We are happy to introduce our guest blogger and Family Week partner of the day Lisa from Fantabulously Frugal. Lisa shares some tips on how to save for a big family event like a wedding or a family vacation. Enjoy learning a little bit from her very savvy mind below!
I got married in early July and I’m very happy and proud to say that while my husband and I paid for every last dime of that wedding on our own, we have absolutely no wedding-related debt to speak of, including honeymoon debt.
The average cost of a wedding is on the rise everywhere, and our wedding came in just under average. We worked hard to have the wedding of our dreams that we wouldn’t go into debt to afford.
Here are a few of the ways we saved, and many of these tips can be applied to other life events, such as big family vacations:
1. I chose to have my wedding dress custom made. I was able to go with the designer to pick out the fabrics and we created the dress together. It was a lot of fun having a say in the entire process, and at the end of the day my dress cost about the same that you’d pay to have alterations done on a fancy off-the-rack dress.
2. My husband and the groomsmen all wore matching suits that we picked up from one of Jos. A. Banks’ legendary Buy 1, Get 2 Free suit sales. Each guy ended up paying about $100 for his suit, and they’ll be able to continue wearing the suits in the future.
3. We booked our venue two years ahead of time. By booking the venue so far in advance we were able to space out paying for the wedding over two years, and could really take our time doing things like finding the perfect caterer. Our wedding venue was unique also in that it was recently converted into a wedding-friendly site, so we were able to snag it for a bargain basement price.
4. We didn’t read any magazines or any websites telling us what we “had” to have at our wedding and instead decided to focus solely on what was important to us. This meant we ditched the DJ for an iPod, skipped the videographer, and asked an aunt to provide flowers for the bouquets. We also had our engagement photos taken by a photographer offering a deal on Groupon. Saving money in these areas allowed us to splurge on our dinner menu (we wanted upscale BBQ), provide a full open bar, and have a photo booth.
5. Whenever possible, I used Pinterest as inspiration for DIY projects I could work on in the months leading up to the wedding. I created a note board instead of going for a traditional guest book, used a photo frame to create our seating chart and this frame is now hanging on our wall (with photos, not the seating chart!), and created my own photo booth signs.
6. I shopped the sample sale sites as much as possible. I found my shoes at a Rue La La final sale and got them for about 25% of the original price. I gave Ray-Ban sunglasses to my bridesmaids and was able to get each pair for about 50% below retail. Even our table decorations came from sample sale sites!
7. At the same time we booked our wedding venue, we opened our first joint credit card and started putting all of our wedding-related expenses on that card. We made sure to pay off the card each month so we weren’t incurring any interest fees. The points that accumulated on this card helped us pay for our honeymoon. We spent two weeks in Australia and New Zealand, and over the course of the trip took 9 different flights. The points from this card paid for five of our flights, as well as the rental car we used to get around New Zealand.
8. I travel for work a bit each fall, and long before we got engaged I started accumulating airline miles and hotel points. I never touched those miles until we went on our honeymoon, and at that point I had enough for one free roundtrip ticket to Australia, as well as five free nights at hotels.
Planning any big life event or vacation can cost a lot of money, but the biggest recommendation I can give you is to take your time and come up with a game plan. Find little ways to save so you can enjoy the things you love for less. (For me and my husband, our great love is travel and we’ve already begun saving up for a trip to Brazil in 2014!)
Lisa Koivu is the founder of fantabulouslyfrugal.com, where we talk about all the ways you can enjoy the good life for less! This month Lisa is giving away a $50 Whole Foods gift card on the eMeals facebook page so be sure to stop by to enter to win!