There were key things I wanted out of my wedding celebration. I wanted a classy wedding at an inexpensive cost, a backyard wedding, and intimate. Now, let’s just say my number of attendants grew from 20 to 50; however, it still had the intimate feel to it.
I was blessed enough to have a beautiful backyard with amazing fall colors behind the arch — talk about a beautiful backdrop. The weather was perfect and the sunbeam was angelic. Now, you may be wondering how I achieved this in three weeks.
The first thing I did was decide how many guests I wanted present. I had a minimum and maximum number of attendants. The second thing I did was decide on what type of food I wanted served and how much it would cost. The third thing was deciding what the theme would be, what decorations I would need, and where I would get them.
However, I did forget the absolute number-one thing, the venue. So many people are spending thousands of dollars on venues, and the problem with renting venues is that they also come with in-house catering, which inevitably racks up dollars.
When planning my wedding, I thought about finances a lot. One thing I knew was that I did not want to go into a marriage with debt. There are so many people getting married and then the next day they are in debt.
Keep in mind that a wedding is one day. What are weddings supposed to be about? Love and people who love you. One way to figure this out is simple: Who are the people that you speak to weekly and actually invest time in your life and your relationship?
I can almost guarantee that you do not speak to 300 people weekly. With that thought alone, you have narrowed down your list to a hundred people. Now, will there be people you have to invite for family sake? That depends on how much your family is donating to your wedding.
Now back to venue — trust me when I say there are many. It does not have to be a massive hall. It can be a close friend’s house that you can transform into an exquisite dining hall. Or your backyard. Venues have everything to do with the decorations and not the location.
Once you have narrowed down a venue, the best part about it is that it may be free. Now you have money to spend on other things like food, drinks, entertainment and photography. I love the word “free” because it gives you so much freedom to do other things.
Remember that decorations can be rented. One step is to find an inexpensive party shop that rents all of your favorites. I have learned that almost anything can be rented. Things like photo props, stands, mason jars, boards — I mean absolutely anything that can transform a room and a party.
Another thing is food. I am African and I knew I wanted African food at my wedding. I don’t know about you, but I am sick of having chicken and potatoes every time I go to a wedding.
Food is very important to me, and when I think of it I think of an experience. I wanted everyone at my wedding to have that experience. I knew I wanted everything homemade, so I used a caterer I had used before and began negotiations.
Buffet style was great for me because I wanted people to have options. And even though I only had 50 people at my wedding, I made sure I had food for a hundred attendants. You never want to run out of food.
Last but not least, utilize your friends. My uncle was my photographer, my friend was my event planner, and I used a lot of my friends’ contacts to get great deals.
Now, be sure that the friend you are working with to plan your wedding is a friend whose taste you like and trust. You just can’t pick anyone to save a buck. Trust me, it does not work like that.
Think about ways to make your money and time work for you, and I promise you too can plan and enjoy an exquisite wedding in three weeks.
Julia Toles welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.