Planning Your Dream Wedding on a Budget: The Cost

planning your dream wedding on a budgetImage from Sugar and Soul Photography via Intimate Weddings

I won't forget the excitement I felt the day my now-fiance, then-boyfriend, finally proposed. We had met two years prior while I was visiting the USA for the summer from Canada. After spending one too many hours with the under 12 crowd (as a nanny), I felt the need to seek out local friends. Scott and I met online, and I won't say it was love-at-first-sight, but certainly love-at-first-week! Tragic, for a pair who would be forced to part ways just 4 weeks later. We made a decision to make it work, whatever it took; to beat the odds. I had two years remaining in my bachelor’s degree and we would have to live apart for at least that long. Our decision was quick, but we were all in.

One year later, we were visiting Stinson Beach on the California coast and we were chasing seagulls and dog watching along the shore. It was there that he caught me off guard and proposed. We had spent all of our money from the last year on our education and on trying to visit each other every 3 months to keep the relationship going. Needless to say, a ring was way outside out budget, so instead he fashioned one out of seaweed and tied it on my finger. He told me, I can't give you a house, or money, or a big wedding, but I can give you all the love you will ever need. I went home after that visit, ecstatic for the future when we could share our lives, every day, for better or worse.

A year after the proposal I finally moved to California and we faced immigration costs, moving costs, being-without-work costs, etc. We decided it was time to plan our wedding ceremony, and realized that again, all of our money had gone to making it work, whatever it took (in this case, a lot of funds!). We decided that in true Heather & Scott fashion, our wedding would have to reflect a time in our lives when we didn't have everything figured out, were not living in great abundance, and we could not afford to spend $1000 on our wedding, let alone $10,000 or the average wedding cost of around $26,000. We were disappointed, but this left us with a challenge; something we had both become very good at conquering.

We set our wedding date for August 14th, 2012, just one year later. We had one year to create a realistic budget and save for our dream-budget wedding. Needless to say, we succeeded. Our wedding date is now approaching and we feel amazing about what we were able to do with a dream in our hearts and a little determination.

Planning a budget wedding can be stressful. We all want the best of the best on our big day, whether it is an intimate ceremony in a backyard, or a cathedral wedding with 400 guests. Negotiating the cost vs. want dilemma is one that nearly all brides face at some point in their wedding planning adventure. There are a myriad of ways to save money on your wedding day, and still marry with class and style. Over the next few blog posts, I show you how we beat the odds and planned our dream wedding on a dime.

Image via Wedding Wire

The first thing that saved us with our dream wedding plan was to quickly have those awkward conversations with family about who would be helping with what, and then budget what we could actually afford to spend on our special day. The reason I did this before gathering any ideas, inspirations, etc, was to give us a reality check on what we had to work with. The majority of people always want bigger, better and more exciting when it comes to big events in their lives. Some people do just that. We didn't have that luxury. After learning that family was unable to assist at all with our wedding, we were faced with many decisions about how to secure enough money to pull off our big day. We decided we did not want debt to plague our love story from the get-go, so we calculated how much we could save in one year and without family assistance (very common these days). This way, we knew what we had to work with.

Next, we headed on over to a wedding budget website. I recommend's Wedding Budget as it spells everything out for you. This quickly showed us how quickly our funds would depreciate and, although discouraged, we are now thankful we had a very honest and detailed tool to work with.

Once your budget has been established and your general costs allotted, finding ways to save on the money you are spending is key. Researching ways to incorporate DIY projects (stay tuned for ideas and inspirations!) and finding easy ways to save on your wedding essentials will allow you to splurge on those must have wedding details (such as the wonderful photographer or makeup artist you have been eyeing, or the venue of your dreams).

Weddings don't have to break the bank at the price of class and style. You can have your dream wedding cake and eat it too!