by Destiny Clayton
50 years down the road, my husband and I will still look back at our wedding and honeymoon, and agree that we would not have changed a thing. It was literally our dream come true. The entire day was perfect and then we got on a plane and crossed the globe on the most epic adventure together. The best part was that we did all of this on a VERY tight budget. Actually, we ended up making money when it was all done and said.
My husband is a cinematographer, so we get to attend a good number of weddings and see the behind the scenes thoughts and emotions. It is quite common that couples tell us they are putting off their honeymoon because they spent their budget on their wedding day. Yes, there are plenty of couples that have their dream day and even honeymoon right after—I am not saying we are the only ones or that we did it the right way because there is no right way to have a wedding. (It should all reflect you two as a whole.) But I WILL say that a honeymoon is an important aspect of the start of marriage. It is a time for you two to rejoice in this new adventure together, relax from the previous wedding planning season, and be excited about what is to come for your life together.
This being said, I think there should not be the excuse that too much was spent on the wedding. If we could afford to take on both, then I promise you can too. We are far from loaded with money and we went into the process with the mindset of, “If we cannot afford it ourselves, then we will not do it.” We knew our families would help us out, but this mentality was a huge stress relief for us, as well as for them during the entire planning process. There are some things you can afford to sacrifice that will not cause your big day or trip to be anything less than you could imagine.
Here are 12 tips we personally used during the planning process that ended up being in our favor financially and emotionally. Like I said before though, there is no right way to do your wedding—as long as you both love it and it is everything you dreamed of, then that is all that matters. Some of these tips may or may not pertain to you and that is totally fine. This is just what worked for us and what we wanted!
I love getting to capture moments like this alongside my husband. After proposing in a beautiful snow scene, they shared some biblical scripture together and celebrated their new life chapter together. All my future brides, men looking to propose, couples, families, or for any occasion you want documented for future stories need to reach out to @clayton.made ..with the start of the year comes great deals with bookings for 2018 also, hint hint. But for real, you won’t regret it! I love sharing this lifestyle with him. #bookingnow
1. Prioritize what is most important to you
Before starting any of the planning process, we sat down and made a list of our top 5 priorities between the wedding and honeymoon. We each chose 1 that matters the most to us, to splurge on. This way we each had a say in something and we would not skimp on the budget for those desires either. For me, it was the dress. I knew I would not go way overboard but I also wanted to know I was wearing the perfect dress for me (p.s. Maggie Sottero made me feel like a total queen). For Adam, it was the photography and video work. It is what he does for a living so it was fair to let him splurge on our special day. The rest we left as ordered priorities but if it came down to it we would sacrifice some to save the money.
2. Use your connections
Everyone knows someone and you should use it to your benefit. For example, we have close friends that play in a local band so we asked them to play at our large audience reception. Live music is so much fun also! A lot of couples do dance lessons but once we looked into it, we realized it was not in our budget. Adam’s mom has been a cheer coach in the past and is good at choreography so we asked her to give us some lessons for our first dance. It was also fun quality time that your friends and family would definitely be thankful for. P.S. Support local if you can. It is cheaper and so much more valuable.
3. Don’t hesitate! Pick your destination and just book the flights
We knew what our dream honeymoon was. We really wanted to go to Bali, Indonesia. We booked the tickets before we even picked a wedding date. In fact, we chose the date based off our tickets. We saved so much money by booking months out in advance for our honeymoon, and then we just got married the Sunday before we flew out. Hesitating and waiting will only cause your flights to go up in price and give you a chance to back out. My advice is to just go for it as soon as you know. The rest will fall into place behind it.
4. You don’t have to get married on Friday or Saturday
Have you seen how much cheaper a venue is on a weekday or even a Sunday compared to Friday and Saturday? We got married on Sunday and no joke saved over $2,000 on the reception venue because of it. I understand wanting everyone to make it in town for it but you have to remember it is not about them, and it’s ok if not everyone can come. The sun rises and sets on Sunday just like it does on Saturday. You will still have your dream day.
5. You don’t have to rent a venue
It’s totally fine if you have a dream venue and don’t want to settle for less. But if you are on the fence of where to get married and keep comparing prices, then maybe you should check out alternative options. Nature is a beautiful thing that we have full (or relatively cheap) access to. There are beaches, mountains, lakes, parks, trees… the destinations are endless! Get out and explore your options.
6. Keep the ceremony small
We did a small, intimate, family only ceremony, then invited EVERYONE to our reception afterwards. The sharing of our vows was between us and God, so needing 200+ people there was not necessary. Everyone joining us at our party afterwards still made them feel just as important to our lives. Let’s face it anyways, when we are guests at a wedding, we look forward to the food and party the most. Also, have you researched how much you can spend on just chairs?! They cost so much for a 20-minute ceremony. I say let’s cut to the chase, be married, then celebrate with our friends and family.
7. You do not need to print and mail invites
Wedding invites are all unique and always so beautiful, but how much do you end up paying for them? How time consuming is it trying to reach out to everyone for their address? We did a video invite then created a Facebook page and added those we wanted to attend. This saves time from asking for addresses, saves paper, saves much needed money, and you get more immediate responses without having to wait for people to mail back or to hunt down those you have not heard from. This was one of the most useful things we did to save both time and money. Sure, some people might not have Facebook but a phone call to those select few is personal and I am sure they would enjoy you reaching out that way.
Also, consider this: do you really need both save the dates and invites? Through social media these days, most people already know it’s coming so nixing one reminder will do your wallet justice.
8. DIY décor
Pinterest and YouTube do wonders. You can find ideas and tips for almost anything between the two. Creating your own décor is fun, saves money, and you can do it with friends or family as a fun get together.
9. Catering can be overrated
We did a pizza bar and it was a huge hit. Pizza can be simple, vegetarian, meat filled, and even gluten free. There is usually a type for everyone’s taste buds. We fed our party for a third of what other couples have with fewer guests than us, and didn’t have to deal with leftovers. We did not have to pay for a catering staff—it was a serve-yourself bar, which in the end made it a more social event that we were going for. We also did donuts instead of cake. Adam and I are not fans of cake ourselves and, again, donuts are inexpensive and can accommodate so many different tastes. Plus, they can be customized!
10. You don’t need a wedding band right away
An engagement ring is special and exciting to show off. The adoration of it does not wear off anytime soon either. So in my option, it is not a requirement to also buy a wedding band for the day of. If it is not in your budget, then don’t be ashamed to hold off on it for maybe a one-year anniversary gift or later on down the road. I decided to wait for a band and am still obsessed with my single ring. Plus, it still notifies people I am taken so no worries there for your men.
Staying in an all-inclusive resort might be what works for some people, but we love to experience other cultures and move around a lot. We decided to book Airbnb’s so we could spend time in different places—plus it was less than half the price per night. There are some extremely nice ones too. Download the app and explore around, because you will be shocked at how great of a deal you can find. The App is also great for looking at check in/ check out times, accommodations, messaging the host, and keeping the details of your trip organized.
12. Honeymoon registry
My husband and I try to keep our belongings minimal. Adventures and experiences are way more valuable to us. Instead of a wedding registry, we created a honeymoon registry. We told everyone to help us out with our upcoming travels and that we were asking to NOT receive things. We ended up getting most of our dream honeymoon paid for in this way and even our flights we bought so far in advance were reimbursed through everyone’s blessings.
All in all, do not think you have to do something because it seems to be the norm for a wedding or honeymoon. There is no right or wrong. Be creative, enjoy the process and make the start of your marriage something you will always look back on and say you did it the right way. You may even go straight to the courthouse and that is exactly what you two want. My parents did this and they still would not have had it any other way. This is just a reminder that the wedding expenses are not an excuse to be stressed in the process or to not get to spend quality time together afterwards.
Check out my adventures on Instagram: @des_tiny.lee