Founder Stories: Jessica Bishop On Building The Budget Savvy Bride

In today’s Founder Story, we feature  Jessica Bishop, Founder of The Budget Savvy Bride!

Read on for lessons she has learned from launching and marketing her business.

1. Please introduce your business and share your role. 

I am the founder of TheBudgetSavvyBride.com, an online wedding planning resource that helps couples plan a beautiful wedding on a budget they can afford. We reach millions of engaged couples each year with our content, from blog posts to downloadable checklists, to podcast episodes, and our best-selling book. Our mission is to empower couples to plan debt-free weddings, giving them a strong financial start to a long and thriving marriage! 

2. What’s your backstory, what kind of challenges did you face, and how did you come up with your business idea?

The Budget Savvy Bride was born out of a need I discovered while navigating my own wedding planning process, which began when I got engaged in the spring of 2008. I was freshly out of college, on an entry-level salary, entering the workforce during a major economic recession.

Both my fiancé and I got laid off during the time we were engaged, so that added an extra layer of pressure to our already big challenge of planning a wedding with what the mainstream wedding industry considered a “small” budget. But $10,000 is not a small amount of money to me, and it was my personal mission to make sure we had a celebration that reflected our values and included our favorite people, so I did what I had to do to make it happen. 

I scrimped, saved, borrowed, bartered, and begged to pull our wedding together. I crafted many of the decorative and aesthetic elements myself in my spare moments. I lived and breathed putting that wedding together for over a year, and was happy to come in just about at that budget I’d set from the start. 

Along the way, I realized how few resources existed to help couples who weren’t working with an “average” sized budget, so I continued sharing my ideas, tips, and insights, as well as the stories of countless other savvy couples who planned their weddings on a budget. 

16 years later, The Budget Savvy Bride reaches millions of couples each year and has expanded far beyond a blog, into a podcast, a collection of printable wedding items, a best-selling book, a wedding vendor directory, and a thriving community of savvy couples who want to plan a meaningful wedding within their financial means.  

3. How did you prepare for, and go about your launch? 

Our most recent “launch” and our biggest project to date, has been creating our Vendor Directory, The Savvy Wedding Guide. We spent 2 years bootstrapping and building our platform, completely self-funded. We utilized our industry knowledge and experience to develop a self-service platform to assist wedding service providers in marketing their business to our primary audience of engaged couples. 

To launch the directory, we planned out pre-launch and post-launch marketing strategies including email campaigns, social media promotion, strategic partnerships, affiliate relationships, and cross-promotional efforts with relevant companies. We’re still in the early stages of marketing and launch, and our biggest efforts now are towards boosting visibility and getting our platform in front of more wedding professionals who would be fit to join us. 

4. Since launching, what types of marketing campaigns and designs have worked best to attract and retain customers?

Content Marketing has been our most effective strategy to build an audience of engaged couples. Leveraging our expertise, we create blog posts, podcast episodes, and downloadable checklists and tools to support our audience on their wedding planning journey. This content not only provides valuable information but also establishes The Budget Savvy Bride as a trusted resource in the wedding planning space. 

Our goal is to provide the same level of helpful content for the vendor audience as we do for couples and to increase brand awareness amongst the vendor community in the same way we have for couples– by serving them well and helping them reach their goals. 

5. What have been the most influential brands for your business? Whose branding and marketing do you aspire to and why?

Target: This big-name retailer’s marketing often focuses on affordability and accessibility, which aligns with The Budget Savvy Bride’s approach of helping couples plan beautiful weddings on a budget. We admire Target’s ability to appeal to a wide audience while still offering value.

Lauren Conrad: As a well-known celebrity and influencer, Lauren Conrad’s brand carries significant influence among a broad audience. Her brand’s assortment of affordable products and approachable lifestyle content shows that being budget-conscious is not only practical but also stylish and aspirational. Lauren’s brand really personifies what being savvy is all about– making smart purchasing decisions that enhance and enrich your life within your financial means. 

6. What are your favorite marketing platforms/tools?

ClickUp (affiliate link) has been an absolute game changer for my business. It’s allowed us to build a centralized hub of all our content, tasks, and to-dos so we can collaborate as a team and ensure that balls don’t get dropped and things keep moving forward. 

We also recently started using Paperform (affiliate link) for form collection, contracting, and payments and that has streamlined our processes and helped us stay organized when dealing with clients. 

7. Who or what inspires and motivates you?

Hearing the stories of resilience and creativity from our community and the lives touched by our content is what keeps me doing what I do. Their determination to prioritize what truly matters, their willingness to think outside the box, and their commitment to starting their marriages on solid financial ground are incredibly inspiring.

I also get so inspired by fellow entrepreneurs in the wedding industry, especially those who are passionate about making weddings accessible to everyone. Collaborating with like-minded creatives lights me up!

At the core of it all, my mission to empower couples to plan debt-free weddings and start their marriages on a strong financial footing is what drives me forward. Knowing that our work is making a difference in the lives of couples embarking on one of the most important journeys of their lives is the ultimate motivation for me.

8. What are some lessons you’ve learned along the way that you would share with entrepreneurs hoping to launch or who have just launched? 

Stay true to your mission. Having a clear mission and purpose is crucial. It’s what drives you forward, especially during tough times. Stay true to your values and vision, and let them guide your decisions and actions. 

Know what your goals are and don’t get shiny object syndrome. Your customers are the lifeblood of your business. Prioritize delivering exceptional value and experiences to them. Listen to their feedback, address their needs, and continuously strive to exceed their expectations by serving them well and being truly helpful.

Be adaptable and agile. Keeping my business lean has allowed us to weather inevitable storms. Search and social algorithms are constantly evolving, so agility is key to survival in an online business. Be willing to pivot, experiment, and iterate based on feedback and changing circumstances. Stay nimble and adaptable to seize new opportunities and navigate challenges effectively. 

Done is better than perfect. While building our directory project, we kept adding features and complexity, which increased the scope and extended the build time. We really did not follow the advice of creating a minimum viable product, and it took us longer to get to market as a result.

From this experience, I’ve learned to keep things simple and manageable when it comes to product development. Deliver the core value and get feedback for making iterations and improvements to your product or service over time. Perfection is not the goal at the outset; rather, it’s about learning, adapting, and growing along the way to meet the needs of your customers.

9. What do you believe are the qualities of a good entrepreneur? And what makes a team successful?

For entrepreneurs, I’d say Resilience. Drive. Resourcefulness. 

Resilience is essential in the face of challenges, and entrepreneurship is a rollercoaster ride filled with many ups and downs. Don’t let setbacks deter you; instead, view them as opportunities for growth and learning.

Drive is what fuels the entrepreneurial spirit. It’s an inner fire to pursue your goals, no matter what. It’s about waking up every day with a passion to make a difference, to build something meaningful, and to leave your mark on the world.

Resourcefulness is the ability to make the most out of limited resources, and to turn constraints into opportunities. You won’t always have access to abundant funds or support systems, but being resourceful allows you to think outside the box, find creative solutions, and make things happen against all odds.

As for what makes a team successful, I believe it comes down to having a strong mission and guiding principles that everyone can rally behind. When every team member is aligned with a common purpose and shares a collective vision, it creates momentum, as well as a powerful sense of unity.  

I also believe in fostering open communication, mutual respect, and a culture of collaboration where everyone feels valued and empowered to contribute their best.

10. Let us know where we can go to learn more!