When Jamie and I announced our engagement in the Fall of 2017, the first thing we thought of is how are we going to afford a wedding…. We didn’t have full-time jobs, we were both in school for graduate programs, and we didn’t really have savings or come from wealthy families. To us it seemed like having an awesome wedding was out of our reach. But then we sat back and looked at what our goals were for our careers after graduate school and what we wanted our life as newly weds to look like. We immediately agreed on not taking on any debt to pay for our wedding, because of the debt we already accrued through our student loans.
Next, we discussed what our budget looked like for a wedding if we were to get married a year from our engagement vs. two years from our engagement. After running the numbers for the services and things we wanted to have at our wedding, we decided we were going to have a two-year engagement prior to our wedding. During that two-year engagement we put all of our ducks in a row by doing the following (links provided):
Venue: The Barn at Kennedy Farm
We shopped around to find our perfect venue, which was the Barn at Kennedy Farm. It was a beautiful venue that we felt gave us a timeless setting for pictures, had enough space for all of our guests, and provided a rustic barn feeling for Jamie’s western/barrel racing life style. The Barn at Kennedy Farm had both a bride and groom suite that allowed our whole wedding party to get ready onsite. It also provided us the ability to host our ceremony inside or outside on their beautiful property- we opted for an outdoor ceremony. The one thing we made sure to inquire about with our venue was if there were any discount rates or promotions. And lucky for us we wanted to get married over Labor Day weekend so that we could make sure our family members had an extra day for traveling across the country. Our venue was kind enough to give us a “Holiday” discount for that weekend. Also, we wanted to pay in cash and the venue told us they would give us an additional discount for doing that rather than paying with a card or check! As a bonus, our venue had all of the chairs, tables and decor for both our ceremony and reception.
Photographer: Haley A. Photography
Jamie looked around social media for a photographer that she loved. Eventually she found Haley A. Photography, who was just one state over from us, and her wedding portfolio fit the style Jamie envisioned for us. After meeting our photographer and discussing our goals and budget, we were able to work out another discount by paying in cash! For our deal we were able to get an engagement shoot and a full day of wedding photography with an other photographer there to “second shoot” and assist with setup.
Videographer: Tru Pictures Wedding Films
Selecting our videographer was the next step (highly recommend getting one if you are on the fence about it). This was my task to find a videographer for our wedding and I was extremely lucky that a former co-worker/friend of mine – Just Trunick – started a video production business and was able to do our wedding. You can find him at Tru Pictures. He did a great job as a one man crew, worked well with our photographer and provided us with a dynamite highlight video of our wedding. Not only did we get a highlight video, Justin provided us with unedited footage of our ceremony, first dances and the best man/bridesmaid speeches. Justin was kind enough to provide us a friend and family discount!
Wedding Attire: Generation Tux
Ladies… the bride’s dress and bridesmaids’ dresses are subject to what the bride wants to do and can vary vastly in pricing. For the guys, the easiest thing to do in my opinion is to have the groom and groomsmen rent the same or similar suit or tux. The place I used was an online tux and suit rental called Generation Tux that was awesome and extremely easy. You just create an account, send invites to your groomsmen by adding their emails, then you go in and create your style and fit for the suit or tux you will be using. The suit we ended up using was $149 rental, which came with the suit (jacket and slacks) and the ability to add other accessories if you wanted. I opted out of the accessories and gifted my groomsmen with socks, ties and pocket squares from the Tie Bar.
Food & Drinks: Local, Local, Local.
My wife and I are not normal when it comes to the food options we used for our wedding. At the rehearsal we ended up having a local barbecue joint cater the evening and it was great, cannot go wrong with barbecue! Then for the actual wedding day we really wanted to have…. pizza. We found a local pizza joint near our venue that had delicious pizza options and the ability to cater a wedding by way of a food truck! But our guests didn’t have to go to the food truck to get their slices, rather the pizza joint set up a long buffet table with various pizzas, bread sticks and salads – which they kept refilling until everyone was full. As a treat for our guests we went with the donut wall – which was a huge hit. The business we used was a local amish bakery called Rise’n Roll, and they have a lot of donut options, but we went wit the donut dubbed by the manager as “cinnamon crack”.
Cake: Well that didn’t go a planned…
Well this is kind of a long story. Jamie and I drove 2 hours down to checkout a couple of wedding cake businesses. We ultimately decided on one that had a great cake design we liked. It was an all white frosted cake, two-tiered, with white pearl like candies around the edges and our “Mr. & Mrs.” cake topper. All in all we spent $250 for the cake. But then the unthinkable happened. Our wedding day came, the ceremony commenced, our wedding coordinator was setting the final reception details up, and our cake was nowhere to be found! The wedding cake business was not answering the phone and no delivery was ever made. Enter bridesmaid and her husband to the rescue. Kelly, Jamies made of honor, overheard the cake problem and went to her husband Jim and said something to the effect “Jim, Cole & Jamie’s cake didn’t make it here. Fix it now.” Jim was a trooper! Mid bite into his dinner he got up and left the venue to hunt down a solution for us at the local grocer – Krogers. What ended up happening is a beautiful white cake showed up just in time for us to cut into as husband and wife. Now fast forward a bit, we are back at the hotel after the wedding and during the elevator ride up Jim told us the story about how he went to the local grocery store and told the bakery section his problem. The baker jumped into action got him what he needed and when he got back to the venue, our wedding coordinator spruced up the cake with some flowers from Jamie’s bouquet. The kicker to the Jim’s elevator story was that I was holding the cake in its original packaging and noticed a stick on top that said “$5.00″… and I burst out laughing. Our perfect cake never showed up – but the story of peril, adventure and a $5.00 cake will be one we cherish forever. Also, the wedding cake business called the next day to apologize because they “forgot” about our delivery. They even had the audacity to ask if we still wanted the cake! We of course said no and they eventually provided us a refund.
By planning our wedding over two years and paying for each item/service we needed during that two year span – we were able to pay cash for our wedding without taking out any loans or using credit cards. Some of our wedding vendors allowed us to set up payment plans that just needed to be paid one month prior to our wedding date – which really helped. You may think that a two-year engagement is too long for you and your significant other to wait for a wedding – if you can make it happen sooner then that is great for you! It just took two years for Jamie and me because that was amount time it would take to pay for our wedding based on our incomes at that time, as well as our bill obligations. Hopefully this gave you some hope for your wedding planning, as well as some advice. Thanks for stopping by!