After reading this entry from Margot, I was floored by her family! They are all so gosh darn talented… I want to book them all as vendors for my wedding (which won’t be for a long time ; )). Anyway, I love Margot’s approach to DIY’ing her wedding. She also gives great advice on choosing vendors. I’m so happy to share such amazing entry! Thanks so much, Margot, keep it up for the next ten months!

First off, I want to thank The Budget Savvy Bride and Blooms By The Box for the truly awesome opportunity to win $500 worth of flowers. My fiance’ and I are planning our September 2011 wedding for 2/3 to 1/2 the cost of a typical San Francisco soiree (depending on the source that you consult). So, we welcome the opportunity to save a little cash.

My first recommendation to any budget savvy bride is: enjoy a long engagement. My fiance’ and I got engaged on Christmas 2009, making our engagement 21 months. But, we got to planning right away, shopping around for vendors who could meet our budget and our standards. We had a goal of getting our top three priorities in place before the 12-month mark when most other couples with our wedding date would be planning. And, we’ve succeeded in beating out the competition! We have a caterer, photographer, and venue in place.

I also went through lists of typical wedding elements (escort cards, programs, etc.) looking for what I could cut painlessly. I’ve planned, for instance, for my bridesmaids to wear corsages instead of holding bouquets. Our ceremony will be informal and in the round, so we won’t need bouquets to give them something to do with their hands while standing on an altar. Moreover, a standing ceremony saves on chairs. I am thinking of combining our programs and menus into one small booklet to outline the entire evening. We’re holding our ceremony and reception in the same place to cut location and transportation fees. We decided to serve beer, wine, and champagne only. We are planning on a family style meal, which saves on rentals. And, we are DJing our wedding with customized playlists that we’re already having fun putting together. Cuts like these that will save us big, but that won’t compromise the feel of the event, have been essential to making our budget work.

And then, of course, there are DIY projects. I think that most brides think of DIY projects as an opportunity to personalize their wedding while saving. Luckily, we have very talented family and friends, so we see DIY projects as an opportunity to get our community involved in our wedding, making it personal to those who are close to us, as well as to us as a couple. I often think of looking back at our wedding photos one day and remembering: Oh, Aunt Peggy arranged all those flowers.  Or, Amy, designed those invitations for us at the start of her graphic design career.  And, looking around the room on our special day, those touches (which represent special people) will mean so much. So, when it comes to DIY, this is what we have in the plans:

My future mother-in-law is knitting me a lace blouse for our rehearsal dinner.

My future sister-in-law is a graphic designer. She is designing our invitations and any other paper elements for the wedding day, such as signs, the booklets I mentioned, and escort cards.

My mom, an interior designer, is helping to make sure that the overall look of the wedding is cohesive, in the way that a wedding planner might do.

My sister, a fashion stylist, is styling all my bridesmaids.

I plan to make favors for our guests, likely gingerbread caramels for which I am known.

My aunt, an amazing floral designer in St. Louis, is coming in early to arrange our flowers.

My uncle is planning to play jazz guitar for us at some point in the evening, adding live music to our special day.

My fiance’ and I are designing our playlist, as I mentioned.

So far, I have only spoken about things that have worked in my planning process. If anything hasn’t worked, it has been trying to negotiate with vendors who are too expensive from the start, and worrying about whether we will find vendors who will work with our budget. There are so many fish in the sea. For us, recommendations from friends have been key to finding the right resources.

Also, I have had a hard time getting comfortable with the cost of having a wedding. Even on a budget, the whole prospect is costly. To make spending the money more comfortable, we’ve only selected small vendors who we strongly support and personally like. Our photographer is a friend of a friend. Our catering company is a local, family-owned business. And, the designer who is making my dress and my bridesmaids’ dresses owns a small woman-owned outfit in Portland. Ladies, the right vendors feel right; I think any bride would feel good about supporting good people and companies as they help to fulfill her wedding hopes and wants.

11 months down and 10 to go! I hope that this advice is useful to other brides. And, my fingers are tightly crossed that I’ll be the winner of Blooms By The Box!

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