(This is gonna be long, but I've been meaning to do this and now some friends have requested info so I only think it's about time!)
1. Buy used!
There are so many good websites that former brides will sell their stuff on. I had all 4 of these sites saved as favorites on my computer and would check them daily to see what's new. The good stuff will go quick so you have to be fast, but it was so worth it when you think about how much anything considered "weddingy" costs.
The sites are:
And sometimes even Ebay.
And after it's all done, resell the stuff to make back your costs! So many things I only ended up paying for shipping for because I was able to sell it for the same price I bought it at.
2. The Dollar Store...seriously!
My family and I put together our centerpieces with glassware that was purchased at the dollar store. The same pieces were $8 - $15 each at craft stores. We also bought ribbon and other decorative things there.
Originally, I was going to use battery powered tea lights for some sort of decoration and they also have those at the dollar store. You'd be surprised what you can find there!
3. Use what you have!
The centerpiece on me and John's table as well as our card box on the gift table were regular decor items in use at my lovely parent's house. I just asked if I could borrow them for the wedding, and returned them afterwards. That = FREE!
4. If you must buy stuff at craft stores (i.e. Michael's), but one thing at a time with the weekly coupon.
Every week I get an email from Michael's with a % off coupon. Just sign up for their mailing list and they'll come every week. On top of that, many times when you check out there, another coupon will print with your receipt.
Although I know it's hard to be patient, I would honestly go once a week and just buy one thing with my coupon. More than likely, you are buying things WAY in advance of the wedding date and it's not going to matter if you have flower girl baskets 14 weeks early versus 13 weeks early!
5. With vendors, shop around.
I probably had over 100 emails that I had sent to various vendors trying to get the best price. I obviously wanted people that would do great work, but that doesn't always mean having to spend a fortune. Find a few that you like the price, and then ask for/search for reviews on local wedding forums. My favorite was the knot. LOTS of helpful people on there!
6. Don't splurge on crap that no one will remember.
ESPECIALLY paper stuff. I bought my wedding invitations from Walmart for $20 and printed them myself. I then just decorated them so they were a little more spruced up to my liking.
I got several things from Vista Print as well, which has FREE offers all of the time. Just wait until whatever it is you want is one of the freebie deals. Professional printing at $0...yes please!
So, wanna see some of the ways I saved?
Flowers are one of the most expensive things to buy. Which sucks, cause of all things, these die. As in, after that one day, there is NO use for them. So I opted to only have bouquets for me and the brides maids, and corsages and boutonnieres for the groomsmen, fathers/grandfathers and mothers/grandmothers.
For the bouquets, we ordered hydrangeas wholesale from theflowerexchange.com and my sisters and I made the bouquets ourselves. This cost about $75 shipped, and then I just had to buy some ribbon and flower tape, and voila:
For the centerpieces at the reception, I still wanted to have some sort of flowering on the tables. Since I used hydrangeas as our wedding flower, I was able to find some dried hydrangeas from an Ebay seller for around $40.
My caterer provided the tablecloths and chair covers for about the same price I could have rented them, but you can also find these used on those used wedding stuff websites too.
For some color however, I found someone selling homemade table runners that they used in their wedding in my same colors. I bought 12 runners and 2 table squares for $50!
I already mentioned the dried flowers from ebay, the centerpiece on the sweetheart table is my mom's, and the glassware from the dollar store.
The colored rocks are also from the dollar store, along with the ribbon around the vases.
The candles (pillar and floating) are from Ikea...the best priced place for candles I could find.
What's left? The sand in one vase is from the ever chic Home Depot, and the coffee beans in the other from super swank Food Lion. The water in the third, from the faucet. :)
The table numbers were bought used from another bride and repainted.
My jewelry was from an Etsy seller. Bridesmaids jewelry was from Kohl's and purchased on sale + a coupon.
Flower girl dresses were from Ebay and were about $15/each + shipping.
Their baskets were from Michael's and bought one at a time with a % off coupon.
The tuxes were rented from Men's Warehouse and were the cheapest in the catalog...and I bet not one person could tell a difference.
My dress and the bridesmaid dresses were from David's bridal....so I am always so shocked when I watch Say Yes to the Dress and I see people spending several thousand on a dress! I spent $350 and that was ridiculous enough!
PAPER JUNK I had mad libs (free) from vista print (which would have been awesome if the pens would have worked on them), and a guest book free from shutterfly (just wait for a special, they always have free photo books at those websites). The guest book is one of my favorite things from the wedding...people write such nice things when you give them more space than just a line for first name & last name.
You could do without these and save yourself the hassle because I really think no one would notice. I did want to have something though, and not something that people would just throw away when they got home. Therefore, I did a cookie buffet!
Bought the LOVE dishes used from another bride, bought the wax-lined cookie bags used (wait...I came back to edit this because they were not USED, just leftover from another wedding!) as well (which I decorated with a stamp), baskets were from the dollar store, added a cloth napkin, and cute signs made by my very creative sister, and that was that!
Oh yeah, and my sisters, mom, and I each made a kind of cookie or two ourselves. Cheap and easy!
Did I miss anything? I'm sure there was tons more, but you get the idea. Feel free to ask about anything else. I had tons of fun planning our wedding and would love to help anyone else!
Happy wedding planning!