Wednesday Wedding Thoughts: Practical Money-saving Tips

When Eric and I got married, we had a specific amount of money to spend on the wedding. We had both taken out student loans. Eric was in his last year of physical therapy school, and I had only been working for one year as a speech therapist. It was very important to us to stick to a budget.

Many websites out there offer good money-saving tips, such as:

  1. Get married in the off-season, or in the afternoon on a weekday.
  2. Limit your guest list, and don’t allow people to bring dates.
  3. Get married in a park or public space.
  4. Buy a used wedding dress, and let your bridesmaids pick their own dresses.
  5. Serve appetizers and/or desserts, not a full catered meal.

We didn’t follow any of these rules, and yet we still managed to stay within our budget. Here are some practical money-saving tips from personal experience.

1. We got married on a Sunday afternoon in August, and ended the reception around 4:30. Afternoons were simply cheaper. Since many of our guests traveled 1-2 hours to get there, an early wedding also allowed them extra time to get home for work the next day.

2. Similarly, we served a late lunch around 1:00, which was less expensive than dinner prices.

3. I bought my wedding dress in December for less than $500. After Christmas was great time to buy because stores were getting ready for the spring collection. I bought my veil from this Ebay store for less than $20.

wedding dress

Wedding dress shot

4. This wonderful website allowed my bridesmaids to rent their dresses for $50, plus shipping. I chose the color, and I allowed them to choose the style/neckline they wanted. Since a few of them lived in the same area, they shared the shipping fee.


Gowns from Little Borrowed Dress

5. I used Hobby Lobby 40% off coupons religiously. I love the Retail Me Not app, and I literally went to Hobby Lobby every single day to use that coupon. I bought props for the photo booth, rolls of tulle, a garter, string, cords and rings for our unity ceremony, place card holders, craft paper, double-sided tape, and even thank you cards. Fyi, Jo Ann’s and Michael’s also accept competitor’s coupons.

unity cords

Braiding the cords for our unity ceremony

paper hearts

Paper hearts that I made from old books

wedding centerpieces

Book-themed centerpieces, with paper flowers that we made from old books

6. We bought a small display cake from Harding’s, a local grocery store, and ordered three large sheet cakes. It cost us less than $200. It did entail a $35 delivery fee, but it was still less expensive than ordering from a specialty bakery.

wedding cake

Wedding cake on display

What are your money-saving tips for planning a wedding?


Wednesday Wedding Thoughts: Venues

Today is Eric’s and my 10-month anniversary. Even though we don’t celebrate our “month anniversaries” anymore, like when we were dating (ah fun times), I still like to reminisce about our wedding day and how it all came together.

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When I first started researching, I read an article online that helped us immensely through the planning process.

The article recommended that a couple should choose 2-4 elements that were important to them, in order to decide where to concentrate their efforts and spend the majority of their funds.

Examples included the number of guests, venue, photography and videography, music and dancing, food and drink, getting married on a significant date, the attire, flowers and decorations, etc. Eric and I ultimately decided on the venuefood, and photography. I knew I wanted to get married in a beautiful setting. Eric knew he wanted delicious food, and we both wanted a great photographer to capture the memories.

We started with the venue. After tons of research online, we took a drive to Southern Exposure Herb Farm (pictures below). The farm was gorgeously laid out, with wonderful attention to detail, and offered an all-inclusive package. We ultimately decided that the farm wasn’t “us.” It had a shabby chic, country feel, and we wanted something a bit more elegant. Going to the farm helped us realize that.

southernexp_barn  southern exposure - wedding table

Next, we toured the Goei Center. It was a little too huge and industrial, and we had to provide all the tables and decor. It was located in a rougher part of town, despite its gorgeous interior. A quick no.

goei center wedding  goei  center tables

We toured the Blue Dress Barn.

blue dress barn ceremony  blue dress barn inside

We toured Millcreek Barn. (Seriously, what was it with us and barns?)

millcreek barn ceremony  millcreek barn outside

We toured the Eesley Place. This venue, by the way, required us to serve a minimum amount of alcohol.

eesley place outside  eesley place hall

We knew we wanted something unique. I researched museums, art centers, libraries, golf courses, colleges, conference centers, and a ballroom. After considering tons of options, we discovered the Kellogg Manor House. At this point, we were a little disillusioned with wedding planning, but when we stepped foot onto the grounds, we both knew.

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It was a gorgeous, grand, historical estate house and a non-profit organization owned by Michigan State University. Built on the crest of a hill, it looked down onto a beautiful blue lake. A staircase crisscrossing the hill led down to the water and surrounding grounds. It was everything we wanted, it was available, and it was the right price.

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We had an incredible experience here, and I’m so glad we didn’t give up! Where did you guys get married?