I Need Your Wedding Planning Advice

on Apr 13, 2011 @ 10:31 am

I may or may not have mentioned this before, but my wedding is in T minus 9 months and I have planned/booked/bought nothing. That's right there is no church booked, no wedding dress purchased (actually I haven't even spent more than 5 minutes in a dress store).

Mike's been slowly starting to mentioned more often that we should probably get started on some of this, and I reluctantly agree... see I'm not a huge wedding person, I haven't been to very many but from what I have witnessed and heard it’s just a day of impracticality and for an extremely practical girl it's hard for me to wrap my head around the whole thing. Now, don't get me wrong I am EXSTATIC about getting married and if I could do it today I would. I'm just having issues about the grand gestures and arrangements of a wedding.

So, because I have come to really appreciate all of the advice and encouragement from you guys at ChickAdvisor I thought I'd ask: What's your advice for me? What were your best money saving tricks for your own wedding? Where did you start your planning?


18 Replies

it doesn't have to be too complicated - really! on Apr 13, 2011 @ 12:06 pm

I planned my wedding in about 3 weeks. Now, I had a very small wedding and practically no interference from well-meaning relatives or future in-laws, so it was pretty much just me saying "I'll have that, and that, and that. Done."

I think we've made weddings far more complicated than they really need to be. And depending on what kind of a budget you are looking at, there are a million ways to make it less expensive without sacrificing the quality of your special day.

Here are just a few ideas:

1. buy a grad/prom dress in white instead of a full on wedding dress. If your tastes run to more elegant and simple forms instead of a puffy princess gown, you really don't need to spend $1000s on a dress that you could find easily for $200-300. Buying off the rack at a wedding gown store is really no different than buying off the rack at an upscale mall store or boutique, isn't it? If you really want something unique, you'd have to go with a dressmaker, and that's an entirely different cost story. Right now is the best possible time to buy a dress as the stores are jam packed with prom/grad fashions. Accessories and shoes too!

2. buy flowers from a wholesaler. Pull in a few favours from aunts and cousins, and plan to use simple bundles of flowers wrapped in fabric store ribbons for bride and bridesmaids' bouquets. Centerpieces can also be inexpensively made by using wholesale flowers. Many of my family members have used this trick and they honestly look as fresh and beautiful as any florist.

3. make your reception a stand-up cocktail & appetizer or sit-down luncheon instead of a full 5-course dinner. A late evening reception is very elegant and large quantities of food will not be expected. You can contact a local catering school and ask about their services - their students are always needing course credit for work hours and the preparation and service will be carefully supervised by their teacher.

4. limit the type of alcohol served. You don't have to have a full bar for it to be an open bar. Decide on 1 or 2 signature cocktails (or perhaps a wine punch?), a red wine, a white wine, perhaps a nice beer, and the usual non alcoholic beverages. This will reduce your stocking costs from the ingredients to the glasses rental to the number of bartenders you'll need to manage the bar orders.

5. Have your wedding on a day other than Saturday. If you have a Friday evening or Sunday event, your venue rental might be less expensive.

Most of all, don't agonize over the silly little things that I GUARANTEE no one will notice. A friend of my cousin went bridezilla over the way her invitation envelopes were sealed (it was a gold foil sticker that was to have a very specific swirly design... but her helpers couldn't get them perfectly uniform) - so stupid. Remember that your family and friends are doing you a favour - they don't have to help! Keep this as stress free as you are able to and you'll enjoy the day so much better.

Good luck!

Ali de Bold
Don't over think it on Apr 13, 2011 @ 12:32 pm

All you need is the basics. You don't need to hire fire eaters and a candid photo booth. Just make it simple and elegant so the focus can be on the two of you and your friends and family.

These are the basics:

Book the Church or venue you want to say your I Do's now. These book up fast. Consider the seating capacity for all of your guests and ideally a central isle for you to walk down (vs. side isles where not everyone can see you).

Don't leave this to a random relative or friend who has expressed interest in photography. Invest in someone who is a professional. They will make sure you get all of the necessary shots and you will never regret spending that money as you will look at these photos for the rest of your life.

Reception Location
Do this now. Dates are hard to get even 9 months in advance. I highly recommend booking a hotel or somewhere used to catering weddings. They will have everything you need including table and chair covers so you don't have to rent those from somewhere else, which really adds up.

Everyone thinks it is cheaper to have your reception in a tent in the backyard but that is one of the most expensive options because it's death by a thousand cuts as you have to rent absolutely everything, including the port-a-potty.

Depending on the size of your guest list, you can do like Mamaluv suggested and rent out a restaurant. This can be ideal as it is more intimate than a large open banquet hall and you can choose a restaurant that is significant to the two of you.

There are a lot of flower wholesalers who will sell you flowers by the stem at great prices. I bought most of my flowers from one of these and got the roses all for $1 a stem. The only thing I had professionally made was my bouquet, the bridesmaid bouquets and the corsages/boutineers. The wholesale roses saved a lot of money from having all of the professional arrangements.

Find a bakery that makes delicious cakes in different sizes and then order the one you like the best in small, medium and large. Get stacking platters to put them together, arrange a few flowers on the top and don't even tell the bakery they are for your wedding. You will save a fortune buying the cakes this way. As soon as you say "wedding" everything is 10X the price.

Send them out 2 months in advance. Don't over-invest in these. There is no good reason it should cost thousands of dollars for a piece of paper everyone will throw in the garbage. Despite what you might think, you are probably the only ones who will end up keeping a copy.

Your dress
Because it can take months to order the dress you want and get any necessary alterations (they are almost always necessary), you need to do this now. Don't get caught up thinking this should cost thousands of dollars. What we think is gorgeous today is tacky tomorrow and it will sit in your closet taking up space for a lifetime. Get something you feel beautiful in but don't succumb to the "but it's my wedding!!" hysteria that makes you think you need to spend the equivalent of purchasing a small car.

Everything else is extra details that aren't going to make or break the event. Consider your transportation the day of so you aren't hoping a ride in the minivan. You don't need a stretch limo but if there is a nice car in the family, that's perfect.

You will make a beautiful bride! Enjoy it!

:) on Apr 13, 2011 @ 12:56 pm

You guys are the best layin' it all out for me!

Personalize your Planning! on Apr 13, 2011 @ 02:24 pm

I'm also very practical, and I can't fathom why I need to blow thousands of $$ on ONE day. I have a good friend getting married in 2years, and she's booking everything, from the reception hall, bands, and everything else that I can't wrap my head around from now! She's estimating around $40k - $50k.

I got married about a year ago, and I did it according to my own standards. It was truly the happiest day of my life, and every single wedding picture shows how smiley and bursting with happiness my husband and I (and the rest of the family) were. I'm not saying it wasn't expensive, but every expense was done to my own standard (mine and his). Not to impress anyone else, not to show off, or anything like that. It's my day, it's not a competition.

So my biggest advise to you is: do your wedding according to your own standards. Decide for yourself what you & your fiancee want at your wedding, and only do that. This really is a day for you two. Not for anyone else. Don't give a fig about what others might think, or whisper behind your back. This is one of the most special days of your lives, don't compete with others, don't make this day about anyone other than you two. If someone has a huge 40k jam, they did was what they needed to do to make it special for them, do what makes it special for you. Otherwise you'll just end up spending a bunch of money for someone else's satisfaction, and be super stressed planning the whole thing to boot!

The only thing I would recommend is a professional photographer. Do your research and find a reasonably priced, good photographer to take your wedding pics. That's not to impress anyone, but its for you; to capture the happy memories forever.

I like that you guys think like I do... on Apr 13, 2011 @ 04:27 pm

Because the one thing I've always intended to pay full price and be really picky about is the photographer. The last thing you want is to spend all of this money on one day and not have incredible and beautiful photos to remember with. I guess I'm not totally starting from the beginning... I DID go to a wedding show back in January, so I do have a bunch of photographer brochures already. I really like that a few of the photographers let you have all of the pictures - even the bad ones!

@ali- I'm super involved in my church so I'm not too concerned because they don't have that many wedding (especially in the winter)... but I promise you right now I'll call them this week and just get that over with so I don't have to worry about it. I was actually curious how soon you're supposed to send invited out so thanks! My Best friend is an artist so she offered a while back to pay for and create a cute invite for us (one less thing for me to worry about).

@claire - I had considered a non-wedding dress dress and I think that could be the right path to go and we've also talked about doing a late wedding 7 or 8 and then doing cocktails and reception after.

@becky - thanks for the encouragement girl!


I love giving wedding tips! on Apr 13, 2011 @ 06:08 pm

I planned my wedding in less than 3 months so I would not stress! Just start doing things as you can. Plus, your wedding will be in the "off" season so that's a good start!

I second the idea for a lunch/brunch wedding. We had a brunch buffet at 11:30am following a 10:00am ceremony. It saved us SO much money! For one thing it was in the middle of the day so we didn't have any alcohol. The buffet had everything from pancakes to a ham carving station to fruit and cheese platters to a fruit punch fountain. Everyone actually congratulated us and then right away commented how great the buffet was! We also didn't have to pay a room rental, only a per head kind of thing. It's definitely worth looking into. We were also done the reception by around 3 and took all our pictures for the rest of the day. It was so nice to just relax and enjoy!

Because we had the buffet, there was a dessert table with tons of cake, cheesecake, and mousse. For this reason I had a small cake business owner I know make a 2 teired cake just for cutting/display purposes. It actually only cost me $100 and looked beautiful!

I bought my dress off the rack - but I also had no choice. No order would have come in time! Our bridesmaid dresses we actually got at Le Chateau. They were cute cocktail dresses, perfect for a brunch wedding. Plus they were very affordable and dresses that my bridesmaids actually WOULD wear again!

I totally agree with Ali about the invitations. My brother-in-law is very computer/graphically inclined so he actually created a template for us and we got them printed for only pennies each. If you know someone who can design this for you, go for it!

Pick wedding party members who will pay close attention to your details so that the day of the wedding, you don't have to lift a finger. Have your maid of honour or another close friend know exactly how you and your husband want things to go, look, etc. Then when someone has a question or something isn't going 100% right they can go to your designate and not to you. I had a close friend be my "bridesmaid behind the scenes" who made sure everyone was where the needed to be and everything was organized, almost like an unofficial wedding planner. She was amazing and I had absolutely nothing to worry about the whole day. At your rehearsal, let everyone know who your designate is so they know if the photographer is running late or a groomsman lost his tie, it's not your problem. Your day is to be stress free!

My last piece of advice is carry around a notebook that'll fit in your purse. Jot down notes, ideas, etc as they come to you and use it to keep track of appointments and info you get from vendors. And don't pay attention to those lists in magazines that say "At 6 months such-and-such should be done" because those are so untrue and just stress you out!

Happy planning!

Girls can babble for hours about weddings on Apr 13, 2011 @ 06:10 pm

Oh - one more thing!

I don't normally tell people this but we did our wedding for just under $10 000 and it was lovely. Just proves you don't need to spend huge lavish amounts.

Ali de Bold
Agree with beachbabe on Apr 13, 2011 @ 09:11 pm

Our wedding was $11,000 including my dress and an open bar at our reception, which was at a brand new boutique hotel. Mind you it was in Winnipeg and everything was considerably less expensive there...

Don't Stress, it will come together on Apr 13, 2011 @ 10:35 pm

I'm doing the same thing, I set the date for 7 months. I would advise you to seek out your photographer only because you mentioned that it's important to you. try to see if you can find someone who does photography and videography because then that's one less vendor to find and deal with. Next, find a hall or venue for your reception. I did this by just searching for ahlls and e-mailing them to find out what dates they had available in the season i have in mind. This does 2 things: it narrows down your date for you without you having to find a venue to accomodate a pre set date and it`s almost like a pre-interview with the cateringéhall manager. any vendor that does not respond to you in a timely fashion (24 hours) to me, is not worth your time because the industry is very competitive. if one provider does not reply, move on because someone else will and in this age of technology, there`s no excuse (sorry, that was a bridezilla tangent lol) don`t bother buying any bridal magazine, everywhere you go they give you free ones. i don`t know if it was just me and the stores i shopped at but i was hard pressed to find any wedding gown that cost more that $1000. i know some people think that`s an obscene amount to spend on a dress but relative to some of the prices i see in magazines and on tv, it`s not bad. well that`s alll i have done so far....good luck. you have a little time yet.

forgot to say.... on Apr 13, 2011 @ 10:37 pm

oh yeah, i bought my invites at michael`s and am printing and assembling them myself. without mailing this cost less than $200 (which includes ink for the printer)

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