I can’t believe it’s been 365 days (and 2 weeks) since my husband Robin and I said “I do” in front of our family and friends in Ojai. It’s been a beautiful year for us as we’ve grown closer and stronger through our peaks and valleys. If you’ve been following Chataigne Style on Instagram or have read my blog, you know that Ojai is special to us, and was the obvious choice for our wedding. I’m (we’re) a case study for having a stylish, boho chic wedding, spending plenty on the honeymoon, and coming out debt free. So for our 1st anniversary, I’m celebrating by sharing pictures from our wedding day, and the three lessons I learned from planning our debt-free wedding.
CREATE A BUDGET, PLAN, BUT BE FLEXIBLE
You already know goal setting is important for manifesting your business, and a wedding is no exception. Wedding planning should be approached just like business planning: you should know where you are going, how you are going to get there, and how much it’s going to cost. It’s important to book your key vendors early, plan out what needs to be paid for, and by what date. This allowed us to budget and work towards payments. Having a budget and pooling all our resources helped us make the best decisions that suited our vision.
Top Wedding Budget Tips:
- Book a wedding coordinator if you like to be hands on, but you need someone to run the ship the day of. I LOVED my coordinator, Claudia Hoste of Hoste Events, as she does full-service events. She works all over the country, and is an Ojai expert!
- Take vendor suggestions, but research on your own. You will be working with your vendor for a while, and a connection is crucial. Note business etiquette and design style when selecting. You need to vibe with your wedding vendor so choose carefully.
- Frontload your 3 major costs. Mine were a photographer, catering, and booze. Identify your top three costs when budgeting and plan everything around those.
- Be strategic! Wedding cakes cost a fortune! Our was a $250 organic, naked cake from the bakery next door to our venue. We saved on delivery, too! Shop smart and local.
- Save money on alcohol by having 2 signature drinks and a champagne toast.
- Think of venue alternatives like we did by having a reception at a restaurant with a back patio. They charged us for a family style dinner, corkage fee per bottle, but not a buyout fee. We saved a ton!
- Know weddings cost money and remain flexible. You really don’t know how expensive a wedding is actually going to be until you have one. Save, save, save!
CONSIDER YOUR VENUE WHEN SELECTING A DRESS
As much as it’s about your day as a couple, everyone will be looking at you! The dress is kinda a big deal, but you don’t have to break the bank to have the gown you want. You must consider your body type, the venue, the weather, and the accessories to put together your picture perfect look. Shop early and use Pinterest (Check out my wedding board) to create a mini-look book of your favorites. It’ll help your bridal stylist and planner as well.
Bridal Styling Tips:
- Have a reception shoe. Your feet will hurt even with PreHeels so select a stylish reception shoe so you can dance all night long!
- Consider a reception dress. Sometimes two dresses are better than one. I wish I considered having a lighter dress for the hot Ojai summer nights. If you have extra money in your budget, give it a try.
- Keep an ER bridal bag on hand with emergency styling kit essentials.
- Let your bridesmaids select their dress. Then they can control how much they spend. Just make sure to give them a preferred hem length and color palette.
THE LITTLE TOUCHES MAKE THE WEDDING SPECIAL
As in fashion, the details will make formal wear pop. Keeping things simple, but artistic, will really wow your guests. That’s exactly what we did with details like ombre’ aisle flowers at the ceremony, and an intimate candle lit dinner. I added leather place card holders from Etsy, Walmart marquee lights, and 99-cent store frames to pull off cheap yet chic accents.
Biggest Cost Saving Decorating Tips
- Uphold the things that are important to you. Vinyl is a staple in our relationship, so instead of a guestbook, we had guests sign the album from the band of our wedding song!
- Amazon Prime is your BFF! If you’re not already on the train: Get. On. Board. From photobooth decorations to Polaroid camera equipment and film, Amazon has everything you need for a wedding, and fast.
- Create your graphics on Canva! I designed our drink menu, signs and more on Canva for free instead of hiring a graphic designer. It saved it so much money!
REMEMBER TO BE IN THE MOMENT (DANCE, DANCE DANCE)
At the end of the day, all I wanted was a fun weekend with my favorite people, to marry the man I love, and to throw a great party that everyone would remember for years to come. From the minute I walked down the aisle with my father, all eyes were on Robin and me. We stayed in the moment and had the best night of our lives. We were able to relax and enjoy our wedding because we walked away debt-free! And afterward, we passed along our DIY goodies to our friends who were getting married. Pay it forward!
I hope you enjoyed these tips and if you need assistance styling your big day, I offer bridal styling services for you and your entire wedding party to ensure your style is on-point from engagement photos to the rehearsal dinner to packing for your honeymoon! Space is limited as I only select a few brides a year! Contact me for a free consultation today!
Planning assistance: Hoste Events
Photography & Videography: Natalie Bray Photography
Invites and stationery: Minted
Ceremony Venue: Meditation Mount
Ceremony Rentals: Party Pleasers
Frames: 99 Cents Store
Blooms: WildFlora Studio City
Table settings: Otis & Pearl
Reception Venue & Dining: Azu Ojai
Décor rentals: Ventura Rentals
DJ: DJ Hectik
Cake: Knead Bakery
Wine: The Duke’s Cellar
Champagne wine: Tattengier
Mirror Calligraphy Leather Table Cards: InLoft Calligraphy
Preparation Hotel: Su Nido Inn