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So many brides-to-be email me asking for tips on saving on the big day. While I haven’t planned a wedding in a LONG TIME most of the strategies of saving haven’t changed.
When you first get engaged you are so excited. Everything is perfect and you can’t wait to start your life together. Then, the planning begins…If you don’t have a plan, things can quickly become overwhelming and expenses can get out of hand. Here are some tips for how to plan your wedding without losing your mind or your life savings.
Make A Budget
Before you spend any money, you need to make budget. Figure out total how much you will spend on your wedding. Then, decide exactly how much you are willing to spend in each category. To get started you can ask those who were recently married in your area. They will have a general idea of how much things cost to help you set realistic expectations.
Wedding websites like the Knot.com have some great resources to help you with this as well. You can enter how much you have total and it will help you break things down. Keep in mind that you may not actually need everything it lists. If it has you spending $500 on the ceremony, but you are getting married in your church for free, remove the money from that category and put it somewhere you will use it or put it back in the savings account!
You will need to update your budget as you go, but you need to starting with a detailed plan will help in the long run.
Decide What Is Most Important
To help you with your budget, choose what is most important to you and spend more money there. If you really want great a photographer, venue, and food, then that is what you’ll spend more money on. You could then spend less on flowers, your dress, and the cake.
Talk things over with your fiance to make sure you agree on your top items. Once you are in agreement you can spend more on your important items and less on the things that aren’t as important to you.
Avoid Peak Wedding Season
Everything is cheaper in the winter. If you avoid peak wedding season (May through October) you can get the same venues and services for a lot less. Venues and wedding professionals want your business, so they are willing to offer you better rates when things are slower.
Shop Around For Venues
One great way to save money on your venue is to look for non-traditional options. People have had beautiful weddings at fair grounds, homes, museums and more. If you are willing to branch out, you can avoid paying the hefty fees that are often tacked onto wedding locations.
Call around to different venues to compare rates. Be sure to ask about what is included, additional fees, and gratuities. If you love a venue, but it is out of your budget, they may be willing to work with you. See if you can only offer one entree, cut the open bar, or have a shorter reception to save money.
Limit Your Guest List
The quickest way to save money is to invite less guests. You will need less space, food, invitations, etc. if you invite less people. Look carefully through your guest list and cut those who you haven’t spoken to in the past year or you aren’t as close with. Think about having your life-long support system at the wedding and don’t invite folks out of obligation.
You also do not have to allow every guest to bring a date. If someone isn’t married or in a serious relationship, you do can specify that the invite is just for them.
Save on Save the Dates & Invitations
Think of Save the Date cards as an option, it is the easiest way to cut in this area. If you do want to send them out, look for deals online. One option is postcards from Vistapint. They will often offer them for 50% or even free at times, you just pay shipping. Shutterfly also has a lot of great options and frequently runs special promotions. The most affordable option on Shutterfly is the 4×7.9 photo card.
For wedding invitations, look at craft stores. Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, and AC Moore all sell blank wedding invites. The wedding invites come with a link to where you can download a template. You can then plug in your information and print them yourself. Be sure to check for craft store coupons to bring down the price. Also, don’t forget to check clearance. A friend of mine got her invitations on clearance at Target for $12 a box!
To address the invitations, you can invite over some bridesmaids and do them yourselves. If you’d rather have calligraphy, look for a family member or friend who is willing to address them.
Name Your Price
Never be afraid to tell someone what your budget is. Tell them what you will need and how much you are willing to spend. The worst thing they can do is say no, so it never hurts to ask.
Save on Photography
Many photographers who are just starting out will be willing to photograph your wedding for a fraction of the price. This will allow them to build their portfolio and you will be able to save money. If this seems too risky, you could have them take your engagement or bridal portraits to see their work before the wedding.
If you want someone more established, look around at different photographer’s blogs and Facebook pages. Compare their rates and time commitments. Keep in mind that you will have your wedding photos for years to come, so do not feel guilty if you want to spend more money here. If there is a photographer just outside of your price range, do not be afraid to e-mail them to negotiate price. They may do 6 hours for $800 instead of 8 hours for $1200. Most of the photos in this post were taken by Just A Dream Photography. They are very affordable and do weddings in North and South Carolina.
There are so many different flower options that flowers can be very affordable or very expensive. Cheaper flower options, such as carnations and hydrangeas, can make beautiful bouquets for at lot less. You could have cheaper flowers for bridesmaids, corsages, etc. and to allow more room in the budget for your bridal bouquet.
If you want flowers for the church and reception, you can purchase them yourself. Large ferns from Lowe’s or Home Depot are a beautiful, frugal option. You will spend a lot less and still have the decorations you want.
If you have an iPod, you can do wedding entertainment for a lot less. Many venues already have sound equipment, so you can have a friend DJ from an iPod playlist. If you venue doesn’t already have equipment you can look into renting or borrowing it.
Save On Linens
The best way to save on linens is to skip them. If you do want them, and your venue does not include them in the total price, you can save by purchasing them yourself. Look on Ebay or Craigslist for used linens. Many brides will try to sell table cloths, chair sashes, and chair covers online after their wedding.
Another great option is Linen Tablecloth. This is a site that offers very affordable linens for less than the price to rent them. Follow them on Facebook and sign-up for their e-mails to make sure you don’t miss their deals. They will often have one day only 20% off sales with free shipping. I have ordered some items from them and was very pleased with the quality.
Look For A Local Baker
Ask around to family and friends to find someone who bakes cakes as a hobby. You can then look at pictures of cakes they have done. If you are pleased with their quality, ask how much they would charge to bake the cake you want. Often, you can get a great looking cake for $200 or less. Bakeries often will charge $4 or more per slice.
Avoid serving a full meal. If you are planning your wedding in-between meal times you can serve appetizers and dessert.
If you would rather serve a full meal, contact your favorite restaurants for catering prices. Venues often charge high prices for catering, so if they will allow, you can bring in your own caterer to save money.
Go To Bridal Shows
At Bridal Shows vendors love to give away free things. You sign-up to win, but even if you do not win, they will often send out deals. I have a friend who booked her DJ for $300 less through a bridal show discount.
This is also a great place to get ideas and find out about new venues and vendors.
Daily Deal Sites
Many daily deal sites will offer deals on everything from photo books to photo booths. Be sure to sign-up and look through their e-mails. If you see a deal that is not targeted toward weddings, be sure to read the fine print. Many photography deals exclude bridal and engagement sessions.
How are you saving money on your wedding? Leave your tips in the comments below!