’s best to play it safe and take your ring off.

Do It Yourself Wedding Planning

The Recession and the Problem with Do It Yourself Wedding Planning

Do It Yourself Wedding PlanningSubscribers to this blog know that I am a big advocate for financially responsible wedding planning. In fact, I have been sharing tips and ideas for saving money on your dream wedding since the summer of 2006, and that was well before the current economic crisis took hold in 2008.

Four years after the start of the recession, the unemployment rate is still at an all time high and young couples continue to struggle to afford the cost of wedding planning.

A growing number of couples are turning to resources such as the website Wedding Planning on a Budget to discover how they can plan their dream weddings within the constrains of their limited wedding budgets.

More and more couples are turning to Do It Yourself strategies for planning their weddings and if they do their research and get the quidance they need are turning out stunning weddings at just a fraction of the average wedding cost in the USA of $25, 631.

But there are also those who take the Do It Yourself approach to wedding planning without using common sense and without gaining much needed wedding planning guidance and their weddings are a miserable experience for their guests and an embarrassment to the couple and their family.

Here are just a few examples I have heard or seen that indicate poorly planned weddings:

  • The photo shoot took hours longer than expected so the guests were bored stiff at the reception hall waiting for the food to be served and for the party to get started.
  • The only alcoholic drink was beer and instead of serving it, cases were put on a table. Only a dozen cases were provided for 200+ guests. The beer cans were grabbed up in just a couple minutes by guests who realized that there was not going to be enough beer to go around.
  • The punch bowl was way too small and had to be refilled every time a dozen or so people had their glasses filled.
  • The meat served was clearly venison but it was not marked as venison. I’m thinking these cheapskates were trying to empty a freezer in time for the new hunting season, which could have been okay if they didn’t try to pass the venison off as steak and if another meat choice was offered.
  • The reception lasted until about 1o pm and then the guests were expected to help with the clean up and tear down, which lasted past midnight.

Where did these brides go wrong? I was not involved in their wedding planning or decision making so I cannot say I know for sure but a couple of important lessons can be learned from these weddings gone wrong.

  1. Be considerate of your guests as you make your wedding plans. Don’t waste their time. Don’t spring surprises on them. If you invite them as guests then they should be treated as guests and that means being hospitable and giving them plenty to eat and drink and not expecting them to become your clean up crew.
  2. Consult with knowledgable people. It is likely you have not planned many parties or big events before so run your plans by someone who has. Many of the issues that arose at the wedding being reviewed here could have been avoided if someone with a bit more experience were consulted in the process of the wedding planning.
  3. It’s better to be over prepared than under prepared. If you are inviting 300 people to a wedding, then you had better have more than just 12 cases of beer!

Planning a wedding is a big project and it should not be taken lightly. Without proper planning and preparation, a wedding can turn into a nightmare for both you and your guests. Do yourself and your guests a favor and plan carefully with the intent of making the wedding and reception an enjoyable, beautiful experience for everyone involved.

I’m not saying that you need to hire a wedding planner and spend a fortune on wedding service providers. However, if you are not real good at planning then you might want to hire a wedding planner or at least find a friend who planned a nice wedding and see if she will work with you to help you plan your wedding.

As for service providers, there are a couple of service providers I think you should invest in. You should seriously consider hiring at a minimum a photographer, videographer, and wedding cake designer. If these tasks are left to amateurs, you are likely to be quite disappointed with what you get and there is no going back.

Even with paying for these service providers, the affordable and beautiful wedding you desire is very much within reach if you follow the strategies available in the downloadable book that tells how I planned my dream wedding on a budget of just $2,000. Readers of this book have put these strategies to work and have saved thousands and thousands of dollars on their own dream weddings planned. See their reviews and feedback to hear how these strategies have helped them.

wedding ring

Save Your Sanity! Dos & Don’ts for a Stress-free Wedding Day

Planning a wedding can be overwhelming for the bride, the groom, the dog and everyone else involved. Whether the couple is planning a destination wedding or a quaint ceremony near home, the stress of getting ready for the event can shake you. From picking out table sets to choosing the honeymoon destination, every soon-to-be newlywed couple is looking for less stress on the big day. A few key tips from our downloadable wedding planning guide can help wedding planners remain organized and stress-free all the way down the aisle.
wedding ring


Plan the Budget Early

Budget planning can be overlooked in the wake of the announcement, but a bride and groom need to take time to allocate a budget prior to planning the event. While parents have traditionally covered the costs, many modern brides and grooms are paying for part or all of the wedding. The couple should take time to discuss the budget for the wedding, considering every aspect of personal contributions and any parental contributions to the event. Budget planning for the wedding can even begin when the groom is planning a proposal. By learning about diamond clarity information and seeking an engagement ring that fits within the budget, the groom can have more funds for the actual event and the wedding ring. Setting up a budget beforehand will reduce the risk of serious debt building at the beginning of married life.


Delegate Tasks

Brides who like to be in control of all the wedding plans find that the stress builds up quickly. While a bride and groom will want to personally oversee some of the more important details such as the wedding cake, gown and decorations, it is not necessary to manage everything without help. Getting a little help from friends and family who are involved in the wedding will reduce the burden on a bride’s shoulders. Asking a family member to handle some of the wedding-day details will allow the bride to focus on enjoying the momentous occasion. If the budget permits, a wedding planner and designer can alleviate a lot of the work.

Delegating tasks is not about giving up the control over the wedding. Brides should realize that friends and family are willing to help and will enjoy the planning process to ensure the wedding goes as smoothly as possible.


Expect the Unexpected

While a bride plans to avoid all possible accidents and problems, she should expect and be prepared for hiccups before, during and after the vows. Every bride and groom want the perfect wedding, but mistakes and problems happen. A bride can brace herself for the impending stress by expecting the unexpected. This will also help keep her calm throughout the entire process. Her experience with a sudden venue change after sending out invitations showed that even large events are possible to work around as the problems occur.

Life is full of unexpected events, including those sudden problems that happen right before the wedding. By preparing for something unplanned to happen, brides are ready to manage the situation as it takes place. The idea that something will go wrong can help brides keep the event in perspective and enjoy the process of getting married rather than focusing on that small glitch.

bride holding roses

6 Bridal Myths Debunked: Less Stress on Wedding Planning

bride holding rosesOne of the tips in our wedding planning guide is to think outside the box. Today, we are sharing a guest article that explores six ways brides can think outside the box to save money, reduce stress, and have a more personalized wedding. Enjoy!…

Wedding Planning. When you say those two words, women around the world come down with migraines, panic attacks, dry mouth, heart palpitations and a litany of other stressors that no trip to the doctor or a Yoga class is going to remedy. Mixing in outdated traditions can also add to the stress of not having the wedding you want. The most important thing to remember is that your Big Day is…well, YOURS; in other words, you can throw tradition to the wind and do anything your heart desires. This is the 21st century after all, so without further ado, let’s debunk some bridal myths.

Perfect Day for a White Wedding…Or Blue…Or Green

The bride must always wear a white dress. Sure, it’s traditional and some women love the idea, but it’s not written in stone. The idea is to wear something that you feel beautiful in. Whether you opt for luxuriously sophisticated or go for a more casual approach, the color is the last thing you need to worry about.

Pick a Flower, Any Flower

When it comes time to choose flowers, the bride must carry roses. A bouquet of red roses looks stunning against a white gown, and that’s perhaps why this traditiona began in the first place. The Wedding Channel points out that there are so many different types of flowers that there is no reason to play it by the book. When it comes to your wedding, personal choice trumps tradition.

Expect the Unexpected

The wedding day will be perfect. While so many women have grown up imagining a fairytale-like scenario, in reality, even the happiest day of your life is going to fall short of a fairytale. Any number of things could happen to detract from your wedding. From bad weather to the catered meal not living up to your expectations, when you allow some room for error and are flexible, the wedding will, in fact, be a fairytale.


Hiring a friend to shoot the wedding photos is a good idea. Yes, this is a good idea in theory, but only in theory. When it comes to hiring a photographer or a DJ, stick with the professionals, suggests the Huffington Post. If you have a friend take photos at your wedding, you might be waiting until your first anniversary before you finally see those photos. Furthermore, just because you have a friend who fools around with music on his MacBook, it doesn’t mean he can entertain a wedding party for three hours.

Winter Wonder-wedding

Late spring and early summer are the best times for weddings. While many brides opt for a May or June wedding, as the weather tends to be pleasant but not too hot, feel free to bust this myth. Maybe you love skiing. Maybe you want to have a winter wonderland themed wedding in the middle of January. There’s no reason to stress over whether or not your guests have an aversion to snow.

First Look

The bride and groom should not see each other before the wedding. The Chicago Tribune points out that this is about as outdated as having that first dance to the rusty sound of a victrola. Giving each other a sneak peek before the ceremony won’t put any bad voodoo on.

Don’t be afraid to mix things up and step outside the box for your wedding ceremony. There are plenty of options couples have in making the event their own. If you’re dying to throw a splash of color in or do things a little differently then you should feel free. Take a chance and throw a curve ball, like this video below!


Author Bio: Clara Richman Clara is from Minneapolis, MN, raised by parents at the opposite end of the education spectrum: her father, an elementary school principal; and her mother, a middle school substitute teacher. Now living in San Diego, Clara draws on that dichotomy when writing about education.

wedding gift ideas

Gifts to Avoid for Your Friend’s Wedding

Guest Post: This post was written by Ella Davidson of; a couponing and deals website that strives to give consumers the information and tools they need to save money.

Gifts to Avoid for Your Friend’s Wedding

When one of your friend’s announces that they are getting married, the first reaction is usually to feel overjoyed and excited for the big day to arrive. Then, reality sets in. Beyond showing up and being a good guest at their big event, there are a whole set of practicalities that wedding guests – especially close friends – have to consider. One seemingly simple task, buying a wedding gift, can be a source of consternation for many. With registries and personal gifts, there are plenty of options that can go terribly wrong. Of course, everyone’s situation is different, but here are a few guidelines to help you avoid disaster and pick out an appropriate, meaningful gift to offer your friend on their big day.

wedding gift ideasConsider Your Budget

One gift to always avoid is one that doesn’t make sense for your budget. Whether your urge is to spend too much or too little, buying a gift whose cost doesn’t make sense is a sure route to trouble. Some people, feeling swept away with excitement for their friend, may feel compelled to spend far more than they can realistically afford. In these cases, avoid going over the top and making a purchase based on emotion alone. Leave the $1000 cast iron cookware set to an older relative to purchase, and opt for a practical gift from the registry; channel your enthusiasm into a handwritten note attached to the box. Your friends know you and don’t want you to break the bank on them.

Others, sometimes already facing wedding costs including travel, childcare, and new clothes, may try to save a little on the gift. While the couple surely appreciates the financial lengths you have gone to simply to attend the wedding, it can rub them the wrong way to receive a single serving spoon as a gift. Try bundling several small gifts together as a way to save a little money without looking like you are trying to spend as little as possible on them.

Avoid Going Too Personal

Again, when you feel strong emotions about your friend and their future spouse, it can seem too impersonal to stick to the registry, and giving a personal gift may seem like a better choice. While this can be true, depending on what unique gift you have to offer, it can very easily go awry too. Making a scrapbook of photos and memories of you and your friend may seem like a lovely way to express how much you love them on their big day, it takes away from what their wedding is all about: their future together as a couple. Personal gifts can too-often turn into gifts about you and not about the couple.

Instead, focus on giving them a gift, but one that expresses your unique style or feelings about them as a couple. Some popular suggestions are turning a favorite photo of them together into a large-scale framed print or painting, or providing them with an experience to enjoy after the honeymoon like great seats at their favorite baseball stadium or concert venue.

Think of the Recipients (both of them!)

Even if you are only close friends with one half of the couple getting married, the day is about the two of them coming together and your gift should express your celebration of that fact. It’s not your friend’s birthday and leaving their partner out of the equation is disrespectful not only to their spouse, but to your friend as well who loves that person. Make sure that any gift you give is one that they either asked for on their registry (which they made together) or is one that incorporates both of them.

That said, consider what you know about them as a couple and make your decisions based on that. If they love to cook together, getting them a gift to use in the kitchen would be completely appropriate. If the couple doesn’t drink, though, maybe skip the set of wine glasses. It seems simple, but just thinking about the couple will allow you to find a gift that makes sense to you; it also shows the couple that you gave your gift some consideration, which is always appreciated.

It can be easy to be swept away by emotions when one of your friends gets married and lose sight of what a good wedding gift represents. The easiest rule of thumb is to remember that at the end of the day – whatever else you have sacrificed to be there or how you feel about the event – the wedding is all about celebrating their union as a couple, and your gift should reflect that. If you feel any doubt or uncertainty about whether or not a gift is right, it’s probably one that you should avoid.


How to Select A Wedding Date That Will Save You Money

I understand that when you are planning that special day you already have a lot of factors to consider like when would be the most romantic, when would please all the family members, and when would give you the best chance for perfect weather just to name a few.  But have you considered picking a week that might help you save money?

My family has been in the business of operating amusement, concessions, and confections items on a rental and pay per use basis for three generations now, and the one thing we are all trying to avoid is the open hour, day, weekend, etc.  When it comes to renting items like tents, stages, dance floors, bounce houses, carnival games, concessions items, or mechanical rides; the best way to get the best price is to fill one of these dead times for a vendor.  Next, I’ll give you some ideas as to how to do this.

First, mark off the dates of major festivals or events that involve everyone in your city or town.  In the Houston Galveston area of Texas where I live, we have two main ones.  Galveston has a thriving Mardi Gras season, and Houston has its Live Stock Show & Rodeo.  These events take on a gala status and everything from limos to hair dressers are tied up for weeks.

Next, you can eliminate the major holiday weekends from March through October.  The weeks after these holidays are almost always open with the most dead week in the calendar being the week after July 4th.  Easter is the only exception, but I can’t see most people having a wedding Easter week.

Next, make sure your city isn’t hosting a major sporting event.  Here, I’m talking about events that are set well in advance like the Super Bowl, the Daytona 500, the All-Star games, and the mens and women’s Final Four tournaments.  Most of if not all the best vendors will be booked for these occasions and they are usually paid a premium.

These are some suggestions on how to find that least busy week.  Because if you can give the vendors a date they usually have trouble filling; then they should be in a much more flexible mood.  For those of you who will plan all aspects of your own wedding, there are many providers of rental equipment on my website.  I wish you all the best on your special day.

Written by: Maxwell Ivey, Owner The Midway Marketplace


Your Dream Wedding Is Possible!