exciting time, but also a bit overwhelming when faced with budget vs. dream decisions, timelines, and even knowing what you want. Your wedding day is special and unique. You have dreamed about it since you were a little girl.
Now it is time to bring your dream to life, without breaking your pocketbook. We’re here to
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1. Keep Your Guest List Small
With each additional guest, you increase costs and reduce the intimacy of your wedding. Eliminate people you have not been in contact with for years, acquaintances who are not really friends, plus ones, and even children to get your list to a manageable size. If your parents ask you to invite their friends and associates that you don’t know, calmly discuss with them, and decide together why these individuals should be there and the impact on space and budget.
The real secret is to understand that few people will feel offended they are not invited to your wedding when others they consider their peers are not invited either. Be consistent in your planning, but also remember it is your wedding.
2. Ask for Help As Your Wedding Gift
If you know talented musicians, a photographer, or even an officiant, who you would invite to your wedding regardless of their skills, ask them to perform their service at a discount (or even free if they are very close) instead of purchasing a wedding gift. If you would not invite them otherwise, it’s best to skip this tip. You can still employ them. but don’t ask for a discount. (They may surprise you and offer it, but do not ask.)
If you are planning DIY, you will need help there as well. Don’t just assume that people have the time or desire to help you create your perfect wedding. You can design your gorgeous flowers, bouquets and centerpieces with help and planning and save tons of money. Just be sure to ask.
3. Have Your Ceremony in a Free Space
Instead of renting space, how about using your home or the home of a parent or friend for your ceremony and reception. Many people have beautiful gardens they would love to show off. Keep in mind, you will need to give them lots of advance notice, and make it clear that you do not expect them to spend money or paining, and other improvements for your wedding. Public parks and beaches offer gorgeous views at a very low costs. Don’t forget a backup plan if you are planning an outdoor wedding.
4. Fraternal Organizations & Community Halls
Particularly in rural America, fraternal and community groups often have halls for rent at a cost much less than commercial venues. The revenue created from the rentals is a major source of income for the community projects and activities the organization supports. Check your local volunteer fire company, Elks Lodge, Lions Club, Ruritan or similar location for your wedding ceremony and/or reception. Most of these halls include the tables and chairs, are easy to decorate and have lots of free parking. They may even offer catering for your reception, and their food is usually homemade and delicious. Because they are staffed by volunteers you may also save labor costs. Be sure to offer a tip as an additional donation so the volunteers will know you appreciate their time. (The barbecued chicken our local fire company offers twice a year is always a sellout. Your guests would love having it for your reception too.) What a great way to have community friends attend your reception without running up your budget
5. One Location for Ceremony & Reception
You can save thousands of dollars by having your entire day in a single location. You will need fewer decorations and flowers and have far fewer logistical issues to deal with. Some venues have two rooms, while at others, your guests are seated at the tables where you will hold your reception. If you are seating at the tables, ask your officiant to invite guests to turn their chairs around to face the front of the venue to everyone will be able to comfortably see the ceremony. Guests will also be thankful that they only need to drive and park at a single location.
6. Cater Your Own Wedding or Hire a Local Family-Owned Restaurant
You may be able to handle the food preparation with a lot of help from family and friends. Hire servers for the day, so those who helped prepare will not feel obligated to work on your wedding day. One lead adult and students from a high school or college club are often available at a great price. And you are supporting their club goals too. Don’t forget to acknowledge their organization, and offer tips to show your appreciation.
If cooking is not your passion or strength, look for a local family-owned restaurant and ask the owners to cater your wedding. They usually offer great food and will work to make your wedding special. You can ask them to have the food as carry-out and have someone pick it up and others serve it or have them deliver or cater the entire event.
7. Fewer Flowers Saves You A Lot of Money & Looks Gorgeous
Live flowers are very expensive. Keep it simple and minimize the number of flowers to buy. Have bridesmaids carry a single flower or a purse or other object that is meaningful to them (it can double as your bridesmaid gift.) Cut your own flowers and even use everlasting flowers. (I love the word “everlasting”. It sounds so much more elegant than “fake” flowers Feel free to use it in describing your flowers if you use them.) Consider using more candles and greenery. You will be surprised how much you will save and how beautiful your wedding will be.
8. Another Flower Tip
If you must have fresh flowers, purchase local, in season flowers to minimize your costs and make sure your florist knows that cheap is your favorite word. Many large grocery and big block stores also floral departments that create beautiful arrangements about half the cost. And they will customize for you. Farmers markets carry a wide selection of flowers, and may even arrange them for you. Be sure to order early. Check it out.
9. Just One More Thing About Flowers
DIY flowers are always a consideration if you have a creative side, or someone you know can make your arrangements and bouquets for you. You can have part of your flowers (perhaps your bouquet) professionally done and do the rest yourself. Another half and half solution is to use part fresh and part artificial flowers. The hit on your floral budget will be reduced drastically. Using artificial flowers with real greenery is a sure way to have your guests think “real”, as it adding a tiny hint of scent to your bouquet. (Be sure to test the scent before applying to your flowers, you do not want it to smell fake or overpowering. If it does – don’t use it.)
10. Skip the Groomsmen & Bridesmaid Invitation Gifts
A relatively new idea is providing gift boxes to your wedding party when asking them to be in your wedding. If these are good friends, most know that you are trying to have a frugal wedding and they will understand. A personal phone call or creative note is all you really need. (That is not cheap, it is just being realistic about your spending limits).
11. Make Your Own Invitations
If you are the crafty sort and have a quality home printer, you can make your own invitations. Buy invitation kits that already have fonts and text prepared for you. All you do is fill in the details. It does take some time, so start early if you are going to make your own invitations.
Online wedding invitations – Another inexpensive option, where you can include photos or other special touches withe the professional at considerable cost savings. You’ll save lots of time and money if you do not want to create your own.
12. Skip the DJ
I have attended several weddings this year where the bride and groom created their own playlists on their phones or iPod, and just plugged in a speaker. All set for a night of dancing. Choosing your own songs is a fantastic way to personalize your wedding. You can create lists of songs or artists you want included. Then ask a friend to create the playlist for you – as your wedding gift. Be sure you also have someone to coordinate your reception. A DJ usually does more than just play music.
13. Stock Your Own Bar
Alcohol is one of your largest expenses, especially if you rent a venue for the reception. Commercial venue alcohol prices are as much 10x more than will pay for alcohol you provide yourself. Consider this additional expense when renting your location. It is one wedding budget variable you can control.
When purchasing shop discount stores and ask if you can return unopened cases/bottles after the wedding. Some will charge a restocking fee, which is a small price to pay to make sure you do not run short at your reception.
14. Full Open Bar?
Instead of a full open bar, consider beer and wine, and possibly a signature drink. Limiting choices reduces costs.
A keg of beer may seem less expensive, but also consider that left overs are wasted. If you use bottles or cans, you can save them for months after the reception (or possibly even return them.)
Have plenty of water and ice on hand, and non-alcoholic options for guests to switch to at the end of the evening.
Finally, consider offering a paid cocktail period at the beginning of the reception, then switching to a cash bar later in the evening. (Make sure you tell guests in advance, so they will come prepared with cash.)
I hope you have found these tips useful.
Here are more articles you will enjoy. Many more for you on our Ceremonies blog.
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Some photos courtesy of New Tradition Photography. Visit them at www.facebook.com/
Enjoy your wedding planning and please contact me if you have any questions. firstname.lastname@example.org