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Planning a Dream Wedding on a Tight Budget

Updated on July 8, 2015

A girl can dream, right?. Especially if it's for her wedding. And most girls have been fantasizing about their dream weddings long before they met their prince charmings. Nothing wrong with that.

But sometimes things don't work out as planned. Yes, you found the man of your dreams. He asked you to marry him. You said yes. Everything was set in motion.

But let's just say the circumstances are different.

You (meaning the two of you) don't have a budget for the kind of wedding that you've been dreaming of. Or maybe things have changed. You still want a nice wedding but you want to be practical about spending for THE wedding, because - if you take away all romantic sentiments, childhood fancies and wishful thoughts - a wedding is just a one-day affair and one of the many occasions that you will celebrate in your life.

From this perspective, it's easy to see why you wouldn't want to invest so much money into it. But that dream wedding is bugging you, it won't let you sleep at night. So to somehow appease both "needs", a restriction has to be added to the dream wedding: it has to fit a certain budget. A small budget.

Seriously, a budget wedding is so damn easy to achieve. All that one really needs to get married are the officiating personnel, the rings, some witnesses and a partner.

It's actually the dream that complicates everything. And it's when you get so mired in your fairy-tale ideas, that wedding preparations becomes what seems to be a never-ending period of madness where you try to keep the budget and the dream meet.

But let's ask THE question: Is having a dream wedding on a tight budget really possible?

Are you willing to spend a lot of money for your dream wedding?

See results

What is Your Dream Wedding?

Before you can answer THE question, you need to define first what is your dream wedding.

If you say, your dream wedding is getting married on a beach, just before sunrise and the two of you are surrounded by all your loved ones. Then you kiss your groom just as the sun rises and you both run to the water to meet the soft waves of the early morning tide, and stumble into the sand and kiss some more.

I would have exclaimed, ''Oh, how romantic'.

But nowadays, dream wedding has become more of a lavish social event put together by popular wedding vendors: exotic destinations, elegant ballrooms, landscaped garden venues, and top designers, make-up artists, event stylists, caterers, planners and coordinators.

Wedding luxuries like fireworks display, Swarovski crystals on the wedding cake, intricate beadwork and delicate lacework on the bride's gown, imported and expensive blooms, complicated lighting, elaborate reception setup, and other costly details have raised the bar for dream wedding standards.

All the glitz and glamor, all that jazz.

If this is your kind of dream wedding, then planning for it on a tight budget might be a tall order. Be prepared to compromise or sacrifice, or in some cases, you may just have to dream another dream wedding.

"Elegance doesn't mean extravagance. But quality has a price."

— SC

Tips on Planning Your Dream Wedding on a Tight Budget

Okay, so let's just assume that you've adjusted your dream wedding to make it somewhat achievable. Or maybe you've abandoned the whole idea and just wants to have a beautiful wedding - you know, good food, decent styling, lovely wedding dress, a few niceties here and there.

But you're still on a tight budget. How can you pull it off?

Actually, there are a number of wedding vendors who can cater to your budget no matter how small it is. But the resonating question is 'Can you get good-quality service from them?' Oftentimes, the answer is no.

Rephrasing THE question above: Is it--a polished, tasteful budget wedding--really doable? Some say it's not possible; beautiful weddings are expensive no matter how many money-saving ideas we try. Others disagree, including me.

As a bride once, I strongly believe it is doable. But it's a lot of work. For our wedding, it felt like I've worked so hard researching qualified wedding vendors (quality + not too expensive) and doing DIY projects, but we still went over our budget. So believe me when I say it's a lot of work, BUT it can be done.

How? Here are some tips I've learned in the process of making my own dream wedding come true.

  2. Know what you want. It's hard enough to work on a budget, it's even harder if you don't know what you want. Finalize your list of your wants first, then work from there.
  3. Determine your non-negotiables and nice-to-have's. Identify the things you cannot compromise from the things that you want but can do away without. Know the difference between essentials and nice-to-have's. Wedding food is essential, a live band playing in the background while you're eating is nice to have.
  4. Stick to your list of essentials and prioritize them. This is the part where I failed the most. I often negotiated nice-to-haves as essentials, and consequently tried to allocate a budget for them. Essentials are non-negotiables and should be prioritized in the budget. Only after all essentials are covered and the budget is evaluated can nice-to-haves be considered to be included in the wedding. It's harsh, but if you want to stay within the budget, it's the way to go.
  5. Never book anyone or anything unless you're 110% sure. Having a change of heart can be costly (and I hope you're not changing your mind about getting married). Down-payments are often non-refundable. If you change your mind and back out on a wedding vendor, it's like paying for something you will never use. Or in the case of no/partial refund, you're essentially paying for nothing, which is worse.
  6. Explore other options. If you're eyeing high-profile vendors because of their quality services, but knew that they just won't fit the budget (you shouldn't be eyeing high-profile vendors in the first place), look for low-key vendors who don't have their names out yet but have tremendous talent. There will be an element of risk, so make sure to talk to people who've tried them and ask for their feedback.
  7. Look everywhere. Don't just go to bridal shops or wedding stores. And sometimes, you can get things cheaper if you won't say it's for a wedding. Wedding has become a profitable business and some people charge a bit higher when they know it will be used for a wedding. I learned this when I went to a seamstress. I showed her a picture I got from the Internet and asked how much it would cost to have the gown made. She told me the price. Then someone else approached her with almost the same design, only it's not a wedding gown, and the price she quoted was almost half of the price she told me. I asked the seamstress why is that so and she said that they have a minimum price for wedding gowns, no matter how simple and easy they are to make. I left her shop, naturally.
  8. Be realistic. Know that there are certain things your budget can't afford, and spend accordingly. If you live far from a beach, having a beach wedding is obviously more expensive than, say, a garden wedding. Often, closer to home is cheaper. If you need to travel or get the service of a preferred but out-of-town supplier, make sure that it ends up cost-effective than if you would go to a local source.
  9. Be creative and open to alternatives. If you really want something but can't afford it, give up and find the next best alternative. If you can't find it, create it. If a wedding by the beach is too expensive, have a beach wedding theme!
  10. Don't go for cheap all-in-packages. Because more often than not, that's what they are: cheap, and the reason behind a lot of so-so budget weddings. For me, beautiful weddings are well-thought of and they certainly don't come packaged as a cheap solution to your limited finances.
  11. Ask around, join online wedding groups or forums. Ask for recommendations, for cheaper deals, for tips. Word of mouth is not the best form of advertisement for nothing. Online wedding groups/forums are very helpful because it's a community of soon-to-be-married couples who more or less have the same goal, to plan their dream weddings. You'll get a lot of tips, recommendations and advice that will help you in deciding which wedding service to get. But be careful because you will also be immersed to all these dreamy, wonderful ideas and nice-to-haves from other brides/grooms. If you don't do #4, your budget is in trouble.
  12. See if you can get freebies. If you're buying or relying on your suppliers for everything, chances are you will exceed your budget. Try to ask relatives and friends, maybe they have something that you need. Like the perfect bridal car, or a grandma's classy and vintage veil. Sometimes, you can also ask freebies from wedding vendors.
  13. DIY, of course. I can't stress enough how creativity, resourcefulness and imagination will play an important role in this endeavor. DIY wedding projects can range from tacky to stand-out crafts. There are numerous DIY resources and most of them offer wonderful ideas that you can use for your big day. If you fancy a themed wedding, make sure to pick one with materials that are readily available and inexpensive. And if the best project you've done so far is draw a straight line, you can ask help from family and friends who are more gifted in the creative department. You'll be surprised at how many DIY projects you can do for your wedding and how much you can save too.
  14. Lastly, the most beautiful wedding is the one that reflects the overflowing love that the couple have for one another. Let that love fill in every hollow spaces, incomplete details, incorrect spellings and imperfect pieces that your wedding might have. So when you look back, you'll realize everything was perfect after all.

Whose Dream Wedding Is It Anyway?

Somewhere along the wedding preparations, you might realize that you are planning your wedding not for yourself and your partner, but for your guests. Often it's not intended, but guests can have indirect but still significant influence over your dream wedding.

The menu, the setup, the flowers, even your dress are at the mercy of their scrutiny and judgment. You will sometimes find yourself making decisions based on whether or not it will have a 'wow' factor on them.

This can be problematic because planning a wedding and spending money to impress your guests is a sure way to blow your budget out of proportion. But it doesn't have to be (and it shouldn't be) that way.

The solution is simple, although it's not always easy: Don't create a wedding for your guests. Don't spend for what they will think and say about your wedding.

I understand that as social creatures, we crave for admiration, for people to talk about and remember how beautiful our wedding was. Somehow, their praises seem to add to the significance of the occasion.

But this is your wedding, not theirs. It should be special to you regardless. Celebrate it, not showcase it. Create it out of the things that you love and care about, and not out of the things that will leave your guests in awe.

Don't get lost in the trappings of your own dream wedding and in what your guests will say and think, that you fail to see the essence of getting married--which has always been to marry the person you love and want to spend the rest of your life with.

"You can tell the day wasn’t about the dress, the cake, the color scheme, the menu… just the marriage!"
"You can tell the day wasn’t about the dress, the cake, the color scheme, the menu… just the marriage!" | Source

If you're planning a budget wedding, or even if you're not but you feel like you're going crazy with all the wedding preparations, and you just want to put some sanity back into your mind - I hope this hub was able to help you with that. Feel free to share your comments, sentiments, or whatever below.

Like what I said, I was a bride once so I understand the pressure and emotions of planning a wedding, and a budget wedding at that. So take heart, everything will be beautiful in the end.

© 2015 shintashen


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