Saving Money With Green Wedding Ideas
Weddings are expensive, unless you just plan on running up to the courthouse really quick. Most couples have dreamed of the big day their entire lives. I don't know about grooms, but I know most brides have been dreaming for a while about what their weddings would look like down to the last detail. It's sad that most of the beautiful stuff we purchase typically just goes in the trash at the end of the day.
But what if it didn't have to? There has been a big push over the last decade or so to make weddings more eco-friendly. I don't necessarily mean that you have to wear burlap for a dress and eat weeds for your dinner... I've had those questions. I just mean putting a little more thought into the kind of products you purchase and all of the little details. Do your guests really want the little frames or bubble wands you want to purchase for them? Could your table decorations be rented or double for something useful, like plants rather than cut arrangements of flowers?
What if you could simply use your dishes and those from other households for your wedding? You could do the same with chairs for your reception... Just ideas. There are so many great ones that I know you already have floating around in your head that could not only save you tons of money, but could make your wedding unique and one of a kind. That's where I'm going!
When my husband and I were married, we wanted to prove that you could have an amazing wedding for a low price. Your wedding didn't have to be super expensive in order to impress your friends and be unique. In order to save the most amount of money, we turned to nature. Our theme was greens and blues and our wedding based on the plants and natural landscaping around us. Being very natural people anyway, this worked well for us.
Obviously you don't have to have a literally green wedding in order to save money and be eco-friendly, but it fit perfectly with our ideas. Enjoy!
Our Wedding Venues
We had always known that we wanted to get married looking over the side of a cliff. What an amazing view for everyone and we knew that we had the perfect place! We frequently go hiking in a favorite location out here that has just that kind of spot.
In fact, this is where he first proposed to me! What’s even better about this particular type of location is that because it’s public property, it comes at no cost to us! We simply had to go out early enough that morning and claim it!
My husband was the one that came up with our perfect reception spot. He was in college up here at the major university and just so happened to use this beautiful chapel for one of his required school exercises and knew that it was for us!
This chapel had glass around half of the walls and had a perfect view of the lake, the rocks (exactly where he proposed to me!) and even the sunset for an incredibly perfect evening reception overlooking the water. It came free as well with him being a student at the university!
Lodging for Out-of-Towners
When sitting down a few months ago to try and figure out lodging for all of our out-of-town guests, I just kept coming across rates for hotels, cabins, etc. for around $80 which is actually a great price. However, we then had to factor in the fact that we asked our guests to come and stay for about four days and hotel rooms only provide breakfast at the very most. They would still have had to go find lunch and dinner for themselves and who wants to chill in a hotel room.
We decided to look into vacation rentals for our guests; one or two homes where everyone could come and have a nice place to stay. For the price of what one person would have had to pay to come and find lodging for our wedding, we were able to provide lodging for everyone!
A vacation home also had all of the comforts of staying home including nice bathrooms with big tubs, a living room with couches and a big screen TV, and most importantly, a full kitchen. We even stocked the kitchen with bread and PB&J, tons of fresh fruits and veggies, a pitcher of our famous sweet tea, milk and tons of water bottles for everyone.
As a wedding favor, I even cooked tons of fresh baked bread and left it in the rental home for all of our guests. Not only did they not have to worry about lodging, but they could all stay together and had all of the food and entertainment they needed. With everyone pitching in a little moola, we easily paid for guest lodging without cutting into our budget.
We really wanted to get creative with our wedding favors. Most couples provide something really cute with their names on it that guests take home, lose and never use. We both felt like that was a huge waste of money. Nobody was really interested in pear shaped candles, bottle openers, salt and pepper shakers shaped like pea pods or any of the other cuteness we could have spent money on.
We actually have this tradition of picking up rocks on all of our hiking adventures or when we go visit some place really special. We use them as decoration, bookends, paper weights, doorstops and all kinds of creative things.
It only made sense with our nature themed wedding to place rocks with our name and wedding date on each table for décor and for everyone to take home as a reminder of our wedding. Not only was this free for us and went extremely well with our wedding theme, my husband and his siblings had a long-standing tradition as well of giving pet rocks as gifts to each other when they were younger. We both had slightly different symbolism for using rocks in our wedding, but it worked either way!
What do you think of all of the natural wedding ideas?
For those guests that didn’t have the chance to stay in the gorgeous vacation rental, we laid out tons more freshly baked bread for everyone to take home. I made all kinds of wonderful flavors like peanut-butter chocolate chip, vanilla almond, pistachio coconut, etc.
We had already eaten tons of it at our house months before the wedding and it seemed like a great gift for others to take home. We even went a little overboard on the wedding favor train because we weren’t spending hardly any money, and also had a trail mix bar. I can’t wait to show you pictures of it!! I was just gorgeous!
We laid out a variety of mix-ins that we bought at a great price at Costco like peanuts, M&Ms, chocolate chips, Honey Nut Cheerios, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, almonds, rice and corn chex, etc. It was definitely the hit of the evening!
Once everyone saw it there, it was raided by everyone. Bags were filled to exploding by each and every guest and we got tons of compliments on it! No more than $50 for the whole thing: beautiful containers from the thrift stores, mix-ins from Costco, log cutouts from my Maid of Honor’s house, and other natural décor and flower arrangements from our home.
Furniture and Guest Seating
For seating at the ceremony we had originally considered bringing a variety of different dining chairs from friends’ and neighbors’ homes for that continued eclectic look from the reception, but ended up choosing hay bales from a local feed store.
What’s great about these was that we were able to purchase them, have them delivered and setup, have them picked up, and then sell them back to the feed store for the same cost. Talk about great service! We used our linens from the reception to cover them and there you go! Everyone said that they were great! The low key seating choice we made allowed for the backdrop of mountains, rocks and the lake for our ceremony stand out that much more!
For a table for the programs to sit on, for our sand ceremony and even to sign our marriage certificate afterward, we simply used the end tables from our guest bedroom. More free décor we didn’t have to worry about! It was just beautiful!
From the moment we even considered catering, it was a no brainer! We knew that we wanted food from one of our two favorite restaurants; either Olive Garden Italian or Macayo’s Mexican.
We figured we could have a really nice but simple meal and we would know it was going to be delicious. With Olive Garden, we could have done a simple family-style meal with breadsticks as an appetizer already on the tables, soups and salads set out as initial courses and then the main dish brought out on platters and set on each table for guests to serve themselves.
We could also have chips and salsa out on each of the tables and have a table set aside for all of the little minis they offer like beef chimichangas, chicken chimichangas, mini chicken flautas, little tamales, etc.
The Mexican food was the winner!! We ended up paying only $144 for all of our catering with Macayo’s and had an unbelievable meal for everyone. We received tons of compliments and the meal really suited our individual personalities and the overall atmosphere.
I always recommend that my brides really think outside of the box when planning their weddings. There’s no reason that you have to have a traditional “wedding venue” a “professional caterer, florist, baker,” etc.
Your wedding is the perfect time to be creative and really express yourself! Why not have your favorite food on your wedding day and pay a thousand times less than you would have with a professional wedding caterer?
We loved our registry! At www.eregistry.com you can get a free wedding registry that can later be used for holidays, birthdays, a baby registry, etc.
Not only did they already have tons of suggestions for what to put on our registry depending on the kind we chose, but then we could mix and match, add everything from gifts and cash donations, but we could add in our separate wedding requirements like our photography, the cake and the dress, and also vacations, a new car, our mortgage, our honeymoon, and just about anything else our imagination could come up with!
Your loved ones really want to help and at this particular time of your lives, really want to shower you with gifts! Give them that opportunity by telling them exactly what you need!
Keep in mind, if you are trying to go green for your wedding, anything local like food or flowers is going to cost less, anything you can make yourself (as long as you are a serious price shopper) will save you some dough, and always when going green, think about the waste. How can you use this item again? Can you borrow something? Trade somebody for services rather than paying for it? Will it give back to the Earth somehow?
For more great ideas, visit www.greenbrideguide.com. They always have tons of great tips and tricks for going GREEN while still saving money on your wedding. You’d be surprised that some of the best ways are also the easiest.
What area of your wedding are you most worried about saving money on?
© 2013 Victoria Van Ness