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How I'm Saving BIG $$$ On Our 2024 Wedding

Hey there, future brides, seasoned wives, and anyone else who's ever tried to explain to their bank account why a bouquet of flowers costs as much as a small car!

Today, I’m addressing all my budget-conscious girlies who believe that 'I do' shouldn't turn into 'I owe.' So, grab your wine, embrace the chaos of seating charts, and let's chat about how to plan a wedding that's as thrifty as it is dreamy. Spoiler alert: Champagne taste on a beer budget is about to become our signature style.

My dreams of a big, luxurious wedding quickly came to an abrupt halt when learned the realities of the wedding industry. When I tell you that the cheapest wedding venue I've found is still $6,000, I am unfortunately, not joking.. And that is the venue/rental space ONLY. From just a quick Google search, check out how much the average wedding cost in 2023..

Average cost weddings in 2023

According to The Knot, in 2022, the average wedding venue cost $11,200, the average catering for weddings cost $75 per person, $2,400 for the alcohol, $2,500 for photography, $1,800 for the dress, and so on. For 100 person wedding, you're pushing $26k right there. Even without dress alterations, decor, flowers, a DJ, suits, rings, favors, etc. There are so many small things that people forget about, that add up at the end of the day.

I could go on forever about the mind-blowing truths of planning a wedding today. And if you are comfortable spending whatever it costs to have the best day of your life.. more power to you! I'm so happy for you. This blog isn't to bash anyone for their opinions or for what they choose to spend their hard earned money on. This is for those of you looking to save where you can, but don't know where to start.

I'll break everything down into categories. Because let's face it, getting married isn't just about your wedding day, it's also about all the exciting festivities leading up to it!

The Festivities

The Bachelorette Party

I'll take any excuse for a girls weekend! I knew going into the planning of my bachelorette, that I wanted nothing wedding related to be a burden on our family or friends. The parties, the shower, the bridesmaids dresses, gifts, everything can just become too much in my opinion. It's my wedding after all, not theirs. Why is it "normal" to expect everyone else to dish out so much time and money?? So, I made it a point to think about what I was asking of my friends throughout the process.

Back to the bachelorette..

Save #1 - we saved by going somewhere within driving distance from where we all live. We're located in southern PA, so we decided on Rehoboth Beach. It's a slower pace than Ocean City (if you're familiar with the area) but still fun enough that we could let loose.

Save #2 - we saved on the stay. We scoured the internet for Air Bnb's and hotels. A lot of research went into this. Ultimately, we decided on The Crosswinds Motel. It was cheap, but still clean, cute, and walking distance to the beach. We didn't mind getting our steps in!! I had three other girls with me and it ended up being $179 per person.

Save #3 - we prepared by buying snacks, drinks, and some food before we got down there. We brought everything in a cooler. We stopped for alcohol on the way in Maryland at a discount liquor store.

We did splurge a little for one of our activities.. a boat day!! But even with that, all in all, including the stay, the gifts I got for the girls (check out my bachelorette favors blog post) drinks and food, the activities, and souvenirs I brought home for my husband, mom and dogs, my total for the bachelorette was about $850. I understand this could still be considered expensive for some, but keep in mind, if I took $150 off that was for the boat, and $100 off for unnecessary souvenirs, that would take us down to $600!

The Bridal Shower

I know, I know... traditionally, brides are not supposed to be apart of the planning of the bridal shower. But listen, I have a vision. And I also want to keep it as low cost as possible for everyone involved! Here is how I saved when it came to my bridal shower.. (which is currently one month away!!)

Save #1 - the venue! My bestie happens to work at a local brewery, part-time, that hosts events like weddings and showers. It's beautiful. Because she works there, we were able to rent their "inn" which is a huge house on the property, for half the cost. We really lucked out on this one. It would typically be $650 for a 7-hour rental. We paid $325.

Save #2 - I saved by buying all the glasses, dishes, and most of the decor, second-hand. Where I live we have a Community Aid. I'm not sure if these are everywhere, but basically, it's a bigger version of Goodwill or Salvation Army. I will do another blog post after my shower that will include every specific item I bought, but for the sake of time.. I bought 18 mis-match glasses for my guests and their drinks, and 18 other glass dishes the will hold the food and drink. That cost me $92.

Save #3 - we are saving on the food. We decided on a bridal brunch that will consist of only cold foods. We are having things like bagels, a parfait station, donuts, fruit and mimosas.. of course! This is all going to be bought at our local grocery store. I am going to estimate the food and juices to be around $100 and 3 bottles of champagne to be about $50.

Save #4 - favors! I truly believe that a lot of thought should be put into favors. Not only because it's telling your appreciation for your guests, but also because you should want it to be something they will actually like and use! I decided that my shower favors are going to be candles. I have never not used a candle I've gotten as a gift. We'll need about 15 of them at $7-$9 a piece from Marshall's or TJ Maxx, including a variety of scents that guests can pick from. So not only is this a cheaper option, it's a better bang for your buck when you know it most likely won't end up in the trash.

All in, I am estimating my bridal shower to cost around $690. The average shower runs from $40-$100 per person according to the internet. For 15 people, that would be $600-$1500. In my case, choosing a free venue would cut costs in half. On the other hand, because the venue I chose is so beautiful, I'm spending $0 on decorations. So, when thinking about the budget of your bridal shower, make sure you look at the whole picture.

Now this is where I'll teach you how to really have champagne taste on a beer budget. Stay with me..

Budget Friendly Destination Wedding

Say it with me... DESTINATION WEDDING.

You may be thinking.. wtf.. I thought this blog was about a budget-friendly wedding??

And to my surprise, and I'm sure yours as well, destination weddings are the hidden gems of affordable weddings.

Would you believe me if I said that we booked a 7-night stay at an all-inclusive resort in Jamaica, the second to top tier room with a private plunge pool, 2 priority boarding, roundtrip plane tickets, airport transfer, hair, makeup, bouquet, a beach ceremony, a 1-hour cocktail hour with 6 hors d'oeuvres, a 4 hour reception with music, open bar, 3-course meal, and cake... for a grand total of $9,161!?

**Editing to add that $1,500 of that total was for our wedding package. BUT because we have our guests staying for a (combined) 30 nights or more, our wedding is actually FREE. So, the real total is now $7,661.

Guys, the brewery I mentioned earlier that my bestie works at.. they charge $10,000 for JUST THE VENUE.

So, not only are we getting a full wedding for under the price of most venues, but we are also getting a week long vacation/honeymoon. Now if that's not the wedding hack of the century, I don't know what is.

You might be thinking, what about the guests? Let's talk about it. My parents would have wanted to chip in and help pay for something in our wedding regardless. According to The Knot, the average cost of wedding flowers is $2,400. So, for the same price as what floral arrangements would cost, my mom gets to spend a week with us.. celebrate our wedding.. and FINALLY getting a vacation in a tropical destination. So trust me when I say, it was a win-win for everyone.

It also eliminates that weird feeling where you don't know if you should extend the invite to that uncle or cousin you only see at Christmas.. because guess what.. you can bet your bottom dollar they're not paying to come to your wedding. Every single person that is spending their time and money to come to our wedding, actually want to be there. And they're excited to have an excuse to take a trip!

Not only does this save you a ton of money.. but it saves you so. much. stress. I've been to quite a few weddings and every conversation I've had with those brides beforehand were, "I just can't wait for this to be over." How did we come so far off the track of our wedding day being the best day of our life? I want it to be fun, obviously for my husband and I, but everyone else included as well. I want our family and friends to look back and think.. wow, I had so much fun at their wedding.

The Dress

I went in person to try on dresses to find out what looked good on me. The dress that I fell in love with was over $1,800. I went home and I stewed on it. Online, I stumbled upon Bella and Bloom Boutique and found a dress identical to the one I tried on for $599.

I highly recommend going in person to try on dresses even if you plan to buy one online. I had an entire Pinterest board dedicated to A-line dresses that I thought would suit my body well. The pure shock on my face when I looked at myself in the mirror with an A-line dress on, LOL. I ended up actually falling in love with a fitted, off the shoulder dress. Just keep your mind open to different styles!

The Grand Total

Now that I've spilled all my secrets.. let's refer back to that first screenshot. The one where it said that the average cost of a wedding in 2023 was $29,000. I bought a wedding dress, planned a beach bachelorette weekend, a bridal shower, AND a destination wedding/honeymoon combo for a grand total of $9,800. Literally $200 less than the venue that my bestie works at, that I mentioned earlier. And a fraction of what the average wedding cost.

Now, even if we add a bit of a buffer. Let's add another $300 for dress alterations, $500 for money to tip at the resort, $500 for excursions or the spa, $500 for wedding favors (because I do plan on getting good gifts for the guests that are attending our wedding,) and another $1,000 for clothing I want to buy for the trip, and just in case I'm forgetting anything else. That takes us to $12,600.

I'll be sure to spill ALL the tea on the bridal shower and our destination wedding after it's said and done. I can't wait to do a proper review of the resort as well. If you made it this far, thanks for sticking around :)

Until next time.. XOXO


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