Let’s face it, weddings are expensive. The truth is that they come with a high price tag because they are a luxury, The Knot reports that in 2017 the average national price for a wedding was $33,391 and that doesn’t include the engagement ring or the honeymoon. It is worth it to indulge in the right places and make small sacrifices in others (without compromising on your guests experience or anything that is non-negotiable to you). From a wedding professional’s perspective, there are plenty of ways to save a few hundred bucks here and there so why wouldn’t you?
Skip the favors. You have read articles with the same subject matter and you know this is mentioned ad nauseam, there is a reason for it. Every single wedding we have had there have been heaps of orphaned favors left behind. You can save a couple hundred dollars, at least, by passing on these. I hate to break it to you but no one really wants a beer coozie with your initials and wedding date on it anyway. If you feel the need to provide some sort of favor, consider something edible like a “his and hers” favorite snack or some type of edible bar (candy, sweet & salty, donut or pretzel wall, etc.). This will give your guests something to do in addition to not burdening the environment with hundreds of favors that will most likely end up in a landfill- a win for your pocketbook and Mother Earth! Yay!
Floral: I have seen some articles where the author suggests skipping flowers or going with fake flowers for a wedding as a way to save money. I couldn’t imagine not having real, living, aromatic flowers at my wedding. Fresh flowers are fabulous and non-negotiable to me. They add such a loveliness to a wedding- or any other party for that matter. Ways you can save money and still have real flowers is to skip the bridesmaids bouquets (or give them mini ones), allow greenery to be the star of the show (Eucalyptus, ferns, bay leaves, lamb’s ear, magnolia, boxwood, etc.), pass on the boutonnieres and go with what is locally grown and in season. A professional florist is always the best way to go but you can also buy your own blooms and arrange yourself (there are local farms that will sell you cut flowers for you to arrange yourself , some offer affordable classes too. We have also had clients go to Trader Joes for flowers and greenery but we suggest checking with local flower farms first where there is no middle man.
(Don’t) let them eat cake! If your heart is set on having a wedding cake, get a petite one just for you two newlyweds to cut/ share/ freeze for your anniversary. You can get other desserts for a fraction of what a large wedding cake costs (check with the vendor you get your said mini cake from, they most likely make other goodies too). Additionally, Costco has affordable and tasty treats, if you go store bought you can display them in a way that makes them look upscale or homemade. Alternatively, in lieu of a gift, ask that guests bring their favorite homemade dessert with the recipe. You can have a dessert bar and add the recipe to your collection, every anniversary make a new dessert together for your celebration. Or to personalize your dessert course, pick your favorite two desserts and have those be the selections. You don’t HAVE to have a giant, expensive wedding cake- there are no rules.
Honeymoon fund: this is nothing new. It is just a great idea. Chances are in our modern society, you already live with your fiancé or on your own and don’t need the traditional gift registry to get you started in your new life as an adult. I would bet you have plenty of kitchen devices and bathroom towels already. It is okay, etiquette wise, to ask for contributions to your honeymoon fund in lieu of a gift, just make sure the way you ask is polite.
Skip Saturday. Saturday is the prime wedding day and thanks to supply and demand it comes with a higher price tag. Plan on a Sunday (or even Friday) wedding as many venues (including us!) offer a discount on these days. Saltbox clients can save $800 by having a Friday or Sunday wedding in the 2019 wedding season.
Alcohol: limit the quantity and the variety. If you go with a quality wine and beer your guests will be satisfied with whatever variety you provide. Consider 1-2 types of beer such as an ale and a lager and a red wine and a white wine. Use infographs (you can find them on Pinterest) to determine the quantity you will need to serve your invitees. Know the stats: 1 keg provides 165 servings (12 oz. per serving) and 1 wine bottle is 5 servings (5 oz. per serving). Bring only the amount of alcohol necessary and not excess according to the charts you read- remember that some people will drink more than others and some will not drink at all. Bonus- if you buy your alcohol at Costco and get too much you can return it for a full refund, I personally love being a member! Which is a perfect segue to tip number seven.
Take advantage of corporate offers. I ordered a lot of my wedding stuff on Amazon. Why I didn’t think to get Prime with its free shipping and points system back then is beyond me. If you are going to be purchasing a lot of stuff online, check out Amazon Prime. Also, if you can responsibly use a credit card, consider finding one with a rewards system. The Costco Visa gives you 2% cash back at Costco and 1% back on everything else. That 1% can really add up. There are a ton of cards with other banks that offer various rewards too, including travel points, cash back and more. Using this one card for all of your wedding purchases will keep you on track with how much you are actually spending as well. I am pretty sure that each wedding we have had (and our own) went over budget.
Take a long look at your guest list. Really think about who actually needs to a part of this special day. Does your coworker who you don’t talk to about your personal life or who you have never hung out with outside of work really need to be there? Will not inviting the friend from high school that you haven’t talked to for years really affect your day? Aside from family, I would make sure that you invite people who are more to you than just acquaintances. Additionally, nix the option for a plus one, or only allow them for people who are really close to you. This may seem harsh or bridezilla-ish but it is your day and if you don’t want to buy strangers dinner you shouldn’t have to. Your guests should understand and come to support you regardless of if they get to bring a date or not. I personally wouldn’t want people I do not know celebrating one of the most important days of my life with me. I would bet most people can cut at least 20-25 people on their guest list by reviewing it.
Utilize the internet for invitations. You can have super cute, affordable, easy to design invitations made at Vistaprint.com. Also, consider using electronic RSVPs. I gave my invitees the option to email, text or IM their RSVP to make it easier for them. Wait, why does it need to be easier for them? Digressing from budget talk to planning tips here for a second. Some people flat out just won’t respond by your RSVP date. I was still tracking people down to get them to confirm or deny their invite while trying to get final counts back to my caterer. If you make it easier on them, it will save you a little stress later. Okay back to money saving: the electronic RSVP cuts down on the amount of envelopes and postage you need to purchase. It all adds up and electronic invites and RSVPs are better for the environment too!
The dress. Be realistic about this. It is a dress you will wear one time and your spouse will think you are gorgeous in any dress! Shop around, buy a floor sample, and even look at used dresses and dresses that aren’t wedding dresses (there are no rules!). Maybe buy a basic dress and jazz it up with some accessories. Do not skimp on the alterations though. Find a good tailor and get that baby fit to a T, this will make it look better no matter what the price tag is. Side note: I got my dress for $300 and it did the job.
A word of caution: Do not save money by going with the cheapest vendor(s). You (usually) get what you pay for. Make sure you read reviews and ask plenty of questions. There is a going rate and if someone is under charging you need to find out why- it could just be because they are new and gaining experience and that is okay as long as you sample their work and do your research. A bad vendor can break your whole day!
Although these tips will add up in savings, your big day is still going to cost a pretty penny! Remember, the traditional American wedding is a luxury and not a necessity and that your professional wedding vendors all spend an extremely large amount of time on your wedding which is reflected in their price tag. Know the expected costs before your planning begins so you know what to expect and have time to save, plan and budget.
How did you save money on your wedding day? Let me know!