Love List

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

How We Planned A Debt Free Wedding In 6 Months

With our one year wedding anniversary around the corner, I catch myself reminiscing on the amount of time it took to plan a wedding in 6 months. Luckily for us, it was a debt free wedding! I knew from the moment I said yes to my husband's proposal in March 2014, that wedding planning would be fun, yet challenging. We are located in Virginia, but the mass majority our relatives are in New York and the D.C. area, so we had to make a decision on the location quickly to accommodate their traveling arrangements. One thing we both knew was that we were not going to go into debt because of the wedding and thus we came up with some pretty creative ideas to save money. Want an instant way to know how much to save? Click here for a wedding calculator from SunTrust.


It was always a dream for me to get married outside on a nice warm sunny day surrounded by flowers and family. Unfortunately, all of the botanical gardens near our area were either booked or super pricey. Luckily, my husband found this beautiful state park that rented out specific locations just for weddings! Douthat State Park was perfect for us once we found out that we could rent cabins and lodges for our bridal party to stay in for the wedding rehearsal and day of the wedding. My photographer had so much fun taking pictures of moments inside the inside of the cabin.

We were also very blessed to be able to take pictures in both a grassy area and a beachy area. This was all included in our price for the venue.

DIY Decorations
Finding a florist with amazing prices can be a bit tricky, especially when it comes to having multiple types of flowers. Luckily for me, my favorite flowers are carnations, which also happen to be some of the cheapest in comparison to other types of flowers. Instead of paying the florist to supply the flowers and to decorate, you can do the decorating yourself. Pink had to be included in the decorative color scheme for the wedding, so my husband and I went to our local Michael's store about bought pink water jewels that grew to the size of a marble once mixed with water. The jewels were $3 a pack and we used three packs to fill the about two dozen mason jars. Also, the jewels lasted a little over two weeks, as long as I kept them wet. Everyone said they were pretty and we agree!

Another ‘DIY-thing' we included was a chalk board with a quote from one of my favorite movies. Chalk boards are a cost effective way to add an amazing touch of personality to the wedding or for a way to give directions to the guest.


My husband and I knew that we did not want a large wedding and therefore did not have to order that many wedding invitations. We did find some that were very reasonably priced at Fancier invitations that charge an arm and a leg are so tempting, but don't do it! I recommend signing up to receive emails for special deals as a way to avoid the regret of making a quick purchase when you could have doubled your amount just by waiting to use a discount.


The catering for the reception is usually the most expensive thing you are going to pay for at a wedding. But trust me, less is more. If you are going to have your wedding in the afternoon like we did, it is much more cost efficient to have a bunch of finger food then a 3 course meal. Before planning a wedding I had no idea that wedding caterers charge by the plate! If you are thinking about having your wedding in the early morning, I did find out that breakfast food is not so expensive. Either way make sure that you shop around before settling on a caterer. Need some extra help with saving specifically for the reception? Try SunTrust's Personal Banking. You can set up a budget plan for yourself and even check out how to have better spending and saving habits by signing up for the twice a month Shine Newsletter.
DIY Tip: Have someone bake you cupcakes instead of a cake. A member of our local church made amazing cupcakes, some were even gluten free. Also, if catering is not an option, then try a potluck style reception. Click here for tips on how to master a potluck style reception.

Even before being proposed to I had my wedding dress picked out. Unfortunately by the time I was engaged, that dress was no longer being manufactured in stores that were in my area (or state for that matter) and I was left to search for the perfect dress. One day I received an email about a company called "Brides Against Breast Cancer". This company goes on tours allowing brides to donate their used dresses and accessories for future brides to pick out at a largely discounted rate. The proceeds from the purchases all go to cancer patients and their families. I was able to get a dress and a crown for under $850 including my alterations. On top of that, Brides against Breast Cancer offering free titanium wedding bands at the event for brides to be that find a dress. For more information about how you can help and shop click here.


Who doesn't want to have tons of pictures taken at their wedding? In order to cut down on costs, try asking a close friend if they would like to be the photographer at the wedding. I had two photographers, both who are a part of my local church. In exchange for their talents, they were able to stay in one of the bridesmaids cabins for free. It was totally worth it.

My husband and I had an awesome time on our stay-cation honeymoon. Something that we are for sure going to do is save up some money for a nice vacation by using SunTrust's vacation calculator. Also, if you are planning on going someplace out of the country, try having a honeymoon fundraiser. Use Honeyfund to help raise money for your honeymoon. Who knows, you just might get a free honeymoon.
DIY Tip: For a honeymoon that doesn't require too much traveling try going to new restaurants in town, have a themed movie night where you watch a movie and cook food that is the same theme, and relive your first date.
Lastly, remember that your guests are going to your wedding to support you and share in this beautiful time in your life. Yes there may be some items in your wedding that you were not able to include, but as long as you are married to your spouse and are smiling, everything else will not matter. This is your wedding and it will go by so fast. Cherish every moment of it.

Sunny Days start here. At SunTrust, we have the tools and resources to help you achieve your sunny day. Start here to find out how we can help you enjoy the things that matter most to you.
At SunTrust Bank their purpose is lighting the way to financial well-being. When you feel confident about your money, you can save for your goals and spend knowingly on what matters most to you. 

They know we all live for the sunny days and want to you help you live yours.
 Subscribe to the Shine newsletter and receive inspiration and advice twice a month to help you live for a sunny day. 
 Visit the SunTrust resource center anytime for help achieving your financial goals.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of SunTrust Bank. The opinions and text are all mine.