Featured Photographer: This Modern Romance
Want to know how to get amazing wedding flowers without totally diminishing your budget? Or how to impress your guest with top-notch meals without the hefty price tag? Well, today is your luck day! We’re sharing the secrets to planning a wedding on a budget while still creating the dreamiest wedding day ever.
The Wedding Budget
- Set a budget, and don’t deviate from it. Before you start planning, this is one of the most important things to do. Sit down with your fiancé and talk about reasonable wedding budget, which should play the most important role in many of your wedding planning decisions. Decide on your budget and then prioritize. As a rule of thumb, food, beverage and venue costs should be about 50 percent of your totally wedding budget.
- Set up a separate bank account just for wedding funds. Keeping your day-to-day expenses separate from your wedding costs will alleviate the desire to dish out more money than you should. This way, you can more easily track all of your purchases.
- Be a fearless negotiator. There’s no need to become a crazed bride during the planning process, but you don’t have to be a pushover either. Keep in mind that many vendors are willing to accommodate your budget and offer you a good deal.
The Time and Date
- Avoid the wedding season. Wedding vendors usually charge more during wedding season (May through October). Consider saving dollars by having a fall or winter wedding.
- Have an off-day wedding. Weddings hosted on Saturday nights typically cost the most. Instead, consider having the ceremony on a Friday evening or on a Sunday afternoon when venues can give you lower prices.
- Watch for holidays. During the holidays, prices for venues go up, florists charge more for flowers, and out-of-town guests may have a more challenging time finding places to stay (especially at a reasonable rate).
The Location and Venue
- Have your ceremony and reception in the same location. With this option, you won’t have to pay multiple site fees, and there will be no need for transportation between each venue.
- Unusual venues have cheaper site fees. Quirky weddings at unexpected locations are becoming more and more popular. Locations such as galleries, libraries, restaurants, gardens, vineyards, aquariums and parks are all great alternatives for a common reception hall. Just keep in mind that not all these venues will have seating, shelter and kitchen included, so be sure to evaluate any additional costs.
- Assess the cost of rentals (e.g., tents, tables, chairs and portable restrooms, etc.). Although a wedding in your backyard sounds economical, and many public locations are available for minimal rental fees, they may need to be equipped to handle a large occasion. If you’ll need to rent a lot of items, from tables to napkins, you may exceed your budget.
- Belong to the military or a community organization? You may have access to your group’s venue at a low cost or no cost at all.
- Many colleges and universities offer beautiful, sensibly priced locations for students and alumni to get married. Find out if this is a possible choice for your wedding.
The Wedding Ceremony and Reception
- Reduce the time duration of your wedding. Schedule a three-hour wedding as opposed to a five-hour one. (People will still have a great time!)
- Trim your guest list. Since so many wedding details are most likely charged on a per-person basis, opting for fewer guests can save you a lot.
- Consider alternative options for a reception. Rather than having a traditional sit-down dinner reception, consider alternatives for a reception. Lunch receptions, desserts-only receptions, cocktail-only receptions, and wine-tasting receptions are just a few of the many affordable yet entertaining choices.
- Find package deals. Save money and time with reception venues that have an all-inclusive package with caterers, seating, and event coordinators.
- Avoid overtime fees from the venue, limo drivers, musicians, photographers and other vendors by adhering to a pre-set schedule, no matter how tempted you may be to throw caution out the window.
- Avoid self-serve hors d’oeuvres during cocktail hour. Instead, have servers hand-pass appetizers to your guests. This will control the food portions and avoid overeating, saving you money on some of your yummy appetizers.
- Have a smaller course meal. Once guests fill up on appetizers, they won’t mind if you serve a three-course meal rather than a five-course meal.
- Plated food is cheaper than a buffet. It’s a frequent misconception that ordering a buffet is less expensive than having a three-course plated meal. A buffet can cost more because it requires caterers to prepare more food.
- Duet plates (a mixture of two items such as filet mignon and lobster tail, for example) are less expensive than a choice of several entrées at the table for every guest.
- Order a smaller display cake for the ceremonial cutting. Use a smaller, two- to three-tier wedding cake for your display and cake-cutting purposes, and then have a non-decorated, non-stacked sheet cake in the kitchen to serve. This trick can save you 50 percent on wedding cake expenses!
- Keep your wedding cake simple. The cost of a wedding cake is mostly determined by labor and the time spent creating, icing, and detailing. So skip the sugar-paste flowers and intricate lacy fondant details that match your wedding dress. Instead, consider using real lace or satin ribbon around each cake layer. It costs next nothing; just pin on fabric for a chic style. Or creatively scatter a few real flowers here and there for a stylish finish.
- Go for seasonal wedding cake fruit fillings. For example, strawberries can cost 10 dollars a flat or 30 dollars a flat depending on the time of the year.
- Skip the champagne. According to Martha Stewart Weddings, 50 percent of wedding guests don’t even drink the champagne during a toast, and 25 percent sip it only because it’s offered. Instead of wasting money in this area, have everyone toast with whatever they are drinking.
- Opt out of the open bar. Instead, serve a few signature cocktails with garnishes that match your wedding colors and/or theme, and offer beer and wine as well.
- Find out if your venue allows you to bring in wine. If so, negotiate to remove the corkage fee from your contract, which can run you $10 to $25 per bottle.
- Close the open bar a little early. Bonus: this helps your guests sober up by the end of the party for the drive home.
The Flowers & Décor
- Candles are inexpensive and can create a romantic ambiance when incorporated in abundance.
- Go for simple flower arrangements. Much of the florist’s fee will go toward the cost of labor, so the more lavish your arrangements, the more it will cost you.
- Consider the time of year. Due to higher demand, flowers are generally 15 to 30 percent more expensive around Easter, Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day and during prom season.
- Buy flowers wholesale. This way you save money on flowers and then pay a florist just to do simple arrangements.
- Select in-season flowers. Instead of ordering flowers from overseas (which can be very costly), look into local farmers markets to see which flowers are blooming.
- Larger petals mean fewer stems, which will cost less. You’ll pay for less flowers but still have a voluminous display. Hydrangeas, orchids, baby’s breath and peonies are great additions to bouquets or venue decorations.
- Find out if your reception venue has in-house décor you can use. You might be able to use available items like plants and votives to jazz up your space
- Try groupings of the same flower in different colors for a cost-efficient yet chic style. Cluster vases in various configurations on each table.
Music & Entertainment
- Save tons by booking a DJ for dancing instead of a live band.
- When it comes to bands, it might be wiser to choose a high quality five- to seven-piece band with a talented bandleader than a larger group with an inexperienced bandleader.
- Use staging tricks to give a smaller band more presence. A bandstand with glowing up-lighting can make all the difference.
- Hire music majors from local universities if you definitely want live musicians at your wedding. Their fees are lower than professionals, but they play just as well. Make sure to browse around and check out performances before you commit.
- Cut down on the time your photographer stays at the reception. Schedule toasts, the cake cutting and bouquet toss to happen soon after dinner so the photographer can capture those important moments and leave.
- Order more affordable proofs and albums online such as Shutterfly. Alternatively, if a photographer whose work you love is out of your budget, ask if you can skip the order of proofs and albums from him/her, and only book the photography service.
- Ordering prints of every image is expensive. Ask your photographer if instead of getting back hundreds of proofs for printing, you can choose only about 200.