10 tips for planning a FAB wedding under $10,000… it’s possible I swear.

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Tomorrow is our one year wedding anniversary and I am being taken back to the happiest moments in my life: when I was running around the city, picking up scraps of wood from neighbors yards, making midnight runs to the local Kinkos, spending a whole lot of time in Home Depot, and frantically piecing together our “perfect day”. It was a lot of work… but when it came down to it, I couldn’t have been happier with how it turned out.

I am going to preface these tips by saying they are not for everyone…  definitely not the faint of heart. It takes A LOT of work to plan a wedding for under $10,000, while still trying to accomplish everything in your “fabulously imagined every since you were little” dream wedding.  Many people opt for a wedding planner to do all of this for them, which would kinda be nice… but sometimes you just gotta do it yourself!

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1. Think Outside the Bridal Salon

I searched every bridal salon in every neighboring state and couldn’t find a dress that I loved within my budget. I am sure so many brides-to-be have this same problem. Wouldn’t it be great if we could all just fly to New York and go to Kleinfeld Bridal Salon and get “jacked up”? That was my VERY unrealistic dream. So I decided to take matters into my own hands after much discouragement. I searched the World Wide Web for designer DRESSES. Not wedding dresses, but just white dresses.  The dress I ended up wearing was actually a “summer” gown I guess you could say. I found it on which is a designer discount online shopping HAVEN. I immediately fell in love. It was originally strapless but I had in mind what I wanted the top of the dress to look like. So I ordered the dress about 7 sizes too big and took it to a tailor. They cut the dress to my size, and had enough fabric left to design the top how I wanted. GILT may also be a good resource, or try shopstyle. You can search white dresses within a specific budget.

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2. Check Out Your Local Bakery

Now if you are looking for a 10-tier wedding cake covered in flowers and requires some sort of contraption down the middle keeping it standing, then maybe this tip isn’t for you. My taste is pretty simple I guess… (and chocolate satisfies it pretty well.) We ordered our cake from a local bakery called City Cakes in Salt Lake City. I looooved the cake and they were so professional, had my cake there on time, on the stand, and just said “bring a check by later when you can”.  That’s the kind of service you get when dealing with small local business and I love it. Oh, and the triple chocolate cake with white cream cheese frosting was AMAAAZING.

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3. Take Advantage of Poor College Students

This sounds terrible I know, maybe I should word it differently. Naw, it’s funny. Here is the story: One afternoon Clay and I were having lunch at a small coffee shop in SLC while two young guys were playing classical guitar. It was so mesmerizing and relaxing… it just kind of flowed. When we were planning our wedding we went back to that coffee shop and asked them the name of the two guys that play on Saturdays. We called them soon after, and they were SO HAPPY to take the job! There are so many great musicians out there that would just love to play at your wedding. You just need to know where to find them. And the school is a great place to start. Put up an ad in the music department building. Be specific about what type of music you are looking for. There is a good chance you just might find it… and at a price you won’t find ANYWHERE else. We ended up paying our guitarists $50 dollars each for a couple hours, (this was their pricing), when everyone else we were searching for was in the $500 dollar range.

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4. Be Crafty

This just might not be your thing… but if it is, or if you can pretend it is for a few months there is some money to be saved here. I was stressing about what to do for our center pieces on the tables. So after seeing a dreamy picture of long tables and wooden boxes down the center, I decided to make my own. I went to Home Depot and with the help of my hubs, made 25 wooden boxes for center pieces. The whole project cost maybe $50. Where else can you get center pieces for 4 20 foot long tables for $50?! We also found these long aspen branches and asked a family friend (who has a wood shop in his back yard) to help us cut them into small pieces and drill holes in them for candles. Total cost for that project: $25 for the Nordstrom café gift cart we bought him for helping us. Think of using FREE resources. Like things in nature. Haha Sounds hokey. But, seriously. Also was a LIFESAVER and will give you sooo many ideas! It has every crafty thing imaginable at wholesale prices.  Good luck!


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5. Grocery Store Floral

I reaaaaally wanted blush pink peonies. And I wasn’t going to stop until I got them. The only problem was the florist was going to charge $8.00 for a single stem! WHAAAAT?! Are you serious?! So I was ecstatic as I was walking through the local grocery store, only to find GORGEOUS blush pink peonies at 5/$8.00. I immediately called my florist and asked if I could buy them and bring them to her to use later. She said, “of course!” so I proceeded to buy every one of those bundles and took it to the florist’s fridge. Search your local grocer for flowers. Or Costco is another good option! If you have a good florist who will work with you, he/she probably won’t mind you wanting to be thrifty. Just let them know your intentions beforehand, and that you are REALLY on a strict budget. They will understand.

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6. Forego the Alcohol

For so many weddings, alcohol is one of the biggest expenses. If it is AT ALL possible, save yourself thousands of dollars and skip the cocktails. Pretty self explanatory I guess…

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7. Search Craigslist for Vendors

If you decide to go with a wedding rental company, you WILL be charged an arm and a leg for your rentals. Yes, for some things it is necessary and we used a rental company for tables and chairs. But for the lighting and dance floor we decided to go a different route. We found a guy on Craigslist who rented out a dance floor he had bought for his daughter’s wedding; and a couple who had a tiny lighting business who just ran the thing out of their home. Each one included set up and at a HUUGE discount. Our rental company quoted us $750 for our dance floor and $1,200 for lighting. We paid $200 for the dance floor and $250 for lighting. See? Try it!

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8. Skip the Reception Center

If you are willing to get creative with your wedding location, you may just be able to save a bundle! Is there somewhere special you and your fiancé love to go? Do you have a friend or family member with an awesome yard? No, it doesn’t look tacky, and with all the money you will save, you can have a little extra to really make the place stand out. The location we chose is actually the building where my husband’s parents live. It just so happened to be pretty awesome.

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9. Don’t be Shy.

Don’t be afraid to use your friends of friends! (Most likely you want your close friends there to celebrate with you,) but don’t be afraid to use your contacts is what I’m getting at. Do you know someone who is a great designer? Have them help you create your personal wedding invitations and get this printed yourself. How about hair and make-up? Music? DJ? Photographer? Videographer? Anything helps when you are on a budget.

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10. Don’t Spend on Things that Don’t Make a Statement

I am going to share with you my spending regret, which led me to create this tip. Don’t spend things that don’t make a statement, or that don’t matter. I decided early on that I really wanted to have a lounge area with couches, tables, just a place for guests to relax. It ended up being pretty expensive, and pretty unnecessary. Nobody really even used it, and if it hadn’t been there I think we would have managed. Plus, there were like 150 chairs on the premises. Did we really need more seating? No. Just make sure when you are planning your wedding that every detail is necessary and will increase the enjoyment of yourself and your guests. If it doesn’t, forget about it.

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And one more for good measure: Keep Track of Every Dime

I know this one might be one of the hardest ones of all. But I promise you that if you do this, you will walk away with a lot more money after the wedding than if you didn’t. Use a spreadsheet. Excel is the best program for keeping track of your dollars in one place. EVERY time you make a purchase, even something silly like CRAYONS for the little ones. Make a note of it and add it to your spreadsheet. There are so many things that go under the radar when planning a wedding. $50 here, $70 there, it adds up so fast and at the end you’ll wonder where all the money went! If you keep track, you will be less likely to make silly unnecessary purchases

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There are so many ways to save when planning your big day! I would love to know ways that you saved on your wedding! I am sure other people would like to know as well. There is so much stress that comes along with getting married, which is a little unfortunate. In most cases, this it is inevitable. If you stick to your pre-determined budget, so much of that “money” stress will disappear. I promise.

Good luck! And Happy Wedding Planning!


Vendors and other Resources:
 I couldn’t be happier with how my wedding photos turned out. Our day was captured just as I remember it. I would recommend these ladies to anyone!
Wedding Dress
I DO, I DO Kids Wedding Book Printable
Thank you place setting card printable & Back of Chair Bride and Groom Printable
Crafty Supplies
Tables and Chairs Rental

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