As many of you know, my wife and I recently got married in August 2016 (read about How It All Began here) so I decided to write about how we planned our wedding since the details are still fresh in my mind. It certainly was a learning process for the both of us! Continue reading to see how we were able to have a debt-free wedding with very little stress along the way.
SEARCHING FOR THAT SPECIAL WEDDING VENUE
Shortly after the proposal in May 2015 (I think it might have been that same week for my wife!), we started to think about where we might get married. A good strategy that worked for us involved my wife and her mom spending weekends touring a few of the local venues that seemed appealing. This helped to narrow down the field of options before I got my feet wet in the search.
When they found a venue that could be “the one,” my wife and I went to tour it together. Soon enough, we had the search narrowed down between three locations. All three locations were fairly local and were comparable in price. Of course, our main goal from the beginning was to pay cash for all of our wedding expenses. We graciously received help from both of our families as well, which enabled us to ultimately choose the venue we really loved (We highly recommend The Carriage House by the way)!
YOU NEED A WEDDING BUDGET
This leads me to the first tip I have for you:
TIP #1. Set up a “rough” wedding budget before you begin searching for the venue.
Think big picture here. The largest wedding expense is usually the venue and cost of food. So we researched the cost of the two locations that we were interested in. By doing some simple math, we estimated how long we would need to save to be able to afford the cost. For example, if the venue will cost $20,000 and you can save $2,000 per month, you’d need to save for ten months. It’s important to factor in any help you will receive from family members also. We applied this same way of thinking to the other major wedding expense categories such as photography and videography (my wife loves photos and videos!), flowers, entertainment, etc.
My wife sometimes gets a little embarrassed because I always try to negotiate anytime money is involved in a transaction. Case in point, when we had the venue choice narrowed down to three places, I created a spreadsheet detailing the costs and which items each venue offered. This greatly helped the negotiation process when we finally decided on the venue we wanted. The sales representative was able to clearly see the cost of what other venues were offering and sweetened the deal by adding in things that normally cost hundreds of dollars. I can still remember how happy my wife was when we got them to add chiavari chairs at no additional cost (normally $11 a chair!). We had about 150 people at our wedding so that would really add up quickly!
TIP #2. ALWAYS negotiate with the wedding venue and vendors.
The key players in the wedding industry want your business. This is true in most industries, but I found it to be especially true in the wedding industry. We were able to negotiate cash prices for our photographer, videographer, DJ, and florist (all of the major wedding vendors). When we decided on a particular vendor to use, we researched their competitors and offered a price we were comfortable paying. The truth is, not one vendor told us “No!” and most of our initial offers were accepted.
Throughout the planning process, which surprisingly went very smoothly, we tried to maintain a long-term view. By that, I mean we tried to make specific wedding decisions by thinking, “In 10, 15, 40 years, will this matter?” With that being said, the most important things to us were the photography and videographer (in other words, the memories).
TIP #3. Think about what wedding items mean the most to you when making key decisions.
Our main goal was to create an enjoyable day that could be relived forever through photographs and videos. As a result, our photography and videography budget was one of our largest expenses, second in line to the cost of the venue. The neat thing is that you can choose which aspects are more important and which ones you can live without.
TIP #4. RELAX, TAKE A DEEP BREATH, and ENJOY THE DAY!
There’s no sense in going through all this trouble if you don’t have an enjoyable, memorable wedding day! When the day arrives, try to forget about all the hectic stuff you went through and just have a great time with family and friends.
The last tip I want to leave you with is that
TIP #5. YOUR WEDDING DAY WILL FLY BY IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE!
We were both shocked at how fast the day goes by….from getting ready with your bridesmaids and groomsmen, to the first look (yes, we did the first look so my wife could have more time for photos and videos!), ceremony and dancing. You’ll be saying goodbye to guests before you know it. There’s really NO REASON to let wedding debt haunt you during your honeymoon!
Were you able to have a debt-free wedding? What were the most memorable parts of your special day?