• Courtney McLane Mize

Top 5 Wedding Money Saving Secrets

It’s a little late in the day, but you didn’t really think I was going to skip out on this week’s Wedding Wednesday, did you?! I hope you girls are loving reading this series as much as I am loving producing it! Our first week I shared 30 things I learned in my first 30 days of marriage, last week I talked about setting realistic expectations and not comparing your wedding plans to every Instagram and Pinterest picture that you come across, and today I am so excited to dive into some #realtalk about wedding planning. How to save some mula AND have the wedding of your dreams. Are you ready for this?!

Everyone knows that weddings are expensive. Like crazy expensive. According to Business Insider, the average cost of a wedding in the U.S. is $33, 391. And the cost varies from state-to-state. The average cost of a wedding in New York City is over $76,000. Y’ALL! WHAT EVEN IS THAT! Now if you are in a position to spend that on your wedding, go for it girl, it’s your big day. But most people I know come back to their wedding budget over and over again throughout the planning process. Even if you aren’t on a penny-pinching budget, if you are aware of your finances you are probably on Pinterest searching “DIY Wedding Crafts” to help save a few bucks here or there. I actually did a pretty good amount of crafting for my wedding, and I don’t consider myself to be an overly crafty person. But I am not exaggerating when I tell you that these hacks saved me thousands, you read that right, thousands of dollars. So here are my top five tips for saving major money on your wedding.

1. Invitations. It is advised that brides set aside 4-6% of their overall wedding budget for invitations, and some people spend about $5,000 on invites alone! Now I wasn’t about to spend $5K on a piece of paper someone was going to hang on their fridge and throw away eight weeks later, but once I started doing some research, it was looking like I would spend about $1,000 on invitations and RSVP cards. I still felt like that was more than I wanted to spend on paper that I knew people were going to throw away! So I did three things…

  • I made our invitations. I actually designed our invitations using Photoshop. If you are someone who is familiar with graphic design, this is a great option! It is a little more time consuming then ordering them, and not quite as fun as going to pick out your cardstock, see your overlays, and compare color palettes, but seeing them printed, and seeing my friends snapchats and Instagram stories of the finished product was honestly a highlight of my wedding planning process. Now if you don’t know Photoshop or InDesign, have no fear! You can purchase customizable templates on Etsy for less than $10.

  • I had them printed at a local print shop. I thought about printing them myself, but by the time I bought all the cardstock and ink, and got the formatting right, it just wasn’t worth the hassle for me. So, I got connected with a local print shop and had them print my invitations. They were printed in color, front and back, and our envelopes had the return and recipient addresses printed on them as well.

  • I decided to forego RSVP cards. They do give a more formal aesthetic to your wedding suite, but I decided to skip out on them for two reasons. One, it meant I would have needed 150 invitations PLUS 150 RSVP cards, 150 RSVP envelopes, and 150 RSVP envelope stamps. That was going to be about $500+. Yikes! Second, RSVP cards are so much work! The thought of getting all of those cards sent to my apartment and the hours it would have taken to sort through them all, no thank you. Instead, we used the RSVP and Guest List Manager functions on The Knot. This is where we housed our wedding website and I would highly recommend it! Not only were guests able to submit their RSVP’s, but they were also able to confirm whether or not they would be staying at the hotel where we secured a block of rooms. This made my life ten times easier! And saved us money! So, the grand total for our invitations...drumroll please….$118.80. UNDER $150 FOR 150 INVITATIONS.

2. Signage. By July, I literally had to force myself to stop making and buying signs for our wedding. I mean, is there really such thing as too much calligraphy and distressed wood decor? Maybe a little. But signs are such a huge part of wedding decorations! Signs are used to give directions to your guests as well as fill your venue with sweet loving anecdotes. So here are two tips to save some money when it comes to your signage.

  • Channel your inner artist and design your own. I know this option isn’t for everyone, but I designed several of our signs in Photoshop and had them printed at the same print shop that did our wedding invitations. You can scroll through more pictures at the bottom of this post to see some of them, that’s actually easier than me listing them all out. But for reference, we had signs in the bathrooms, on the appetizer bar, on the patio, seriously everywhere. Any sign or note that you see in those photos with typeface on it, I designed. That saved me from having to order at least six signs from Etsy.

  • Keep your eye out for sales! I’m not joking, Hobby Lobby could have sponsored our wedding. I swear I was there at least once a week for a solid five months. Not only do they offer 40% off of one full price item every time you shop with them, but they have crazy good sales! Like 50% off all wedding items type of sales. We had a long wooden sign that said “And the two become one” that was at the foot of our card and guest book table that I paid $12.00 for. We also had distressed, white framed chalkboard sign with a note on it asking guests to highlight their favorite bible verses for us. I paid less than $10 for the sign and wrote on it in my faux-calligraphy with a chalk marker.

3. Welcome bags. Now I know that this might not be something every bride decides to do, but since so many of our guests were traveling from out of town, and because I was able to save so much money in other areas (aka: invitations) I really wanted to have welcome bags at our hotel that were given to guests upon checking in. Now you can order welcome bags off of a website like Etsy from anywhere from $5.00-$11.00 per bag. Now this might not sound like a lot, but $11.00 per bag times fifty bags puts you at $550 just on the bags! That’s not including all the things you are putting in the bag. I ended up purchasing 50 large size kraft bags from Oriental Trading Company for $0.70 per bag. SEVENTY CENTS LADIES. I used chalk markers to write “Welcome” on the front of the bags and it honestly turned out much better than I thought it would. (I was nervous it would look like a third grader wrote it, but that wasn’t the case PTL). I bought some bag plain bag tags from, you know where, Hobby Lobby. A pack of 16 was only $0.99, and they have tons of cute ones!

I also purchased a stamp set for $12.99 to write “Love, C&T” on the tags. In all, I spent about $50 creating the bags, which is a lot better than the $250-$500 I would have dropped ordering them from Etsy. As far as what goes in the bags, you can stuff them with whatever you want! But I went to Sam’s Club and loaded up on goodies.I know that doesn’t sound glamorous, but it is definitely the most financially savvy choice. No one knows if you got your KIND bars from Whole Foods or Sam’s, honestly. We also had homemade jelly that Tyler’s mom made in little glass jars, and a 5x7 card that I designed in Photoshop and had printed at my trusted print shop with a special message from Tyler and I to our guests, and a timeline for the day of the wedding. This was such a special way for me to show our guests how thankful we were that they chose to spend the weekend with us, and make sure they were taken care of with H2O, late night snacks, and all the important details that they likely forgot about, but definitely needed to know, to make it to our wedding stress-free.

4. Aisle Signs. We had a total of ten, 18x20 wooden aisle signs, each with a portion of the verse from 1 Corinthians 13. (Love is patient, love is kind, you know that verse). So these signs were obviously all over Etsy and would’ve cost me anywhere from $175.00 to upwards of $200.00 before shipping and tax. I definitely could have ordered them, and it would have saved me a lot of time, but these signs were a labor of love and I am so glad I chose to DIY them!

Take a look through the pictures at the bottom of the post if you want to see them close up! In short, I bought plywood from Home Depot and had them cut the boards to size for me. Tyler and I sanded the boards, front and back. I stained each of the ten boards, and thankfully, had a super crafty neighbor who was able to print out the vinyl lettering and apply it onto the boards for me! I sealed them with a polyacrylic finish, and bam. $130.00 for the wood, stain, vinyl, and sealant, out the door.

5. Vendors. I could honestly do an entirely separate post on my vendors, but guys, do your research. I literally had one Google doc after another dedicated to each of the vendors we would need. I won’t hit on all of them, but I will definitely give you some insight on my venue because it was the saving grace of planning a wedding in six months and not spending $30,000.

The typical rule of thumb for brides is to allocate 48%-50% of their wedding budget for the reception. That is a lot of money, especially considering the average cost of a wedding is over $30,000. There were three main selling points that had us immediately hooked on our venue.

  • One. We could have our ceremony and reception in the same location. Our ceremony was inside the barn, and our wedding coordinator had her team flip it during the cocktail hour so that it would be ready for the reception. One location, one venue cost, no driving all over kingdom come to get from the ceremony to the reception.

  • Two. The all-inclusive package. I know this isn’t something that every venue offers, but I want you brides and bride-to-be’s to know that this is an option that is out there for you! And I literally cannot imagine having my wedding without this option. At our venue, the all-inclusive package meant that our wedding coordinator (who was included in the package) generated a quote that included the catering cost, bakery cost, florist cost, and venue cost, based on what we had decided we wanted in each of those categories. She gave us the quote in one lump sum, and we made payments to her directly. From there, she paid out to all the vendors included in this package. She also coordinated our wedding the day-of. Does it get any better than that? Literally, no. If you are anywhere in Arkansas, you need to go check out The Silos. They are just outside of Jonesboro and with this offer, I promise you, you will eliminate 90% of the stress that comes with coordinating a wedding. Samantha McFadden is my girl! She was the best wedding coordinator and I honestly don’t know what I would have done without her. Look them up ASAP. Now if you aren’t an Arkansas Bride, then maybe you should come to Arkansas just to get married at The Silos! Just kidding. But finding a venue that has packages similar to what we had can save you a lot of time, and money!

  • Three. What they have available. The Silos included all the chairs, tables, and linens, and almost every other wedding venue essential that you can think of. I literally did not haul, craft, or order one single thing for our centerpieces. They had chandeliers and string lights, whiskey barrels, church pews, mason jars, gorgeous antique cake stands, anything and everything you can think of, our venue had, and most of it was available for no extra cost. Don’t be afraid to ask and see what your venue might have at your disposal! This alone saved us thousands of dollars!

Gah, I could seriously write for a week about things like this! If you want to know more about any of our vendors, or want more money-saving ideas so that you don’t have to shell out a semester’s worth of college tuition for your wedding, let me know by leaving a comment on this post! I hope that you were able to find some takeaways that can help you in planning for your big day! Don’t feel like you can’t have the wedding of your dreams because of money. I promise you sister, where there’s a will, there’s a way!

Photo Credit: LBT Photography

Venue: The Silos

Additional References: The Knot, Business Insider, Brides