It starts with the engagement…you are elated that your loved one has proposed. All you can think about at that moment is how wonderful your lives will be together, and how magical your big day will be. But for many, once the reality sets in that a wedding is extremely expensive for basically a big party, it can be almost heartbreaking.
If you are like me, planning a wedding on a budget, or know someone that is, there are many ways in which you can cut the cost of your wedding and still have a wonderful time with friends and family.
1) Re-work your guest list
Most caterers and reception locations charge per person. The best way to save money is to look at your guest list and start narrowing it down. This doesn’t mean that your closest friends will not be there for your special day. It is more about having only those there that have played key roles in your lives. Unless you have an endless budget, there is no need to have anyone at your wedding that neither the bride nor the groom know personally. There are several websites that offer tools to help organize your guest list. My personal favorites are The Knot and Our Wedding Day.
2) Research, Research, Research
Although you may love the first or second place you looked at for your wedding/reception, keep looking. Most cities have hundreds of locations to get married at from Golf Courses to Museums to Hotels. Depending on the size of your city, there is most likely no way that you will ever see everything. Call and look online and find the places that are within your budget and go check them out. Research can save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Quick tip: look into your local parks or community centers, they usually are kept up well, look nice, and usually there is just a site fee, and you will have the freedom to hire your favorite caterer rather than be forced to use the onsite caterer.
The old saying “Timing is Everything,” has never been more true than when planning a wedding. Most venues charge a premium price for Saturday evening events. If you really want an evening event, consider having it on a Friday or Sunday. Most places will discount thousands off the regular price in order to book an event on their off nights. Also, if you can have your event earlier in the day, say a brunch or lunch event, you will again be given huge discounts. Timing doesn’t just mean time of day though, the time of year also plays a big part in cost. The big wedding season is from May – September, and again around Christmas time. If you can plan your event outside of these times, you will be charged much less.
4) Be Creative or Find Creative Ideas and Work with a Friend
Anything that you can do yourself rather than purchasing, will be a money saver. You can make your favors, save-the-date cards, invitations, veil, bouquet, centerpieces, and many other items. If you aren’t the creative type, you can search for ideas online or go to a craft supply store, which usually have entire sections of the store dedicated to wedding items. Also, invite your maid of honor or your mom to join you, it can be a fun day and you will want their advice.
5) Time to Call in Favors
Weddings are the time that everyone wants to give gifts to the happy couple. If you know any creative people that can help you with decorations, or any of the items listed above, you can ask the creative person in your life to do them for you as their gift to you. It will be fun for them and save them from trying to figure out what to get you. Also, if there is a photographer in the family, ask that person to bring their best camera and take candid shots throughout the day as their gift to you. You are sure to get wonderful pictures that your hired photographer will not be able to get.
6) E-Bay and Online Stores
E-Bay is a great place to find items for your wedding. For example, my venue wanted to charge $250 extra for an aisle runner with rose petals, I found an aisle runner on e-bay for $15-30, and silk rose petals for $3-10. Taking your time to search the many items on e-bay has a potential to save you hundreds of dollars.
The important thing to remember is that it is your day. There should be no set requirements with what you have and how you plan your day. Do what you want and everyone else will be happy and have a good time just to see that you are happy.