The internet is full of success stories from people who have managed to throw an awesome wedding reception while not spending much money, cutting costs with DIY projects and other such crafts. As I get to the end of my own wedding planning journey, I’ve come to the conclusion that those who try to go the DIY route fall into two categories:
1. Those who succeed, miraculously entertaining 200+ on a budget of something like $400. (Okay, I’m exaggerating, but not by much. Still, I am not worthy to blog in the presence of such miracle workers.)
2. The rest of us, who start out with all the best intentions of making everything: from paper flowers for centerpieces, to ribbon-wrapped handmade boxes full of special candies and local treats for wedding favors… and then saying “the hell with this” and shelling out money for stuff that’s already made.
I’m definitely in category #2. Sometime in the last month I had scrapped the idea of handmade centerpieces and favors, opting instead for fake flowers from AC Moore and custom M&Ms already packaged to go. Not quite as inexpensive as I would have liked, but at least I didn’t have to spend the last few weeks getting papercuts and throwing scissors across the room in frustration.
I had the pleasure of attending six weddings last year, which helped me keep some things in perspective. For instance, out of those six weddings, the only one where I remembered what the centerpieces looked like was my brother’s, and that’s only because I’d helped set them up. The rest of them? Not a clue, and that includes the $60,000 wedding in Chicago that we went to last summer. So with that in mind, I felt a little less cheap for opting for silk flowers from a craft store over spending hundreds on real flowers that no one will remember.
That said, there were a few places where we were able to save money:
-For the fresh flowers we did order (the corsages, boutonnieres, and my bouquet) we went through a local supermarket rather than a florist. SO much cheaper! My bouquet was 1/5 the price of the ones I saw at some other flower shops. (Is $5,000 for real? Whose wedding is this, Beyonce’s?)
-We ordered our cake from the same supermarket. I still gasped at the amount since we’d only ordered a small two-tier cake with no flair, but the internet tells me it’s still less than half of the national average.
-Budget invitations (we went with Minted – free recipient addressing! No carpal tunnel syndrome for me!) and choosing to have people RSVP online. It saved us the costs of printing RSVP cards, getting postage for those cards, and overall costs of postage since the invitation was light enough to be mailed with a regular first-class stamp. I had also hoped that asking people to RSVP on our wedding website would encourage people to actually RSVP, but no such luck. We still had to reach out to 2/3 of our guests, and even though we’d put all the wedding details on our website, we’re still fielding questions about directions, whether it’s indoor or outdoors, and the dress code. It seems most people will never look at a wedding website (or RSVP without prompting) no matter how much you want them to.
-Finally, getting married in the off-season saved us quite a bit. We were anticipating spending a lot on the venue costs since we knew we wanted to get married at a winery, but just holding the wedding in March vice April saved us almost $2000! We could have saved even more by having it on a day other than Saturday, which unfortunately wasn’t an option for us since we have so many guests traveling from out of state. Additionally, because it’s the off-season for weddings we were able to negotiate lower prices with some of our other vendors.
I still can’t shake the feeling that M&Ms are a silly wedding favor, I guess because we’ve seen some really cool favors like the jars of homemade jalapeno jam at my brother’s wedding. (His bride is a DIY queen and one of the few I know who falls into category #1.) I had done my best to brainstorm creative ideas, but settled on candy because I’d also seen many favors get left behind after the wedding (etched wine glasses, for instance – cumbersome, and hard to pack for a flight home.) I figured something edible would be less likely to be “forgotten,” and besides, who doesn’t like candy?