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How to Plan a Wedding in College

Our wedding-obsessed culture makes it seem as though planning a wedding in college is not only crazy, but impossible. However, even with the time constraints, extra work, and limited budget, planning a wedding in college is not only possible, it’s fun! As a newly married collegiette, I have a lot of helpful advice to offer.

Realize That Your “Big Day” is Still a Day

When it comes down to it, your wedding day is just one of many important days that is going to happen to you. It’s not about the cake, the dress, or the dancing, it’s simply about the sacred vows you and your significant other make to each other. Realizing this will help you stick to a small budget, and will also help you to not stress about the small stuff. I was determined to remember this as I planned my wedding, and as a result I brutally pared down the guest list, chose inexpensive food and decorations, and chose a wedding dress that was only $200. Do whatever you need to do to make your wedding work for your budget; you can always grab your closest friends and family members for a semi-elopement!

Splurge on Only 2-3 Things

The trick to creating a memorable budget wedding? Pick 2-3 things to splurge on for wedding day focal points, and do everything else on a strict budget. For example, my husband and I decided to splurge on a professional photographer, our venue, and our tiny wedding cake. We now have pictures we will treasure forever, memories of a special first bite of cake, and very happy bank accounts.

Plan Your Wedding for Summer Break

Having a wedding over UC Davis’s short winter break is just a bad idea. Even if you manage to squeeze in a wedding and a honeymoon in the limited time, you’ll be stressed knowing you have to go right back to school (who wants to think about ordering textbooks on their honeymoon?). Instead, take an extra class or two to avoid summer school, plan your wedding for the middle of summer break, and use the first half of your summer break to coordinate the finishing touches for your big day. Plenty of time to plan and savor this special time of your life!

Do One Thing at a Time

Make a list of things to get accomplished by certain times. This way, even in the midst of school activities, you won’t feel overwhelmed. First, find your venue (save yourself a lot of hassle and have the ceremony and reception in the same place!), then start looking for your food vendors and photographer, then look for your dress, and later you can work on the smaller, more flexible details like cake, flowers, and decorations (beautiful outdoor locations also mean less decor will be needed, something to think about).

Let People Help You

If someone offers to help you out in any way, let them! My husband and I were so thankful for the incredible help our friends and family gave us to make our special day less stressful. My brother was our DJ, our friend was the MC, many people helped with the set-up and tear-down, friends did my hair and makeup, and my uncle married us, to name a few blessings. My mom was also my right-hand woman, orchestrating things on the big day and patiently listening to my 301 wedding-related questions (“Mom, is it bad if we don’t serve food? Oh, okay.”)

Just Say No

There will always be a pushy relative, friend, or guest who thinks that your day is all about them. This day is one of the few times when you and your husband have 100% say over what happens, so don’t be afraid to put your foot down when you need to. Yes, it’s important to be considerate, especially if someone else is helping you pay for things, but this day also needs to be in your budget and enjoyable to both you and your husband. If a grandparent expresses discontent at a budget friendly menu, if a family friend wants to bring a plus one they’ve been dating for a week, if a friend wants to create drama, or if a parent tells you it’s always been a family tradition to perform the uncomfortable garter-toss, that’s just too bad.

Be Unusual

My husband and I saved so much time and money by doing things differently. We asked for gift cards instead of gifts so we wouldn’t have to worry about returns or transporting tons of toasters from home to school. We had one tiny wedding cake for us, and served cupcakes to our guests. We had a buffet set up with inexpensive pasta dishes and salad, and skipped the alcohol. My mom and I were our own florists and made our own bouquets and centerpieces by ordering bulk flowers online. My husband and I honeymooned a couple hours away from home through airbnb.com instead of flying out to Hawaii, cutting our honeymoon costs by more than half (this also let us have a lot more fun on our honeymoon since we could afford to eat out and try some local activities!).

Rachel is majoring in English at UC Davis and has a passion for sharing tips on living happily and stylishly on a budget, among other exciting hobbies. She loves cats, Pomeranians, anything covered in chocolate, earl grey tea, and her husband, a handsome UC Davis graduate. You'll find her lost somewhere in the halls of Voorhies, or in the frozen aisle of Trader Joe's stocking up on delectable turkey meatballs. She loves to write and hopes her articles add a little extra joy to your busy life!
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