In a Nutshell: Since 2008, The Budget Savvy Bride has been helping couples plan and save for their big day. Being frugal doesn’t mean you have to compromise. Whether you’re planning a small, intimate wedding, or a large, extravagant event, couples can make their visions become reality and save big money in the process.
We were young and in love. I was in graduate school; my fiancé was finishing up her undergraduate degree, and we were broke. What better time to plan a wedding, right?
Needless to say, we had to get creative. A friend made our wedding cake. Another friend tended the bar, which our venue allowed us to stock ourselves. Still, even with all of these hacks, we were coming in way over budget.
At the risk of showing my age, we were married in an era when the internet was in its infancy, so we didn’t really have the luxury of reaching out to the multitudes for advice. Today, thanks to sites like thebudgetsavvybride.com, couples have it a bit easier. Since 2008, Jessica Bishop, Founder and Editor of thebudgetsavvybride.com, has been sharing her wealth of knowledge on how to pull off the perfect wedding without breaking the bank.
Her experience budgeting for her own wedding coupled with years of research now under her belt, make her the perfect person for couples to turn to when planning a wedding on a budget.
Jessica Teaches Thriftiness without Compromising Quality
The average cost of the American wedding is $26,645, so it’s no wonder that couples looking forward to their big day might be looking to save money. Luckily, they have a place to turn to for cost-cutting ideas.
Back in 2008, Jessica found herself in a similar situation as I had. “My then fiancé and I were both freshly out of school,” she says. “I happened to be working my first job, which was at a wedding magazine, so I was already obsessed with everything wedding-related. And all I was seeing when looking for inspiration for my own wedding was really expensive, high-end stuff.”
Being caught in the thick of a recession, Jessica knew she and her fiancé couldn’t turn to their families for help with the costs, so she decided to face their limited budget head on by doing research and sharing what she found along the way.
“I started the blog basically as a way to keep track of my ideas,” Jessica says. “Pinterest didn’t exist at this time, which is a blessing and a curse, honestly. So, I started sharing inspiration, ideas that said ‘we can pull it off for less.’”
Over the course of the year that Jessica was planning her wedding and getting married, her blog had amassed quite a decent following. Jessica thinks that many of her followers were in the same boat as she and her fiancé and maybe not in the best position to finance a wedding.
“It was really kind of the right place at the right time,” she says. “We were in a recession, and I think people started finding the site because they were looking for information on how to save money.”
At first, the site began as a kind of personal journal about Jessica’s journey to plan her wedding. But, after time, it evolved into a site where people could go to learn and gather valuable information on smartly budgeting for their weddings.
The Big Question after the Big Question: How to Budget?
Budgeting doesn’t always mean you can’t afford extravagance. As Jessica notes, it’s all about priorities. “It might not necessarily be because people can’t afford to spend more,” she says. “It may be that they’ve drawn that line for themselves. They say, ‘I don’t want to spend more than this. It’s just one day. We want to buy a house. We want to go on a really amazing honeymoon, so we want to put more of our money toward that.’”
For Jessica, budgeting really has more to do with personal value than with a given financial situation. And whatever that situation is, odds are good that you’ll be able to find some very useful tips on the budgetsavvybride.com to help you plan, save money, and have the best Big Day your budget can buy.
Using the Budget Savvy Bride’s Budget Breakdowns
One of the most helpful, and most popular, features on thebudgetsavvybride.com is the budget breakdown page. Here, couples can view a detailed breakdown of the costs associated with real weddings. The budgets on this page range from $1,000 to $20,000, so there’s something here for everyone, no matter how much or how little you plan on spending.
“When I first started,” Jessica says, “I put it out there to my readers: ‘If you’re planning your wedding, I’d love to feature it if it can help other people.’” Jessica found that, just like people in any frugal blogging niche, couples loved to share their wedding budgeting ideas and how they pulled them off.
If you’re looking to save big money, there’s a budget breakdown on the site featuring a couple who “eloped” in Oregon. They achieved a total expense of only $670 by having five guests present and four Skyped in. With a $54 marriage license, $100 reserved courtroom, a $120 dress, $130 for shoes between the bride and groom, $12 on flowers, and (the biggest expense) $250 on a photographer, this couple seemingly achieved the impossible.
Saving money doesn’t always mean compromise, however. A Denver couple came in almost $7,000 under budget by following some simple budgeting tips. They saved a ton on flowers by getting a great deal with a wholesaler. Between that and a bunch of DIY and crafty projects, they ended up in the black with a few extra thousand dollars to spend on their honeymoon.
The Best DIY Hacks to Save Money on Your Wedding Day
DIY projects can, sometimes, save a lot of time and money on your wedding day. However, Jessica says couples must proceed with caution before setting out on these projects. “You kind of set the value at your own level of craftiness in all of those situations,” she says. “The amount of time it’s going to take you is really important to weigh. If you have a super busy schedule, maybe you shouldn’t get caught up in DIY.”
According to Jessica, it’s a common misconception that DIY is always the cheaper way to go. Some couples go the DIY route to put a personal stamp on their wedding day. “They want that handcrafted, personalized feel,” she says. “They want to get their hands dirty and know they’ve made something that’s part of their wedding day because it weaves into their story.”
There are many DIY projects, though, that can work to save you a lot of money. Printables are one of those, and Jessica’s background in graphic design and her keen eye for detail makes the printable items on her site some of the best on the web.
Following are just a few projects on the site’s DIY page that can either save you money or help put that personal touch on your wedding.
1. DIY Custom Labels
Personalized wedding labels seem to be all the rage these days. thebudgetsavvybride.com shows couples examples of labels done right and directs them to the best place to have them printed and shipped.
Couples can put their personal stamp on wine, water, or other bottles to give their guests a unique experience.
2. DIY Wedding Invitation Photo Pocket
thebudgetsavvybride.com has partnered with Download & Print on many projects. One of the latest is their DIY Wedding Invitation Embellishment — Vintage Photo Album Pocket.
This photo album pocket will leave your guests with a feeling of nostalgia, but also have them looking forward to your Big Day.
3. DIY Dollar Store Decor
thebudetsavvybride.com features a DIY Dollar Store Decor Series on their DIY page that exemplifies how it’s possible to portray beauty on a budget.
Couples can cover and decorate their tables, create cards and table numbers, and more for only $1 for each item!
Top Tips on Saving Money Leading Up to the Big Day
Couples will be happy to find that thebudgetsavvybride.com has a Top 50 list of wedding budget tips they can parse for the ideas that work best for them. We’ve included a few that appear in the Top 10 below.
1. Cut the Guest List
Cutting the guest list is probably the single biggest way to save. But, as Jessica notes, it’s also the hardest thing to do. “Everyone has family, friends, loved ones, and it can be really hard to refine it down, but it is the biggest way to cut your cost,” she says. “If you think about it, every single guest is another invite, another save-the-date, another program, another meal, another chair, another place setting.”
Another great place to cut back is the bar. Open bars can get pretty pricey pretty fast. “You don’t have to host an open bar,” Jessica says. “Would it be nice? Sure. But, your guests are coming to celebrate your love, and will be fine with beer and wine. Keep it simple.”
But if your heart is set on having that open bar, it will really help your pocketbook if the venue you choose allows you to provide your own alcohol.
3. Catering: Go Local
Choosing a local mom and pop restaurant instead of a caterer can help stretch your budget. You’ll save on food costs, but if you go buffet style, you’ll also remove the need to pay a waitstaff.
Limited Budgets Don’t Mean Limited Beauty
Jessica and her site epitomize the notion that you don’t have to break the bank to throw a fabulous wedding. Couples can definitely make thebudgetsavvybride.com work for them to help find the best value and prioritize their wedding needs.
Although the site’s been around for over eight years now, according to Jessica, she’s just getting started. “People ask me all the time, ‘aren’t you sick of weddings yet?’ And I tell them no, I’m not sick of weddings yet,” she says. “I really love sharing all of the stories we get from couples about how they were able to save money on their wedding because of things they’ve read on our site. There’s this goodwill energy involved with our site, and I’m really proud of that. I’m also a deal seeker myself, so I like helping other people save money.”
I really wish Jessica and thebudgetsavvybride.com had been around when my wife and I were married. We may not have eloped to Oregon, but we certainly could have planned better and saved, and possibly started paying back our student loans a bit sooner.
Jessica’s glitter headshot courtesy Mike Carreiro. Jessica’s seated chair headshot courtesy Alexis June Weddings. Wedding photos courtesy Evin Photography.