1Welcome to “How You”a new series where we celebrate you and how you use savvy and pure talent to save money. Go you!

Our guest blogger today is Melissa @ dreandmel.com!
She and her then fiancé, Andre, decided that credit cards would not pay for their special day. They made a plan and paid cash for their wedding and honeymoon. Congratulations you guys…you are A-MAZING!

Here is Melissa’s story…

Bride and Joy

Without a doubt, our wedding day was one of the most important–and indeed the most delightfully blessed days of our lives; however, my husband and I were determined to not allow it to be a financial disaster. At the start of 2012, I “rang” in the New Year with my Boaz professing his love for me and asking me to marry him. I said “yes” and we soon begin to plan our big day. After a few phone calls and meetings with wedding planners/event coordinators, photographers, and so on, it was clear that we had to have clear goals and make smart choices regarding our special day.

Gaining Perspective – A Destination Wedding

It was time to put things into perspective. What was most important–The Lord and one another. It was also important to us not to add to our existing debt. After surfing the popular wedding sites, we elected to have a destination ceremony on a small island, Great Exuma, Bahamas, with our closest family and friends. The beautiful Emerald Bay Resort charmed us right away–we were convinced that we would have the wedding and honeymoon of our dreams! We sat together and discussed an itemized budget for the wedding, and “vowed” not to exceed what we had agreed upon.

We planned to wed on the last Saturday in October that year, and the nerd in me watched the numbers of our budget like a hawk!

I remembered what I had learned and taught with Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University – I had CASH and the power to negotiate a better deal.

We Worked our Plan – Use Cash, Negotiate and Have Faith!

Within the first 60 days, I had purchased my wedding gown–my mother contributed. I met my mother and sister in Atlanta, Georgia to shop for the perfect gown and like most bride-to-be’s, I was torn between two beautiful frocks!

I met with the manager of the boutique to match the price of the competing gown, which was $300 less than budget. My now husband and I continued to search the Internet for travel deals, and then used our savings and tax refunds to pay for our flights and to put a deposit down for a week at the resort (to include the wedding options). We selected the standard reception choices, rather than upgrading. Little did we know, this was a blessing in disguise since the eye of Hurricane Sandy passed over the resort just 48 hours before our wedding; therefore, some of the confirmed guests were not able to attend. The other unexpected blessing was Sandals’ hurricane policy of awarding guests a voucher to travel back to a Sandals resort of choice within one year free of charge.

Yes, we went back to Great Exuma to celebrate our first anniversary for one week for FREE! Praise the Lord!

As our time of engagement continued on, we held budget meetings at least once or twice a month, and applied funds to our outstanding resort balance periodically until it was paid in full 45 days prior to the arrival date. The suit for my groom-to-be was purchased from the Weddings Collection at JCrew.com during one of their 30%-off promotions; same with his shoes from Cole Haan. My wedding shoes were purchased using a Victoria’s Secret gift card given at my lovely Bridal Shower. A friend captured our engagement and bridal photos, and my mother made my one-of-a-kind headband, my gorgeous boutique and all other floral arrangements – her “labor of love”. A friend of an old co-worker created our wedding invitations and “Thank You” cards for a very inexpensive rate (less than $300 for both). The quotes provided by the shops here in town were upwards of $1,200! We selected our wedding bands soon after getting engaged to make sure we could pay for them before the ceremony. Learning that the groom’s wedding band was quite inexpensive as well was another “win” for us!

In the End

There wasn’t a bigger joy in the world, aside from marrying the man of my dreams of course, than boarding a flight to wed and honeymoon on an island for a week, all-inclusive and with full butler service, knowing that everything is paid-for!



Isn’t that amazing?! Leave Melissa a comment if you agree!