If you ask a wedding industry insider, they may tell you that one of the biggest mistakes they see couples make in planning their nuptials is to sink major cash into areas that don’t actually matter much to them. Regardless of the size of your budget, one of the best ways to avoid overspending is to get clear on your priorities early in the wedding planning stage. With that said, trimming your costs in certain areas does not need to mean compromising your vision of an amazing wedding, especially with some know-how gleaned from the experts, such as these tips below:
Consider an alternative venue: Although nowadays it’s fairly common to hold your wedding ceremony and reception at the same location, this of course does not mean that the price of booking the site has gotten any more reasonable. In fact, the wedding venue comprises approximately 45 percent of the total wedding budget on average these days. But if you expand your perception beyond what is considered to be a “wedding venue,” you may save substantial money while creating an incredible, highly-memorable experience. A few suggestions: a restaurant, cultural center, vacation house or a charter yacht (many have excellent wedding cruise packages). To avoid common pitfalls in booking a non-traditional venue, check out Marta Stewart Weddings’ “What Are Wedding Venue Site Fees.”
Select seasonal blooms: In general, you’ll get the best value from your floral design by staying within what’s in season locally at the time of your wedding. Beyond the money you’ll save, you’ll help ensure that your wedding flowers harmonize with your environment, and are at their freshest and most fragrant. According to The Knot, another cost-effective option is to choose blooms that are widely available year-round, such as calla lilies, roses and orchids. For a guideline on wedding flower availability and colors by season, visit The Spruce.
Give your wedding attendants the gift of good grooming: Since those who take an active role in your ceremony and pre-wedding shindigs can easily find themselves cash-strapped, a thoughtful alternative to a gift such as a piece of jewelry or set of cufflinks is to cover the costs of their hair and makeup and/or haircuts and professional shave. Not only will you help them all look and feel wonderful on your wedding day, but you’ll also spend less money retouching your photos due to messy hair, washed-out looks, etc.
Limit the hours of vendors: If you’re planning to hire a band or DJ, one way to reduce your entertainment expenditures is to make your own playlist for the cocktail hour and/or the end of the wedding when guests start to leave. But as Lindsay Goldenberg Jones cautions in “9 Easy Ways to Save Money on Your Wedding,” be sure to check with your venue to find out if they will permit you to use your own music. For further savings, consider reducing the total hours under which your photographer and videographer are contracted to work.
Don’t overpay for your shoes: As one wedding vendor puts it, “Skip the expensive shoes, they are going to get stepped on and trashed anyway.” Women often find that their shoes can’t be seen under a long wedding gown anyway, not to mention the fact that wedding shoes often get little post-nuptial use. One good way to go is to first find the shoes that you want to wear, then buy them gently used for a steep discount on a site such as eBay. Buying pre-owned can also apply to a wedding dress, or full-wedding attire for that matter. For instance, sites like Wore It Once, Tradesy and Nearly Newlywed offer a huge selection of gowns that have been worn only once, or never at all. Another option that can save you a bundle on your dress is to rent it from a designer boutique, such as the subscription service Rent the Runway.
Rethink the wedding cake:
You don’t have to pay a premium to get a multi-tiered cake or one marked up simply because you asked the baker for a “wedding” cake. In fact, you don’t need to serve cake at all, and this can nix the cake-cutting fee
that the venue may charge you if you don’t use their in-house baker. What may work equally well or better, two types of cupcakes frosted in a monochromatic color scheme, or a
dessert spread of two or three items. If you’re inclined to skip the cake, The Knot is an excellent place to look for wedding dessert inspiration.
Use an unconventional catering choice: It’s no secret that table service is typically the most expensive option for meals at a wedding, outpricing family style, a buffet and heavy hors d’oeuvres. But as AC Events & Weddings suggests, you could also look to creative solutions such as food trucks and culinary schools. Another budget-friendly way to control costs is to skip food stations during the cocktail hour, and provide hors d’oeuvres served by waitstaff instead. When it comes to beverages, offering a specialty cocktail along with wine, beer and non-alcoholic choices instead of a fully-hosted bar is a great way to lower your costs, without depriving your guests.
Borrow from friends and family: Don’t forget that people are often happy to help, especially when they can do this without shelling out money or making a major investment of time and energy. Don’t hesitate to ask them to lend you some of those smaller wedding items, before you discover that they’ve quickly eaten away at your budget. Just a few examples: accessories like a tiara or veil, décor for your centerpiece, a cake stand, ring box, extra serving trays and decorative vases.
Scale back the number of invitees: It’s not fun to hear, but in the final analysis, you’ll come out farther ahead financially by keeping your guest list contained. For some perspective, Bustle points out that couples tend to save between $75 and $150 in food and drinks alone for each person crossed off the guest list. Need a method to help you decide who to include? Think in terms of those that will be there to support you in your marriage, long after the wedding itself.