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The Smart Bride - Ways to Maximize Your Wedding Budget + DIY Tips

Thursday, January 20, 2011

We had our second session of The Smart Bride {wedding planning workshop} on Tuesday.  This week, our panel of experts discussed wedding budgets and showcased weddings of varying costs from $5,000-60,000.

Our experts this week included Sarah Willard of A Music City Event, newlywed + wedding blogger Krista Dial, Sarah Goude of Regalo Design, Rita Rowland of Down South Delights Catering and Amber Vongsamphanh of Lotus Blossom Photography.  And of course, the lovely Ashley.



Left: Attendees. Right: Tissue paper flowers made by Regalo Design


Left: Krista Dial, Right: Sarah Goude

As discussed last week, it's important to find your vision and values, two factors that came in to play a lot through the evening.  Here are this week's highlights that we hope you find helpful in your planning.

Maximizing Your Budget - General Tips from Panel

Sarah Willard - Wedding Planner, A Music City Event

  • Make a list of your values and priorities and keep that list with you so you don’t forget.
  • The larger your bridal party the more you spend.
  • Your guest list dictates everything – venue, food, cake, drinks, flowers. Single largest driver of your wedding costs.
  • Know when to negotiate with yourself – you’re going to decide what’s most important. Is it photography? Is it the food? You can’t have everything all the time so make your decision.

Rita Rowland - Down South Delights Catering

  • "Your day your way." Think about what it is you both want, don't worry about that one guest they'll be fine.
  • Is your priority to keep things more elegant with formal china or would you be willing to use clear plastic plates?
  • Think about how much it would cost if you took your guests to dinner at a fancy restaurant vs. a cheaper chain restaurant.
  • A friend offered this tip which Rita is using to plan her own wedding: Take the number of guests you have and add two zeroes - that is a good basis for your budget.

Ashley reiterated not starting with budgets and dollars but finding out what is most important to you first.

DIY Weddings Ideas That Can Save Money

Krista Dial - Blogger, Becoming Mrs. Dial

  • Krista got married with a budget of $5,000. 
  • Her centerpieces were taper candles she stuck in old wine bottles she collected from friends and family surrounded by a few votives on top of decorative craft paper.
  • Krista collected 133 old brooches from all her guests that were used to make her bouquet and her bridesmaids bouquets.  This was the area where she splurged. 


Krista Dial


Krista's "splurge" brooch bouquet. You can learn more about her $5,000 wedding on her blog, Becoming Mrs. Dial

Sarah Goude - Event designer and planner, Regalo Design

  • Use what you have: For a DIY wedding, Sarah decorated the wedding venue with every decorative object the bride could find in her home from lanterns to lights to candles.
  • Heirloom items are great, anything you can use from people in your family will help save money and it’ll be special for that day.
  • Incorporate a friend into your wedding and save money at the same time by having them make a favor for you to give your guests.


To see more from Sarah G's DIY Wedding click here.

Amber Vongsamphanh - Photographer, Lotus Blossom Photography

  • In an $18,000 wedding she photographed, the couple hand-painted signs for decorations and their flowers were from Kroger.
  • Use things you can repurpose e.g. decorative candlesticks you can use at home after the wedding.

Sarah Willard

  • Assemble the favors yourself. For another wedding, Sarah, the bride and groom bought chocolte truffles they placed in boxes that had the couple's names printed on them that they did themselves.


For more from this DIY wedding by Sarah Willard and A Music City Event, click here

Rita Rowland - Down South Delights Catering

  • For rustic, vintage style weddings, find mismatched china from Goodwill or yard sales to give to your caterer to use.
  • Use a variety of linens from the home - see if grandma might have some vintage lace linens.


Left: Rita Rowland, Right: Sarah Willard

General Wedding Planning Tips

Sarah G - PIcking Your Date

  • Be flexible.
  • May through October are heavy months for weddings and may end up costing more so consider other dates.
  • Avoid holiday weekends.
  • Do not assume that Sunday rates are lower.

Rita Rowland - Catering

  • Tell your caterer if you have a budget you have to stick to.
  • Don’t waste your time if they can't help you - move on.
  • Look at all costs associated with catering. Make sure they spell it all out so you don't end up paying more than you expected.

Sarah W - Bar service

  • It is more cost effective to bring in your own alcohol.
  • When you go in to the store, ask "What discount can you give me?" instead of "Can you give me a discount?"
  • Keep in mind that you must hire Alcoholic Beverage Commission (ABC) licensed bartenders.

Sarah W - Wedding Planners

  • Wedding planners have different ways of charging for service - either by a percentage of your budget or a flat fee.  Make sure you know their fee structure,
  • It is very important to meet them in person to make sure you click.

Sarah G - Other services

  • We're in Music City, everyone's a musician.  
  • Ask friends and family to see if anyone has a space they will let you use for your wedding.

Other Ways To Save


  • Every holiday is an opportunity.
  • Post-Valentine’s day/Mothers' day are great for bridesmaids gifts.
  • June and October are the most popular months for weddings in Nashville.  If your wedding is in those months, you will need to make faster decisions to secure your favorite wedding professionals before your date is taken.

Amber Vongsamphanh

  • Think differently when looking at sales ads.
  • "How can I use this for my wedding?"
  • Black Friday sales - great time to shop for wedding decor (candles, etc).  After Easter sales are great time to shop for flower girl dresses.

What Smart Couples Have to Say!  

If you haven't been able to attend we have one more session on Tuesday Jan 25th. Visit the Smart Bride page for more details

Thank you to McNeal Wedding Films and Lotus Blossom Photography for chronicling the evening, Kellie Bryson and the staff at Events @ 1418/ Main Event Catering and The Bake Shoppe for letting us use the space, feeding us and delicious cake.

About the Author:

Tabitha's avatar

Blogging is something I’ve enjoyed doing for years. My interests lie mostly in lifestyle related topics like fashion, style, design, food and weddings. When I heard Ashley was looking to bring on new members to the ABG team, I jumped at the opportunity - I can’t think of a better way to stay involved in weddings than to write about them and to stay in touch with the trends and new ideas. Lucky for me, Ashley likes my blog and trusts my experience to bring me on and so far, it’s been a blast.

See more posts by Tabitha »

send Posted on January 20, 2011 | Filed under: Advice & Planning, Bridal Shows & Events, DIY & Budget Wed Finds,

1 Response to This Post
amanda heer says...

Oh My gosh that is My Krista what a wonderful bride and Just such fun, I loved making her bouquet she even gave me pieces of her mothers wedding dress that is tucked up under her bouquet into little rosettes
the feeling I just get making them is very emotional for myself as it is for my Brides a piece of my heart is in every piece sent out to all my wonderful Brides
PS…I love the Box you put her in

Posted on January 20, 2011 @ 9:46pm

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