Your Wedding Budget: 41 Ways to Save
You’ve been walking on cloud nine since your engagement day. But after the first few weeks of wedding-planning research, reality sets in: You recognize that a budget must be made. Even so, if you’re like most other to-be-weds, you realize that no wedding budget is ever big enough. Just remember, everything is a compromise — but it’s not as daunting as it seems. Yes, this is the big day but it’s only one day, and with careful planning it’s bound to be a success.
First, the two of you must set your top three priorities and decide what you can live without. Then you can begin to trim. Things to keep in mind: 1) more expensive does not necessarily mean better; 2) everything is negotiable; 3) use the Internet to do preliminary research and shop around for prices; and 4) compromise is a reality, and good practice for a blissfully long marriage. So buckle down and create a budget — and use our top tips to penny-pinch with style.
1. Time Is Money
The most important money-saving issue is time. And the less time you have, the more likely you are to make rash decisions and thus compromise your finances. Give yourselves enough time to shop around for the best vendor prices.
2. Cut Your Guest List
It’s the dreaded dirty deed, but it must be done: Your guest list is the first thing to trim. Never assume a certain percentage of invitees won’t attend. Remember, cutting just 10 guests at $100 a head saves you $1,000.
3. No, Really Cut It
Eliminating kids, colleagues, and dates of guests is a quick, across-the-board way to cut your guest list. Keep in mind, though, that serious partners and spouses should always be included.
INVITATIONS & STATIONERY
4. Engraving Savings
Instead of having invitations engraved, use thermography, a less-expensive process that produces similar results.
5. Minimize the Mailing
Skip the envelope for the reply card by using a reply postcard, or simply have guests reply on their own stationery. Better yet, ask guests to email their RSVPs.
6. Designing Invites
Invitation design fees can add up, so keep your concept simple to cut back on costs. Though it won’t have that professional quality, you can have a friend do the design work and then have the invitations printed by a local printer.
7. Save on Save-the-Dates
Forgo professionally designed and printed save-the-date cards and buy a stack of beautiful note cards or postcards instead.
Hold the ceremony and reception at one site. You’ll save on flowers, decorations, site fees, transportation, and more.
9. Cold-Weather Deals
Fewer people get married during the winter, so you’ll generally find better deals on locales during these months.
10. Kitchen Commitment
Choose a location with a kitchen, as booking an inexpensive outdoor garden that requires tents and kitchen equipment rentals can be pricier in the long run.
FOOD & DRINK
11. Hold the Hard Liquor
Set up your bar to serve only house beer, wine, and soft drinks. Most guests won’t notice what’s not there.
12. Wine Is Fine
Instead of serving champagne, why not toast with a white wine? After all, guests are there to raise a glass to you, no matter what’s inside.
13. Trim the Menu
Cut one item from the menu. Replace an oyster appetizer with a consommé, and you could save more than $3 per person (times 200 guests equals $600)!
14. Recessed Reception
Consider a wedding brunch or late afternoon jazz reception. You’ll not only save money on food and labor, but people also drink less early in the day.
15. Cut Down on Wait staff
Replace passed hors d’oeuvre with tables of hearty treats. Crudities, cheese and crackers, olives, breads, and miniature tea sandwiches cost less than complicated creations — and require fewer wait-staff.
16. Don’t Serve Dessert
Many caterers include dessert on the menu; let yours know you want to serve only the wedding cake for dessert and you may get a discount.
17. Sweet Savings
Get a smaller version of your dream cake to cut during the reception, and supplement it with a sheet cake of the same flavor that’s cut in the kitchen for guests.
18. Consume Cupcakes
Replace a traditional wedding cake with beautifully decorated cupcakes, which are significantly cheaper.
19. Attire at a Discount
Search out sales for discounted gowns and tuxes. But don’t wait too long — if you can’t find your dream gown or suit within six months of your wedding date, consider other alternatives.
20. Borrow a Gown
Wear your mother’s, sister’s, or grandmother’s wedding gown. You can have it altered, embellished, or nearly remade at a fraction of the cost of a new dress. Or maybe you can borrow a friend’s.
21. Bridesmaid White
Instead of going for a traditional gown, consider buying a bridesmaid dress in white or ivory. There are plenty of beautiful dresses on the market that can do double-duty.
22. Rent the Tux
Unless there is a whirlwind of black-tie affairs in your future, the groom doesn’t need to buy a tux — renting is definitely cheaper.
FLOWERS & DECOR
23. Forgo the Big Bouquet
Consider carrying one single-stem flower down the aisle, and use that same type of flower in bud vases as simple but elegant centerpieces.
24. Find Seasonal Flowers
Lily of the valley, for example, may be easier to come by, and thus far less expensive, in May than in November.
25. Plant for Rent
Borrow or rent plants from your local florist instead of splurging on costly cut centerpiece bouquets.
26. Keep it Simple
Forgo the personalized accents; napkins and matchbooks alone can cost several hundred dollars.
27. Mood Lighting
Create centerpieces and light the room with candlelight, since candles are much cheaper than flowers. Buy votives from a restaurant supplier; buying these is usually cheaper than renting, and you can use them again.
28. Dismiss the Details
Details count, but don’t let them kill your passion for planning. Guests will notice thoughtful touches, but they won’t miss ribbons tied around guest soaps in the bathroom.
29. Star Search
Though you might not get the on-key assurance of hiring a professional, you can cut costs by asking a talented friend or relative to sing or play an instrument during the ceremony. They’ll be touched (and so will you).
30. One-Man Band
Find a DJ who is willing to work alone, and leave the emcee duties to the best man.
31. Minimize Musicians
If you have your heart set on a band, ask if you can eliminate a player or two. For example, cutting a guitar player from a swing band can save over $400.
32. Dip into Your CDs
Ask the band to play for the crucial parts of your reception, like the first dance and the party afterward, and use taped music for the cocktail and dinner hours.
PHOTO & VIDEO
33. Time for Photographer
Talk to your photographer about limiting his or her time to help cut costs (only shoot your ceremony, not the reception, or vice versa).
34. Negotiate the Negatives
Forgo pricey print packages offered by the photographer. Instead, ask if you can buy the negatives. While you will have to compromise the skilled eye of your photographer when it comes to having prints made, this may save money down the road.
35. An Education in Photography
Shop the market. Compare photographers’ hourly fees and package deals to see which is the most cost effective for you.
36. No Frills Video
Ask if your videographer will do a scaled-back package for less money, and eliminate special effects or extra editing.
GET HELP THIS CAN BE HUGE!!!
37. Consultants Cut Costs
Hire a wedding consultant. You will undoubtedly recoup his or her fee with the sound advice he or she can provide about getting more or better service for your money.
38. Borrow the Basics
When it comes to weddings, friends and relatives are thrilled to help. From shoes to linens to a backyard, don’t dismiss any offers too quickly.
39. Limo Limit
Don’t get caught up in the idea that you need a wedding cavalcade to transport everyone to the reception. Limit the number of limos you use, or ask a friend with a vintage car to drive the two of you and book a mini bus or van to transport both the wedding party and your parents.
40. Honeymoon at Home
Instead of a three-week trek to Bali, go local and consider a four-day hiking trip in the mountains or a relaxing week on the beach. You’ll feel refreshed — sans the jet lag — and you will save a bundle. Besides, you’re not supposed to leave your room on your honeymoon anyway!
Rebecca Miller French
article by TheKnot.com