Do More With Less

I’ve gotten a few questions as to how S and I are managing to keep our wedding on budget, yet still have everything we wanted and more. I hate the phrase “do more with less,” but I feel like that’s what we’re doing. We’re getting more out of very little. So for those interested, here are some ways we’ve managed to use less funds, but still get married in a room with dinosaurs.

1. Use Friends – Our DJ works for the top DJing company in Orlando. Incidentally, he’s also one of my high school friends. This clearly came as an advantage, as I know he’ll do an amazing job, and he was able to work with our budget. Of course, not everyone has a DJ as a friend…but someone else may. For instance, I didn’t know a photographer, but my friend Valerie’s college roommate started her own wedding photography business a while back. We met with her, and instantly loved her. She gave us a great deal, and we, again, know she’ll do a fabulous job. See if friends have friends who are in the business. If not, look for recommendations. You’ve probably had a friend get married prior to your wedding. Ask who they used, and then contact that vendor. Saying you’ve seen them in action before may give you a bit of break.

2. Negotiate – We loved the Orlando Science Center as soon as we saw it, but unfortunately it was WAY out of our budget. Thankfully, they worked with us. The reception area is large enough for 300 people. Since we’re only planning on having around 130, we asked it if was possible to use half the room. Luckily, it was – and the price dropped almost half the amount. Talk with the vendor – they want your business and often they’ll work with you. Of course, don’t go in saying “I can’t pay that much; what will you do for me?” That won’t work. But be nice, discuss your budget, and see if things can be altered.

3. Shop Smart – Our florist, who’s absolutely lovely, was charging $15 a table for renting his vases ($5 a vase, and we’re having three vases on each table). Instead of doing that, we decided to buy our own vases. For $13, there was a lovely set of three at IKEA. $2 less! Even better? We found perfect vases at…The Dollar Tree. Seriously. $3 a table? Sign me up. IKEA and The Dollar Tree may sound cheap, but there are some amazing options at both places. Candles, candle holders, rocks for the bottom of vases…all there, all wonderful.

4. Cut the Unimportant – We’re having six cocktail tables set up during our cocktail hour. Each table will have a tablecloth. The caterer (who we’re going through for linens) asked if we wanted ribbons to tie around the base of the tables. The price? $9 a ribbon. We decided against it because, really, it’s unnecessary. There are many things we’ve discovered that are similar. Personalized server set? Chair ribbons? Chargers? Some people love these things, but we didn’t find them essential. So, we cut them. (Incidentally, I went to Michael’s a few days later and found similar ribbon on sale for a $1. Seriously. Guess who’s having table ribbons after all?)

5. Do It Yourself – I admit it, I’m not that crafty. My matron of honor hand-made all of her wedding invites. They were GORGEOUS, but I knew I wasn’t capable of that. (If you are, go crazy!) What am I capable of? Creating programs, menus, table settings, etc. I created a template on Word and am getting them printed at CopyMax. Quick and cheap. Also – for our invites, instead of buying another card for hotel information ($83), I found the same stationary paper and am making them myself. A friend even made all of her own centerpieces – they were beautiful!

6. Local Vs. Chains – We wanted to support our independent businesses and shop local. We did for the florist, caterer, photographer, DJ and more. But certain things, like invitations, we decided to get online. Using was amazing because their prices are quite low, and their stationary is beautiful (this is not an ad, honest). Sure, others will have the same invites I had, but I don’t really care. Also, for cake? A local baker wanted almost twice as much as Publix charges. And have you tried Publix cake? It’s amazing.

6. Exchange – I have a blog. It has some readers (hello!) I’ve actually offered exchanges to certain vendors. For instance, free ads or production promotions on my blog for a discount on their service. And it worked! It’s really a win-win situation because I’m getting what I want at a more affordable rate, and they’re getting publicity. See what you can do – it never hurts to ask.

7. Research, Research, Research – I had a list of around 30 photographers I wanted to check out. Thirty. It’s ridiculous how many options their are, but researching is the only way to find the vender that’s perfect for you. You’ll learn the norm for prices in your city that way, and get a larger array of options. I have several Excel spreadsheets for this.

Planning a wedding is hard. Staying budget-friendly is also hard. But, personally, I don’t want to go broke just for a giant party. By working with my vendors and researching a whole lot, I’ve found a way to ensure our wedding is gorgeous…and still pay my rent next month.

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