I am actually currently helping my sister plan a wedding. It's been really fun because it's not mine but I do get a lot of "say" and I can show her ideas, she gives me the yay or nay and we move from there. At the beginning of this wedding planning stage we started with the top 2 things I think are important to nail down before anything else, The Venue + Photographer, before the dress, before the "will you be my bridesmaid" before the choosing your wedding colors. I know, those are all fun things and once you get that ring on you lose all control, I get it, I have been there but try so hard to hold back from making a Pinterest board that first day. Your wedding venue + photographer will affect the style of your wedding! Instead think about what you really want. Then think about what you can afford. That's where the being resourceful part comes in.  Here are some tips/ ideas from different weddings I have shot...

Tip # 1

Upcycle a dress, my sister is wearing my grandma's 57 year old (gorgeous) wedding dress with a few changes, Steph (below) wore her moms dress or you could have a custom dress made for cheaper than buying a new one, like my bride Valerie who had a dress custom made for $500!

Tip # 2

I know your going to want to ask all your girls to be in the wedding, probably with adorable ways of asking them but...if you pull back on that wedding party, you will save yourself loads of money (and quite honestly stress) You can still find a way to honor all of your special friends / relatives without having them "in" the wedding.  My sister is not having a wedding party but I still feel like I have a special part of the day and she is including all of our siblings and her grooms siblings as well. If you think about it, this way no one feels left out too. My bride Dani (below) chose one special friend to stand by her side and I can say, they had a very stress- free day and all of their friends were there having a great time!

Tip # 3

You can either choose an all-inclusive venue where the ceremony and reception are held and dinner and tables, and everything is included in one big chunk of a price or you can choose a DIY venue like my sister is doing and pay almost nothing for it but have to spend money on making it into something wonderful. My sister is bringing in a load of rentals to her venue and thats where a large piece of her money is going.  Take my bride Tiffany for example she had her wedding at the Cooksville Schoolhouse, costs peanuts to rent and she spent her money on amazing rentals! (below) via A La Crate Vintage Rentals. 

After bringing in all these amazing rentals and adding in the catering and etc... it may end up being the same cost as that all-inclusive venue I was talking about. But that's where you get to decide what kind of wedding you want.  Thats the fun part, that's the resourceful part!  Here's a look at an all-inclusive venue like The Enchanted Barn, they have everything you need from start to finish and the staff to make your day impeccable. 


Tip #4

Photography, don't make the mistake in thinking that finding a photographer is like shopping for a TV, you keep looking around you will find one for a lower price and the same quality. That's not the case when hiring an artist. The prices they have are hopefully due to their experience. So, the higher price It's likely the better quality in product you will receive. If you choose the lowest bidder, you may be in for some low quality products or a very inexperienced shooter- you might not want to choose your wedding day to find that out. Photography isn't a one size fits all type deal. You will need to spend some of your resources, aka money on the one you want.  There are a lot of photographers out there, millions. My advice to you is to look/comb/stalk them and their portfolios, how many weddings have they shot? 2 or 3 or 200? Choose the one with the most experience for what you can afford. 

Tip # 5

If you are a fun group and you don't want the party to fizzle out at 9pm (after years of planning?!?!) hire a band. Period. A live band will excite any wedding, will fill any dance floor, will encourage people to drink more, loosen up and stay way past their bedtime. I promise you. This is one resource I did not use for my own wedding but made sure my sister doesn't make the same mistake! Skip something else, skip those fancy decorations or those uber expensive invites and put your money somewhere really memorable.  Steph and Steven hired The Love Monkey's for a rocking party! 

Tip # 6

Hire professionals, I know that doesn't seem like a cheaper way of doing something but DIY doesn't always work and it can still be super costly, especially if you mess it up? hello do overs aren't free.  If your not mega crafty you may want to use etsy for those escort cards. Ways to save $$ with professionals is to not get everything with them. Get your bouquet from a florist and then maybe get dried flowers off etsy to save money. Or Choose that photographer you want and skip the second shooter and engagement session or even go with their lowest package, you will still have their beautiful eye at your wedding. Don't rent tables and chairs for every guest, rent just tables and chair for immediate family and the head table and use whats on hand for the other guests ( my sister rented 12 farmhouse tables- everyone else will utilize the picnic tables available) Those fancy, spendy centerpieces? do that one like 4-5 tables and find something less expensive to put on the other tables and the cake, this is a big expensive, order a teeny little adorable cake to cut and have sheet cakes in the back ready to serve. You can stick to professionals but lesson the load on your checkbook by ordering what you really "need" rather than overspending. 

Tip # 7

Get thrifty. You do not have to have guest favors at your wedding but if you do make it something meaningful and inexpensive. Rachel and Jared love flea markets so as they went to them they started collecting beer glasses, eventually having so many they gave them away at their wedding! It was so meaningful because they did something they love doing together to accumulate something they handpicked and could give to their guests to take home. 

The $500 they saved on wedding favors they spent on something extra memorable and fun for their guests, a caricaturist! Resourceful!!!! The idea is to get the most bang for your buck, To use your money on memorable things. Who won't remember this?

Tip # 8

This one pains me to say, I'm a paper lover but instead of making a menu card for each and every guest or a program for that matter, (really any paper product that would easily be thrown away) make a message board instead, one board for every guest, you can post whatever needs to be said, menu, program, timeline of the day, etc... instead of disposable items spend half the time and money. One large vintage frame at a flea market, gold spray paint, chalkboard paint and white chalk marker...Viola!

Tip # 9 

Buy a suit. Or skip the suit, Have you guy or all the guys go to Banana Republic or J Crew or Mens Warehouse and buy a suit,  or pants and a shirt and killer tie, same price or less than those rental tuxes, they will fit the day of the wedding guaranteed (worth the money in itself) and you get to keep them. No brainer. 

Tip # 10

There are no "have to's" at a wedding. Do not spend money on things you do not care about because it's tradition or your mom said so or for any reason other than you love this idea and you have to have it a part of your day.  You don't have to have a spendy up-do, you do not have to have a wedding party, you do not have to have a pricey officiant (hello anyone can be ordained asap) you do not have to have new fancy shoes, you do not have to do or have anything that isn't absolutely meaningful to you. So be selective. Or you could elope ?

The purpose of today's post was where my head was this week, wedding planning and helping new brides sift their way through this industry. It's not easy. But I have been doing this a long time. I have seen a LOT of weddings. I hope I stirred the pot a little bit  to get you thinking differently with some of these tips.  At least get your imagination running a bit.  Most couples have "X" amount of money to spend. It's up to YOU were you put it. Be resourceful. Be creative with your funds. There are better ways of doing things!   And if any of this made sense to you or your helping your friend, share this post! Happy Wedding Planning!