Monday, July 8, 2013

getting happily married on a humble budget.

portraits6 Dear readers, Today I'm writing to talk to you about getting married. Aw, sweet wedded bliss! Holy matrimony is such a beautiful thing and the planning process can be beautiful, too. These days, I believe the wedding industry makes consumers feel as though they must spend a fortune to have a ceremony and reception that celebrates the love between two amazing people. I disagree. A wedding will be beautiful no matter what you spend, simply because of what it represents, so don't let the industry get you down!

Note: If you have the funds and desire to host an elaborate, extravagant, blow-out party, then please be my guest! This post is not meant to condemn the choices of others or make you feel as though your deepest dreams and wishes for your wedding day should be left at the wayside while you pursue a totally different path that doesn't align with your vision in the first place. Instead, I want this post to be a beacon for a couple, like us, who were given a budget that was perfectly generous and kind, but were made to feel otherwise in comparison to today's expectations for what a wedding should be. (By the way, a wedding is a celebratory ceremony that binds two people together in a beautiful and life-changing commitment. Its goal is to celebrate the two people who are making the choice to be life partners forever. Please don't forget this in the process.)

With all that said, I hope you'll approach this post with an open mind and remember that no matter your choices, your wedding day will be a beautiful reflection of the both of you and will result in the most amazing commitment between two people, lovingly crafted for one another in a divine and perfect way.

My first suggestion is to plan your wedding together. In today's society, the wedding is typically targeted at the bride, and while I think that's quite lovely, I believe that it's a bit misguided. The wedding is meant to celebrate the love of two people, and I think it's really magical when the planning can reflect that. Plus, planning together can be such an intimate and beautiful way to begin your life journey together. Again, this is merely my suggestion and there is no rule book for wedding planning (I wonder if I'm going to feel the need to explain myself after every paragraph!).

I'd like to give you five pieces of blanket advice that can really relate to and help to guide any wedding planning, but were especially helpful to us and our modest budget. This advice can be modified to meet your needs, so take it or leave it and, by all means, please make it your own!
details33 1. Make decisions. The decision to plan a wedding to celebrate your nuptials comes with a slew of other decisions that will make your head spin. This was the most overwhelming part for me. I felt that no matter how many decisions I made, there really was no end in sight. My advice is that you go with your gut and make decisions based on what makes you and your new spouse happy. When Jeffrey and I made decisions, we almost never backtracked and we felt that much better when we could cross something else off the list. The longer we mulled over something, the longer it became a burden or a frustration and wedding planning should not be like that. It should be exciting and fun! So trust your initial reactions and move forward from there.
details18 2. Start big, get small. Determine your budget and then decide what you want to give the most money to. From there, lay out your groundwork. We knew that we would end up spending most of our money on the venue, the photographer, and the food. Then, we moved step by step to flush out ways to make our budget the most sensical and logical for us after we had set aside money for the biggest things. By the way, your big ticket items might not look exactly like ours. For instance, I know plenty of brides who spend a larger portion on their dress and I think that's absolutely wonderful! Do what's best for you! (If you're having trouble even picturing your budget, programs like this are extraordinarily helpful and can make you feel a great sense of peace with the money you have to spend.)
3. Just ask! Here's something I think most people don't understand about the wedding planning industry: Most vendors know that they're working with human beings who are embarking on one of the most important moments in their lives and they want to help. Imagine that! We asked several questions throughout the planning process and often times people were willing to meet us halfway, whether that was monetarily or just helping us to make our vision a reality. For example, I asked several wedding photographers if they could work with our budget, and many of them tried really hard to make that happen. Ultimately, we chose one photographer, but we were pleasantly surprised by how often people truly wanted to accommodate us. (P.S. This won't happen every time and that's just the way it is, but put yourself out there and you will be rewarded by the kindness of others.)
details12 4. Be resourceful. If you do have a small budget for planning your wedding, then there will be times when you have to work harder and think harder and be willing to see things differently. This is a blessing! You will be so grateful for your wedding and you will be invested in all the details. It really does provide for an intimate and exciting experience! I knew from the beginning that I wanted our space to be filled with flowers (and Jeffrey agreed with this vision), but flowers can be expensive! We opted for flowers from Trader Joe's (with the exception of bouquets and boutonnieres)— which we bought at a very reasonable price — and they worked out marvelously. We chose the flowers we wanted (from the colors to the types) and put them in the bottles ourselves. We also received our flowers on a Thursday and were married on a Sunday. For your own peace of mind, I would not recommend such a long stretch, but this is just proof that you can think creatively and have things work out wonderfully. My sister, mom, and I also made all of the desserts. Thankfully, my sister graciously offered to be in charge of the planning and decorations for that, which was a burden lifted from our shoulders and added a special touch to the sweet spread. You will be blown away by what you can accomplish when you have to think outside the box, my friends. I promise that it truly is a blessing and privilege to be so involved in every aspect of your wedding.
5. Accept help. I don't mean monetarily. What I do mean is that people will come out of the woodwork to lend a helping hand and you should feel extremely blessed by that (we did!). It made our wedding feel so special and intimate and heartwarming. I truly would not change it if only for this simple realization: Your loved ones want nothing more than to be helpful. We did not have a wedding planner (and that is another expense I would totally forego, although that is my personal opinion), so we relied very heavily on the grace of others. They did not disappoint and that is such a special memory from our wedding that we will cherish for the rest of our days.

Ultimately, your wedding is about you and your new life partner. The two of you will make choices and the rest will fall into place. Whether you're planning a black tie affair or a small, quiet chapel wedding (or something in between — like ours!), your wedding should be a true reflection of who you two are, as a couple and as individuals. I wish you peace and happiness as you embark on this new journey that kicks off a lifetime of marital bliss. Good luck and congratulations!

If you have questions or are seeking more specific advice (or if you simply want to chat), please, PLEASE email us. It would be our pleasure to talk to you and we love to hear from our readers: hellolivedin[at]gmail[dot]com

I could also craft a post that tackles more specific advice for getting married on a humble budget. If that would be helpful, please let me know in the comments!

Happy wedding day and beyond! XO


  1. Oh no! I typed a whole comment, but then accidentally clicked to publish it as a google account and lost it!!! Oh, crumbs! I'll retype what I said later. Love ya sistah!

  2. This was a great post! I totally agree about not hiring a wedding planner. I also like what you said about starting big and getting small. If I had to do it over, I would have cut our guest list probably by 1/4, at least...not to sound harsh (I blame my husband...haha). Many people were invited that we haven't even seen since (i.e. people he took night college classes with and then graduated, out-of-town/distant relatives, etc.) It kind of exploded from the point that I had 2 sets of wedding invites because we RAN OUT of the first set, and it really added to the expense. (For the record, we did not have an extravagant wedding wedding, reception at the local middle school cafeteria). Oh...hindsight! :) I constantly have to keep myself from planning another "vow renewal" ceremony. I enjoyed our wedding, but there are so many things I would like to do differently!

  3. Holly, I'm glad you enjoyed the post! I think it's typical to have so many ideas about a wedding even after it's over. No matter what route you choose, you're giving something up. For instance, Jeffrey and I talked about eloping for the longest time, but both decided that we'd miss our friends and families too much. An elopement would have provided a completely different — and still beautiful — result, and I'm glad we did it our way, but sometimes my mind still drifts. XO


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