Being a college student and planning a wedding at the same time isn't easy. Money goes here, money goes there, and before you know it you're left with nothing but a crappy wedding dress and $20,000 in college debt. Let me tell you right now, it doesn't have to be that way! The wedding industry thrives on selling overpriced dresses and pushing the idea of a day you'll never forget. Truth is, you won't forget your wedding day so why spend $30,000 on a wedding like the average bride in America?
I am in my last semester taking 6 classes and planning a wedding in March. Crazy right? Well, not really. Most people would advise you to get married after you finish college. This isn't bad advice. However, if you're like me and don't like to play by the rules then you don't have to wait. Sure it may be easier but who isn't up for a good challenge during their college experience?
I have been engaged now for 2 years and let me tell you, you hear a lot of so called "advice" that isn't helpful. This industry thrives on brides who don't know what they're doing and the fiances that give them all the money they need to do it. There is your first mistake. Now I'm not telling you these 5 steps will automatically turn your wedding from drab to fab, but you have got to start somewhere. Now, before I begin. I am assuming you have all set a date and created a guest list? I thought so.
Step #1: As much as he may hate it, he'll thank you for it later. Sit down with your husband or bride-to-be and make a budget. That's right, I said it. The word every girl hates to hear. Get into excel or even get a piece of paper. List out all of the things you will need for your wedding and then write out to the side the maximum you're willing to spend. Once you add all of these up and realize you have a $40,000 wedding to pay for, you'll make cuts somewhere and find out what your priorities are. Easiest example is the dress. Is it really necessary to go to Kleinfelds in New York and spend $12,000 on a dress? Heck no! Take advantage of David's Bridal or Alfred Angelo. Most of them are the same dresses without the designer tag and you're spending WAY under $12,000.
Step #2: GO TO BRIDAL SHOWS. I'm going to tell you right now, this is going to be overwhelming. Just do it. Take a pen and a notebook and write down everything you like and dislike about the vendors you meet. My personal experience was that I found the venue of my dreams for half the price it is now. How is that? Well, this particular bridal show was the first they had been to since they opened and their pricing was a steal! And guess what else? I won a free honeymoon trip to Cancun, Mexico after being entered in the grand giveaway. It really happens!
Step #3: Don't be afraid to ask friends to do things for you. Whether it be photography, cinematography, baking the cake or doing your flowers. Trust me. Even if you pay them it will be way less expensive than hiring a "professional" who doesn't know you or your taste. Not to mention, that just makes a good memory for the both of you.
Step #4: Create a competitive atmosphere with your potential vendors. When it all comes down to it, they want your business. Especially if it is a wedding for hundreds of people who can later brag to others about how good the service was. It is ok to nickel and dime. After all, you've really got nothing to lose like they do. The last thing they want is for you to rate them as too expensive or inflexible.
Step #5: Make this about the BOTH of you. This isn't just the bride's day like the wedding industry says. If you work together to create the wedding you BOTH want, that just says more about the beginning of your marriage than a bride who cried her way into getting what she wanted. Plus, involving him lets him know you care about his opinion.
Finally, stay away from wedding sites that just want to push sales at you. Most of the time, it isn't worth your money. Stick to plan, stick with your fiance and stick to the budget. You'll be just fine.