For our favors, I used fancy card stock from Paper Source and decorated them with quotes about autumn, our names and date, and a stamp/embossing powder. The card and the favors were stuffed into paper bags that had been embossed as well. I was never a fan of typical wedding favors (Jordan almonds, bubbles, etc.), so instead I gave individual packets of organic mulling spices, purchased in bulk online to save even more money. It's also becoming increasingly popular for couples to donate to a charity on behalf of guests rather than handing out favors, which I think is a lovely idea.
Other ways to save for the budget-conscious bride and groom:
- Plan your own wedding. I created a spreadsheet of everything--it had tabs for my budget, to do list, guest list, announcements, gifts received with a column where I could check off when I had sent the thank you cards, and etc. Of course, I kept my wedding as simple and non-complicated as possible. Had I money (and the desire) to throw a grand, lavish wedding with millions of details, and especially since our wedding was in a state different from that in which we live, I probably would have hired a wedding coordinator. Needless to say, I saved a lot of money by planning my own wedding.
- Ditch the DJ and use your own wedding playlist for the music.
- Ask friends and family to donate their talent in lieu of a gift. For example, my incredible, talented sister created my bouquets, corsages, boutonnieres, and floral arrangements that were used at the reception. I paid for the flowers and she worked her magic--because of her generosity, I saved hundreds on flowers.
- Buy a dress that's out of season. My dress was a Casablanca dress, and a quick Google search showed me that their dresses retail online from about $800 to $1500. I purchased mine for less than $300 at a bridal boutique in Lexington, NC. It had never been worn and it wasn't their latest design, but none of my guests (myself included) follow bridal fashion and would know this. It already came with a bustle for the train, so the only alteration I had to pay for was to get it taken up (I'm a shorty!).
- Don't splurge on expensive shoes. No one sees your shoes unless you're wearing a short dress, and even then you can get away with shoes that don't cost a fortune but still look cute. Mine were flats (I insisted on comfort) and were $20 from Marshall's. Sold!
- Don't splurge on jewelry. I had my wedding rings, never really wear bracelets anyway so did not wear any, and didn't wear a necklace because the top of my dress had beaded detailing. The earrings I wore were a gift from my in-laws, given to me on my birthday a few years ago. They are elegant and simple, my hair didn't cover them up, and I decided to wear them instead of purchasing new earrings as a loving gesture to my new family. Work with what you have; or, if you really want some new jewelry, be sure you'll be able to wear it again so you're not wasting money on one day's use.
- Cut out the traditional wedding cake and get multiple cakes instead. We both hate fondant and have never been a huge fan of wedding cakes, so we decided to purchase multiple flavors to please our guests and purchased them from a local natural foods store. The guests raved about them and we saved a ton of money.
- Do what works for you, not what other people want to work for you. So many people put pressure on brides to do things a certain way or do things because they've always been done that way. Some families expect huge weddings that are essentially a family reunion. We were lucky in that our families didn't push us to do anything or question our planning. We were on a budget and that meant we had to have a small wedding. It was very hard to narrow down our guest list to a certain number, but thankfully our friends and family were completely understanding and didn't make us feel guilty. I chose to not wear a veil because, A. I'm not a veil person, and B. they're crazy expensive! It's such a small garment (would you call it that?) and I'd be wearing it for just a few hours...I decided to put funds toward other things. We chose to have a "mini-moon" instead of a long honeymoon because we were already taking a lot of time off from work to prep for the wedding and we were too busy paying for the wedding. If other couples have parents pay for their entire wedding, and given that paid time off isn't an issue at the time, I can see why people might take a week-long honeymoon to some exotic location. We decided to wait and take our time when it comes to taking a larger, expensive trip--to make it when it works for our budget, not for the sake of having an instant honeymoon. There were a couple of naysayers, not many, but luckily we're both good at ignoring naysayers and we do things that work for us. Whatever trade-offs you make to help keep your combined wallets and sanity intact, know that in the long run you'll be glad you did instead of caving in to outside pressures.
Most importantly, have fun! What happens on one day doesn't define your love or your marriage.