On the 2nd of May 2014, I married my partner of 5 years.
It was a beautiful day filled with lots of love and laughter, surrounded by amazing family and life-long friends. I remember feeling so blessed and filled with so much gratitude that so many people came together, happy for us, and to join us on this special occasion.
The support we received in planning the event, putting it together, and making sure everything ran smoothly was unbelievable. I was surprised so many people cared so much.
While we walked away with very happy memories, I will be honest though and say that initially, the concept of a ceremony or wedding reception never excited me.
For some reason, I didn’t like the idea of being in the spotlight with all eyes on me and also having to get busy planning something so extensive (and sometimes expensive) that would only last a day
I wanted no fuss no matter how important the day was.
After all, a marriage was about the relationship, not the wedding, and the kind of money most people spend for this one special day, I felt, would be better used for a great holiday for the newlywed couple, or go into a joint savings account to start their new future together. (How unromantic of me, I know!)
I much preferred the idea of a simple registration, and a dinner with close friends and family. Or better yet, eloping and having our special moment all to ourselves, not tainted by having to manage what everyone else thought was “needed” or “had/should be done” during this special time for us.
I somehow came around to the idea of a small ceremony and reception though – I saw the importance of community when it came to celebrating our love and starting a life together.
I still wanted something fuss-free, and had a modus operandi to make sure we kept it simple and sweet and low cost, so that we’d remember the joy of the day, not the stresses of having to put everything together and having to go broke as a result.
Everyone was great and understood my needs and so we got to planning – one and a half months before the big day!
And so I put my project management hat on – all went perfectly and I would not have done it any other way (OK maaaaybe I might still elope).
Here’s a list of some wedding planning tips and ideas from my fuss-free and cost-saving wedding, feel free to share or use any of the ideas.
1. Short-Term Planning
When it comes to planning or executing a project, I believe we will always find a way to deal with the time we have. If the time is long, we will go deep and overthink (and spend more than we need to), but if the time is short, we have to make fast and easy decisions and roll with the punches as soon as they come.
So I decided to plan a wedding in one and half months, and I’m glad I did.
Versus getting stressed out about something a year (or more) away, I only had to commit to this for one and a half months, not taking me out of my work or social schedule at all.
2. Keep it Small
The less people you invite, the less fuss you will have. Only invite those who really, really matter, and just be open to everyone who feels left out that you’re having a small cosy do and with combined family lists (between the couple and parents), the invite list on your end is small, whether you like it or not.
Between my husband and I, we invited 70 friends (that’s 35 friends per person). My parents invited 100. A list of 170 was still huge for me, but we managed to pull it off.
Also, by planning it “last minute” i.e. just over a month away, many people will not be able to make it and that will also help keep your list small (sneaky).
3. Pinterest is Your Best Friend
In 3 hours, I had started and completed a Pinterest board on my dream DIY wedding (some ideas from my Pinterest board here). From there, I quickly delegated and the wheels were in motion.
All my ideas were compiled, and my team of family and friends who were helping me out subscribed to my board so they could have a clear visual and reference to what I had in mind.
4. Go DIY
Yes, you read that right. DIY.
Wedding planners cost money and I wanted to make sure the budget was focused on making sure everyone had good food, never ran out of drink, great music playing softly in the background, and that the right location would set the mood to bring everyone together in a romantic cosy setting.
(Also keep awesome people eating and drinking surrounded by other awesome people doing the same and they won’t have time to look around and complain about anything!)
Going DIY is easier than you think. Here’s a quick cheatsheet:
(i) Make a financial budget list (and stick to it)
Pay for location, food, drink, soundsystem, photographer and videographer. Decorations can be kept low-cost and full-on DIY.
For location, rent a bungalow or event venue that doesn’t regularly hold weddings as this will be cheaper (they have a standard rate for “events”).
For food, buffet is going to be cheaper than plated option — pick the right foods and right deco and buffet can be classy — it creates a “cocktail reception” feel.
If your dress is eating into your budget, don’t go for an expensive designer-label dress. Pick your favorite design from a fashion magazine and find a tailor. That will slash your fashion budget by half. Maybe more! (Have 2 dresses ONLY: one for ceremony/wedding registration and one for reception.)
(ii) Outdoor evening reception
If you have something outdoors and in the evening once it’s dark, it’s easy to hide/disguise flaws. Keep it dark-ish and play with lights (fairy lights, lanterns, and tea candles), strew white rose flower petals everywhere, and keep your guests busy and engaged with the open bar.
Don’t attempt to do everything yourself if you don’t have anyone in your family stepping up to help as the “wedding planner”. Act as the main manager, who tell people what to do, and TRUST that they are going to do it based on the clear and simple guidelines you set.
Don’t get over critical, and expect everyone to see what you see and want what you want. Keep the task simple and accept whatever comes out of it. Your job is to have fun at your wedding not be critical of what’s going wrong or didn’t happen right. (Noone will even notice anyway, trust me.)
(iv) Pick the right team
Find out who’s the most excited about your wedding amongst friends and family and ask them if they wouldn’t mind helping. You’d be surprised how many people will offer before you can even ask. Take them up on the offer – don’t be shy.
Don’t give one person more than two tasks, that way whoever is helping you also doesn’t feel overwhelmed as though they are responsible to make a lot of things happen for this important day while also juggling their own personal responsibilities in their life.
I had one friend in charge of my bouquet, one responsible for confetti and reception balloons, one helping with love signs to be placed around the venue, one helping with purchasing and setting up lanterns, and one who helped with my “modern guestbook” and general deco layout for the event. My mom and I worked on food and drink. My husband organized photography, video and sound system.
(v) Skip the formal printed invitations
People receive them, and they chuck them. And using all the paper is not good for the environment anyway. So what’s one to do?
Create a FB invite page. Have all the necessary information there, and use the page to remind people to RSVP for headcount via the group, and also use it to update people on any necessary info.
You will find that friends will begin to post fun celebratory stuff in the group, and on the celebrations itself, will also be sharing great pictures in that space.
Here’s a sample of what my FB invite page looked like:
(vi) Skip the door gift
If you really want to give something away, make it something they can eat, like chocolates. No one says no to that. Decorative gifts usually get chucked as they can be quite redundant – and these are usually more expensive than chocolates or sweet desserts.
So there you have it! Some tips which I hope can help. Do you have any tips to share for a fuss-free and budget wedding?