Weddings. We all know what usually proceeds the joy and excitement of the engagement: “Holy sh*t how am I going to pay for all of this??”. It’s a dose of harsh reality, weddings aren’t cheap. Unless you’re wearing your mother’s gown (and it fits perfectly), you have a huge backyard with a tent to fit 150 in storage, your brother is DJ, your cousin is a photographer, your aunt is a baker, be prepared for some sticker shock. This will probably never happen. So, how can a bride and groom save precious dollars but still have the wedding of their dreams? Here’s some tips from Dearly Beloved:
- The #1 way you can slash the cost of a wedding is to slash the number of guests. Think of it this way: if you are thinking about 200 people, at about $100/plate, that’s $20k. Cut 50 guests and you’re down to $15k! That’s $5,000 savings! How can you cut the list down? Focus on inviting close family and friends. Don’t worry about inviting your boss, your co-workers, or that cousin you last saw when you were both in diapers. If someone has had an impact on your life, by all means, invite them! And who says you have to invite plus one’s? Now if your cousin has been dating the same girl for a year, you might want to include her. But that fraternity brother who seems to have a new girl a week, let him come sans-date and sit all the single guests together. Who knows, someone might meet their “The One” that night!
- The next way you can cut costs is to rethink about having your day on a Saturday. Venues know they can charge more on Saturdays because it’s the most requested day of the week for events. Take a look at Friday, Sunday, or even weekday weddings. Most venues are more than happy to offer discounts on these days so they can get booked. For instance, the venue for my wedding had a rental fee of $3500 and a minimum of 250 guests for a Saturday. But a Sunday had a $1500 rental fee with a 125 minimum guest count. HELLO SAVINGS! If you stuck on having a Saturday wedding, think about an afternoon or brunch affair. It’s different and unique but still having it on a Saturday! A venue in the suburbs of Chicago has Saturday evening weddings for around $68/per person. But a Saturday afternoon wedding? Just $21! Perfect.
- Choose a venue that doesn’t need a lot of extra things to make it amazing. You want a venue that speaks for itself. Those centerpieces can be expensive! And don’t get me started on uplighting! So you rented a great blank art gallery…but now you have to rent EVERYTHING…tables, chairs, linens, place settings, waiters, liquor, bartenders, lighting, security (yes, some places require that you hire security), and even insurance! Holy moley. Now, imagine you found a venue that INCLUDES all of that! All you now need for the day is the dress, DJ, photographer, and florist. Boom. Done. It pays to get it all for one price!
- Look on craigslist for vendors. There’s tons of DJs, photographers, florists who are offering their services at a fraction of the price of some big name companies! Just make sure you ask for references from past events they did or ask for a portfolio. Not to mention you can find designer gowns (some pre-worn, yes) on the For Sale pages! Same goes for finding student photographers. Most will have a minimal fee because they’re mainly looking for portfolio photos!
- Save those coupons! Michael’s, Joann’s, and Hobby Lobby have great sales throughout the year on select merchandise and always have those Sunday paper coupons! I saved those 40% off one item coupons and bought my square vases for my centerpieces one week at a time. At $9.99 a vase, with the coupon they came out to $5.99. We bought 10 and saved $44.96! Plus, Joann’s and Michael’s take each other’s coupons. Bonus!
- Buy in-season flowers for your day. They can cost double than your in-season ones!
- Take advantage of the Sales. David’s Bridal has their “Bridal Christmas” (aka Dec to March) sale where nearly every dress has a discount. Go to sample sales. Now this, unfortunately, will benefit mostly women who are a size 10 or lower. There might be some larger sized gowns available but generally designers make samples in sizes 8, 10, or 12. Keep in mind bridal sizes usually fit 2 sizes smaller than what’s on the label. Call ahead and ask what sizes will be in the sample sale. Also, take a look into bridal consignment stores. Brides bring in already worn, (or not), but gently used, designer gowns for a fraction of the price. Check out designer trunk shows at bridal stores. Typically there’s specials that weekend, and as a bonus, the designer is usually there which can be exciting and an opportunity for some insider bridal fashion tips!
- Use an Ipod instead of a DJ! Just compile a list of great songs and appoint someone you trust to man the Ipod! Ask a rental company, or even your venue, to borrow audio equipment. Now you just need someone to Emcee and you’re all set!
Your wedding is what you make of it, no matter what the budget is!