This past weekend I did a massive email clean-out, and realized that I’d lost track of several advice questions, some from as far back as January. I am hanging my head in shame. Just as a general suggestion—if you email a question to me and don’t either hear back or see a post about it within a few weeks, feel free to email me again. I’m human and I’m busy and I often get well over a hundred emails a day (not counting all that delicious spam), and things do get misplaced. I’m sorry.
Frances emailed me a really long time ago, and she’s probably married with three kids by now, but I will address her question, anyway, because it will make me feel less like a slacker. I mean, because I care.
Hello Mir ~
In admiration of your helpfulness to Allanna with her house-outfitting question, I come with another broad request. I am planning for my August wedding with a very limited budget and welcome any tips on finding the essentials at reasonable rates. I know that I am on my own with the local aspects (reception location and caterer, etc.), but do you (and your oh-so-helpful readers) have any recommendations on online vendors for things like flowers, programs, decorations, favors, and other little sweet things?
Hey! August! Plenty of time left! (Oh, Frances, I am sorry I didn’t get to this sooner, truly.) Anyway, let’s see what we can find….
First and foremost—and I can say this, as someone who had a fairly traditional (though thrifty) first wedding, and am now planning an extremely bare-bones second wedding—sit down with your fiance and decide 1) what’s important to you and 2) what your budget is. Some people want the fairytale wedding and all that entails. Others feel that some things must be done a certain way because “that’s how it’s done” and I would discourage anyone from following “rules” that don’t have meaning to you. It’s probably expensive, and besides, this is your wedding. It should be what you want.
Once you know what really matters to you and how much you have to spend, you can sort of fit the puzzle pieces of everything else within that framework.
There are two simple ways to save money on the things you’ve mentioned:
Do it yourself. You can print your own programs, assemble your own favors, and put up your own decorations. Should you? Well, that depends on how much time, help, and energy you have… and also on how you want those things to look. Be realistic in considering what you can and cannot take on. Saving the money is not worth it if you end up hating the results, or—worse—having a nervous breakdown the day before your wedding, y’know?
Bargain. Most bridal-type vendors are counting on pampered Daddy’s-little-girl bridezillas who want what they want when they want it. Those women hear the price and say “What??” and then fork over the dough. Nearly everything is negotiable. Stay calm, be reasonable, and assume that everything is open to negotiation. Horrified at the price the florist just gave you? Suggest an alternative, and/or let them know that you’re going to need to get some other quotes before you decide, because that’s more than you have to spend. You need to be assertive but charming, and as the old saying goes, never let them see you sweat. Wedding people can smell fear. Work on your poker face.
I’ve come across a site several times which I think is probably worth checking out. It’s called Fire Your Wedding Planner! There’s an e-book as well as various charting programs, and the whole shebang can be had for $29.95—if you decide to keep it—but you can download the book for free for 30 days, regardless. (Just pay attention; you do need to cancel before the trial is up to avoid incurring a charge. Though honestly I think a $30 investment in what is likely to be a several-thousand-dollar event is something of a bargain.) I’m not a wedding expert, but she is, so definitely have a look.
Another suggestion I’ll throw out there: Always, always, think outside the box. I know Miss Zoot had a wedding “cake” made of Krispy Kreme donuts, and I know several other people who had pies instead of cake. While things like jordan almonds in netting are lovely, maybe your guests would really love barbecue sauce. I don’t know, but you do, if you think about it. Sometimes bucking convention makes for a more personal/memorable event as well as a cheaper one.
Readers, chime in. Frugal wedding tips in the comments, please, pretty ones.