Budget Friendly Beauty

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Thank you kindly

Posted By on Sep 24, 2010

Blooms By The Box would like to thank all of you who participated in “Blooms for the Ultimate Budget Savvy Bride”. All of the entries blew away our expecations and it was VERY hard choosing the final 5 essays. We wish you all the best of luck with the rest of your wedding planning! Congratulations to those who made the top 5, voting is now open on The Budget Savvy Bride until September 30th, 2010. Good luck!

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Here’s some awesome tips and tricks from Michelle. Good luck in both the contest and the rest of your wedding planning! Thank you so much for your entry.
I struggled with the idea of a wedding for a lot of reasons. For one, I’m still in college, and my groom-to-be only just graduated. For another, a really small wedding just isn’t in the cards, as it’s important for us to have our families there, and the groom’s side of the family is huge. We will have to pay for the bulk of the wedding ourselves, and I’m a little terrified. Most of what little savings we have are being channeled into one day, and not only was I a little appalled by how much some weddings can cost, we just don’t have the funds to have an all-out bash. I’m still in the early stages of planning, but I wanted to share with you what I have so far!
When we started planning, we sat down and considered what we could do without. By consuming less, we’re not only helping the environment; in many cases, we’ll also be saving money. High fives all around! Neither of us care about a bouquet, a garter, a veil, wedding favors, boutonnieres, or paper save-the-dates, to name a few. We aren’t including response cards with the invitations, instead inviting people to respond on our wedding website or to give us a call. We decided on a daytime wedding, between lunch and dinner, with heavy hors d’oeuvres and a gorgeous cake spread. Besides saving on food, I won’t have to worry about escort cards. I plan on buying a used wedding dress and wearing fabulous black heels that I already own.
Finding little ways to save everywhere can really add up, and it helps us remember that the wedding isn’t about what so-and-so had at theirs, but what’s really meaningful to us. I plan on borrowing whenever I can. I have a huge affinity for white Christmas lights, and since we’re getting married after Christmas, we are asking all our friends and relatives if we can borrow theirs. I’m also starting to know a lot of people who either have just gotten married or are planning to get married, and I plan on asking if I can borrow things they used in their wedding, like clear vases for centerpieces or white paper lanterns. At the very least, they may let me buy them for much cheaper than they had to! I am also involved in a not-for-profit organization that has a banquet every year, and they have their own white tablecloths. I’m asking to rent from them, and they’ll be much cheaper than anywhere else, if they won’t let me borrow them for free.
Since I knew almost nothing about weddings before planning my own, I’ve done a lot of research. Blogs, of course, are extremely helpful, and books are another wonderful resource. If you read the right ones, they’ll keep things in perspective, so you won’t overspend on something you don’t need. There are lots of great ones out there, but my current read is The DIY Wedding: Celebrate Your Day Your Way by Kelly Bare. Kelly, a DIY bride herself, not only outlines how you can plan your wedding in a sane, organized, budget-friendly way, but has a few easy and creative projects throughout the book. A tip I got from her was to choose your venue wisely. If you pick a beautiful venue from the start, you’ll need fewer decorations, which means less money spent. I also plan on negotiating prices. It doesn’t hurt to ask for a discount, and can save a lot of money, especially on big-ticket items like the venue.
Of course, we are DIYing a lot. I like design and food, so I’m tackling the invitations, programs, and the cake. My groom-to-be is a computer programmer, and he’s writing a photobooth program that we can run off his laptop. Not only will it be free, it will exactly suit our vision and needs. I briefly toyed with the idea of paper flowers, as they can be cheaper than real ones, but I realized that I really, truly love real flowers. So, to keep costs down, I will be arranging them myself. If it will be cheaper than renting, I’m also willing to sew table runners and napkins. We will be our own DJ, playing music off our iPod, and we’re getting the advice from one of our friends, a professional DJ, about how to plan a reception’s worth of music.
Another small way I plan to stay on budget is to stay on top of what I’m spending. After some research, I constructed a budget on a spreadsheet. I plan on keeping track of everything I spend as soon as I spend it, so I know exactly what I’ve allotted for myself and what is out of my range. That way I can’t accidentally go over our budget.
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So far, Courtney has saved about $16,000! Now that’s what I call budget savvy!!

Both my fiancé and I have said from Day 1 which was Aprils Fools Day no less (April 1st), that we want our wedding to have a classic, luxurious, yet extremely personal feeling. We want all of our guests to feel as though we thought of every single last detail!! But with each detail comes a price, and one that usually adds up quickly. However we have found “savvy” solutions to our costly obstacles.

Solution 1- Recession talk: Did you know we were in a recession? I mean you can’t go anywhere without people talking about how it has affected their lives! Now it is the bride’s chance to jump on that boat. Negotiate with Everyone!!! Explain to all vendors that you really want A but you can only afford B but their competition is willing to give you A for the price of B because they want your business. Anyone heard of Supply and Demand….demand you want to pay less and it shall be supplied!! Play the vendors against themselves, I did and saved $7,000 on my reception venue itself. With my photographer, I asked him if I cut back an hour and let him use our engagement photos for his portfolio and he reduced the price down by $2,000!!  The odds are in our favor right now ladies!

Solution 2- Get family & friends involved: Who doesn’t want to be involved in pulling off the wedding of the decade!? Look at your friends and family and really think about what creative skills they possess. My mom does beautiful calligraphy for our church…duh she’s doing my invitations! My mother in law makes amazing homemade caramel popcorn- what an awesome favor! Two of my bridesmaids are interior designers, therefore they are helping with the floorplans and décor. Friends of the family know our local bus drivers….therefore transportation is taken care of…check…seriously network…your family and friends KNOW people too!!

Solution 3- Cut back on things overlooked & Say THANK YOU!! Like I said, we want our wedding to seem luxurious, but by all means we can’t afford to make a hostess basket for every out of town couple! $1-$3 favors (that seriously no one wants) add up if you have more than 100 people! Think about how often you use those gross melted mints, or matches that are gone in a few weeks, or seen that custom made frame in their house that says your names and date. If they have a good time and feel appreciated, they won’t be judging your favors. Instead put simple “thank you’s” throughout your reception so people really feel like your grateful!  We are putting them on our wine glass label (one wine bottle for the table w/ dinner) as well as by the front door thanking people for coming, as well as a simple note by the exit reminding them once again how meaningful it was to us that they were able to share our day.

Solution 4- Save & Clip Coupons: Please do not ever pay full price unless it is at the dollar store! Michaels has a coupon in every bridal magazine and online and once you buy one thing they give you another coupon for either 40% or 50% off an item. If you need to walk in and out the door just to save…swallow your pride and do it. Once in the car packed full of loot all your dignity will return! Then head on over to the dollar store and buy all your glass and candle décor, you can’t beat it! P.S. sometimes they have good ribbon too!

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What a hearfelt story! Thanks so much for a fabulous entry Megan.

A few weeks before our daughter was born, my fiancé uncovered an old notebook from college buried in a long-forgotten box. The notebook was nothing special, just a plain old notebook, probably purchased in a back-to-school sale at Walmart days before fall semester. But inside it held something special – a relic from a boring Sociology class we took together – a hastily-drawn heart with girlish bubble letters spelling out “Aaron Anthony Loves Megan Anne.” Within days, it was framed and hung above our nursery rocking chair, waiting Lea’s arrival.

When we got engaged and began talking about wedding plans, we quickly agreed that with our family already started, a lavish, expensive wedding just wasn’t what we wanted. There are so many better uses for that kind of money – savings for emergencies, college tuition, even Lea’s eventual wedding. And so our wedding became a DIY extravaganza.

My tips for a successful, budget-savvy DIY wedding:

1. Play to your strengths and know your weaknesses: Thanks to a background in design, I knew I would be able to design and print our invitations and other paper projects myself and save us a lot of cash while still getting the look we wanted.

But I’m terrible at cutting in a straight line. I don’t want to ruin our beautiful invitations with my wobbly cuts so we’ll be paying the extra cost to have them cut by a printer.

2. Recognize the talents of your friends and family members: My mother-in-law is an avid gardener and will be helping us choose the flowers that we will be arranging for bouquets and centerpieces. My fiancé’s musically-talented brother will play our ceremony music and offered to assemble a band for our reception. We’re getting expert help for our music and our flowers for very little cost because we’re fortunate enough to be loved by such talented people.

3. Set your priorities: If there is something you don’t care about, don’t bother with it. It’s not worth the time, effort and money if it isn’t important to you and your fiancé.

Figure out what matters to you and put your money and resources there. For us, it’s making sure all our guests have a great time. So we’re focusing our resources on great food and having the reception at a restaurant instead of the original plan of a backyard wedding so all our guests can enjoy themselves without anyone stressing about setting and cleaning up.

4. If it’s important to you, it’s worth it. I know a lot of brides are okay with fake flowers or opt for non-floral centerpieces. I’m not crazy about the cost but I love flowers – the smell, the colors, the textures, everything – and I can’t imagine a wedding without them. So we’re doing flowers and lots of them but we’re doing them ourselves to cut the costs.

5. Give yourself plenty of time: We’re still eight months from our wedding but already have many of our stationery designs finalized and all the paper is in our living room. It gives us plenty of time to practice our projects to make sure they are exactly what we want and to complete the project (I don’t know about you but addressing all those envelopes in one weekend is NOT my idea of fun! But two or three a night for a month? That I can handle). If you’re rushing, you are more likely to make mistakes and come up with something you don’t love.

Plus knowing your plans ahead of time gives you a chance to shop around and take advantage of sales. We got all our paper half off by ordering when we did, which ended up being a huge savings in our budget.

On days when I’m frustrated with my DIY wedding projects, convinced they aren’t good enough or worried I won’t have time to finish it all, I go the our daughter’s room and look at that drawing. It’s imperfect, incredibly cheap and easily my favorite part of the room. Like all my favorite parts of Lea’s room – the handmade blankets from her great aunt, a beautiful trio of paintings from my friend, the letters of her name we painted while I was on bedrest – it embodies love and family, so it’s beautiful. Just like our DIY wedding will be.

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