A Recycled Wedding Part 1 {or Tips on Planning and Saving}

In case you are new around here – I decided to make and/or purchase a lot of the decor from our wedding since we decided to have a tented wedding at my parents house.  To read way too much information on our wedding check out the Wedding Fun tab.

As previously mentioned I’ve decided to sell a bunch of leftover wedding decor.  Some is hand-made, some was purchased new, and some was purchased second hand.  Some of the items were never even used (ex: the lanterns) as our vision changed over the course of the year.  I would love for another bride to enjoy these items as much as we did.

Before I get into what I’m selling, I want to take a minute to talk about the approach we took on keeping costs down on our own wedding and my general advice for anyone planning a wedding on a budget.  Several of our newly engaged friends have asked for advice, and I thought there might be others out there that could benefit from the few things I learned while planning our own wedding.


1. Create A Budget and Negotiate

First and foremost we created a budget of what we hoped/expected to spend on almost every aspect of our wedding.  This is a no-brainer.  We built in a contingency fund as it is almost inevitable that there will be at least one or two vendors/items that exceed your expectations. We also rated our ideas between need-to-haves and nice-to-haves. We splurged on certain items and found ways to be cheap on others. Also remember to do your research and estimate who you will be expected to tip – there are plenty of great etiquette sites out there.  We totally forgot about this aspect up until a few weeks before the wedding and had to scramble to make sure we were able to take care of everyone that would be working hard to make sure our night was perfect.

When it comes to working with vendors, the biggest tip I learned was to ask if they will give you a discount if you pay in cash! Several of our vendors were willing to give us a small discount (5 – 10%) that ended up in big savings for us.  Anything we couldn’t pay cash for we put on a credit card that had a great rewards program that we later used on our honeymoon.  Negotiating can be an art (that I admittedly am not always great at), but many vendors are willing to work with you.  If there is something you want, but can’t afford, fess up and see if there is something else the vendor can take out to make it work in your budget.  There are tons of traditional aspects of a wedding that you can skip and no one will even notice (ex: scrap the champagne toast!)

2. Look for Inspiration, then Stop!


There are tons of different websites out there to give you inspiration for the style and feel of the wedding you want (Green Wedding Shoes  The Broke Ass Bride and Brooklyn Bride were some of my favorites, and of course Pinterest and Etsy) but at some point in the planning process you need to stop looking and start doing.

I began to feel overwhelmed and second guessing decisions we had already made. Since we were starting with a completely blank palate in our white tent, we had to think about every inch of decor (which was right up my micro-managing alley) and some of our visions changed over time.  My first grand idea was to number our tables with candles in lanterns, and I was going to use puffy paint to paint intricate numbers on each candle.  I still think this idea would’ve worked, but we decided to opted for an simpler way to number the tables. Once we scraped the idea it was too late to return what we had already purchased.


3. Buy Used Items or Easily Resellable Items and Get Creative

I think this option is getting more and more popular.  My favorite website for used items was RuffledBlog.com, but Craigslist and eBay are other great options.  Another no-brainer is your friends and family that have recently been married.  The card box we used was a simple and cheap white  fabric covered box from Michael’s, but two of my friends had used it before it made it’s way to me. And I plan to give it to my next friend that gets engaged if she’ll have it.

Some of the more unconventional ways we accumulated decor was to grow our own flowers from seedlings. Another time I walked into a store to tell them if they were ever getting rid of the decor in their store front to call me. The staff thought I was crazy at the time, but three weeks later I had more used books than I knew what to do with. Another idea is to look into is purchasing items that you might have typically rented (linens and dinnerware come to mind).  Since we were hosting our rehearsal dinner, wedding, and Sunday brunch in the same tent, it ended up being cheaper to rent the more expensive farm tables that I LOVED then to rent enough linens for three days.  And I ended up purchasing our white runners that we used only at the wedding because I found a wholesaler that was once again, cheaper than renting! Plus, I’m planning on re-selling them so I’ll recoup even more of my my money.

Remember that if you can’t resell certain items, but know of a charity that would accept them (soup kitchen that needs new plates and glasses?), you could also deduct that on your taxes.



4. If Your Wedding Venue is Unconventional, Consider a Day-Of Coordinator

This might not be necessary for those that plan to get married at a banquet hall or country club as there will usually be a person that will work through many of the little details with you so your day goes smoothly.  But if you decide to go a slightly less traditional route, be it a backyard wedding, the local park, or some other meaningful spot to you and your fiance, consider hiring a Day-Of Coordinator.  Most event planners and wedding planners offer this type of service – and it is much cheaper than hiring a full blown wedding planner.

Hear me out a little longer on the D.O.C if you aren’t immediately sold: Being the micro-manager that I am, I knew I didn’t need someone to help me plan my wedding, but what I did need was someone to be available to problem shoot the day of the wedding.  My amazing friend Kate sat with me once before the wedding to go over our vision and happily pointed out any other things I might want to consider, and then contacted my vendors a few weeks before the wedding to let them know she would be the person to contact that day if there were any questions. The last thing I wanted to have to worry about myself (or have my parents our maid of honor worrying about) was if a guest was lost, or if a vendor was late, or if someone couldn’t find their seat, etc. In a list of suggestions to save money, it might seem weird to tell you to hire another vendor, but the piece of mind I had by knowing she was there for me was worth every penny.

So there you have it – those are a few of my sage pieces of wedding planning wisdom! I could go on but I think these are some pretty good ones to get anyone started and help them keep their sanity. Do you have any tips you would add to this list? Have any questions about something I’ve mentioned here? Leave ’em in the comments!
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