We were recently asked to write an article that has now been published in the Winter / Spring issues of San Francisco Bay Area’s Mocha Bride Magazine and Bride Nine Magazine.
Today, we are going to share our article in its entirety to help you know how to plan your dream wedding for $5,000 or Less.
5 Keys to Having Your Dream Wedding for $5,000 Or Less
By: Tim and Lisa Spooner
When we got engaged, we had beautiful dreams of a wonderful wedding. Many of our friends were getting married at the time so we attended their weddings and imagined what our wedding would be like. We wanted our wedding to reflect our special love for one another while giving our family and friends an opportunity to celebrate with us.
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The only obstacle to achieving our wedding dreams seemed to be our very limited financial resources. In a community where the average cost of a wedding was more than $24,000 the huge cost of a wedding loomed in front of us like a locked door blocking the path to our dream wedding. It seemed ridiculous to sink so much money into our first day of married life. Yes our wedding day would be special but should it warrant such wild spending? We refused to believe that wedding dreams should have to be purchased at such a high cost that would inevitably put a pinch on our newlywed finances.
After consulting both of our bank accounts, we agreed that we could comfortably afford to spend up to $2,000 on our wedding day.
We chose to believe that we could achieve all our wedding dreams by using just five keys. These keys made our dream wedding possible. Since then, we have helped thousands of brides and grooms use these very same keys to unlock the door to their dream weddings.
Key #1: Know Your Budget
Wedding spending can be a very slippery slope. Unless you know exactly how much you can afford for each aspect of your wedding it will be very difficult for you to say no to all kinds of upgrades and add-ons. Before you know it, the dream wedding you imagined will have turned into a monster with a life of its own and your wedding expenses will have snowballed out of control.
You should carefully consider how much you want to spend on your wedding. Keep in mind that after the wedding thank you notes are written you will be faced with everyday bills like rent and everyday problems like a car breaking down. Do your best to make sure that the expense of your wedding isn’t a part of these financial stresses.
You can easily find a helpful wedding budget online that will calculate how much of your overall budget should be applied to each aspect of your wedding.
Your budget should guide how much you spend on each part of your wedding planning. You will be amazed to discover that simply knowing your spending limits will open up great doors to savings that you never knew existed.
Key #2: Know What You Want
The wedding world is full of all kinds of marketers trying to persuade you to believe that what they are offering is essential to the success of your wedding.
Before you get swept along like a flower petal on a river, anchor yourself by thinking about what is really important to your wedding.
Ask yourself why you want to have a wedding ceremony and reception. What is keeping you from simply visiting the justice of the peace or taking a trip to Las Vegas? Once you know why you want a wedding ceremony and reception you can start to envision what your wedding day should be like.
You need to know what goals your wedding is meant to achieve. If one of your goals is to have a fun celebration of your marriage with your family and friends, then you will want to focus on making your reception everything you want it to be. If another goal is to have lots of beautiful photographic memories of your wedding day, then you will want to make sure that you hire a good photographer and choose a venue with beautiful background scenery.
You probably have more than one goal for your wedding but if you think carefully about it you should be able to think of one primary goal for your wedding. The purpose of our wedding, for instance, was to be an occasion for our guests to celebrate our marriage with us. Once you know the primary goal for your wedding, you can make sure that all of your other wedding goals support your wedding’s overall purpose.
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You can then design your wedding with your primary purpose in mind. Knowing what you really want from your wedding will allow you to focus your wedding dollars and your energy on what is really important to making your wedding dreams come true.
Key #3: Know Your Resources
Even if you are not expecting either of your parents to pay for your wedding, you should still check in with them to find out if they are able to contribute in any way. You might be surprised to find out that they were waiting for you to come to them and invite them to help you reach your wedding planning goals. They may be able to offer to pay for a certain aspect of your wedding such as the wedding cake or the wedding dress. Or they might be able to write a check to cover some portion of your wedding costs. They might be able to give you a tip on where you can get a great deal on your wedding and reception venues. Bottom line is that you won’t know until you ask. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that your parents can’t help.
As you think about the various roles that need to be filled at your wedding ceremony and reception, try to think of family members and friends who would do a great job filling each position. Don’t forget about classmates, co-workers, and members of your church. Among all of these people you will surely know a crafty individual who could arrange your flowers, a musician, or someone who can fill any other role in your wedding planning.
People are often generous when they know who they are helping and will give you a great deal on the service you need. Just be sure to express heart-felt thanks for any services provided to you at special pricing. You may even want to give a thoughtful thank you gift to individuals who are particularly generous.
As you think about a location for your ceremony or reception, try to also think about which of your friends and family members are associated with that venue. If the owners of the venue know you or someone you know they are more likely to give you a special discount price when you ask to use their location.
Key #4: Know What to Spend Your Energy On
Planning a successful wedding can take up a lot of time and energy. You should try to delegate time consuming projects like flower arranging and table decorations to willing helpers. You will stay busy enough just coordinating and overseeing everything.
Most of your friends would love to help you with your wedding in some way. They are probably waiting to be invited to have a part in your wedding planning and you won’t know it until you ask them.
We were talking with a friend today who told us that she assumed her friends did not want to help her with her wedding because they were not approaching her with offers to help. As a result, she ended up asking only three of her friends to be a part of the wedding planning process. She told us that after the wedding she found out many of her friends were disappointed that they were never invited to have a part in her wedding planning. They were all hoping to help with the wedding in some way but did not feel right interfering with the bride’s plans.
As the bride, it is your responsibility to ask for help. Don’t wait for your friends to come to you – they probably won’t, even if they would like to be a part of your wedding planning team.
You of course do not want to burden any of your friends with too much work. But if you carefully choose friends to help out with key parts of your wedding planning that fit their particular skills and interests, you will find that they’ll consider it an honor to be a part of your wedding planning team.
Just make sure that you honor them in turn by giving them some creative freedom, giving them your time, and by expressing how much they mean to you and how much you appreciate their help.
You could even have some of your friends over for a craft party. Your friends can come over to help you put together a craft that you will give away as favors. You can express your appreciation by providing snacks and buying pizza. This will save you a lot of time while giving you a chance to have a great time with your friends.
By getting your friends and family involved in helping with your wedding planning, you will be freed up to focus on making sure that everything comes together the way you have envisioned for your wedding day.
Key #5: Know Where to Get the Best Deals
When we were planning our wedding, we looked into buying a unity candle along with family candles. We found that the simplest unity candle sets were selling for about $30.
Then we went to the local crafts and hobbies store where we bought the candles we wanted and the desired decorative enhancements for just $7.
At home we assembled them and had our very own unity candle set for just a fraction of the cost that most brides were paying for similar unity candles.
If you are willing to assemble a few pieces, you can find much of what you need at a crafts store where you will pay just a fraction of what you would pay for a ready-made wedding item.
Also keep in mind that your reception is really just a specialized party event. Instead of paying the big bucks for a “wedding reception” table cover, why not take a look at a party store where you will find a “party” table cover at a much lower cost. The only difference will be that it won’t be packaged in a box that says “wedding” on it.
Second-hand is another great way to go when purchasing items for a wedding. Most wedding items are only used one time and then put in storage. Eventually, the owner of the wedding item gets tired of storing it and puts it up for sale on eBay or in the classifieds section of the local newspaper. Check out eBay and the classifieds and you can find anything from tulle to a bridal gown good as new for bargain prices.
An Open Door to Your Wedding Dreams
The five keys we have outlined for you can unlock the door to your dream wedding. Like us, you can grab a hold of those five keys and move forward with planning the wedding of your dreams at whatever cost you are comfortable with. Even if you can only afford to spend $5,000, $3,000, or less than $2,000 like us, your dream wedding is very possible with the five keys we have shared with you.
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!