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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Sunrise Love

Ethan and I are very fortunate to have a wonderful friend who also happens to be a phenomenal photographer.

Kate is a graduate of the University of Valley Forge’s Digital Media department and the main gal of Freckled Perspective. I have oogled at her work for years. You can imagine my excitement at having the chance to have her do our engagement pictures. It also helps that her hubby Jon is one of Ethan’s best friends. Being that they live in New Jersey, we decided to make it a whole weekend adventure!

Since we were going to be on their “turf,” I let Kate take the creative lead. Knowing her portfolio, I put complete trust and faith in her decisions. She decided that sunrise on the beach would be perfect! In the month of March, New Jersey had been having some great warm weather. The week leading up to our date had been in the 70s. When we woke up Saturday morning at 5:15 it was 30 degrees out. By the time we left around 6, it had made its way up to 35. Leaving the beach, it was 37. A snow storm was apparently on its way. Gotta love spring weather!

Our shoot was a whole whopping 35 minutes. It was breezy. It was (literally) freezing. Kate only got splashed once or twice. No one ended up in the ocean. We couldn’t be happier with how they all turned out. For the sake of us all, I am not posting all of the pictures we received after edits. I’m just posting some of my favorites.

PS- The black and whites are going to look AMAZING in our future green and gray livingroom. 😉 Dress credit to my dad for picking it out and getting it for me! Haha

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I am so lucky to be marrying my best friend, and total trooper. Ethan is not one for pictures, but he braved the chill and posing for me anyway!

It’s funny when you post pictures of yourself. Everyone tells you how amazing they are, but truly, other than braving the cold, the real MVP is the person behind the lens! To see more of Kate’s work or to book her yourself (which I HIGHLY recommend); like her on Facebook at Freckled Perspective, follower her on Instagram at @katelovesthekey, or check out her site freckledperspective.com.

“I Do” to the Erin Condren Wedding Planner

Now that I have the bling, I had to get the planner. Before we move on, in case you haven’t read “I Got Distracted…

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Anyway, shocking, I didn’t just get any old planner, I got myself an Erin Condren Wedding Planner! Ok, so I may have gotten it MONTHS ago with the HOPE that I’d be marrying this man. I kept it hidden away and forgotten in its little box, waiting patiently to be used. Obviously I’m super excited to now have the chance to use it! My teacher planner and Life Planner have been AMAZING, and I’ve gotten wedding planners for other friends; so finally getting to use it for myself is double fun! For ease of life, I am just using my wedding planner as my life planner for the next year as well- why not!? I use the month view more than anything and I have plenty of stickers left from my life planner this past year! It works!

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Front and Back

The front portion of the planner has month views for which ever month span you chose. After each month view is a notes page, similar to the teacher planner. I write my work schedule, birthdays, meetings, and obviously, when to get wedding things like sending save-the-dates out!

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The second portion of the planner is like a wedding planning guide. There is space for a guest list, bridal party, reception stuff, wedding tips, a time line, a budget checklist, music, photography, flowers, cake and food tastings, and vendor contact list. We have excel spread sheets for our guest list and budget, but I also hand-wrote our budget in so that when we are having conversations with vendors I have that info with me!

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PS our photographer is the always lovely Kate Serbin of Freckled Perspective. She’s amazing!

ENTIRE last section of the planner has blank pages and lined pages for doodles, writing notes, ideas, and lists.

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There is also the usual clear pocket pouch in the back that is GREAT for keeping business cards! It comes stuffed with EC Compliment Cards, coil clip, do-it-all dots, and referral cards to hand out to friends who love your EC.

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The stickers in the back are specific to the wedding planner. They say things like: register, caterer, photographer, bridesmaids, mani-pedi, hair appt, book honeymoon, shower, bachelorette, bachelor, favors, programs, big day, get license, limo/shuttle, save the dates, book hotels, website, officiant, music, bride gifts, groom gifts, buy invites, bakery, buy rings, party!, dress shop, fitting, and blanks. There is a sheet of varying shades of purple and a sheet of varying shades of blue. The last 2 sticker sheets are completely blank in the basic rainbow of colors. I had left over stickers from my 2015 Life Planner that I cut out and slid into the back pocket of my wedding planner.

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I have already started taking notes, and getting stuff from my pinterest and writing them down in my planner. We are definitely in full wedding planning swing! How is it that even though the wedding is almost a year away, it feels like everything gets done in the first 6 months! :O

This is the perfect gift to give to any newly engaged Bride or get for your own wedding organization! Use this referral link to receive a $10 coupon to get your own Erin Condren Wedding Planner, Life Planner, or one of her other AWESOME products!