Wedding Planning on a Budget Part I

Planning a wedding can be the most joyous and stressful days, weeks, months, (and for some even years) of your life. Though I’ve spent years watching Say Yes to the Dress, Four Weddings, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and loving all things bridal, I knew that I would not be one of those brides spending $10,000+ on their wedding. At the end of the day, as long as I get to marry my best friend, that’s all that matters. I set a budget and in my mind said that I did not want to go over $5,000. For one day, any more than that is just ridiculous. With just under 250 days til “I do!” this is what we’ve managed to do so far.

Location:

My fiancé and I live an hour apart. However, we met at the University of Valley Forge. The campus sits on what was a military hospital complex. The hospital’s chapel is one of my favorite buildings on campus. It is on the small side and intimate. It has beautiful stained glass and wood pews. With the two of us being students, we got a bit of a “break” on the cost of using the facility of under $200.

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Apparently fire halls are a “Pennsylvania thing,” but I don’t mind. With our relative closeness to Philadelphia, the cost of going renting a ballroom or something is astronomical. The majority of places STARTED at $2,500 just to rent. Another had a $10,000 minimum….yeah. Not about it. One of our local fire departments has a really nice hall. They gutted and renovated within the last 2 years. There is a great wall of windows with plenty of natural light, a gorgeous kitchen, large, nice bathrooms, and a room large enough to eat and dance! The cost…under $600. On top of that, we will be able to get into the facility the afternoon before to set up at no extra cost.

Decorations:

I love flowers. I have found a great joy in gardening in the last few years. When picking flowers for the wedding, I had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted- carnations. I love carnations. I especially love clusters of white carnations. They smell nice, they are hardy and last, and they dry beautifully. The cost of all of our bouquets, corsages, boutonnières, wristlets, and extra flowers for the ceremony and reception…under $600.

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Though we are having a December wedding, I have been trying to avoid Christmas, snowflakes, and super stereotypical stuff. Our colors are blues and grays. Not silver. Gray. My mother and I have been collecting blue glass for years and one of my bridesmaids hit a mother load of dirt-cheap small vases. We will use the collections for the flowers. At the end of the Christmas season last year, I was able to stock up on pinecones with the help of my bridesmaids. They are even the cinnamon scented ones! I will be stringing these and using them for both the ceremony and as table décor to go around the blue vases.

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I am guilty of being a Pinaholic. I found a great idea on Pinterest to use larger jingle bells to slip the place-cards into the criss-cross of the bell. Oriental Trade has large quantities of jingle bells in a multitude of sizes. They will be used for both the cards and general decoration. Again, thus far, decorations have been less than $250.

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Stationary:

I have an addiction. Between Target One Spot and Michael’s dollar section, I have a serious collection of “Thank Yous,” and general note cards. Instead of ordering one set of thank you cards, I have been collecting them from Target and Michaels. I like variety. I want to be able to give our guests more personal and individual cards. Most come in packs of 6 or 8 and are under $1.50. I’ve spent less than $25 on my thank you cards.

Vista Print is also AMAZING! True story. Their cost is AMAZING because they are a printing company, not necessarily a “stationary,” or “wedding company.” They have a large selection of invites, save the dates, programs, etc. What I really like about them is that they have “sets.” If you find an invite that you like, there is a really good chance that there are save-the-dates, RSVP cards, thank you cards, and other goodies that match your stationary. Along with all of the options, you have the ability to change, add, take away, and personalize just about everything. I was able to create my save-the-dates and bridal shower invites to be a post cards. After using a discount code, for bridal shower invites, save-the-dates, invitations, and a few RSVP cards, we paid less than $150; and that includes tax and shipping. *Information such as names, dates, locations, wedding website have been white-out for safety purposes, but they are included!*

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Another money saving tip is to purchase a self-inking address stamp. Vistaprint gives you the option of having your return address added to the back flap of your envelopes, at an additional fee. For our 80 invitations, it would have been an additional $35 to add this feature. Instead, we paid $12 for a stamp that we’ll be able to use well beyond the wedding. Invites, save-the-dates, and shower invites all came with basic, white, envelopes at no extra cost.

Stamps:

When making my budget and decisions, I didn’t even think about stamps until my mother reminded me that in order to mail things, you usually have to put a stamp on them! The cost of stamps was more than all of our stationary combined. This fact alone led to a few other decisions. Regular stamps are .49 each. Postcard stamps are .35 each. To save a few cents, we decided to send our save-the-dates and bridal shower invites as postcards. I literally just Googled “stamps,” and came across the website Zazzle.com. They have a ton of great products, but I LOVED their stamps. They have very cute, love/wedding themed stamps OR you can personalize them. Our engagement photos were amazing, so of COURSE I had to use them. Our post card stamps have one picture, and our invitation stamps have another. There was NO EXTRA COST for having our picture added to the stamp. Stamps come in sheets of 20, so we have a few extra of each, but I’m really not upset. I love that we have them to do fun craft things with later…. Zazzle does also offer coupons and discounts. I believe I was able to get 17.68% off of my order (I only know because it very specifically told me), and paid less than $180 for 200 PERSONALIZED stamps.

Thus far, we have stayed well within our budget. There is still plenty of time to use it, and I’m sure after we finalize food, a larger chunk will be eaten. DIY and cost effective don’t have to look cheap. By adding personalization, little details, and thought, you can find great products to make your day special.

Stay tuned for future posts and wedding DIYs. Follow me on instagram @brunetteswithbrains to keep up with the latest posts and news!

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It’s Only Been A Week

It’s been just over a week since we planted our garden. We have had lots of growth and some death thus far.

IMG_5609Our strawberries are the only ones to have seen death. Out of all of the plants I put in, 2 have died. We specifically put so many in for this exact reason. It is still early, there may still be some loss, but as of now, the rest of them look like they are doing well. 

 

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IMG_5614Two of our 12 potatoes have busted through! There is evidence that at least 3 more will pop through in the coming days. This is the first year we are growing potatoes in this garden. I am excited to see how well they do.

IMG_5613Our mixed greens and leafy lettuce are flourishing. Fresh lettuce grows like weeds, and lasts FOREVER. We were giving it away last year because it lasts 3-4 weeks when stored properly. 

IMG_5612Our radish patch is doing quite well. We only planted in half of the area because we are going to rotate them out. So next week we will plant another 2 rows of radish, just in time for our first ones to be done in a few days time. They have a quick germination/maturity time. 
IMG_5611This is our singular bush cucumber plant. We planted 5 in the little plot. We’re hoping that by the end of the week we’ll have a few more. Mom wants to make pickles…even though she’s the only one that eats them.

IMG_5616I like to call this the “Mater Forest.” I feel like we have so much more than last year, and I know that once they really start growing up, it’s going to look like one as well. They haven’t had much vertical growth, but it’s still early. They’re more busy rooting that growing.

IMG_5610We planted about 8 sunflowers and 6 of them have already started popping! I took a shot of the two biggest ones. I will harvest the seeds in the fall and bake them! 

IMG_5608We are most excited for the green beans…ok….it might just be me. I LOVE green beans. I like them raw, I like them blanched, I like them sautéed in butter with garlic and onion, I like them fried. I haven’t met a green bean I didn’t like…except casserole. They are bursting forth in their little rows and I could not be more excited.

IMG_5618This little guy is not in our back garden, but I like it anyway. We planted 4 lavender plants in our front/side gardens this year. Lavender is not only pretty once it blooms, but it also smells good and is a natural bug repellent. It is also a perennial so we will not have to worry about having to replace it every year.

We are still waiting for the onion, peppers and carrots to pop. They should be showing up to the party in the very near future. The cosmos and zinnias that we planted around the vegetable garden are barely showing above the mulch. Our marigolds are thriving. Those 3 were planted as bee attractors and bug repellents.

From here out, I will post garden updates once the plants start producing or something super super exciting happens!

Happy planting!