Let me take a second to state the obvious: Weddings can be pretty expensive. They can, however, also be on the low cost end, as well as anywhere in between. Whatever your budget, keeping costs down when it comes to putting a wedding together is a challenge. You’re essentially hosting an event and that requires elements that inevitably have a price tag attached to them. So how do you keep costs down while planning your dream wedding? Well, it’s possible and we’re here to help. Read on to find out more!
Sit down with your partner and decide how much you’re willing to spend on your big day. Make room for some upward flexibility on that budget because it will definitely move. But don’t be too hard on yourself about this when it happens, since you’ll discover how much things really cost as you go along. Having a set budget with the kind of wiggle room that you’re comfortable with will keep you in check and it’s the first step to keeping your costs down.
We all have an idea in our minds of what a wedding “should” look like, whether it’s a lingering notion from childhood or an image influenced by media. Still, it’s important to remember that we are all individuals and you don’t have to have a wedding that “has it all.” I asked my husband to share his advice on going about this point, as it was very important to him that we have a wedding that was true to us and free of unnecessary fluff:
“Make an outline of your wedding and ask yourselves (as a couple) why each of those elements take place in the first place. Then ask yourselves what it means to you. If it means something to you, and I mean, really means something to you then do it. If not, then scrap it. Once you have weeded out everything that is just fluff to you as a couple then now you have a wedding that is personal and truthful to who you guys are, and I can almost guarantee that you would have already “saved” some money here just by simply eliminating elements that didn’t mean anything to you two to begin with. And now that you are focused purely on just the elements that matter to you two, you will have more of your budget (plus time and energy) to allocate on these things.” – Tam A.
After you’ve decided what you do want in your wedding, it’s time to go out there and get it! But don’t book the first florist or photographer you speak with–really get out there and survey your options. Ask around for recommendations, attend wedding fairs, and gather as much information as you can in the process. Through recommendations, you stand to get special prices and if you go to wedding fairs, you’ll find options and good deals. The more you search, the more you’ll know about which suppliers are more reasonable for you to go for.
These days, most people have basic editing skills, so why not try free online editors that provide templates to make your own invitations? These templates really do make the job a lot easier by suggesting layouts, matching fonts, and other design elements for you to choose from. This can save you a pretty big chunk of money as graphic designers charge quite a bit. As a plus, your invitations will be very much to your own taste and style! (Bonus tip: go digital with your invitations to cut printing cost entirely!)
This tip can be related to the previous one on invitations, but it can also apply to music (student musicians and DJs), gowns and suits (fashion students), and even photo and video services. Instead of opting for the big professional names, you might benefit from hiring a student who is looking to earn a little on the side while still in school. Work out an arrangement that is mutually beneficial to both parties. They get exposure and can build on experience, while you get a lower rate. (But be careful not to low-blow anyone!)
Your wedding dress is possibly the most special dress you’ll ever wear and it should make you feel the most beautiful you’ve ever felt. But it’s also something you’ll only wear once in your life. Custom dresses by designers and name brands are great, but the name attached to the design often means a much higher price tag. Don’t worry–it’s possible to save on your dress without compromising how beautiful it is! Wedding dress boutiques that carry ready-to-wear designs are often more fairly priced and, as an added benefit, you can already see and feel the quality of your dress choices the moment you try them on. Searching for sample sales (dresses displayed as samples or worn by models) is another great way to shave off a huge amount from a dress’ price tag. (Sometimes you get extra lucky and land a big name brand too!)
Your reception venue has the potential to set you back a fair bit, especially since hotel ballrooms and events places are used to marking up their rates for weddings, mostly because they can. If your home can host the number of guests you’re inviting, take advantage of the free location and maybe reallocate a bit of the saved funds from there towards food and flowers. Using your home also adds a very personal touch to your wedding. Village clubhouses are an alternative that can usually accommodate more people and are still much less expensive than traditional reception venues.
Flowers make a lovely accent to any wedding, but they don’t come cheap (especially around Valentine’s Day, when many weddings are set). There are several ways to be strategic with flowers and styling:
- Use local flowers instead of imported ones.
- Use foliage like large anahaw leaves, vines, and other dramatic leaves to add life and greenery to your celebration.
- Fallen petals from flowers (not just roses) can be collected and are sold by florists at a low cost. Scatter these strategically on table settings and around your venue to get a soft, romantic look.
- Styling doesn’t have to be limited to flowers and plants! You can use vases, furniture, rugs, or light fixtures and let your imagination go wild!
- If your venue is beautiful on its own, work with it by using and highlighting what’s already there. Don’t fight it by covering it up with other things and over-styling. (There is such a thing!)
Hiring a professional host is great but if you’re looking for ways to cut down on costs, you can ask your well-spoken friend or relative to get the job done. They know you better than a hired professional anyway! A second option is to not have a host at all, which might sound a little strange at first since we’re so used to seeing elaborate programs in weddings. The truth is, you and your partner are the hosts of your wedding in the traditional sense and anyone leading a program is really the MC (master of ceremonies) for the night. If you’re not putting on a big program anyway, consider hosting your own guests. My husband and I did just that at our wedding and it felt great to really welcome and host our guests on our own.
Essentially, to save on cost and to keep yourselves from going over your budget, eliminate what you can live without and be smart about sourcing what you need. You’ll find that you may even have funds to reallocate towards items that are more important to you. At the end of the day, you should be happy to spend on the things that matter most and that will definitely help you save on your wedding costs.