Your beloved finally proposed. It is time to plan the wedding! Most brides want a glorious wedding, which will be remembered as such. They want to feel like a princess at least for a day. They want the wedding of their dreams. Yet there are so many choices. So how does one get the unique and glamorous touch to the wedding day without breaking the bank? There are plenty of ways to save on your wedding expenses and still make it a glorious, glamorous, and memorable day. You don’t have to forego your honeymoon and your wedding does not have to cost you a small fortune. However, you have to proceed wisely and not fall into the pitfalls of absolutely having to have something because it’s such a special day.
First off, you should take your time to plan your wedding. Unless you have a reason to be married within the next couple of months, try to leave yourself about a year for the wedding planning. This allows you to weigh your options carefully in all aspects of your wedding day. You can research prices and offers. Most importantly, you don’t feel rushed to make decisions and lay out the money.
Thus, your first step should be to set a date. Unless a certain date is dear to your heart due to personal reasons, you should pick a date that’s convenient for you and those you want in your wedding party. You might also want to consult with those people in your life you really would like to be there for you on this most important day in your life. Your date choices might be limited, if your heart is absolutely set on a location for the ceremony and/or reception, which has limited availability and/or is seasonally dependent. In this case you should check availability first and plan accordingly. However, such locations are usually also pricier.
You should also keep in mind May, June, and July are prime wedding months. In those months everything wedding related is more expensive. Don’t shy away from a winter, spring, or fall wedding. Even in those times you can get a very romantic atmosphere. If you choose a date in December, most places will have wonderful Christmas decoration. Decoration is expensive and this will mean savings.
Secondly, you have to decide on the guest list. It is nice to be admired and have people talk about your wedding for years to come. What isn’t better than having a lot of people spread the word about your fantastic wedding. However, while the saying is, “The more the merrier,” the more will also cost more. Don’t labor under the expectation you will gain back all your expenses or even more through wedding gifts. This is simply not true. Add to that the headache of a logistic nightmare. You have to seat, feed, and entertain those people. Therefore, limit your guest list. You are not obligated to invite every co-worker or acquaintance, especially not those of your parents or grandparents. This is your wedding, not theirs. However, if parents and grandparents are footing the bill, then you might have to oblige.
Thirdly, you can save when you wisely chose your location for the ceremony and reception. This is also the first step of achieving a glorious and unique setting. However, keep in mind, a unique venue does not have to be expensive. Also, often uniqueness derives from what you make of a location. For a lot of brides a church wedding is a must. Churches do charge a fee for the usage of their sanctuary. However, it is often waved for church members. Even, if you are not a member, they still might wave the fee, if your parents or grandparents are. If you plan on a smaller wedding, don’t pass up churches with a bigger sanctuary. You should inquire, if they have a chapel you might be able to use, which might also be cheaper.
Besides churches, there are plenty of other wedding venues available. Drive around. If you see a place you like, make an inquiry to see what it would cost. The use of public areas has to be cleared with the proper authorities and you might have to pay a small fee. In any case, try to avoid the word wedding, especially, when looking for a place for the reception. People think brides are willing to pay anything to achieve their dream wedding and might charge extra just because.
Inquire with your friends and relatives, if they might know somebody, who could get you a discount on a place. They might also be able to point you to a lovely location that is not expensive to use or may even be free. If a facility is to your liking, but cannot be rented by you, because you are not a club or lodge member, you might be able to find a friend or relative, who is and will do it for you.
The fourth step is to choose how to cater your wedding. If you have an early afternoon wedding and only plan a simply reception, you might get away with just serving hors d’oeuvres. In that case, depending on what arrangement of hors d’oeuvres and beverages you choose, this might be your cheapest way to go. However, if you rather have your wedding in the morning, late afternoon or evening, your guests will probably expect at least a light lunch or proper dinner. In either case, providing good food is a must, or your wedding will be remembered for the upset stomachs the food caused.
Sometimes the venue, like a restaurant or banquet hall, don’t allow outside caterers. Then you have to work with the food they can provide at the prices they demand. Otherwise, you have a multitude of options. Fortunately, good food does not have to be expensive; it just has to look expensive, delicious, and fabulous. The secret is often in the taste and presentation. If you have a smaller wedding, relatives or friends who are good cooks might be able to pitch in. A lot of food can be prepared in advance. And memories can be formed that last a lifetime. Make sure you have enough time to talk things through in advance, especially how the food will be presented. If this is not an option, do your research! Ask caterers for taste tests and references and follow up on those references. Compare prices. And here again, even though you probably burst for joy, don’t mention this is for a wedding, because prices have the tendency to be higher for a wedding.
Your fifth item on the list is your cake. For cakes it is easier to find a relative or friend, who is skilled enough to put together a representable cake with unique touches. Still, this might not be an option. Here, too, do your research! Compare prices! And especially here, don’t tell the baker it is a wedding cake. This not only pricier, but might limit the choices you will be shown. Even the cake toppers are pricier at the bakery than elsewhere. So just tell the baker, to leave the top layer without decoration or only with minimal decoration around the corner. If question, tell them that you have a fitting topper for the occasion that you will personally put on top of the cake. Now, nice cake toppers can be found at craft or wholesale stores. If you prefer flowers, the florist can take care of it.
The sixth topic is about your wedding invitations. If you, a friend, or relative, know how to handle your computer or are very good at scrap booking, you might be able to make wonderful non-expensive invitations yourself. There are many do-it-yourself supplies available at craft and scrap booking supply stores. Otherwise, you have to do your homework again. Compare prices. The wedding invitation is the first step to making a good and memorable impression on your guests. Glamorous invitations don’t have to be expensive. Take care of your Thank-you notes as well and you might even get a discount; and you don’t have to worry about ordering them after the wedding.
Number seven is your wedding dress. For most brides this is one of the most expensive items on the wedding list. It is often also the most difficult to find. There are options to find an inexpensive dress that is just perfect for your wedding day. Go ahead and indulge. Go to the bridal stores with your friends or mother. Try on dresses, see what you like and see what you think might look right on you. Look at the sales rack first, because prices on those dresses are usually significantly discounted. If you see a dress you like have the person who accompanies you take a picture of you in the dress from all four sides. Note the size and model. But don’t buy it, yet!
After you leave, take a good look at those pictures. With a digital camera, you can get a good, big and often unforgiving picture on your computer. You might have to sleep on it to be more objective. If after this, you still like how you look, go ahead and do your research. You might be able to find this dress cheaper. Another bridal store with presence on the Internet might have it cheaper. Somebody might sell it on ebay. The chances increase, if you don’t have your heart set on one specific dress. Remember, you should not spend a fortune on a dress that you will only wear once. This is unless you would be able to choose one you can dye and wear again at another occasion.
Once you have purchased your dress, you have to think about number eight, the groom. He does not have to wear a tuxedo. Tuxedo rentals can be expensive, especially, if the item gets damaged while worn. Instead, go with your husband-to-be to a suit store. While buying a really nice suit might be more expensive right now, it can be used again in the future for other occasions, especially, if he chooses a nice black suit.
Now, let’s discuss number nine, decoration. Decoration really depends on the place you will have your ceremony and reception at, as well as the time of the year. As I already mentioned above, if you marry in a December, many places will be nicely decorated with attractive seasonal decoration. You should also keep in mind that less is more. Don’t overdo it. You can make really nice centerpieces for the table yourself with items from the craft store. You can also just get nice potted plants that you later can use as decoration in your house or plant in your yard. Inexpensive decorative items can also be found at freecycle or on ebay. Have crafty friends and relative pitch in. Churches might have leftover decoration from previous weddings or lent you some of the items like candelabras they keep on to decorate the sanctuary. If you want nice flower arrangements, especially for the bridal bouquets, research the prices at several florists. Prices can vary greatly.
And the tenth tip is about photographers and videographers. You might have a relative or friend, who is willing to tape the wedding ceremony and the relevant parts of the reception. This is usually good enough. A good relative of friend with a good camera and photographic skills might also be a good photographer for your wedding. If this is not an option, you have to research the professionals. Here, too, prices can vary greatly and not necessarily reflect the person’s skills. Make sure you ask for references and follow up on those. Let them show you the pictures that were taken of their weddings.
In either case, you need to discuss in detail with your photographer and videographer what pictures you like to have taken and when. Make sure they have a checklist of pictures/poses you absolutely want to have taken at your wedding. Keep a list handy at your wedding so nothing is forgotten even if the order of events changes.
Nonetheless, the wedding guests often take some of the best pictures. Have some of them bring their cameras and/or distribute one-use cameras at the reception. One camera per table should be sufficient.