Thursday, January 30, 2014

How to Plan a Wedding on a Budget

The cost of a wedding has exploded over the past several years. Last year, couples spent an average of $28,427 on weddings according to TheKnot.com. With the average cost of a wedding dress being more than $1,200, tent rentals for outdoor weddings costing as much as $20,000, and hotel dinners as much as $175 per plate, it’s easy to see how quickly the bill adds up.
If you’re like most engaged couples today, planning a wedding on a budget can seem like an impossible task. But fret not! The following tips can help you save money on everything from the dress and wedding jewelry to the venue and food.
Guest List
Your wedding day is a special and intimate occasion that is best shared with those closest to you. It’s easy for the guest list to quickly grow out of control but keeping your guest list small can slash a considerable amount off your wedding bill. Invite only immediate family and your closest friends- skip inviting those you haven’t spoken to in a couple years. A smaller guest list saves you money, opens up venue options that may not accommodate larger groups and lets you enjoy your day with the people you care about the most.
Venue
The venue is one of the biggest expenses when it comes to planning a wedding. Explore non-traditional venues such as national parks, restaurants and city run parks and outdoor spaces. National parks offer some of the most beautiful settings to say “I do” in, and many are available for a nominal fee. Click here to find a park near you. Have your wedding on a Friday or Sunday and/or during off-season (November or January-March) and you could save 30-40% off venue costs!
Food
One great way to save money on food is to say your vows at night under romantic lighting, skip serving dinner and hold a dessert-only reception. Don’t like the idea of a dessert-only reception? Lunch or brunch is always going to be cheaper to serve than dinner. Have your heart set on serving dinner? Choose a buffet-style dinner with in-season produce, pasta and less expensive proteins like chicken instead of pricey alternatives such as beef and fish. You’ll also be saving the cost of hiring servers!
Flowers
Wedding flowers can easily add up and cost thousands of dollars! Save hundreds by ordering in-season flowers only or order loose stems and enlist the help of your bridal party to create the arrangements yourself. Another great way to save money on flowers is to skip the traditional florist and order your flowers online. Also, when ordering flowers, don’t mention they are for a wedding because often times, just saying the word “wedding” can inflate the price. Say you are ordering flowers for a party instead to keep prices low.
Dress
Undeniably one of the most important details of any wedding is the dress. You can find gorgeous designer gowns for a fraction of the cost by shopping last-season and sample sales. Consider purchasing a used wedding dress and you could save 30-90% off retail price for a dress that was worn once -and only for a few hours! Shop sites like Craigslist and eBay and you can find discounted dresses that have never been worn for various reasons like cold feet and last minute wedding dress changes. When it comes to the veil, don’t pay $200+ for one. You can rent veils and other wedding accessories from popular sites like Rent the Runway for a fraction of the cost of buying new.
Drinks
Bar tabs add up fast when you have a large group of people ready to celebrate by getting tipsy and cutting loose on the dance floor. Save money without skimping on the drinks and offer a couple of beer and wine choices and/or serve a signature cocktail rather than offering a fully stocked bar. Another way to save a lot of cash on drinks is to stock the bar yourself and hire a bartender. Shop at local wholesale and discount liquor stores and, when available, purchase wine in cases for considerable savings.
Jewelry
It’s easier than ever to save on wedding jewelry with beautiful engagement rings and wedding bands made of less expensive, gold and platinum alternative metals. Titanium wedding bands and tungsten wedding bands are growing in popularity because they are affordable, durable and just as stunning as more expensive gold rings. Today, you can find affordable wedding jewelry for the engagement, the wedding and for celebrating future anniversaries!
Music
If you have an iPod or an iPhone you can be your wedding’s DJ! With wedding DJs starting around $500 for four hours and live bands costing thousands, playlist weddings are growing in popularity. You can choose only the songs you want to hear and create separate playlists for the rehearsal, ceremony, reception and special dances. Using your iPod allows you to personalize your wedding soundtrack and save a lot of money. Have your heart set on a live band? Hire local music students -they are equally talented and cost far less.
Cake
Traditional over-the-top wedding cakes are out. When it comes to the wedding cake, smaller is better as the more height it has, the more expensive it will be. Purchase a smaller version of your dream wedding cake for “cutting the cake” and then have a sheet cake in the back to serve guests. Better yet- skip the cake all together! Wedding cupcakes and pies are extremely trendy right now and can take a good slice out of your wedding bill because you only need to buy one cupcake per guest and they are much easier to DIY with simpler decorating techniques. Browse local bakers on Craigslist and negotiate on their fee.
Photographer
If there is one thing on this list not to skimp on, it’s the photographer. You only have once chance to capture the special memories of your day so you want it done right. Not to mention they will be displayed in your home for the rest of your lives and passed on to children for generations to come. If you find a photographer you love, don’t be shy about negotiating their price. Many photographers are willing to lower their fee -all you have to do is ask!
What to Skip
There are a couple things that you can skip all together to save money. Don’t bother with wedding favors. They are out dated and unnecessary -your guests won’t even notice the missing bubbles or the personalized champagne flutes on the table. You can also skip mailing paper “save the dates.” Sites like mywedding.com make it fun and easy to create electronic “save the dates” and can also help you set a wedding budget, stay on track, connect with vendors and build a FREE wedding website!
When planning a wedding on a budget, it’s important to keep things simple. Don’t let the wedding plans go over-board and don’t let yourself be convinced you need more people, a bigger venue and a cake to feed 1,000 people. Set a wedding budget and check back to it frequently to help keep you on track. Remember, this is your dream day and you can make it happen for thousands less with a little creative thinking and a DIY attitude!

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