holding hands

Budgeting your wedding; every bride’s favorite part of the process.  Kidding, obviously.  But you don’t have to panic over your budget (or lack thereof).   You can have an amazing wedding on any budget.  The best way to do so is by prioritizing your wedding day wish list.  From there you can re-evaluate where to cut corners.  Aside from your top must-haves, consider the different ways to minimize costs for the areas that are towards the bottom of your list.

Here is an outline of different ways to cut costs.  Remember, every bride is different so you may not agree with my entire list.  That’s okay!  As long as you can apply one or two of these, you should be able to whittle down your list of expenses.

Wedding Date

The most expensive wedding dates are Saturdays during “wedding season”, which typically refers to  May through October.  If you are dead set on a date during those more popular months, ask about rates for days other than Saturdays.  A lot of venues offer some type of rate cut for Friday or Sunday weddings.   For an even bigger break, consider a wedding date during the off-season.  Most vendors and venues have significantly lower priced packages during the winter months.  Aside from the price break, having a wedding in the off-season has a lot of other perks, including a much lower chance of other weddings conflicting with yours, as well as beautiful and unique photo ops!

Centerpieces

The cost of flowers can escalate very quickly.  Of course you want to have beautiful bouquets and ceremony arrangements.  When it comes time to pick the centerpieces, why not scale back?  Talk to your florist about some of the more inexpensive flowers, like baby’s breath or wildflowers.  Or forego floral centerpieces altogether; there’s no rule stating you must have flowers on your tables.   There are so many cute DIY centerpiece ideas on Pinterest, and a lot of them only use supplies from the dollar store.   Make sure you also check with your venue to see what they have on site already.  A lot of venues have votive candles or mirror plates.  You can take advantage of these and play off of what is provided.

Food

I know people will disagree with me on this one, but unless you are a total foodie, you don’t need to serve top-notch, 5 star, personal chef worthy dishes at your wedding.  You just don’t.  You need to serve food that is good, that pleases the masses, and isn’t served cold.   And whoever decided buffets were second class?  I love buffets.  Who doesn’t love being able to take massive helpings of their favorite dish, while skipping over the parts you would push to the side on a plated meal.  This isn’t Top Chef.  People aren’t there to harshly judge what you serve them.  And if they are, maybe you should consider why they were invited in the first place.   Another way to save some bucks, nix them from the guest list.

Cake

Weddings cakes can end up being quite the expense.  I know cutting the cake together is every couples right, but you don’t need a seven tier cake.  A great way to enjoy the tradition of cutting the cake while saving a ton of money is to have a smaller one or two tier wedding cake, and a sheet cake (or two) back in the kitchen that they wait staff can cut and serve.  No one is going to care that their dessert didn’t come from your actual wedding cake.  And if cake just isn’t your thing, then look into other, more cost-effective desserts.  Maybe cookies and a coffee bar.

Favors

There are so many ways to save money here.   The biggest thing to remember is that while it might be fun to custom order something that has your names and weddings dates plastered all over it, 75% of your guests will probably end up throwing that super-special-to-you-but-no-one-else favor in a junk drawer.   Save your money.

Guest List

This is always my first answer when anyone asks me how to stick to their budget.  Keep your guest list as small as you can.  The more people you invite, the more your wedding will cost.  Heres why.   Lets say your wedding costs $60 per plate.  Your guest list has 200 people on it.  Hello $12,000 food bill.  Cut your list to 150, and you just saved yourself $3,000.   Something to keep in mind when planning a budget friendly wedding.

Programs/Handouts

While there are so many adorable ideas for how to do your Ceremony Programs, the truth is that the wedding will take place with or without a list of your bridal party, music choices, and readings.  Your wedding guests aren’t going to panic if they don’t have an exact itinerary of how the ceremony is going to go.  Most people leave them behind, or throw them away right afterwards anyways.  It’s an expense that can be spared, and people probably won’t even notice.

Ceremony Musicians

This is one area where I really think people overspend.  Again, check with your ceremony venue and see what they already have available.  Does your church have an organist that volunteers to do weddings, or is available for a small fee? Or does your venue already have built-in speakers that you can play a CD from or hook an iPhone up to?  If not, can you bring in a portable speaker that you can hook up someones phone to?   I could literally bring my portable speaker and iPhone and DJ any wedding ceremony tomorrow.    This is also an excellent job for that strange relative who wants to be involved in your wedding, but you’re just not sure where they fit into the day (so long as you can trust them to hit Play and Stop).

Pipe and Drape

Sure, there are some really nice events that use pipe and drape that look lovely.  Like a graduation ceremony, or a convention center hosting a conference.  And, newsflash, the really pretty fabrics and also really pretty expensive.   Cheap pipe and drape looks… cheap.  Period.  While I understand the urge to purchase a backdrop in your color scheme or as something logical like covering up a particularly hideous kitchen staff entryway, I truthfully feel like spending money on excessive pipe and drape is so unnecessary.  Why on earth would you pay for a venue where you feel the need to cover up the walls?   Add this to your checklist instead – find a ceremony and reception site where you like the backdrop/walls/windows.

Lighting

Lighting is one of those things people are just not going to remember.  Did the room have a nice purple glow around the corners, or was it pink?  Blue?  Do you really need a spotlight during your first dance?  (I promise people will still watch you without one).  Can you honestly remember the lighting style of the last wedding you attended?   And if you can, did it really make a difference in your overall experience?   See what your DJ can provide, or better yet, just use the lighting already set up in your venue.

Invitations

Let’s face it.  We live in a world where if there isn’t a picture of it, did it even happen?  Almost every wedding invitation I got this year was a picture of the happy couple.  Don’t get me wrong, I love hanging them up on my fridge.  But I will be replacing it with your Christmas card later in the year.    The best way to pay more for your wedding invitations is to emblem them with your face.  I slashed the cost of my wedding invitations by 60% by merely opting out of the photo invitation.   I may be one of the more vain people on this planet, so if I can do it, so can you.

Again, these are just a few suggestions on areas that you can consider for your wedding day.  They won’t apply to every bride.  What may work for some bride may not work for others.  You may have to pipe and drape your ballroom to section off the cocktail hour.  If you live and die in the kitchen, having a buffet probably won’t suit you.   If you have a huge extended family, cutting down the guest list may not be an option.  As always, use this as guidance and to get your mind thinking about other things that just aren’t that important to you.

As one of the most commonly asked questions, I’d love for you to leave me your comments on how you saved money on your wedding!  And remember you can always send your specific concerns here.

Love,

Mrs. Newman