Being two students without a size-able income means that planning a wedding can be financially difficult (to say the least). Needless to say, we had to plan our wedding on a tight budget. That created a lot of boundaries, but it also made us think creatively about how to make our dream day happen. In the end, our wedding day was just what we had dreamed, and we didn’t even have to rob a bank. So, I thought I’d share some of the tips and tricks I learned when planning our budget-friendly wedding.
1. Use your friend-sources. Asking for help is harder for some than others, but using the resources you have is essential to planning a budget-friendly wedding. If you’re running on a tight budget, but still want to have your dream wedding, get creative with your resources. Do you have a friend who loves to style hair? Why not collaborate on your wedding hairdo. Talk it through, do some testing, and if it doesn’t work out, you can always still hire a professional, but if it does, you’ll save some money (plus all the fun hair-dates you get to have with your friend). Maybe you have a friend who’s good at make-up, or knows how to sew, or knows somebody who knows how to do these things. Get in touch and ask them for their help. Those savings might look insignificant, but believe me, when it comes to a low-budget wedding, every cent counts. And cents turn into euros/dollars real quick.
If you’re hesitant asking for help, because you feel your “using” the other person, then think about it this way. Would you be offended when a friend asked you for help on their wedding? I personally would be more than willing to help make their day as special as it should be.
We had a lot of help from our friends, and of course, our family. A friend of a friend did our hair, our flatmate Mari Krõõt was the the commander-in-chief on the actual wedding day making sure everything run smoothly, our families helped us put up decorations and prep the ceremony area, Rein’s mom made my wedding dress, our friend Anneliis painted our guestbook/tree – just to name a few areas we had help in. Using our friend-sources was the biggest money-saver of our wedding, for sure.
2. Prioritize your budget. The harsh truth is, that when you’re on a tight budget, you can’t have it all. You might have to skip the chocolate fountain and the ice sculptures. And that’s ok. Looking back at your wedding, the emotion of the day is what you’ll remember the most, not the elaborate details. Think about what the key details of your wedding are, what you aren’t willing to compromise on, and plan your budget accordingly. Also, think about what you’re willing to ditch when the need arises. Because, no matter how well you plan, chances are, you’re going to have to make sacrifices when you want to stay on budget. When planning your budget, add about 20-30% to your initial estimate. There will be expenses you can’t or don’t know to include in your original budget, so plan for those changes and extra expenses in advance.
For us, the most important things were people and food. We knew we wouldn’t be happy when we couldn’t share our day with all the people we love. It was not important to us to have 200 people at our wedding, but it was essential that all the really important people could be a part of it. We also knew we wanted our guests to be happy, so food and drinks were high on our priority list. Everything else was optional. Yes, even my wedding dress. When you keep your priorities in mind, you won’t mind making changes and giving up some ideas, because you’ll know that everything that’s really important is taken care of.
3. Be creative. Once you’ve got your priorities set, you’ll also know where you want to spend the money you have. With the rest of the things, get your thinking cap on and step outside the box. This goes for everything from the venue to the wedding favors.
It can be easy to get stuck and only consider the venues that are wedding-oriented. But, think about other options. Someone’s backyard, a park or public garden, a random field somewhere in the countryside, ask a farmer to use their barn, or look for cool abandoned houses that could be turned into a rad wedding venue. Our wedding ceremony was in my parents’ backyard, and the reception was held in the local culture centre located in an old manor. A manor sounds glamorous, but in reality, the centre was reconstructed during the soviet times, and hasn’t had a decent renovation in decades. Luckily, the facade was renovated a few years ago, so it looks good on the outside. In the end, the selling point for us was that it was cheap and near the ceremony location, and also, in my home village. I knew the reception area wouldn’t be as pretty as I had once dreamed, but that was a compromise I was willing to make.
4. Be your own wedding planner. I bet a wedding planner comes in handy, but doing it yourself is totally manageable when you don’t have the funds to hire one.
We planned our entire wedding ourselves. And, although it can be stressful at times, it’s really not that difficult. The internet is full of great articles and inspirational wedding ideas to help you. Talk to your friends who’re already married and ask for advice. Planning a wedding can be intimidating, since you’re probably doing it for the first time, but when you gather all the experiences and lessons learned from your friends, and combine them with Google, you’re all set.
Get your family and friends involved in the preparations, and it’ll all be way easier. Our family and friends were incredibly helpful to us during all the stages of prepping for the wedding. From making the decorations, to setting up the ceremony and reception are, to cutting fruit, to helping us clean up afterwards. The truth is, you don’t have to do it all by yourself. Ask for help (like I said before) and everything becomes more manageable.
5. DIY what you can. Besides being your own wedding planner, doing as much as you can yourself or with the help of friends and family can help you save a lot of money. Also, for me, DIY added so much more meaning to our wedding. It’s such a joy seeing all the creations you’ve made on your wedding day and feel that you truly worked hard to make this day what you wanted it to be. For us, I think the biggest savings were my wedding dress, which was sewn by my mother-in-law (it cost me about 100€ in materials), and the wedding decor, which was made with the help of friends. Again, I can’t stress friend-sources enough. My dear friend Kärt-Katrin not only helped me cut out a lot of paper circles, but offered to sew our ring pillow. And it turned out so beautiful, too (see photo above).
I’ll do a post on our wedding DIYs in the near future.
Hope these tips a helpful to those of you planning your dream wedding.
Photography by Kerli Halliste and Hanna Saar