Roll Your Planning Sleeves Up

At first when I thought about wedding planning I felt both overwhelmed with where to start and kind of like it was going to be a piece of cake since our wedding would be small and not allow for too many details (Read: Choices). As with most things in my life, when I don’t know where to start I just start blindly moving forward hoping I will stumble on the right path.

Having moved forward a little in the process, I now see where the real work comes in. The budget – or more specifically, creating the wedding of your dreams within the budget you can afford. The hard choices aren’t Roses vs. Tulips or Blue Vs. Purple. The hard choices are “can we afford guest gifts vs. finding a gift that fits your vision and is the right cost so you can fit it into your wedding” and “I envision my bridesmaids carrying bouquets vs. can we find a less-expensive non-flower option that will add to the wedding experience instead of detract”.

When I wasn’t sure where to start with the wedding planning, I just started making a list of everything that I will need for the wedding I envision. Then I started putting numbers to each item in my vision to see what we would be looking at cost-wise. To my surprise, my “simple”, “budget” wedding I envisioned was still twice what we have to spend on one!

It turns out that the budget was a good place to start. After seeing the total cost of my ideal I could start picking each item apart and seeing where I could reduce costs or cut something out completely.

The first thing I looked at is what would happen if we reduced the number of guest at the wedding (which would mean we would just be growing our after-wedding celebration barbecue party list). Still not within budget. Then I started looking at what costs I could reduce and, reluctantly, what details of the wedding were things I could let go of and eliminate the cost all together. Even when I go down to what I consider “bare bones plus a little deeper” we still aren’t within budget.

Now I see this the part of the wedding planning where you really have to roll up your sleeves and dive in. It takes a lot of work to research all of the options out there to find the best choice/value for the money. It takes a lot of running around and looking in all the dark corners to find that great deal so you can include an element of your wedding that you might have to exclude otherwise due to cost. This is where you have to get creative and resourceful and think outside the box. This is where you have to sit down with your Fiancé and make the hard choices about what to let go, what to keep and face the reality that you just might not be able to invite some of the guests that you want to.

As a side note: I am hoping my bridesmaids can help me brainstorm ideas…when I finally decide on who I am going to ask. Five heads are better, and more creative, than one.

Anyway, luckily I have over a year to plan. I think the wedding I envision is very simple and basic but it is going to take a lot of work to figure out how to make it happen and still come in at or under budget.

What was the hardest part of wedding planning for you?

4 responses to “Roll Your Planning Sleeves Up

  1. Maybe you should consider getting a wedding planner. It may cost some money but they are the professionals and probably know how to do a “budget” wedding and get all the little details that you want. I know it can be done on your own but it is like fixing your car…you leave it to the professionals because they know how to do it right the first time.

    • Thanks for the suggestion but wedding planners are about $3,000…totally not in our budget. At our budget there won’t be many elements to our wedding so it’s no the NUMBER of things I have to look at but what I am willing to compromise on and what I can get for a deal that is unique and I like. If I could afford a wedding planner I might just so I don’t have to worry about coordinating thing smyself but at our budget the choice is between inviting more of our friends and loved ones or paying someone to do the work for us.

      Besides, I hav e an Aunt Sally to help me with logistics 🙂

  2. Hey Jess – I was just catching up on your blog. Sticker shock is something I frequently experienced when planning our wedding. It’s sad how commercialized weddings have become. But at the same time, I got swooped up into it.

    My philosophy was – the celebration (party) was important. Make sure your event has soul. I would recommend putting money into making yourself feel like a million bucks on your wedding day, then food and drink. You’ll need a legit photog too. Go bare bones on all that other stuff (cake, flowers) and axe fluff like wedding favors. See what you can borrow (like toasting glasses, cake cutting set, vases for flowers). Make your own invitations. What about doing the ceremony and reception in someone’s back yard, like a romantic garden setting with market flowers and ambiance lighting? And in all honesty, you might have to spend a little more than you thought you would. You certainly will be my hero if you pull it off and stay exactly with your initial budget!!!! 🙂

    • Great advice from someone who has been there. Thanks!

      It’s not free like a yard might be but I (we) are really set on having it at the lighthouse. I spent as much time as I could at the beach as I could when I was a kid. I spent my childhood years riding the Ferry Boat back and forth with my Captain Daddy. Shawn’s parents have always loved lighhouses. The setting is so beautiful we can get away with pretty much no decorations (saving us money). It’s unique. The reasons are many but my heart is truly there. It may be a “splurge” but it means a lot to me so we are going to make it happen. There is other stuff I am willing to sacrifice for it.

      I am seeing that we either have to spend a little more or cut out some stuff we wanted. We are already cheating a little on the “wedding budget” because there are a few things we are not including in the budget calculations like the rings, the security deposit on the venue and some small things I am making for the wedding myself and will pay for out of my own pocket (like the guest book). We have just started the planning and have a long way to go. We listed what we want for the wedding but now is where the real work comes in…being creative and resourceful to see where we can cut costs and what we can borrow, etc. The photographer is one of our biggeest expenses. I am not completely sure what the average cost is but it looks like around $2,000.

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