People will remember the the ceremony, the reception, the entertainment, and the food. No one will remember centerpieces or chair covers. No one will remember favors. No one cares. Focus on what’s important. Small details will go completely forgotten.
We searched for a venue with it’s own charm so we didn’t have to decorate, and found a classy historic building with adequate space; we held the ceremony in their beautiful courtyard.
We also hired a live band. No one remembers the DJ, but friends and family are still talking about about our wedding and uploading pictures onto FB. They played music we liked, which included a lot of punk, and even some classics from Queen, The Beatles, and The Rolling Stones.
Consider getting an event license and supplying your own liquor if the venue doesn’t provide it, but you’ll also have to get event insurance. It’s a hassle, the onus is on you if liabilities occur or if you run out of booze, but it is cheaper, and you can return what you didn’t open. There are event companies that handle these details and provide bar tenders, which may be required where you live.
Speaking of where you live, if you’re out in the country, host the party on your own land! Boy is that so much cheaper. You must always account for weather and have a plan B, either rent a tent or have adequate indoor space.
Save the ceremony hall and get married in your reception hall, if that’s acceptable to you. Ask a friend to ordain and officiate. My wife and I aren’t especially religious, so our friend “ordained” or whatever they called it with a secular humanitarian organization. If your local laws don’t allow this, civil servants can do the job, so they can become a notary.
Remember: this is your wedding. Nothing is traditional. White dress? You mean how no one did this ever until everyone copied Queen Victoria? Diamond engagement rings? Not until 1939 De Beers advertising campaign that saved them from bankruptcy. Photo booths? I literally had someone tell me this is a tradition.
So make your wedding what you want. Accept unsolicited advice (you’re going to get so, so much of it) by telling them you’ll consider it, then forget about it. And be weary of family making assumptions/decisions on your behalf and imposing. Ask your parents about any family traditions you should be aware of before you get blindsided, and try to divert such imposing behaviors by accepting things as a gift and making them disappear before the big day.
Prioritize, while keeping in mind that this is your special day. Indulge where it would make you sad to not. Personally I couldn’t see getting married without a lovely dress, but it’s not super-important that it be new, so I’d sacrifice there, but for some people they can’t even imagine a not-new dress. Keep an eye on craigslist and resale shops for table decorations and such.
Friends who are chefs may be willing to help and/or at least give advice on food. one wedding just did a really nice elaborate sandwich bar!
- make your own floral arrangements (this is fun)
- if you have a DJ as a friend ask them to do the music for you, speakers are around $50 to rent for a weekend
- find an alternative to wedding cake (for example personal cupcakes)
Just make sure that if you ask the DJ it is a close friend and make sure that it replaces their wedding gift. Why? Because what you are saying when you ask them to donate their time to your wedding is: “I want to save money my so bad, that I want you to do the thing that makes you money, for no money.”