Start by shopping smart on big-ticket items like jewelry, dresses and hotels, and you’ll find your budget goes a lot further. Then, price out small items like favors, thank you gifts, and accessories. You will need to order a lot of printed materials before the big day. There are engagement announcements, save-the-date cards and invitations. Then, ceremony cards, seating cards, escort cards, place cards, menu cards, favor tags and thank you cards. Save money by ordering print materials from business printing companies or office supply stores instead of stationary boutiques. You can upgrade the paper stock, add a backing or decorate by tying a sash around the invitation.
1. Announcements and Invitations
Design your own announcements or use a template to customize your save-the-date postcards. Find lots of printing options online at Print Place [printplace.com], such as matte or glossy finishes, custom sizing and rounded corners. Use code POSTCARD30 to get 30% off your order. (Tip: save money by sending the postcard without an envelope—for just $.34 each! Just be sure your custom card is no larger than 4-1/4 inches x 6 inches.)
Invitations with extras like a foil layer, ribbon, or custom envelopes can take a lot of time to do at home. If you don’t have a crafty team of bridesmaids to help, consider invitations by Michaels [michaels.com]. There are plenty of colors and templates to choose from, and you can save 30% off your order with code BIGDEAL30 between April 27th and May 3rd.
2. Thank You Notes
Miss Manners agrees with the environmentalist brides that an e-card is a perfectly acceptable alternative to printed stationary. My preference for thank you cards is a digital version that still follows proper etiquette rules. Choose a mailing service that won’t deliver your cards with a lot of advertising. I like Paperless Post [paperlesspost.com], and you can upgrade your e-cards with coins—get 25 free just for signing up!
3. Event Cards
Save on custom printing for menus and ceremony cards at FedEx Office [fedex.com]. Upload your designs and set your own dimensions. Save 20% off FedEx Office [fedex.com] orders over $150 by using code CJN200 at checkout.
Place cards, escort cards and table numbers are sophisticated features that keeps things organized. 123Print [123print.com] has templates to match any décor or upload your own design. Get 20% off wedding orders over $120 with code 20OFF120CJ.
4. Decorations and Favors
Transform a room—ignore the “less is more” rule. Weddings are an occasion when the decorations should really create an atmosphere, not just embellish the walls. Build ambiance by adding hanging lights and clusters of paper decorations. Buy paper fans [dollartree.com] from the Dollar Tree [dollartree.com], or get creative and make large tissue paper flowers or pompoms. Grab pastel tissue paper [dollartree.com], just $1 for 25-sheet packs.
Favors can be bought by the case at Dollar Tree [dollartree.com] as well; add a personalized sticker on a favor box and fill with your favorite chocolate, or tie a monogrammed tag around mini mason jar candle [dollartree.com]. Shipping is free if you pick up at a store near you.
5. Attendant Gifts
Bridal party gifts should be budgeted for generously. While it isn’t about how much you spend, be sure the gifts are thoughtful and good quality. These signify how much you appreciate the wedding attendants that help support you and who will smile politely while listening to your aunt’s stories at the reception. If you want something personalized so they will remember the occasion, shop for gifts at The Knot Shop [theknot.com]. These monogrammed tote bags [theknot.com] are 75% off, and you can fill them with other thoughtful items, like this Heart Locket Bracelet [theknot.com], now 50% off, or a stainless steel personalized flask [theknot.com] on sale up to 50% off. Get 20% off orders over $100 when you use code SPRING from April 23rd-19th.
6. Special Thank You Gifts
For the people in your life who went the extra mile helping you plan the event, think about a special jewelry gift to show them your gratitude. Limoges Jewelry [limogesjewelry.com] is a great place for engraved rings, necklaces, bracelets and key rings. With sale prices up to 60% off and free personalization, these deals will certainly fit your budget. I like this engraved pocket watch [limogesjewelry.com], now only $49.99, and a sterling silver Footprints Locket [limogesjewelry.com], now only $49.99. For a limited time get an extra 30% off any order over $5 when you use code 30FINAL. Be sure to give gifts before the ceremony to show your appreciation.
7. Rent Your Dress
Why not rent your dress? I love this idea because it allows brides to wear current trends by top designers while still spending less than some discount dresses at big box bridal shops. Renting fashion is becoming more common thanks to websites like Rent the Runway [renttherunway.com]. Badgley Miscka [renttherunway.com] flowy one-shoulder dress, rent from $40!
They anticipate any issues you might have committing to a dress. Rentals arrive one to two days before the even date and you can keep them for four days, or up to eight days for a small fee. Gowns arrive in two selected sizes to ensure a proper fit, and if you’re unsure of a style or want to change looks for the reception, you can add a second look for $32.50. And they take care of the dry cleaning. Get $25 off your first rental at Rent the Runway [renttherunway.com] just for signing up, use code FIRSTRTR25X754. You can save more by inviting your bridesmaids to rent fashion, too—get $20 for each referral.
Matching shoes are the kind of details that adds polish to your wedding party. Organize your friends’ sizes and order together to save some cash. Nina Shoes [ninashoes.com] offers a 20% discount for orders of 6 pairs or more; enter code BRIDALPREP and checkout, plus get free shipping sitewide. Nina has a large variety of colors, heel heights, and sizes. Added flare like bows or sparkly embellishments makes their shoes look extra special, like these Rosmira strappy satin heels [ninashoes.com] with crystals, now marked down 60% off.
Plan ahead to get luxurious bridal lingerie without spending a lot of cash. If you don’t wear coordinated sets daily, you can make your wedding night special by matching your corset or chemise to your garter belt and panties. Frederick’s of Hollywood [fredericks.com] has a bridal selection that will make you feel like a starlet. Select lingerie items are 40% off for a limited time, like this white Sweetheart Corset [fredericks.com] with Venice lace trim, now $37.20, and this Stretch Lace High Waist Cincher [fredericks.com] with a delicate floral design, now $18. New customers can save $10 off orders $40 or more just by signing up for a Frederick’s account.
The budget savvy bride will reserve affordable hotel rooms where guests will feel comfortable staying. In my opinion, that means hotels that have at least three-star ratings and are under $150/night (if your event is in a big city). The best deals are on third party sites, like Expedia [expedia.com], Orbitz [orbitz.com] or Tingo [tingo.com], and you can often save more by booking earlier—I would suggest at least two months in advance. When reserving for your guests anticipate that you may have to cancel some unused rooms. Many sites now allow for free cancellation—make sure your selectionclearly states cancellation as an option, and read the fine print to be sureyou cancel in time, usually at least 24 hours before the reserved date. Be sure that guests understand what date they must confirm by.
Spring is a great time to find deals on hotel and travel. Watch for coupon codes that can save you more: right now Orbitz [orbitz.com] is offering 15% off with code BYEBYE15 and Tingo [tingo.com] lets customers save an additional 5% off with code SAVE5OFF.