six ways I stretched my wedding budget

This past Tuesday, September 8th, marked three years of marriage for Ryan and I. It makes me one giddy girl to reflect back on that time.

newlywedsLast year, I vented reminisced over planning a Tennessee wedding while living in Massachusetts, having rain on the day of, and praised all the helping hands that made our wedding that much more special. (You can read more about that here.) This year I thought I would share more about the decorative details and how we managed to stretch my wedding budget and save a big bucks in the process.


Six ways I stretched my wedding budget (or should have)

1.Consider alternatives to renting

We rented light poles, bistro lights, a dance floor, tables, chairs, and tablecloths from All Occasions rentals in Knoxville. It was easy to set up and took a load off of us trying to set things up. I became nauseous all over again looking over my invoice from the rental company. Looking back now, I definitely see things I should have done differently. Let’s just say I definitely overpaid for the linens on around 10 tables. My tip would be to find complementary tablecloths from friends, family, friends of friends and thrift shops. In hindsight, even buying and reselling tablecloths would be a smarter move.

2.Coordinate with other brides at your venue

We did score major savings on most of the rentals by coordinating with the bride who was getting married at the same venue (The Historic Bleak House) the day before us. She and I wanted a lot of the same things, so it worked out wonderfully. We each got what we wanted for half the price- shwing! It was a secret at the time, but I think it’s now safe to reveal that Kenny Chesney played for her reception. Too bad we weren’t able to squeeze in on that one too!

3. Use your connections or DIY it

As for my flowers, I had wonderful connections within my own family that helped save my budget. My sister, who runs a side business doing wedding and event planning, was able to get flowers for centerpieces at a wholesale price. She and my grandma (who owns a flower shop) spent the morning of our wedding assembling all the vases/centerpieces. My bouquet, tossing bouquet, boutonnieres, and flowers for my bridesmaids (all the important stuff) came from Lisa Foster in Knoxville. I loved her! We spent $190 for all she did. I was the ‘Pinterest girl’ to her since I came in with a big poster board with my wedding inspiration taped all over it. Oh, the memories…


My flower girls didn’t toss flower petals, instead, my mom made burlap signs (with flower accents on the corners) that read “all you need is love” and “here comes the bride”. I loved that unique touch in our wedding. Here‘s some crafty flowers from a fall bride.


I wish I could say Ryan and I were knee deep in DIY before our wedding, but it was our parents who made those details come together. The garage became my parents crafting station. You can even see the table in the background where my mom mocked up different centerpieces for the dinner tables. If it weren’t for her, my wedding wouldn’t have been nearly as pretty as it was.


My parents created banners, wood stands for our cake, desserts, and dinner spread. My mom created all my centerpieces using vintage books, teapots, and Ball jars. (I was able to save money by using antique pieces from family.) As much as I would have loved for all this to be set up outside for our vintage garden wedding, the inside of our venue complimented the theme fairly well. That’s another tip, if you plan an outside wedding, have a rain alternative that you are happy with.


Over at Ryan’s parents, his mom enlisted his aunt and uncle, their daughter and son-in-law, and other family members to cut and assemble our wedding programs. There were a few nights Ryan and I actually had time to lend a hand. Even our friends jumped in on the DIY festivities (as seen below).


5. Use something borrowed or sentimental

Instead of buying our cake cutting utensils, we used the set from Ryan’s parent’s wedding. To make them more personalized for our wedding, we wrapped the handles in lace. There were a lot of sentimental items like that throughout our wedding. We used my dad’s first bible to tie our rings to, and the ring bearer actually wore an outfit that was worn by Ryan when he was 4 years old. Not only did these tricks save us money, they were the perfect way to continue our vintage theme and throw a nod to our family history.


6. Pick your splurges strategically

We didn’t scrimp and save on everything. The few things I did splurge on were small and have remained special reminders of that day as they now sit throughout our home. Our cake topper wasn’t that expensive… I really can’t remember exactly how much was spent on it, but whatever it was, was worth every penny. I love seeing that sweet nestling couple every night. Our guestbook was a metal vase wrapped in birch bark with R+K burned on it bought off Etsy. Ryan designed cards for our guests to fill out with their names and advice for newlyweds. Every now and again it’s nice to take it off the shelf and reread all the encouraging words.

vase-guestbook DIY-guestbook

The last thing I splurged on was our toasting glasses. They were $80 also off Etsy, and had bark and R+K etched on them. I still get giddy when I see them, it was love at first sight.engraved-wedding-flute

Some extra tips and tidbits

A lot of venues offer discounts on less popular days to get married. If you can get by with a Thursday/Friday wedding, do it. You’ll be grateful when you have extra jingle in your pocket later. We had guests coming in from all over, including ourselves, so it wasn’t a good option for us. What we didn’t save on the venue we more than made up or in photography. We were blessed enough to have a family friend capture our journey from engagement to marriage as a gift, including a bridal shoot. From my experiences, there are a lot of people that offer to do something for your wedding as a gift. My sister had all of her wine taken care of.


We originally wanted a beach potluck style wedding and got something totally different. I wanted to do everything in my power to keep costs low, but with so many regulations by our venue we ended up using a professional caterer. Rex of Bradford Catering Events did not only present beautiful and delicious food for our guests, but he also acted somewhat as a coordinator at times helping the night run more smoothly. I knew that aspect of my wedding was in safe hands. I was able to cover having flatware, plates, and glasses with them as well.

With that said, let me leave you with this last tip. If you do spend a great deal on your catering and you know it’s the bomb, don’t have your leftovers packed and sitting by the door. Keep them in a safe place. Ryan and I didn’t eat until after our wedding and the to-go boxes packed just for us mysteriously went missing. We got the special bride and groom boxes Bradford Events handed us, but some sneaky bandit made away with the rest.


These were just a few of the ways I was able to stretch my wedding budget. If you are looking for more budget savvy ideas you should check out Jessica at Budget Savvy Bride!

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