Most little girls dream about their wedding day and plan it out years in advance. The perfect man, perfect dress, perfect music, perfect perfect perfect.
Then they grow up and reality sets in when they actually start planning their dream wedding. Unless your last name is Hilton, Trump, or Winfrey you probably can’t have your original perfect wedding without going into debt. That does not mean you still can’t have a great wedding filled with wonderful memories. All you need to know are the right places to cut costs.
The following ideas are what we did to cut costs for our daughter’s wedding. She got pretty much everything she wanted to have for her dream wedding, but we didn’t have to go into debt to pay for it.
Let’s face it, the wedding dress is very important because everyone will be looking at the bride as the walks down the aisle, but there are cost effective ways to find a wedding dress.
Consider wearing a used dress. That is what our daughter did. She wore the one her grandmother got married in. All we had to do was get some alterations made, and she added some extra beading to make it look a little more modern, and voila – the dress was perfect. The grandmother was honored and the bride was happy. It doesn’t get much better than that!
If a used dress isn’t something that interests you, then consider buying at an outlet store. You can find some name brand dresses at half the cost or less. Good bargains can also be found at bridal shops at their end of the year sales.
Every bride wants a beautiful bouquet, but this is a very easy area in which to cut costs. Making your own arrangement can save you a bundle. Using flowers that are in season, or freshly cut wildflowers can also save quite a bit on flowers. It’s also perfectly acceptable for the bridesmaids to only carry a single flower instead of their own bouquet. Our daughter’s bouquet was a wedding gift from one of her best friends, so all we had to buy was flowers for the people in the wedding party. We went with single buds for the bridesmaids.
Wedding Photos and Videos
It is definitely a challenge to find a reliable good quality professional photographer at a reasonable price. It will take some time and research, but it’s worth the investment to find the right person. Photos and videos of your special day will be how you and your family look back on your wedding for decades to come. So this is one area where you can splurge a little … but that doesn’t mean you have to go overboard and can’t save a little money.
Ask friends and co-workers if they know anyone in the business. Also ask people you know who were married recently who they used and if they were happy with the results. If you use a professional, you might consider having the pro only shoot the wedding, and let friends or family take care of the reception photos.
Our son is a photographer and audio engineer, so he took all the photos, all the video, and handled all the sound for the ceremony and the reception at our daughters wedding. So don’t forget to question all the relatives and tap into built in talent whenever possible.
With all of the technology available these days, just about anyone can design and print their own invitations from the convenience of their own home. It’s much cheaper and you can personalize them any way you want. Our daughter had her younger sister do all the calligraphy on hers by hand and they turned out better than a professional, in my opinion.
Although the wedding reception is where most people spend the largest chunk of money, the reception is really the easiest place to cut down on costs. The choice of food is the number one area we were able to cut the most expense. We had a taco bar, buffet style, and had various family members do the cooking. We didn’t furnish alcohol but there was a cash bar available for those who wanted to imbibe.
People need to remember that a wedding reception is not a place for people to come to an elaborate all you can eat festival. People are at a wedding reception to celebrate the union of the happy couple. Brides should not sweat the small stuff that nobody is going to remember, and most people do not remember what was served at the last wedding they went to.
You can also save a wad of cash by limiting the number of guests and choosing a location that is free, such as someone’s house or a public park. If it’s a spring or summer wedding, rent a large tent and have the reception in the back yard or under a gazebo at a park. You can dress up a tent with little expense, and most gazebo’s have natural architectural charm and don’t need much decoration. We had our daughter’s reception at our house and decorated the back yard area with colored lights and a few flowers. We have an enclosed gazebo area that served as the focal point and people strolled in and out throughout the evening. It worked out quite well.
Naturally you want the cake to look good in the photos, but you don’t have to pay an arm and leg for one. I know quite a few people who have used “fake cakes” for the cake that the bride and groom serve one another and pose around for photos. Everything was fake except for the very bottom layer. After the photos were taken the “fake cake” was removed and the cake for people to enjoy was brought out. It’s much less expensive that way. Plus you can usually ask around and find someone who makes cakes in their home, and they will give you a much better price than a traditional bakery. Luckily my sister works at a bakery and we were able to get a great price on our daughter’s cakes.
I say forget about putting out wedding favors. They are not a necessity when you’re on a budget and more than likely people will just toss them in the trash after the reception anyway. If you feel like they are a must have item, then consider something handmade that people can use over and over.
So girls, don’t quit dreaming about your perfect wedding but prepare to be realistic unless you’re parents are rich or your husband to be is loaded. All you need to do is set a budget, be practical, and leave plenty of time for researching the best deals. Then you can have your fairy tale wedding without going into debt.