Weddings are expensive, and I can tell you that first-hand. I’m getting married in less than two weeks and despite our best efforts, we went over budget on a number of things. We did learn some hard lessons along the way, and I’d like to share some tips and ideas to help you save money while planning your Big Day.
Yes, it is one of the biggest days of your life, but you don’t have to spend a small fortune to have a wonderful and beautiful wedding. After all, it is just ONE day and the marriage is for life, so you don’t want to start your new life being in debt and having money problems. I’ll show you some ways to cut-corners, save money, and DIY, so that you don’t fall into debt.
Wedding Budget –
The very first thing you’ll want to do is speak with your significant other and family members about the overall budget. Who will pay for most of the expense? Who else can pitch in to help? Will the groom’s family take care of the rehearsal dinner or flowers? Are you and your future spouse paying for it all on your own?
These are some really hard questions and they don’t make for an easy conversation, but it’s something that has to be done right away and figured out completely because ALL of your planning from here on out depends upon this crucial number. Use this free online budgeting worksheet to help you: http://www.weddingwire.com/wedding-planning/wedding-budget.html
The Guest List –
It all starts and ends here! This list is the deciding factor in everything from food, alcohol, linens, napkins, chairs, décor, centerpieces, paper supplies for invitations, menus, escort cards, etc. The bigger the guest list, the bigger the expense! And you are probably thinking “Uhhh, well duh!” but there are unforeseen things that you wouldn’t even think would be effected by the number of guests, but they totally are.
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If you are planning a wedding on a budget then, this is the first place you’ll want to look at to make some cut-backs. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to invite your boss, co-workers, friends of your parents, etc. Sure, the both of you would LIKE to invite everyone but sometimes that’s just not possible, and most people will understand that.
Picking a Date –
Don’t get your heart set on a specific date just because you like the sound of it (or because it’s Valentine’s Day, one of the most overbooked and expensive wedding dates). Keep in mind the most popular wedding months (June, September, August, and May) and how this might affect costs and availability.
Of course, be aware of the big holidays too (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s Eve, Easter, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, and Halloween). If you are trying to save money consider having your wedding in the “off” season and not during peak wedding season.
Day of the Week & Time of the Event –
Most weddings take place on Saturday afternoons with the reception being that evening, but there are real savings to be had when you select a Friday or Sunday wedding instead. Some good friends of ours just had their wedding on a Saturday morning, and then had a lovely brunch style reception instead of an evening sit-down dinner. It was absolutely beautiful, a ton of fun, and probably a little less expensive than having it on Saturday evening. Keep an open-mind to different days of the week and also different times of the day. You can save a decent amount of money just by being flexible with the day and time of your big event.
Find a FREE or Cheap Venue/Location –
You would not believe how much money some venues charge just to have your event there! I’m talking over $10,000-$15,000 for a 5-6 hour wedding and that doesn’t include anything, it’s just the “rent”. My fiancé and I got really discouraged after speaking to some event venues because of the outrageous cost just to have a wedding there.
Don’t worry because there are reasonably cheap wedding venues out there and even FREE ones at that. If you can host your wedding on a friend’s farm or in your parent’s backyard, I would definitely recommend doing that! Try looking at a bed & breakfast, public parks, art galleries, or other public places that are either free, cheap or just require purchasing a one-time use permit for that day.
Consider having your ceremony and reception in the same location to save on transportation costs and other factors. Your guests will love the fact that they don’t have to travel after the ceremony, and they can get started on the cocktails and hors d’oeuvres right away. That’s what we are doing on Oct. 18th!
Pictures Last Forever –
This is one area that you really don’t want to cut-corners or be too frugal in. Your wedding day will go by in a flash-a lovely blur of nervous energy, emotional euphoria, and a million hugs and well-wishes. Choosing a good photographer to capture all of those precious moments is so important. The ceremony, the reception, all the sights, and the smiling faces of your wedding guests are memories you’ll cherish forever.
Top-quality photography does not come cheap, but you’ll be rest assured that your pictures will be perfect and just the way you want them. Can you imagine having the perfect wedding, and then finding out your pictures are terrible, or not enough pictures were taken, or the photographer lost all of the pictures? I’ve heard some horror stories from close friends about such things happening. It is worth the investment to have a professional, licensed, and insured wedding day photographer.
Invitations Get Thrown Away –
When it comes to the design, quality, and overall look and feel of invitations, the options are endless. Many couples can go a little over-board on their wedding invitations. The invites are the first public expression of your new “soon-to-be-married couple” identity, and that can lead to people trying to overly impress their guests.
Technology has made the old fashioned tissue paper stuffed invitations almost obsolete. People don’t keep your invitation like you think they well. They open it, read it, check their calendar, if they’re available that day they’ll add it to the calendar, and then it goes right into the garbage can.
With things like personal wedding websites, MapQuest for directions or GPS, Smartphones, etc. there really is no need to hang on to invitations anymore. So don’t spend a ton of money on something that will most likely end up at the landfill next week. Check out online electronic invitations or get a design from Etsy.com and print them out yourself to save money.
Rentals Can Add Up –
It’s a good idea to try and find a venue that includes necessary items in their cost such as tables, chairs, linens, napkins, china, glassware, etc. Rental companies can provide everything from napkins to dance floors, or lighting and linen. But if you need to rent something because your venue doesn’t offer it, just make sure you are staying within budget and that it’s something you really “need” vs. something you “want”.
You may need things like a nice portable restroom trailer, porch heaters if it gets cold, chairs, or a dance floor. Chances are you don’t need ice sculptures, special lighting, statues, vintage couches, or 4 foot tall glass vases for the centerpieces. If you are planning a wedding on a budget, skip those frivolous things and save money because no one notices them anyway. It’s also smart to deal with as few rental companies as possible, especially if you don’t have a wedding planner to help manage everything.
You Don’t Need a Wedding Planner –
Sure having a wedding planner would be awesome, but for the bride on a budget that’s just not feasible. Wedding planners are expensive and the same planning can be done by anyone if they are prepared, organized, and able to multi-task (which let’s be honest, most women are). Make a ton of “To-Do” Lists, Excel Spreadsheets, create an email folder called “Wedding” to keep all electronic correspondences, and get a really good Wedding Planner Organizer. I recommend this organizer: http://www.amazon.com/Wedding-Planner-Organizer-Mindy-Weiss/dp/0761165975 and carry it with you everywhere!
Last But Not Least….The Honeymoon –
You may want to splurge on the honeymoon (I don’t blame you) but you can still find some awesome deals that promise luxury, relaxation, fun, top-notch quality service, and extraordinary food. Check out deal websites such as http://www.cheapcaribbean.com/, http://www.groupon.com/getaways, https://www.livingsocial.com/escapes, and http://www.allinclusiveoutlet.com/.
Why not tryout an all-inclusive resort? We are heading to the Divi Aruba All Inclusive Resort for our honeymoon. This all-inclusive resort includes: all meals and snacks throughout the day at a choice of 9 different dining locations, unlimited alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages at 7 bars, non-motorized water sports, nightly entertainment and much more. You can get a great deal on airfare through these resorts as well. If your airfare isn’t included then check out sites like http://www.kayak.com/, http://www.expedia.com/Flights, or http://www.hotwire.com/air/index.jsp to find some great deals!
Remember, it is a very special day and it should be exactly how you’ve always imagined it, but you don’t need to take out a second mortgage or sell your car to make it happen. With a little planning, comparison shopping, deal hunting, flexibility, creative thinking, and some elbow grease (DIY décor) you can have a gorgeous wedding and ensure that all of your guests have a wonderful time.