Do you have champagne taste on a beer budget? You aren't alone! With the average American wedding costing nearly $30,000, you don’t have to DIY your entire wedding to cut costs and stay within budget. There are many other ways you can be frugal and still have the fabulous wedding day you have hoped for.
Here are our Top 12 Wedding Budget Tips:
1. DETERMINE YOUR PRIORITIES
Pick which three elements are most important to you and then you can customize your budget to splurge on those items and cut back on the others. We call them, "The Top 3." These options are different for everyone but if you really value photography, must have lawn games, and really want a seafood bar - those could be the three most important aspects of your wedding to you.
2. KEEP YOUR GUEST COUNT ON THE LOWER SIDE
Venues often determine your wedding cost by the head count. One way is to just do immediate family and friends and avoid the plus one’s. If mom and dad are footing the bill, then let them invite who they want (yes, even Uncle Frank who smells weird). If they aren't paying for the bulk of your wedding, then kindly let them know that you have to keep the guest count low to stay within your budget. Have a family get together at a different time. Weddings are NOT a substitute for reunions.
3. DON'T BE AFRAID TO NEGOTIATE
Venues and vendors will negotiate for various reasons. If they aren’t booked and the date is fast approaching, they will probably be willing to negotiate with you. Maybe your wedding date is on a Sunday in November - for many vendors this is considered off-season.
4. AVOID SATURDAYS AND PEAK SEASON MONTHS
For some people this may not be possible, but if you can get married on any other day (Fridays and Sundays being the next most popular days) it can save thousands of dollars. Another option is to have a daytime wedding rather than an evening wedding, this is a huge money saver as well.
5. BUY PRE-OWNED
Designer wedding dresses can cost anywhere from $1,500 to over $10,000. Once you know exactly which wedding dress you want, rather than buying it from a retail shop you can search for it on pre-owned wedding dress websites like Preowned Wedding Dresses. For some brides, the fact that it is only once worn is a major contributing factor to not need to spend $$$$$s and can save you 50% off the retail price in the long run.
6. CHOOSING THE LOCATION AND RENTALS
The prettier the venue location (whether it is because of the gorgeous grounds or amazing interior space) the less you will have to spend on decor. If you end up having to rent a tent, tables, chairs, a dance floor, etc., spend more $$ for better quality rental items. You don't want your guests sitting on wobbly chairs or dining at rickety tables. Ask the rental agent for a discount for renting more than 50 of each of these items: chairs, tables, china, and glasses. You may be able to even negotiate a 10-20% overall price break.
Think small, seasonal and locally grown floral arrangements to avoid paying premium prices. Surround centerpieces with votives and/or use lots of greenery. Greenery is chic, after all. During cocktail hour have your florist move the ceremony flowers to your reception. This can save you hundreds of dollars on additional flower arrangements.
8. HAVE A BUFFET OR LIMITED OPTIONS
Buffets can save $$$$$$$$$$ rather than having a plated meal. If you still want the plated meal feel, opt for only one meat option and one vegetarian option. By not offering three meat options, this can save you thousands on your catering budget. If you think that a sit-down dinner is completely out of the question - think again. By offering 3-4 pieces of grilled shrimp or crab cakes, plus several marinated beef tips and colorful steam vegetables, you can save more than 40%!! Don't forget that a special sauce can completely transform budget-friendly chicken or pasta and give your guests the impression that you spent much, much more than you did.
9. COCKTAIL HOUR
During the cocktail hour, treat your guests to hand-passed hors d'oeuvres but limit the selection to five or six choices. The better the presentation and the better the food looks, the more guests will appreciate it. Maybe ask your caterer about mixing some pricier, exotic foods into your menu such as chunks of lobster in creamy risotto served in porcelain spoons. Or consider mini meat and veggie kebabs. Perhaps gazpacho served in shot glasses.
10. SERVE A SIGNATURE COCKTAIL
By only serving wine, beer and one signature cocktail you are still giving the guests three desirable drink options without the expensive cost of a full open bar. Plus your guests will love ordering your cutely named cocktail. Another option to cut costs on cocktails would be to buy a few kegs of locally brewed beer and build a DIY beer bar. The idea of a self-serving beer station with dispensers adds a bit of personalized style and a fun option for your guests!
11. TO BUY OR TO DIY, THAT IS THE QUESTION
If you are a crafty person, enjoy doing as many DIY projects as you can to save money. If not crunch the numbers and determine whether it makes more sense to rent your linens or buy them for example. For destination weddings, consider the cost of getting everything to your venue as well.
12. HIRE A WEDDING PLANNER
This might seem like an unnecessary expense and totally counterproductive, but planners have expertise and connections that can save you money (and time) with vendors.