9 Money-Smart Ways to Plan Your Wedding

Sunday, May 16, 2010

I'm all for the bride on a budget! It doesn't mean you can't get what you want, it just means you plan things with purpose instead of impulse. Weddings are a bazillion dollar industry and you can easily get sucked in the black hole, spending hard earned cash on spur-of-the-moment glitzy gadgets that are more so a want than a need. I compiled thoughts on a few categories to hopefully get you started on the right track. Even if you already crossed a few things off this list, you can still plug right in. Feel free to message us with your advice as well!

1. Date
“Did you set a date yet?” That seems to be the 1st question everyone asks once you’re engaged. There are factors to every date; depending on where you live, some think the summer may be too hot, it rains sporadically in spring, the original date you wanted isn’t available at the venue etc. Consider an off-peak season. “You can shave 20 to 30 percent off the cost of a wedding by planning it for November, or January through March―except for Valentine’s Day,” says Alan Fields, coauthor of Bridal Bargains: Secrets to Throwing a Fantastic Wedding on a Realistic Budget. Also, you might be surprised to find out how much you can save getting married on a Friday or Sunday vs. Saturday.

2. Venue
Following the when, is the where. Instead of choosing a place that is typically known for hosting weddings, such as a banquet hall or hotel, consider a non-traditional venue such as a home, boat or historic landmark. You can jazz up any place by hiring your own hand selected vendors and having more creative control.

3. Dress
Go ahead, get inspired online or from magazines but don’t let the thousand dollar price tags stop you from wearing what you want. Consider getting your gown custom-made, buying a vintage or second-hand dress, borrowing, renting or tracking down your dream dress from trunk sales and off sample racks.

4. Food
Having your reception during the day and serving brunch or lunch tends to be much cheaper than dinner. Other options are a limited buffet course instead of a 5 course meal , a cake & punch reception are also popular money-saving alternatives.

5. Liquor
Offer a signature cocktail (ex: sangria) or provide previously bought alcohol (ex: red and white wine only), vs. an open bar. Even if the open bar is open for a limited time, it will encourage guests to drink as much they can in a short amount of time, which isn’t necessarily beneficial for the party or the bill. I know for some brides alcohol is an “must”, but consider skipping out on the liquor altogether. I personally did this for our wedding and the one thing our guests were raving about was how much of a (surprisingly) good time they had without the booze!

6. Cake
Sure, the fancy multi-tiered cakes are wondrous to behold, but unless your aunt Becky is baking it, those aren’t cheap! (See my previous post entitled “But I Don’t Even Like Cake”). A good rule of thumb to remember is: the more height, the more money, this goes for all the embellishments in between. Opt for a smaller cake, do the finishing touches yourself and get a sheet cake to serve to your guests.

7. Flowers
Simply, simplify, simplify. Consider using one type of flower, which will add a monochromatic theme to your wedding and/or use local, in-season flowers. This will cut down expenses from your florist having to do a special order on exotic flowers. You can either do the bouquets or centerpieces yourself with real or silk flowers, I’ve even seen weddings where the couple bought orchids that came already in simple and chic pots and just placed them on the table to instantly dress up a bland tablecloth.

8. Photo/Video
Photography and Video are important elements to not skimp out on. After countless hours of planning picture-perfect details, besides your memories, they are the only keepsakes that document your Big Day. Consider hiring a photography/film student or someone looking to expand their portfolio who will work with your budget. If you can, ask for the raw footage or copies of all the original files and get them edited or re-touched at a later time when you can afford it. Remember, the best photographers and videographers were up and coming at one time or another!

9. Invitations
Get your bridal party involved and put their creative talents to use! Friends and family are always looking for ways to help out. How fun would it be to organize a get-together-invitation-making assembly line? If you don’t want to go the D-I-Y route, there are tons of simple, affordable invites that still look classy. Check out Seal ‘N Send invites by Carlson Craft. We got ours from www.paperelegance.com for approximately $130 for 125 invites. Not bad, huh?

...saving all this money, sweet segue into splurging on your well-deserved honeymoon!


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