How to Have Your Dream Second Wedding on a Budget: Money-Saving Tips Every Bride Must Know

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Baby’s breath in Mason jars from my wedding. I’ll post more photos as I get them back from my photographer at 1314 Studio.

When I remarried, I refused to settle for anything less than the wedding of my dreams. I figured, why should I be robbed of the bridal experience–one that I could actually display pictures from—just because I was married before?  It wasn’t my fault my ex-husband decided he didn’t want to be married anymore, so I wasn’t going to punish myself.  When I got engaged again, I asked my man if he wanted to elope on a beach but it was his first wedding and he wanted his family and friends to be a part of the celebration. I understood, so we went all in. However, we just bought a house and were on a tight budget since we paid for everything ourselves, so I had to be extra crafty this time around.  I chose what areas to splurge (hair, makeup and photography were necessities) and where we could cut back. Here’s how I had my dream second wedding on a budget…

Money-Saving Tips Every Bride Must Know:

1. Have a Sunday brunch wedding during “off season.” Mornings are rough, yes, but chances are you won’t be able to sleep the night before anyway. You might as well get married earlier in the day since you’ll be awake! Also, Sundays are the cheapest day of the week to wed and with a morning wedding you don’t need a full open bar. Who is getting drunk at noon? Just serve beer, wine, soda and mimosas. Major money saver! Opt for late fall and winter months, after prime wedding season, to get your best deals at the venue. You’ll score even better deals if you get married on a holiday weekend like Halloween.

2. Use baby’s breath:  Go vintage. Baby’s breath is an elegant and affordable floral option. I used it in tiny vases as my centerpieces and to decorate ceremony space. We purchased our own vases and saved even more money.

3. Start planning early: Many high-end wedding sites like BHLDN have sales, so keep your eye online and wait until your must-have item goes on sale. This works for dresses, but just make sure you give yourself enough time so you can afford time to hunt and aren’t scrambling last minute for a gown.

4. Multi-purpose:  For both of my weddings, I made the centerpieces the favors. The first time, I had cupcake tiers iced as flowers for the centerpiece and the guests took the cupcakes home in little take-out boxes that said “there’s always room for cupcakes.” For my recent wedding, we got adorable and cheap vases at Ikea (priced from 79 cents to under three dollars) and put baby’s breath in them. We had about 12 vases on every table and each guest took a vase home as their favor. It’s something they’ll actually use, too.

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Some of my ‘maids and their purses. Photo: 1314 Studio

5. Stray from tradition: I originally planned to have a small bridal party for my second wedding but ended up with eight bridesmaids and three flower girls. Yikes! I knew flowers were going to be expensive. Because I also wanted to be a little different, I instead had my bridesmaids and flower girls carry vintage purses down the aisle.  This not only cut back on floral cost, but the purses counted as part of their bridal party gifts! There are many bouquet alternatives. Just search Pinterest and Etsy.

6. Go raw:  Don’t forgo a videographer. So many brides do this to save money and it becomes their number one regret. You’ll want the keepsake years down the road, especially the moments where guests send you and your new hubby well wishes. It’s super funny to watch. You can, however, ditch the edited DVD of your wedding. A four-minute montage of highlights is nice, but it also cuts out moments of things you missed because you were too busy posing for pictures with guests. It’s even better and way cheaper to purchase the raw, unedited footage from your videographer. ThePros.com is a great company for this option. Ask your videographer if he can provide a custom package if this option is not listed.

7. Make your own wedding album:  Photographers charge an astronomical amount of money to make your wedding album, and rightfully so. But there are so many sites these days where you can make your own and it will look just as great. Costco even does it! So instead of paying more for that service (do you really need an album cover made of imported leather from Italy?), just request a CD with your high-res images (which you should always make sure you get anyway) and make your own through a site like Blurb or check Groupon and Living Social for deals. It’ll be a fun project!

8. Print your own proofs.  Since you’re getting the wedding photos as high-res images, print the proofs yourself on a site like Snapfish.com.  But, before you do, be sure to sign up for their mailing lists so you get discount codes sent to your inbox. Sometimes you can print pics for one cent each, which is significantly cheaper than what a photo studio would charge. A professional shutterbug may charge you up to $40 alone for one 8×10 image. You can get the same thing for something like $5 through an online site. Use the money saved to order prints for your parents and grandparents.

9. Play the field: Don’t book vendors just because your venue suggests them. They get a cutback when you hire them, so that’s why they are pushing their people on you.  Ask friends for recommended vendors and read online reviews. Find the best vendor for you and don’t be afraid to negotiate. Remember, a vendor needs your money, but you don’t necessarily need that vendor.

10. Shop sample sales: Many boutique bridal salons sell previous year’s dresses for the cost they paid for the sample: usually $100.  For my second wedding, I was so worried I would end up having to wear a dress I hated because I couldn’t afford the $3,000 dresses I was drooling over on Pinterest. My Maid of Honor directed me to a local sample sale and I scored a $1,000 dress for $100. I basked in the glory of my savings. However, the dress I bought was about double my size, so I planned to spend a few hundred dollars and get it altered. It still would have cost less than a designer gown.  This plan worked great until I realized I was in love with the deal, not the dress. Luckily, the store let me return it! Don’t let this discourage you though! I just shouldn’t have rushed to buy a dress the week after I got engaged. I was paranoid about budget and let fear takeover.

11. Dress to impress, not to break the bank:  Who says you need to buy a wedding dress at a couture shop?   You can get a gown on Etsy, or even at a department store and then accessorize it! It’s actually a lot more fun. You can splurge on those details like sashes, shrugs and jewelry when your dress only costs $300. David’s Bridal is great, too. That’s where I ended up getting my gown. I wanted a super plain dress that I could make my own. It originally came with a bow that I didn’t like, so I snipped it off and added a sash I ordered from an indie designer. I also wore a shrug that was custom-made for me on Etsy and had a custom-made hairpiece. In the end, I still spent a significant amount of money on my look, but that was one of the areas I budgeted to go big.

12. Ditch dates:  It’s not necessary to give guests with a plus one if you’re on a super tight budget.  If you have a lot of single friends, seat them together. You never know, you may end up making a love match! Same goes for co-workers. You can invite the office, but you don’t need to invite their spouses.

13. Just say no: Weddings are an intimate occasion. Don’t feel obligated to invite people if they aren’t a part of your every day life or you haven’t seen or spoken to them in the past year.  Your parents may pressure them to invite their friends or your fifth cousin removed, but this isn’t their big day and it’s not about them. Plus, it’s your second wedding, so the big show was really more for the first time around. Everyone should understand.

14. Ask a friend to officiate: Cost of a wedding officiant: about $500. Cost of a friend or family member getting ordained online: free. Just make sure it’s a reputable site. I actually prefer this, as it makes the ceremony more personal. I had a bridesmaid get ordained and it worked out great. I was even able to write the ceremony as I wanted it to flow. 

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15. Use flowers that are in season: You’ve heard this one before, I’m sure. I was set on having a certain type of flower in my bouquet but found out it would cost a lot of money to import, so my florist suggested we use a fake flower of only that flower. It worked so well that I totally forgot I even had a few fake flowers in my bouquet until days after the wedding when I went to throw out my dying flowers!

That’s what I got for now, but I’ll post more tips as I remember them!  Feel free to send me yours, too! Email trash the dress book at gmail dot com.