Just because you're on a really tight budget doesn't mean you can't have a wedding that's, er, really tight! You know, so awesome that blogs are begging to feature it, your pictures get repinned on Pinterest thousands of times...that kind of style. All it takes is a little creativity, money management, and insider secrets from the pros to achieve a Pinterest-worthy wedding for the books, not to mention for $15,000 or less.
Pop in at your local thrift shops regularly and keep your eyes open for unusual items, suggests planner Aviva Samuels of Heartland Celebrates. "Pinterest is all about sharing ideas, and my best inspiration comes from keeping my eyes wide open for items that can be repurposed and cost pennies on the dollar. I never know exactly what I'm looking for, but whenever I scavenge my local thrift stores, I always come out with a clever new use for an item that would traditionally have been used for an otherwise simple purpose."
Choose a naturally beautiful venue
The easiest way to save money on your wedding without skimping on the overall look, according to Chancey Charm Dallas wedding planner Liz Ise, is to pick a location that is naturally beautiful. "Lush gardens, sprawling ranches sprinkled with large trees, or even a building with intricate architecture will need less decor, especially expensive floral arrangements, but will still give your wedding tons of visual interest."
Score decor from friends and family
It can't hurt to ask, right? If someone you know was recently married, she probably has some cool stuff she'd like to sell or give away, notes Samantha Gieseke, owner of Plan Our Day Houston. "Ask for unused boxes of candles, vases, lanterns, and chalkboard signs."
Keep it small and intimate
Simply put, invite less people. Instead of having 150 guests, invite 30 to 50 of your closest friends and family, recommends Krystel Tien, owner and founder of Elle Bridal Boutique, Couture Events, and Confetti Inc. "This way, you can really make the event spectacular without having to sacrifice the look of the wedding for your budget."
Use plenty of color
Monochrome and all-white weddings may have been a thing for a few years, but when you cheat yourself out of using color, you increase your costs for flowers and lighting and decor in general, points out wedding planner Sandy Malone, owner of Weddings in Vieques. "Pops of color on simple things, like ribbons tied around dinner napkins, pretty table runners, etc., make things interesting to look at and totally Pinterest-worthy." We couldn't agree more.
Save with a signature cocktail
An open bar is great; however, it's often costly. Pack a visual punch and satisfy your guests' taste buds with a crowd-pleasing signature cocktail served up in a fun glass instead, offers Lloyd. "It speaks to you as a couple and saves on open-bar fees." So basically it's a win-win!
Be flexible with your date
This can save you a huge chunk of change! Rachel Jo Silver, founder of Love Stories TV, says to simply call up the venue that you're in love with and see what its rates are for a weeknight wedding. The costs may be significantly lower for a Sunday too.
Simplify guest tables
Have a big wedding party? Repurpose the bridesmaids' bouquets as centerpieces by having your florist simply supply vases, suggests wedding planner Marilisa Schachinger of Martel Event. "To create visual impact without the higher cost of flowers, consider groupings of candles at various heights. The ambiance will be unforgettable," she says. For brides without a big wedding party, Deborah Lloyd, president and chief creative officer of Kate Spade New York, recommends using bunches of tea candles to enhance your tablescape along with paper flowers in lieu of oversize arrangements. "Not only is it a beautiful, personal touch, but everyone looks better in candlelight and guests can see across tables, which inspires conversation."
Hit up the dress sales
When shopping for the perfect wedding dress, set a budget and don't get overwhelmed by the "it's one day" and "once in a lifetime" clichés, warns celebrity wedding planner Michael Russo of Michael Russo Events. "Many shops have end-of-year sales, unloading last season's gowns. Great for you, they can offer up to 70 percent off!" Also consider renting your dress and accessories or buying them secondhand; there are so many great online sites out there now to choose from.
Splurge on a great photographer
As Stefany Allongo, founder and chief consultant of the Majestic Vision, points out, the best photographer can turn a good wedding into a great wedding with the right angles and lighting. Amen!
Don't be afraid to use greens in your florals! Many brides feel that when they use greens instead of flowers for centerpieces, it will look cheap. However, that's not the case if you're working with a talented floral designer, notes Jenny Orsini, owner and creative director of Jenny Orsini Events. "Use plenty of natural elements that aren't as expensive as flowers." Voilà, money saved!