Low Budget Wedding Network®

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Sisters Helping Sisters - we got you

Read the real life advice our wedding network members give to fellow brides-to-be 


(edited to ensure anonymity)

Hi, I need some help planning my wedding, I'm a young bride-to-be.

1. Do I give my Bridesmaids a gift when I invite them or after they have agreed?

2. How long before a wedding should I have a bridal shower?

3. Can I make my own food for the wedding - Is it legal?

4. I'm really struggling with my guest list. How do I narrow it down and can I invite people I like and am grateful too like an old teacher or my parents neighbors? Or do I have to invite all my family first? 

5. How much are wedding venues generally?  What is a cheap wedding venue, I can't use a backyard?

6. Should I have my Bridesmaids wearing the same dress or can I mix and match style and color?

7. What's the wedding day timeline, how do I know when to do everything?

View Our Planning Guide

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Free Wedding Timeline Printable

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'Our reply'

1. It's quite often the case, they will ask you if they can be a bridesmaid so be ready with a polite response. If you want it to be a surprise and the answer for them is 'no'. You can simply say ... "It's a surprise for now". It's quite popular now to 'propose' to your Maid of Honor and Bridesmaids, and you do this with a gift or a card. You can view our Bridesmaid proposal gift ideas here.

2. A bridal shower is usually within 1 - 3 months of the wedding. Personally, I'd advise against having it too close to the wedding, because it means your bridal shower guests are buying two lots of gifts very close together. Having it further away from your wedding date, helps spread their costs. You can find some awesome low budget bridal shower invitations via ETSY here.

3. You can make your own food if you're hosting the event in your own backyard, friend or families and if the venue allow it. Not all venues will and many will have restrictions/rules. This is something you will need to inquire about when sourcing the venue. If you're doing your own catering, you might find our guide on how to plan a rustic wedding helpful as it includes details re catering at home.

4. Once you have determined the size of your guest list, you will need to halve that if you're allowing them to bring a plus one (unless their plus one is also a wanted guest) and consider whether you're allowing kids or not. Plus one's and kids push up the numbers. First decide on who you and your partner really want to be there. Put family loyalties aside for your 'guest wish list'. This is YOUR wedding after all! Once your wedding guest wish list is decided, you may want to consider who 'has' to be there. Close family, friends, employer ... This list is entirely up to you and how you feel about the idea of inviting people due to obligation, loyalty, and parents wishes etc. Good luck!

5. Venues differ in price massively. Cheap wedding venues (outside of your own backyard) include community and village, sports halls. Your local church may have a space they rent, as may the local schools. It's worth asking around. Formal wedding venues can be costly. You can make significant savings on wedding venues by booking mid week and out of season. Weekdays and colder, winter months are nearly always much cheaper. Check out our Cheap Wedding Venue Tips Here.

6. Mix and Match bridesmaid dresses are a wonderful idea for many reasons, not only do they look great but they respect the bridesmaids own individual body shape and taste. They deserve to feel fabulous on your wedding day too, right? Check out our guide to mix and match bridesmaid dresses here.

7. Check out our wedding timeline planning guides here.

Member Advice

Kelli Tracy  - Low Budget Wedding Network Member - permission received.

1. I got my bridal party a little box of goodies when I asked them. However, that can add up quick and isn’t necessary. You could just give them a card or something and ask.

2. Your bridal shower is typically 1-2 months before the wedding, but you shouldn’t host your own shower. This should be planned and hosted by your bridesmaids or family like aunts and cousins.

3. Making you own food isn’t illegal, but it will definitely create more stress on the week of and especially day of your wedding. It’s already going to be super busy and there will be a lot going on and feeding a group of people will add to it. There are caterers who don’t charge an arm and a leg.

4. Guest list - I created a list of everyone I wanted to invite to my wedding and organized it in a spreadsheet by how I knew them. (My family, fiancés family, work friends, close friends, church friends, etc) It was super long and I quickly realized that wasn’t feasible financially or logically. I then went through each person and asked myself: 1. When was the last time I saw or spoke to them? If not in the last year, they didn’t make the list. 2. Am I inviting then because I WANT them there or because I’m obliged to because of family/parents? For this, I knew there’d be a select few I’d have to invite on behalf of my parents, but I cut a good bit out this way.

5. The venue will honestly depend on your location. I’m in South Georgia and my venue was 7k. It sleeps 18 and we have the entire place from 8 am Friday until noon on Sunday. Also keep in mind most venues change prices depending on season, so you may want an off season wedding to get around higher prices. You also could look into state parks or public areas to have the wedding and do the reception at a restaurant.6. The bridesmaids dress color will be completely up to you. You need to decide the aesthetic of your wedding and look at different options online and see what you like. Pinterest has tons of ideas.

7. Day of timeline for my wedding looked like this:

9:00am          Wake up and eat breakfast

10:00              Hair and makeup starts (you should allot 1 hour per                                      person per stylist)

12:30pm        Photographer arrives for getting ready pictures and                                      details shots

2:00           Put on dress

2:30           First look with dad

3:00           Read letters to one another with photographer preset.

3:30           First look

4:00           Bridal party pictures

5:00           Everyone back in the hiding places before the ceremony.                         Do  any touch ups needed for hair and makeup

6:00          Ceremony starts

6:30          Cocktail hour

7:00          Bridal party intro

7:15          First dance & parent dances

7:30          Dinner is served.

8:30          Dance floor opens

9:15          Cake cutting

9:45          Garter/bouquet toss

10:00        Fake send off

Also, one thing not mentioned here, but definitely something that needs to be done first, is set a budget. Everyone has a different amount they can spend, but it’s best to know that number going into it and planning. Personally, I did a little research to get an idea of prices before I started and then I found a wedding budget checklist online and listed out the things I knew we were going to have or needed to budget for. 

Then using the numbers I had found, I wrote down how much I was comfortable with spending in each area. from there, I started reaching out to vendors to get quotes. I probably asked about 7 of each vendor to try to get the best price. Once I had my numbers, I wrote them in the column next to my estimated numbers. I then added everything up to get my all in budget. 

I hope this helps and happy planning!

Korin Hockman - Low Budget Wedding Network Member - permission received.

1. You can just ask them,  gifts aren't essential. I'm going to give them something on the day before the wedding. I just made a Facebook chat so they both knew anyway so never really had to ask them.

2. You don't have to do a shower this is optional you could use the money towards the wedding instead.

3. Depends on your venue but usually you have to sign a form and pay for their kitchen if you use that.

4. Pick a number of guests you want and stick to it add people you want to be there. Think of who you'd happily pay for their dinner if eating out.

5. It's important to consider what you get from each venue, a blank canvas may be cheaper but will it still work out cheaper once you add toilets, chairs tables, lighting, etc.

6. Again whatever you want

7. Your venue will probably give you an idea of a timeline but happy to send you mine, you won't be alone on this one all your vendors will help with this just ask.

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