There’s a lot that you can learn about yourself when planning a wedding. For example, I’ve learned that I am a very rare breed of frugal. Meaning – normally I’m not frugal at all.
I mean, I’m not NOT frugal. It’s not like I’m drowning in credit card debt or asking my husband for gas money. But I’m also not saying “Hmm….. two hundred dollars on a couple of (okay, five) shirts from Abercrombie? Gee, I don’t know….” <— I know. I very much know. “I’ll wear those shirts all of the time!” I tell myself. “And what’s two hundred dollars on something that will become a staple in my wardrobe?”
A wedding dress is not a “staple” in anyone’s wardrobe. It’s something that you’ll wear one time, for a few hours, and – honestly if you’re anything like me – you can’t WAIT to take it off at the end of the night. (Not in a sexy way – more in a ‘ohmygod please take this thing off of me’ way.) I enjoy wearing dresses, I like to feel pretty and girly – but…. oof. By the end of the night, after lugging around my heavy ball of lace and tulle that was so tight around my waist it was suffocating me – all I wanted to do was put on fuzzy pajamas, slippers, and curl up in bed like the new, boring-married-person I’d become. Yay.
Needless to say, I didn’t want to spend $5K on this dress. Especially when I considered how many shirts that I could buy at Abercrombie and wear them more than once AND they wouldn’t be itchy and made of tulle.
But if you research “How to save money when planning a wedding” (and by ‘research’, I mean ‘Google” – legitimate “money people” who work in the wedding industry may have better tips) – you’ll get a lot of weird stuff. I don’t know who came up with some of these strategies, but I’ve seen them on more than one website, and they honestly don’t seem like sound advice. (At least not if you’re planning a wedding – although maybe this could work if you were planning, like, a graduation party or something?)
Popular Money Saving Strategies You SHOULDN’T Follow
#1 – Don’t Use The Word “Wedding”
There are suggestions out there that – by referring to your wedding as a wedding (because that’s what it is) – vendors will immediately tack on additional fee because it’s a WEDDING. These same suggestions will tell you that if you refer to your wedding as a “meeting” or an “event” – you’ll get a better price.
Don’t do this. Look – maybe it’s true, vendors rack up their prices on weddings. But do they do it because – as we all know by now – weddings are STRESSFUL and MORE WORK IS REQUIRED. Vendors know that your wedding is going to be an all day situation. They know they’ll need to devote more time to it. They know that you – as the bride – are going to be super picky about what you want because IT’S YOUR WEDDING, and they’re going to charge you a few extra dollars so that they don’t want to strangle you when they spend hours planning a menu and then you change your mind at the last minute because you wanted garlic herb crusted chicken instead of lemon zest chicken and “is that super hard to switch? I’m sorry, I just know that people will like the garlic herb better after thinking about it, and it’s my wedding so it needs to be perfect.”
You’re paying for perfect. (Also I don’t know if a lot of people switch their chicken around last minute like that, or what a ‘lemon zest chicken’ actually is – but this isn’t a cooking website, it’s a wedding planning website, okay?)
(Also vendors aren’t stupid. Once you show up wearing a wedding dress for your “meeting” that you’ve been planning for eight months, they’re going to know what’s up and probably charge you additional anyway for breach of contract).
#2 – DIY All Of Your Decorations
For the seven or eight of you who are good at DIY projects – this recommendation is for you. For the rest of us who struggled to make macaroni picture frames in 2nd grade art class – maybe we should sit this one out.
I love the idea of making your own decorations. The thought of going to Hobby Lobby with my mom and stocking our cart full of silk flowers and styrofoam and little beads and doodads sounds like a fun field trip. But when it comes right down to it – neither one of us is Martha Stewart. And no matter how many Youtube videos we watch or books we read, we’re not going to be able to make a “homemade centerpiece” without it looking like we made a homemade centerpiece.
Be honest with yourself about your level of craftiness. If you’ve got it – go for it. If you don’t – don’t make yourself crazy by trying to DIY everything. Find other ways to save money with decor (talk to your florist for ideas!).
#3- If You’re Hiring A Make-up Artist, Try Someone Who’s Not In The Wedding Business. Like A Mary Kay Consultant!
Or just do your own make-up. Look – if you’re so strapped for cash that you’re thinking about paying a Mary Kay Consultant or a teenager at Sephora to do your make-up, just skip it and do your own. Watch a couple of Youtube videos. Or ask your cousin who’s “good with make-up”.
My thought process behind hiring a make-up artist (which I almost didn’t) – was “I’ve been doing my own make-up for a long time. I obviously know what I like and what I don’t like. So if I’m going to pay someone else to do it, they HAVE to do a better job than I would.”
So I hired a make-up artist who specializes in weddings because I knew she’d know the “look” that I was going for and understand how to make it show up in photos. That’s the thing about wedding make-up artists specifically, they know how to work with photography and know what will show up in photos and what won’t.
#4 – Buy Your Dress Off The Rack
If you can do this – awesome. But if you can’t find your dream dress – don’t force yourself to buy something that you don’t love just because it’s cheaper. You can find reasonably priced dresses at trunk shows, David’s Bridal, etc.
#5 – Take Out A Loan
Don’t take out a loan to pay for your wedding. Just don’t. Work around it. Work with what you have. If your budget is $500, then buy a simple white dress and have a backyard wedding. You can make it nice.
The point is, don’t go in debt and start your MARRIAGE with a pile of debt that you now have to pay off because you wanted an expensive day. At the end of the day, you’re still married. Whether it’s in a church or an art gallery or your parents backyard. As long as you marry your best friend, the rest doesn’t really matter.