10 Commandments for Budget Friendly Wedding

Thou shalt begin and end with your venue.

The venue is everything. If you have a clear vision in your mind of jenga and margaritas, a hotel ballroom is NOT going to support said vision. Finding the right venue, and finding it very early in the planning process, will allow you to save money on decor, find a gown that really fits the look, hire vendors who are familiar with the space, and build a wedding that makes sense financially and aesthetically.

Thou shalt enlist the help and expertise of friends.

Most of my friends and family WANTED to help me with my wedding. But I was such a control freak that I graciously declined. Wrong move. Whether you ask friends to build you a corn hole game like Amy did, officiate your wedding, hand out favors at your reception, make sure people get on the right bus, do a reading, sing a song, tend to your grandmother…I promise they will not only be happy to help, they will feel like they are so much more a part of the day. AND Your wedding will innately more personal while saving money in the process.

Thou shalt break the rules.

You know, so many of our wedding tradition are incredibly dated and rooted in ideas that are no longer even relevant. Ditch them! Do what YOU want to do. Make the day yours and arm yourself with confidence and excitement, letting go of anything that will make you nervous or anxious. Amy and her hubs ditched tradition and walked down the aisle hand in hand. The perfect beginning to their own unique marriage.

Thou shalt include your true loves. And we don't mean boys.

Even if your true loves are BBQ and Tequila. There are so many ways to put your own personality stamp onto your day…the menu, the colors, the town your marry in, the venue, the songs, the entertainment, the tradition. Maybe you get ready for the day together, rather than apart. Maybe you hit the courthouse solo and then throw a party after. Maybe you skip down the aisle waving ribbon wands or stop mid-ceremony to sing All You Need is Love…you do you boo.

Thou shalt make FUN a requirement.

I can't guarantee sunshine or guests that behave but I can guarantee you this: if you build a wedding that is foundationally fun, you will always remember it as the best day ever. For me? Fun means good food, a great playlist, lots of dancing, tons of sweets and some good ole fashioned alcohol. You?

Thou shalt borrow and beg, though thou shalt not steal. Otherwise known as the Friends and Family Round.

Whether you borrow a car like Amy did or you borrow a backyard like other SMP brides have done, don't be afraid to ask your friends and family before you rent or buy. Mismatched white linens from friends (just take pics before so you know what belongs to whom), lanterns to grace the walkway, candles to set on tables, little black dresses for your bridesmaids, oversized lawn games (mine have been borrowed a dozen times)…the options are endless.

Thou Shalt celebrate your culture.

The thing with weddings is that they are ultimately designed to bring two families together. Let us not forget that. And families often come from beautiful, storied cultures that deserve to be celebrated even if it's only in some small way. Amy brought in a second line to celebrate her husband's New Orleans heritage. Perhaps just including a dessert from your own background. Or readings or songs or a menu inspired by one of your cultures. It doesn't take much… but the impact is so meaningful.

Thou shalt consider how you want your wedding to FEEL not look.

We all want to host a beautiful wedding. But I've been to a handful of spectacular weddings that also happened to be spectacularly boring and without character (I'm not naming names). Amy wanted her wedding to feel like a really special family dinner. I met another bride recently who just wanted it to feel like really fun dance party (and that it did!). Build from the feels not from the looks and the entire day will be much more successful.

Thou shalt think inside the box but with the lid off and the music playing.

From the venue you choose to the color of gown you wear. From the food you serve (pizza anyone?) to the music you play. From the time of day or day of the week or season of the year. From the way you choose to walk down the aisle to the way you choose to spend your money. We once met a pair that was holding their reception at a Magic Dinner Theater. Show included. Pretty freaking awesome, right? That said, stay a bit inside the box. When you get a little too crazy with creativity, sometimes your budget is the one to suffer the consequences.

Thou shall find experts to help and if they can't…#DIY for the win.

Let me first debunk a common wedding planning myth: it's cheaper to DIY everything. WRONG. Sort of. While some areas may allow you to save money, you're not placing any value on your time at all. Or the stress that taking on a lot of projects in the days leading up to your wedding will cause. Putting together flower arrangements the night before, instead of cuddling with your soon-to-be or frantically tying program ribbons while a makeup artist is trying to get you to sit still. Not my idea of fun. First, ask your experts.

Planners can save you tons of money in mistakes that novices make. Florists can work around your budget and if they can't, they will TELL you. A good stationer or photographer or cake designer will give you honest feedback as to whether or not they can achieve what you want on your budget. When it comes to the major components of your wedding, start with the pro's and give them a chance…and only if you get a no (or if you're really pumped about doing it yourself) should you then start down the DIY road. Save the projects for the minor players: the favors, the welcome bags, elements of decor that you can then move into your home after the i-dos.

Budget friendly wedding tips and Tricks from Coopers Ridge.