Happy Wednesday! I have had a few people ask me to post a blog about how I crafted most of my wedding and saved hundreds of dollars. I also chose a few specific vendors which saved me thousands of dollars which I will talk about as well. My husband and I had the goal of throwing a beautiful wedding for under $8,000 and we did it! Our guest count was 108 people who showed up, we did an outdoor wedding on a Saturday on South Mountain.
When I first started researching venues I was hit with this wave of anxiety immediately. The cost of venues was INSANELY high for what you got. We started at Secret Garden in Arizona which was a dream venue, everything was so perfect. The backdrop for photos was strategically designed to provide flawless photos and the arch where the ceremony would take place was magical. They did have an all inclusive package but prices started at $12,000!!! WHAT?!?!? This did not include anything but the day of coordinator and the venue itself. The food or drink package started to add up very fast and we made the decision that we did not want to spend this kind of money on our wedding. All that mattered was that we were together with friends and family and that we were happy with the photo area at which our pictures would take place.
Our next stop was SOHO in Chandler, Arizona because we heard they were priced well. The venue ended up being mostly indoor with a very small outdoor area, we did not love it but it was priced well, or so we thought. After touring, we sat down and talked about the options for food and drink. The venue alone was $8,000 but you could bring your own food and drink which was a very intriguing option. We found out that they partner with a few places priced at $25-$40 per person, this did NOT include alcohol. If we wanted to bring in our own vendor we had to rent out the kitchen for an insane price which ended up being more worth it to use the vendors they provided.
We went home and just felt defeated. How is it that weddings cost SO much money! You can save some money by doing a Sunday or Friday or even doing a brunch wedding but that wasnt what we wanted. I did some research on Craigslist (yes Craigslist) and ended up finding Affordable Weddings. They offered an insane package which included the setup of everything, they brought the chairs, the tables, the linens, the table runners, the chair covers, the arch and the arch decorated with flowers at which I was able to choose the color scheme, the center pieces ( a beautiful vase with white roses that I chose, marbles and a mirror base, so pretty!) and the tear down on the following day for $1100!!!!!!!!!! Are you kidding me!?!?! I had to clarify with Susan (the owner) that this price did in fact include all of the above AND that it was quality items. She confirmed and told me that they throw in a photographer for the ceremony (we hired a photographer but the extra photos that they took were great!) and they also provided music for the ceremony which saved us money on the DJ with him being there for just the reception not the ceremony itself.
I signed the contract immediately. After finding Affordable Weddings, I was fortunate enough to have my aunt who has a beautiful house and backyard backing up to South Mountain. She agreed to let us use her backyard for our wedding which is always an option to anyone struggling with this. Rent a house on Airbnb (there are so many options and at such an affordable price), parks, community centers, these all offer affordable venue options.
Next I needed a caterer right? Anxiety rushed in again knowing how expensive cateres are. Mentioning wedding for anything automatically increases the price for ANYTHING! My husband loves tacos, were talking about eats tacos daily and we love hosting taco parties, so I went back to Craigslist to look for bartenders and caterers. I found Caseys Catering based in Mesa. Granted they ended up not being as responsive or reactive to confirming the event as much as I would have hoped, however, they offered an amazing service and ended up being the HIT of the wedding. They offered a package for a taco cart which I had read that they were becoming very popular, and they offered bartenders for a great price. The taco cart came out to $6.95 per person, yes PER PERSON! This included the meal, a drink of choice and the most important thing…..PLATES AND SILVERWEAR!!!! We did not rent fancy plates for our wedding, instead we went paper. Since Casey’s included this we only had to buy extra plates for the cake cutting. Again this saved us a few hundred alone. The bartenders were $300 for two for the entire night and then we were able to go on a shopping spree at Costco for liquor!! Fun fact, Costco will take back any unopened bottles. Our liquor (we bought double what Casey’s told us to for our guest count knowing our guests liked to partake) came out to $400. Yes $400!!!!! This is by far way less than any venue could offer us.
Okay so food done, set up done, so far we had zero things that we had to do ourselves on the wedding day. Affordable weddings really saved us here setting up everything in the back yard and then taking it all down and with them. This made clean up the next morning last 1 hour with 10 people helping. Insane.
Next item on the list, the day of coordinator. This was important since we were putting this whole thing together by pieces instead of having a venue offer and run everything. I found Courtney from Posh by Courtney on Wedding Wire. She came at a price I could not deny. She was perfect! She was extremely fast to respond to anything I sent her, she made the timeline and ran the day flawlessly. There were a few things that she did miss on the day of like making sure all of my guests had their champagne glasses but those things are minor. I highly recommend her, ask me for her details!
Courtney referred Eric for a DJ option which he was $650 for the entire night. He ended up staying later at no charge because he was having such a great time with our group. He kept the party going, stayed true to our playlist and made us feel so important. We have him in our contact list for future parties and events that we hold because he was that good! $650 is way less than the majority of places.
My dad spent most of his life as an electrician so I lucked out with having him hang the lights above the ceremony area and the dance floor. I bought 100 foot lights from Amazon for $70 a pack which turned out amazing! I ended up getting my fairy tale wedding and I give most of the credit to my dad and the lights. They made such a difference in the vibe, they added a level of elegance that was undeniable and pictures turned out better because of the beautiful lighting and backdrop. If you do a wedding in a backyard or park look into swooping the lights. You wont be disappointed.
Flowers! One of the most expensive parts of a wedding. A little birdie told me about Safeway so I went into the floral department with a few photos on Pinterest of what I wanted. She said no problem and for 5 bridal bouquets, my bouquet which was mostly white roses, boutonnieres and corsages for family members as well as the grooms party came out to $500. Such a steal, we did have to pick them up but simple enough for such a great price. Flowers are usually over $1000.
Now for the cake, my hairdressers sister made us a beautiful 3 layer cake, white and we added the flowers on it for $150. Craziness. If you want her info just ask! See the pictures below for how beautiful this cake turned out AND it was delicious.
All of the decor I mostly painted. All it took was some canvas, paint and Pinterest searching. If you do not have great handwriting just get some letter cutouts. I made every sign for under $5 when on Pinterest and Etsy they were starting at $45. I also made my own 3 layer card box which turned out beautifully! At Hobby Lobby they had square boxes and circular ones ( I went when they were all on sale for 50% off), added some paint, ribbon and a bow and its done! It was so much easier than I thought cutting out the bottom of 2 boxes ( I just used a steak knife). Boxes online were $50-$100, I made mine for under $15 and 25 minutes. I also made my bridesmaid bags by purchasing black tote bags at Hobby Lobby, stenciled their names on, used glue to fill them in and added silver glitter. I filled them with a custom made candle ( I own a candle business so I made them myself), sweatpants with their name on it and bridesmaid or maid of honor, white converse (purchased at the outlet store which is usually 50% off) and a necklace to uniform them. I did end up purchasing sweat pants on Etsy for $25 each pair ( I ran out of time to craft them myself). The men also received converse and a tie for their bags. Our bridal party gifts came to $400, we wanted to buy their shoes since our total wedding cost was turning out to be right on budget as a thank you. We did have the bridal party buy their own dresses and suits which were around $100 each.
The videographer we did end up going with the Hedges and paying $1500 for only a few hours. I was told that this was the number one thing many brides regretted not doing and the favorite thing of the brides who did hire one. It ended up being worth it and something we really enjoy watching and sharing. The moments they capture that pictures do not is indescribable. I recommend it.
Our photographer did cut us a family and friends deal but Danny Gorman Photography killed it. The photos they took were high quality, beautifully edited and worth it. I was bummed that they did not get more extended family pictures and formal pictures with friends. I did ask for this but things happen when there is so many other things going on. I did also ask for a converse photo of the entire wedding party since it was an idea not many people do, we did not get one of those either. Other than those few things and both photographers disappearing from my side of the wedding party when we were trying to a few pictures in before we all had to change, we were very pleased with their work. I highly recommend them and they travel everywhere for weddings.
I incorporated a few hidden Disney things in our wedding including the reserved chair signs for the immediate family members to sit up front during the ceremony. I also put pins in my bouquet in the shape of mickey ears. I easily printed out the reserved signs in Microsoft Word and punched two wholes on each side and added ribbon in my colors. Super easy! The very few signs that you see in the below pictures were purchased on sale at Hobby Lobby for under $7 a sign. Use your 40% off coupon as well on anything that isnt on sale.
Lastly, the seat cards were made by my step-mother. She did a beautiful job on them by beading each one and hand writing everyone’s name with their table number on it.
I hope this helps as you enjoy this journey. Remember that it is not worth it to spend above your budget for one day, there are ways to have it all. I was able to have a beautiful, fairy tale wedding for under $10,000 when most weddings cost 3 times that amount for a wedding they are not happy with. Please feel free to ask me any questions you may have on certain areas and ways to cut costs. The taco cart was a huge hit and people still talk about it a year later being their favorite part of my wedding. We received a lot of feedback saying that our wedding was very elegant and one of the most beautiful weddings they had been to. We also were told that it was the most fun wedding, our dance floor was packed with people the ENTIRE night (thank you Eric for keeping it fresh), the bartenders added a very friendly, fun vibe and our guests loved them. We did run out of vodka and one of the bartenders drove one of our guests to the store for more with zero complaints. If you want any info on the vendors I used please ask!
Photo cred for the below is Danny Gorman Photography