My 3 Money-Saving Wedding Hacks That Were A Total Mistake

By | Tuesday, October 06, 2015


As it turns out, when it comes to wedding planning apparently not everything goes the way you expect. Like, you think you have a great idea and that you have singlehandedly found a way to disrupt the Wedding Industrial Complex with your crafty smarts, and then BOOM fate intervenes and cuts you down to size. I’m getting married in 22 days, and up until this point, our craft hacks have served us very well. We’re planning our entire wedding for under $5,000, and I’m shocked that more things haven’t gone to hell in a handbag. Still, we’ve had a couple large annoyances, and while I, of course, still endorse the budget wedding route, I was forced to see which budget solutions ended up being budget fails. Here are the three biggest things that have gone wrong:

1. Budgeting $20 for flowers and decor.

I am now realizing that I definitely should’ve upped the budget on this one. My sister’s flowers are already blooming happily, and I was going to use those, but they might not hold out for another three weeks. So, it’s looking like grocery store bouquets are going to be necessary. And it turns out the $5 Trader Joe’s bouquets I was banking on aren’t nearly as big as I remembered, so we’re probably going to need more than just four of them. And as much as I love my original idea of using stuff we already have around the house as decor, it turns out that while we have lots of interesting vessels to put things in, you need fresh stuff to put in those vessels. I think we want to splurge on some succulents to put in the tops of the liquor bottle centerpieces we’re making. They will be cute, guests can take them home, and apparently I cannot resist a good Pinterest trend. Luckily, we have some flexibility on this front because we’ve underspent in other categories. I just wish I’d been more realistic from the beginning and added a much larger buffer in this category.

2. Truly believing we could avoid paying for a wedding photographer.

I was super proud of my idea to hack our wedding photos by just getting a friend to do it. My plan was to invest in quality Photoshop software (with all the money I was saving), and supply Instax cameras to guests, so then I would get pictures edited the way I like, and candids. The biggest failure of that idea was that it’s been stressful, to say the least. I kept vacillating between whether or not I even care about photos: everyone will have cellphone cameras, my dad is a cinematographer (so he has a good eye), and will be taking pictures with his nice camera, and we’ve purchased tons of Instax film for guests to play with. While I loved our workaround, I’m realizing I don’t want to leave our photographs up to the chance Instagrams of our potentially inebriated guests.

I finally resigned myself to the fact that this is simply something we’re going to have to pay for. Unexpected expenses are one reason I wanted to come in as far under budget as possible: while I would love to have thousands of dollars left over to put into savings, I also had a feeling that things would come up that we hadn’t anticipated. I would be so much more stressed out if we had planned everything within an inch of our budget, and then had to deal with scrambling to find a photographer. I am a little bit bummed that I already shelled out for the Photoshop actions, but also I’ve already used them a whole bunch for personal projects, so I can’t be mad about that investment.

It actually worked out ridiculously well because I went to a party last week where I randomly met the daughter of the guy who founded the cidery I am getting married at. I happened to mention our photographer woes, and she had a fabulous recommendation for someone who does all of their photography, who was free on our wedding date, and was cheaper than anyone else I talked to. I’m super excited for Becca to photograph the evening, and man am I glad I went to that party.

3. Not realizing that I might want to splurge on my hair.

I’m still happy with my plan to do my own makeup. My sisters and I have a date tomorrow to all practice makeup looks on each other, and finally decide what I’m going to wear on my face, so that part of my narcissistic heart is perfectly happy. But one of my sisters very gently pointed out that I may want to invest in getting my hair properly done. From the get-go it hadn’t really crossed my mind to pay someone to do my hair because I figured I would just have a relative do a nice braid, and skip getting my hair perfectly curled and coiffed. But then my sister kindly reminded me that I am cursed/blessed with a huge mane of fluffy cloud hair that, no matter how many hours I spend styling, always devolves into a frizzy mess in under 10 minutes. And in that moment I realized just how right she was, and immediately began calling around salons to find out who could take me on semi-short notice. I think I will be very happy with this extra $100 expense. My search proved that you can still find good hair styling on a budget, even at the last minute.

In the end, we are sticking to our budgeting, DIY roots, but I think I needed to be more honest, and realistic with myself upfront, so I wasn’t stuck scrambling later. Because we started cutting expenses early on, we were very fortunate to have enough flexibility in the budget to deal with all of these things in ways that we’re both happy with. But this whole process has been a constant reminder that being realistic in the beginning can help avoid major headaches later, when things inevitably don’t go according to plan.


Image via Pexels

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