The Wedding Diaries: The Five Times I’m Glad I Saved (and Splurged)

All photos by Forever Yours Images

Two years ago today, I stood in front of our closest friends and family and vowed to love my husband forever. It was a magical evening and I would not change a thing (well almost but I’ll get to that later). I saw an article on Cosmo’s website a while ago where people were discussing the times they wish they’d saved and splurged when it came to wedding things and it got me thinking about my own wedding. To be honest, I am really happy with all my decisions! So here’s the opposite. The five times I am glad we saved money on things for the wedding and the five times I am glad we splurged!!

Saved

Dress
Like most girls, I started dreaming about what my wedding dress would look like far before I was even old enough to get married. I always knew I wanted to look like a princess as I walked down the aisle. When it came time to pick my dress, I was willing to splurge if need be but was determined to find the perfect dress at a reasonable price. We started by going to some of the fancier dress shops but didn’t see anything I couldn’t live without. Our last stop on the first day was David’s Bridal. I walked in and told them what I was looking for and showed them a few pictures. Our attendant brought the first dress and it was beautiful but not perfect. I told her what I liked and what I didn’t. She brought another again it was gorgeous but not perfect. I told her what I liked and what I didn’t. Then she brought the third dress and it was everything I could have dreamed of and way under our budget. Win!
We spent $1,200 (includes accessories and alterations) vs Average cost of $1,500 (dress only)

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Invites
We started by visiting a wedding specific design shop to pick out our invites. They had so many options and styles but we didn’t need anything too fancy. We discussion our ideas but they could exactly provide what we wanted. On top of that, the simplest package they had available was still outrageously expensive so we decided to shop around. Since I had gotten my dress at David’s Bridal, we received a coupon to their stationary site. We found invites that were exactly what we wanted for less than half the cost! We also found Save the Date Originals for our save the date magnets with a quick internet search. We still used the fancier design shop for some of the more specialized items like place cards and day of signage.
We spent $600 vs Average Cost from a Design Studio $1200

Table Décor
Table decorations were one of the last things on the list. By this time, the bills had started to roll in and finding a cost-saving solution was a must. We went with a simple arrangement for each table. I scoured pinterest for something easy but still classy and matching our theme. We went with a simple square mirror (saved by skipping the beveled edge kind) topped with a blue martini glass (found at the dollar tree) filled with water and a floating tea light candle (purchased off amazon) surrounded by yellow rose petals (note 2 roses provide a lot of petals). It was so simple but provided a very elegant look.
We spent $75 (for 20 tables) vs Average Cost $12 per table ($240 for 20 tables)


Flowers
When it came time to pick the flowers, I didn’t even know where to start. I had always gone to our local grocery chain Dierberg’s for flowers for dances or Mother’s Day so I decided to start there. It turned out to be the best decision. Because they don’t focus on wedding flowers, they were able to price out the flowers as they would for your average bouquet and not hike up the price for the ‘wedding’ rate. Our floral designer was amazing. She helped us pick what would be best for our wedding theme and colors steering us to only what would be in season (to keep the cost down). When I hear what other people spend at a ‘true florist’ for their wedding florist, I am just astounded.
We spent $650 vs Average Cost of $2,000 to $5,000

Party Favors
Stop for a second and think of the last three weddings you attended, what were the wedding favors? Do you even remember? For mine, it was don’t remember, a picture frame, and candy. Currently, the picture frame is in a drawer somewhere and the candy got thrown away. With that in mind, we skipped it. We figured the guests were there to share in our big day not to get random trinkets and things.
We spent $0 vs Average Cost of $200

Splurge

Photo Booth
The first time I went to a wedding with a photo booth, I was hooked and hoped I could have one at my own wedding. We went with Gateway Photobooths. It was a huge hit!!! From the minute the reception started to the end of the night, it always had a line of people waiting. I figured it’d be mostly our friends (or cousins in our generation) that would love it but some of the funniest pictures are the ones with my grandma and our older relatives. As a plus, people were able to take the picture strips with them as almost a ‘party favor.’ It’s fun to see them hanging in our friends’ homes when we visit!
We spent $700

Harp
One of the hard parts of planning a wedding is that everyone has an opinion of everything. This can be especially difficult when those with opinions are the ones paying for it – in this case my parents foot the bill and my mother wanted to help plan. It worked out well that a lot of her suggestions were great! She had worked with a woman who was a professional harpist on the side. When she suggested a harp for the ceremony music, it was easy to agree.
We spent $300


Lighting
One of the cool ‘add ons’ that our DJ company, Allegro Entertainment, offered was ‘mood lights.’ Not sure what I am talking about? See photo above. Notice the blue accent lighting? Those. Also, the monogram that appears on the ceiling? That, too. Was it necessary? No. Does it make the room (and photos) look awesome? Yes. One of the cool things is that we got to keep the Monogram Gobo so one day when we get a house we can use it as a wall décor or even as a detail on the front porch.
We spent $200

Open Bar 
This was pretty much a guarantee for our wedding. My family thoroughly enjoys a few drinks as well as our friends. It worked out well that our venue really only had too options – no alcohol or open bar (no cash bar option). All of our guests drank responsibly and we were happy they could enjoy themselves without having to worry about the cost of their drinks.
Cost was built into Venue & Catering

Carriage
Like I mentioned earlier, I wanted to feel like a princess on our wedding day. When my mother mentioned arriving to the ceremony in a horse drawn carriage, I was totally on board – don’t have to ask me twice. It was a magical moment! She had wanted to do the full Cinderella carriage but knowing that wasn’t our style, we agreed on a simpler option from Brookdale Farms. During the reception, the guests were able to take rides around the venue. When talking to our guests even two year later, the carriage is still one of the most memorable parts of the day.
We spent $550

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Wish I had splurged

Day of Organizer
As I mentioned in my Liebster Award post, I really wish I would have had a Day of Organizer. I didn’t even really know this was a thing until after our wedding. I knew I could do all the planning and preparation on my own (well with some help from my soon to be husband and my mother) and foolishly thought I could take care of any last minute items myself on the big day. It reality I was so focused on getting ready and excited to finally marry my love that all those items fell on my mother. She still had a great time but she was a bit stressed out. If I could go back, this is the one thing I would change.

Helpful Tip

We went to the St. Louis Bridal Show and it was an amazing experience. If you research what you want a head of time, this is a great way to save money, especially on the SPLURGE items! The carriage, lighting, and photo booth companies all had deals (like really good ones) if you were willing to sign a contract on site.

What were your splurge and save wedding wins? If you are still planning, what kinds of tips and tricks would you be interested in?

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