How to Plan a Wedding in 30 Days (OR LESS)!

From the time Rashan and I decided to get married to our wedding day, there were 29 days.  We had known for over a year that we wanted to be married but were waiting to have money for a ring and a large-ish wedding.  And quite frankly, enough was enough.  We did not want to spend a year's salary on one day.  It was hectic and I will not delude you that it was stress-free but in the end, I'm quite glad we did it like that!  If you're just joining, here are the basic details.  We got married in a church by a preacher with about 25 people in attendance.  I wore a traditional dress (other than the fact that it was strapless).  Rashan wore a tux that he bought at a great price.  We love Mexican food so our reception was at a Mexican restaurant with copious margaritas.

1) MAKE PRIORITIES.  Decide what you ABSOLUTELY MUST HAVE TO MARRY!!  Budget the majority of your money there and try to get everything else free or cheap.  For us, that was a fabulous dress, awesome food and alcohol.  There was not a chance I was having bad food or a dry wedding.  Or not wearing a fabulous dress.  A week before we "got engaged" (we really just decided to get married), I dreamt we got married and I didn't have a nice dress and was so sad.  LOL

2) Use online tools for budgeting and guest lists.  I used Martha Stewart Weddings.  The budget tool has lists for just about everything you need.  I think it had left off license.  Duh!  Of course the license will cost!  GA is really cheap if you get pre-marital counseling.  $60 w/o counseling, $16 with. WHAT!?  It was $70 regardless in NC.

3) Speaking of budgets... have a savings or people who will help you pay for things.  Between my godmother and dad, my dress (including veil and alterations was $704 total), our reception and our mini-moon (day of and day after wedding) dinner were covered.  They took care of more than half of our budget.  I know you're dying to know... we spent less than $2,800 on our day including our hotel for Friday and Saturday nights.  And really, I think we could've spent even less.

4) Dress drama is SO manufactured.  You do not have to buy into that.  Look, as we just discussed, the dress was one of my non-negotiables.  I wasn't sure how typically bridal I wanted my dress to be but I knew I needed an awesome dress!  I tried on about 12 dresses in 4 stores but didn't really feel stressed.  I certainly didn't want to cry.  I was extremely excited and felt beautiful!  I couldn't stop smiling!  I have talked to two other brides who felt the exact same way.  Don't let tv make you crazy!  Go with whatever emotions you have that day.  You don't have to feel anything but love for your dress.  The rest of the outward emotions can be whatever you want!  Oh and it really helps if you can quickly decide what you want and be definitive.  Since I wanted a white dress, that narrows down choices considerably, which I found to be a huge help.

My bouquet
5) Be creative.  One of my non-negotiables was live flowers.  I knew I didn't need many.  And I just don't like the kind of flowers that are even passable when fake.  Whole Foods and Trader Joes both have BEAUTIFUL flowers for very cheap.  If you have a wholesale flower dealer open to the public in your area (there's one in Norfolk, VA), flowers will be an EXCELLENT price!  I got mine at a grocery store and the farmer's market and I was quite pleased despite what wedding shows tell you!  You'll save a ton of money not going to the florist.  You or one of your people will have to assemble them, though, so take that into account.  For you is it more worth the peace of mind to have someone else do it?

There are SO many resources out there!!  TV, print, online.  EVERYWHERE!!  If you haven't already been planning for a while before you decided to jump in and do it, it can be SO OVERWHELMING!!  Pick ONE site suggested from a friend whose wedding vision you trust (Martha Stewart Weddings is a personal fave but I on the flip side, I also really liked Offbeat Bride).

And don't forget to use your friends and family!  Including blog family!  Everyone has a friend who is wedding, party or DIY savvy.  Or maybe is just a spendthrift.  Pick their brains! A lot of people will offer to help.  Ask them to be specific.  Especially if you're not sure what you need. 

5) Eliminate or minimize your bridal party.  I created my party in my head my whole life and then I didn't have one.  It's a good thing I didn't since two of the people who would've been bridesmaids couldn't come.  Bridal parties are one more thing to wrangle.  Dresses, flowers, shoes, accessories, getting everyone to the right place at the right time.  You don't have the time.  UNLESS you want to give them guidelines and can trust them to make it happen.  But know that everyone won't prioritize your wedding like you prioritize your wedding, no matter how much they love you.

6) If when you budgeted, you didn't have a planner in there, consider at least a day of planner.  If not, you need to have a point-person who knows EXACTLY how you envision everything should unfold and will execute it.  That was the most annoying part of my day.  People were asking me too many doggone questions.  (Most of it was about stuff I really didn't care about.)  I did know how I wanted things to go but by the day of I didn't want to be bothered with any of it.  More of previous days could have been spent outlining everything and getting everyone in place.

Mom, me, Dad, My Sister
7) Accessorize with your guests.  “There’s nothing that dresses a room like a crowd,” said Ian Parms, an owner of the Mulberry Project in a recent NY Times article.  I so agree!  I hate when people tell me what color to wear.  And yet... it was the most cost-effective way to decorate our space.  And gorgeous!  I really wanted to spend next to nothing on decorations considering my priorities.  I told our guests: pink, purple, magenta & peacock.  So many options!  And they likely already had it in their closet.  (Yes, some people gave me the gas face when I said peacock! LOL)  Essentially I wanted BRIGHT colors.  Most people did a great job.  Others?  Let's just say I knew there would be some stragglers.  Several people when they saw all the bright colors said, "I see your vision and it looks awesome!"  Yessssss!!

8) You already know marrying on a day other than Saturday can save you money, and that marrying earlier in the day can save you money but let's talk about just how much money.  Our reception was at a restaurant.  The minimum spending on a Saturday was $1,000... at lunch.  A Friday for lunch?  $300.  That, my friends, is why we had a Friday at 2:30 lunch instead of even a Friday at 6 dinner (still a savings of hundreds of dollars).  We are absolutely night people and would have loved a dinner party but we love a $700 difference more.  A three-course dinner with margaritas came to $856.

9) Understand that no matter how many people you do or do not invite, SOMEBODY will say to you, "I can't believe I wasn't invited."  Even if you head them off saying, "It's small" or "We will have a big shindig later," somebody is going to be pissed and somebody is going to say something.  These people may be one in the same.  Someone on the guest list might be supremely irritated that they can't bring a guest.  All of these people will have to get over it.  But prepare yourself.

Our parents were GREAT.  They didn't insist on adding a single person to the guest list or that we have any events or do anything other than get married the way we wanted to.  That doesn't mean your pre-school babysitter that you haven't spoken to in 15 years isn't going to be miffed she wasn't invited.  I guess count it as a compliment that so many people want to be included in your special day.  I didn't quite make it to accepting it as a compliment in 30 days but you can!  And regardless, what?  These people will NOT ruin your day!

10) Realize things will not go your way AND THAT'S FINE.  That doesn't mean there won't be things that stress you out.  That doesn't mean there won't be people who show their entire backside, but always come back to one thing: YOU ARE MARRYING THE LOVE OF YOUR LIFE!!!  So all of those other things?  They really don't matter.



K. Rock said...

This is awesome! Great tip with the off day wedding and reception. Love that you did everything so inexpensively and didn't get frazzled any.

ShaBoogiesince1982 said...

Yes, great tips! Uhm..I'm gonna need your help when I plan our five year vow renewal, ma'am! And yes Mexican cuisine will be on the menu!

Ladynay said...

Fabulous! No questions at this time!

Ladynay said...

Oh...let me share with you. I have a cousin that had a HUGE over the top wedding. Them jokers were separated before the wedding was paid off in full!!!!! smh Anywho, I tend to notice that the more simple weddings tend to last longer than the ones you spend years to pay off.

Rose from Rosedale said...

Congrats on your wedding. So glad I stumbled on your blog. You gave such great tips, I'm currently planning my wedding and I am really excited.

I'm following.

Check out my blog and maybe follow back :)

sayitlikethis said...

Awesome post! Planning a wedding for next September. My fiance thinks it's okay to spend a year's salary on a wedding. I don't. If I spend $20K on something, it better fit into a garage or have a garage.

Thanks for the tips. I feel a revamp of this wedding coming on.

Jameil said...

k... thanks! i definitely did not claim not to be frazzled! it was hectic. and there were several points where i was like LET'S JUST GET MARRIED AND FORGET ALL OF THIS!! But at the end of the day? We were married surrounded by a lot of people who love us.

sha... thanks! uhhh.... see when I said resources... that didn't really mean me. LOLOL

lady... thanks! I have heard too many sad stories like that. Our cost thing was more driven by the idea that we really didn't want to go into debt for our day. We knew we could have a small ceremony and it would be awesome!

rose... thanks! i hope you found something that works!

sayit... thank you! i originally saw a wedding for myself that was extremely extravagant and realistically would have cost 10s of 1000s of dollars. have you guys already been looking at places and catering? if you have a large guest list and start looking at places that can accommodate you and are to you and your fiance's standard, you might start seeing his number come down! LOL getting your visions on one accord can be one of the most difficult things. good luck!

P.S. I love this... said...

Congratulations and your gown was beautiful.

Jameil said...

Thanks! I just realized it's dragging the floor in that picture. I wasn't wearing shoes yet. LOL