When I planned my wedding in September, a large part of it was spent trying to, well, not spend. While my husband and I had a ballpark budget in mind (about $17,000 all-in, for transparency), we also didn’t crunch every single penny (toward the end, trust me, you’ll find yourself paying a little extra for peace of mind and convenience). Looking back, there are ways I’m happy we trimmed our budget, and a few things I still kick myself for doing.

1. We nixed the wedding planner.

Wedding planners are great, don’t get me wrong, but I’m a big believer that every couple should prioritize the most important parts of their wedding and work backwards to see where costs can be trimmed. For us, things like making sure guests had good food and drinks, along with having an awesome photographer to capture memories were key. While covering weddings in the past helped give me a leg up on planning, I also know many brides that swear they also didn’t need a planner (there’s an organized self in all of us).

2. We did away with fancy transportation.

One cost that was in constant debate was transportation. Should we spend money on transportation that would be convenient, but also expensive given we’d be paying hundreds of dollars just for a few minutes of actually being in a limo? In the end, our small wedding party found their own way to the reception (we also offered to order and pay for Ubers if needed) and I squished myself (and my huge dress) into my husband’s car and simply drove ourselves.

3. We DIY’d centerpieces with flowers in bulk.

Floral centerpieces are shockingly expensive. While I love flowers, I never wanted to spend hundreds or thousands on decoration that would die in a few days. Instead of paying upwards of the $80+ a centerpiece we were quoted at some florists, I ordered bulk flowers from Sam’s Club (pro tip: you don’t need a membership to order online, and everything gets shipped all nice and tidy) and was lucky enough to have helper elves (read: family) that put together centerpieces using simple dollar store vases and ribbons. Sure, they weren’t perfect, but I promise you – my well-fed, well-hydrated guests did not notice.

What I wish I did…

1. Get grocery store bouquets instead of dropping $$$ at the florist.

We were engaged for almost two years, and in the beginning I simply wanted to cross off as much of my to-do list as possible (and lock in lower prices, I might add). Instead of shopping around a bit to look at options like getting bouquets made at say, a Mariano’s or Jewel, I went ahead and booked a florist I knew was a) more expensive than a lot of other options but b) would definitely do a great job. In the end, my naive $500 budget for all the floral decor (including centerpieces) was already eclipsed by just the flowers for the wedding party. That figure would have gone a lot further had I been more patient in looking at other options.

2. Compared prices just a bit more.

While I felt like I did my due diligence in comparing quotes from various vendors and choosing what fit into the budget (also making sacrifices like booking a newbie vendor for the sake of saving a ton), after a while, there’s only so much time you can spend painstakingly comparing the prices and quantities of 20 different favor tags on Etsy. For those with a really tight budget, do your homework and compare anything and everything.

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