Airbnb has been a huge help on my journey to being financially free. I am so passionate about it that I started an entire blog devoted to helping other people learn Airbnb and reach financial independence.
However, earning more is only half of the equation. You also have to spend less. You could have an Airbnb empire – but if you spend every penny you make, you will never reach financial independence. This post is different from my usual posts, as I want to share with you how I saved thousands of dollars on our wedding and still had an awesome party! When my wife and I got married, the average cost of a wedding was over $35,000.
Even though we were lucky enough to have financial help from our parents, I am thrifty by nature and was determined to save as much money as possible while still throwing a great party.
- Flower Hack: they are one of the most expensive parts of a wedding. And they die within days! We saved literally thousands of dollars by going to Trader Joe’s instead of hiring a florist. Our flowers cost $50 total, and we decorated the venue, had floral centerpieces, bouquets, and plenty of flowers to spare. Trader Joe’s has seasonal varieties, and the staff is super helpful. They were nice enough to open the delivery truck for me so I could pick out the exact bouquets I wanted! We then got some wire and floral tape to wrap my bouquet. In one of the pictures below you can see the top of the centerpieces. It was a only bit more effort to DIY your flowers, and it was the choice that made the biggest difference.
- Book for a Friday or a Sunday: our original plan was to get married on the Sunday of Labor Day weekend. It’s not a holiday where people already have a lot of plans (like New Year’s Eve), and it gives everyone an extra day to recuperate. Our venue had another online booking within a half hour of when we put down the deposit, and the other wedding was from out of town and couldn’t be flexible with their dates. So the venue offered us the Sunday night price for the Saturday the week before. Worked for me! If you do get married on a Friday to cut costs, consider having the ceremony later in the evening (like 6 or 7) out of consideration for guests who have to take off work to attend.
- DIY as much as possible: don’t drive yourself DIY crazy, but most things are just cheaper if you do them yourself. My wife made a wooden wall plaque for our guestbook that hangs in our entryway, and she built birdhouses for each of the centerpieces. My mom helped paint the centerpieces and iron the tablecloths. This is another area where you can enlist the help of your friends and family.
- Utilize your connections: one of my high school friends DJ’ed his way through grad school, and came out of retirement for our wedding gift. We paid him $80 to cover his rental equipment, and an extra $100 at the end of the night. It doesn’t hurt to ask around for family and friends willing to contribute to the event in lieu of a traditional wedding gift. Some examples might be: tailors, bartenders, DJs, hair/makeup, ceremony music
- Rethink food and drinks: we went and looked at a few different venues, and while some had lower prices, we were required to use their caterer and bar services. Total rip off. We chose our venue because we could bring in our own licensed caterer, as well as booze. We bought a bunch of snacks and alcohol from Costco (you don’t have to be a member to buy booze there, FYI), and were able to have fun “appetizers” before dinner for a fraction of the cost. All the unused alcohol was either returned to Costco or taken over to my in-law’s house! In the picture to the right, you can see us setting up the day before the wedding. Everyone loves cheese balls! We also opted to skip the wedding cake in favor of donuts (as a donut shop was one of our first dates). Also, I have never heard anyone rave about the quality of a “wedding meal”, so why spend $45 a plate on some mediocre chicken? Again, we made it cheaper by making it personal. We served all of our favorite foods: falafel, hot dogs, ribs, corn bread, asparagus, salad, and breadsticks. The table descriptions had pictures of us eating the food, as well as little stories that described why this food was important to us.
- Don’t rent when you can buy and resell: Especially if you can buy already used! Facebook and Craigslist are great places to find deals. Again, get the word out about exactly what you are looking for, and people will be eager to help. I felt the love of so many friends and family that came the day before to help us set up. In the picture to the right, you can see the top of the center pieces. I bought round navy tablecloths from China for $10 a piece, and then resold them after my wedding for $12 each. Local rental companies were charging $15-20 per each tablecloth to deliver and set up. Another great resource is the dollar tree’s website – you can buy in bulk!
- Get a friend to officiate: getting someone licensed to perform weddings is crazy easy. Our wedding officiant was the mutual friend that first introduced us. She did a great job, and the wedding was that much more personal and sentimental. I wrote a script for her to say, and had several family members come up and read stories and poems. This is a much cheaper option than hiring an officiant.
- Why are you saving your wedding dress? I put mine up for sale immediately after my wedding, wine stains and all. It would have cost over $200 to clean and preserve it, and really why would I save it? It’s not a family heirloom, it was on clearance at David’s Bridal and would just end up sitting the back of my closet for years. Instead, I sold it to a girl who was SO grateful for it! When she came to try it on, it fit her like a glove (even with the alterations I had done). We both started tearing up, and I was happy that it went to a good home. She even sent me pictures!
I hope that this post at least got you thinking outside the box! You don’t have to spend $35,000 to have a fun wedding. We could afford to invite everyone that was important to us. Our wedding was the event of the year, and people are still talking about it 3 years later!
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