Stop at any news stand or pop onto pinterest and you will be bombarded with images of what looks like the perfect wedding.  We’ve all seen the televised Kardashian nuptials and been green with envy, but what you do when you don’t have that much green?  Unless you have a cool million (or a money tree to shake) you will need to rein in your dreams to something a bit more realistic.  While it’s easy to get caught up in planning a grand a glamorous affair, ask your, is this even necessary?

The truth is you don’t need to drain your bank account (or your parents for that matter) to have a memorable night.  Remember, a wedding should be about the big picture.  Think about the long run and your marriage and not that particular day (but as a party planner myself, I completely understand the pressures of throwing and amazing event!)  So let’s get started!

Location on a Budget

This is often the first decision that need to be made and will determine how much you                have left to spend on the rest of your wedding.

First of all, think outside the box and don’t be afraid to go against tradition.  Do you have and amazing park in your city, museums, a cool art gallery or improv theatre that could host your wedding?  Venues such as these are not typical wedding venues and are generally more flexible and allow you to negotiate a much better rate (not to mention they will increase the hip factor of your event!)  Maybe your friend or family has an amazing back and you could borrow for free.

Secondly, avoid peak times of the year.  The same venue can command up to 50% more for a summer dates as opposed to getting married in a low month such as January.  As this is not a peak season, many of the vendors will also be willing to negotiate on rates, leading to a trickle effect of lower hotel rates, cheaper airfare etc.  which could end up as big savings for you and your guests.  Get creative and take a deep look at what is a available in your city.  I guarantee you can come up with a fantastic location for next to nothing!

Cost: $500 – $1000

The Dress

This is arguably the most important factor of the day (and personally my favorite!) Flip through any bridal magazine and I’m sure you could fall in love with any number of the gowns, but unless you have an astronomical budget you’re going to have to get creative.  Trust me, I get it, no bride to be wants to skimp of the dress of their dreams, so here are some tips to help make sure that you’re not stuck paying for your dress long after it’s hung in the closet.

The most crucial element when dress shopping is simple: budget.  Ensure that you set a clear budget before stepping foot into the bridal salon.  Once you are through the doors do not try on anything that you cannot afford.  The chances of one of these expensive dresses could ‘be the one’ go through the roof and could very well blow your entire budget.

Start the process early; it’s never too soon to start looking.  In fact, the sooner the better.  This will give you time to find that perfect dress that falls into your price range.  By starting early you wont feel rushed into paying too much for a gown or settling for something that is just ‘ok’ and your not really in love with.

If you are opting for a more casual wedding, why not check out the bridesmaids section.  Most of these dresses can be ordered in white or ivory, and the price difference can be incredible.  With all the different designers and variety of styles, your options are endless.

Lasting, we have all heard the old saying, ‘something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue’.  Why not ask your friend and family for their input.  See if your mother, grandmother or aunts saved their veils or jewelry from their wedding.  By incorporating these pieces, you can fulfill ‘something old’ and something borrowed’ while also being thrifty.  If your are going to be borrowing a gown that needs to be altered, just remember alterations and jewelry needs to be accounted for in the final budget.

Cost: $250 – $1000

Let’s Decorate

Thanks to the rustic DIY trend that has been oh so popular over the recent years, you’re in luck.  By doing things yourself it will not only save you a ton of money, but your guests will be in awe of the personal touches, details and all the time that you put in to making the day your very own.  When it comes to decorating, don’t sweat the small stuff.  Save your time and energy and focus on big impact items that will blow your guests away when they enter the room.  Lighting can be your best friend and help to completely (and easily) transform the feel of a space, and will assist in setting the tone for the evening.  There is really nothing more spectacular than a room full of dimly lit candles (and luckily candles won’t break the bank).  Rent colored flood lights to create an amazing backdrop for the room and consider having a personalized monogram printed to project on the walls and floor.  This will only run you about $35 dollars, but will look like a million bucks!  Head down to the closest fabric store and grab some bolts of beautifully colored but inexpensive material.  From a distance no once will know that it’s not top notch stuff.  Use it to drape your ceilings and walls; with a little work and imagination this will help with the ambiance and create a luxurious setting.

Cost: $500 – $1,000

Lights, Camera, Wedding Action!

Photographs are another category that you can get carried away with and end up destroying your budget.  Thanks to technology and the advanced cameras in our cell phones now, there is no need to worry.

Ask your guests to take pictures of the reception throughout the night.  If you have any friends that are hobbyist photographers, you can ask them to bring their higher quality camera’s to get a few great shots.  You can use companies such as Ever snap or even Google Drive (which is completely free) to upload the photo’s to make one large album.  Not only is this economical but you will get shots of the party you missed while you were talking with great aunt Betty.

If you are still yearning to have a more polished album to look back on,  why not hire a professional photographer to come out for a couple of hours.  This will bring the cost down drastically as they will not be with you and your wedding party throughout the entire day, but will provide you with some great photo’s to help round out the collection.

Cost: $250 – $500

Eat, Drink and be Married!

Let’s be honest here; to many people this is the most important part of the wedding, but can also take the biggest bite out of your budget.  If you are willing to go against the grain, there are lots of options that will impress even your foodie fiends.  If your venue permits, why not bring in a food truck?  This is not only a wow factor, but it could be less that half the cost of a traditional caterer.  Your friends and wallet will thank you!

Most people do choose to include a few drinks to help celebrate; if you are planning on serving alcohol at your reception there are many things that you can do to help keep your bar tab from getting out of control.  Consider a venue that lets you stock your own bar.  This will by far be the biggest cost saving, keeping you from paying over inflated bar prices.  Think about having one signature cocktail, this is a great way to personalize your wedding and your guests will be thrilled.  By having one signature drink it will help keep the costs down as you won’t have to stock the bar with tons of different alcohol and mixers.

$1000 – $1,500

wedding on a budget

Dancing The Night Away

We have all been to that wedding before.  The one with the dry DJ whose playlist is more outdated than your mom’s ipod and tells terrible jokes to boot.  Music is one of the key components for a good party, and unfortunately can really make or break the night.  Nobody wants to end up in this boat.  But what do you do when do when you are working with a shoestring budget and the best bands and DJ’s in town charge top dollar?  Why not check out some up and coming talent?  Spend some time at neighborhood pubs that feature local bands that are not as well known.  With all the amazing talent out there you are sure to find someone who suits your style, and because there schedule has more availability, you can often get a killer rate. If you are willing to be a bit more adventurous and head off the beaten path, why look into bringing in dueling pianos.  This has become increasing poplar at weddings and the upfront cost is typically lower, as they make the majority of their money in tips as people rival to get their songs played.

Cost: $500 – $1, 000

Put A (Wedding) Ring On It

Rings are a symbol of love and marriage; they come in many different shapes and sizes (some being shinier than others). Over the last few years the price of gold has surged in price, hovering around $1200 per oz!  Why not consider plain platinum or silver bands.  Is there any jewelry in the family that could be passed down?  If none of these options work for you, why not have an open mind and visit your neighborhood pawn shop and pick up a pre-loved ring? By opting for a used ring you sure to find something you can love and afford!

Cost: $100 – $500

At the end of the day weddings are an expensive affair, even when being careful to stretch your budget as far as you can.  Let Cashco Financial help you make your wedding dreams into reality with a Flex Loan.  The application process is quick and easy.  With a Flex loan you can borrow as much as $5,000 with up to 36 months to repay, so you can worry about making all the details of your wedding perfect, and not how you will pay for it.