When my husband and I were planning our wedding three years ago, he claimed that we could easily get married for under $2,000. After I got over my fit of laughter, I got online and started showing him the kinds of prices we could expect for our wedding. We ended up having a beautiful wedding that was totally us—we had a moon bounce and had a first bounce as husband and wife—without straining our $10,000 budget. However, we probably could have cut costs even more.
Here are some ideas for brides and grooms on very tight budgets.
The venue for your wedding can often be one of the most expensive components of your budget. Why not book your wedding for a weekday? One of the most fun and beautiful weddings I’ve ever attended was held on a non-holiday Monday at an historic house in Boston. The bride confided that the rental cost was 1/5th the price if she held her wedding on any day other than Friday, Saturday or Sunday. In addition, the guest list was understandably much shorter since not everyone could come to a wedding on a weekday. All of the people closest to the bridal couple were there, and the entire wedding had no more 60 guests, saving the bride and groom on food and alcohol costs.
2. Food and drinks
Speaking of food and alcohol, this is another huge expense when planning a wedding. Some ways to save on food is to serve a meal other than dinner. A brunch reception held early in the day could be a great way to save on food costs, as fruit, eggs, pastries and juice are going to be a great deal cheaper than a prime rib dinner. Similarly, a cold lunch reception with sandwiches, salads and fruit will make a lovely spread without being a huge budget drain. Even if you’re having your wedding ceremony later in the day, you can still have a lovely afternoon tea with sandwiches and salads.
Another positive aspect to serving an early meal is that it can save you on alcohol costs. I would personally prefer not to have a cash bar at a wedding, but I know that the alcohol costs can often overwhelm a wedding budget. Having an early reception and meal means that offering only beer and wine—and possibly a signature cocktail, like a mimosa with brunch—will be much more in keeping with the style of the reception.
3. Wedding cake
Especially with the recent popularity in art cakes on television, wedding cakes are a very important part of the reception. Unfortunately, all that sugary beauty comes at a cost. There are several ways to cut costs on your wedding cake. One popular option is to order a small display cake, and get matching sheet cake to serve to your guests. Similarly, you can create a Styrofoam cake yourself and serve sheet cakes. Finally, if you have a friend or family member who likes to bake, enlist their help in making your own cake. Ice it with simple white frosting and decorate it with real flowers, candy or even heirloom pearls.
Just because the wedding magazines suggest you have engraved invitations doesn’t mean you have to have them. When I got married, my husband and I designed our invitation on our home computer and took the design to Kinko’s to create. The postage for our beautiful invitations was the most expensive part of inviting our friends and family to the wedding. To save even more money, print your own invitations at home, or even use Evite to invite your guests. That will save money (it’s free!) and is environmentally friendly.
Wedding dresses (and bridesmaids dresses) do not have to cost a mint. The bride who got married on a Monday wore a white dress she found in a J. Crew catalogue—and she looked absolutely lovely. Love your mom or grandmother’s dress? Have it altered to fit you and continue a lovely tradition. If your wedding or your tastes run a little more modern, why not buy used? You can find designer dresses in your size that have literally only been worn once—for a fraction of the price. Check out www.preownedweddingdresses.com or www.oncewed.com to find dresses (some of them never worn!) that will make you look beautiful on your special day.
As for bridesmaids dresses, remember that it is not necessary for all of your friends to match. Weddings where brides ask their bridesmaids to wear a specific color but choose any dress they like within that color are just as lovely as the matchy nuptials. And it helps your friends to save money as they can actually re-wear their dresses at other occasions.
6. Involve Your Family Members & Close Friends
Many people have close friends and relatives who can lend their talents to your wedding ceremony. Ryan Guina, the founder of this site, writes, “My wife’s family is very musical and several family members performed before and during our wedding ceremony. Before the service, my wife’s cousins played the flute, and her brother played the piano. During the wedding ceremony my wife’s sister and sister-in-law sang a beautiful song while accompanied by my wife’s brother. The gift of music they gave us added a personal touch that we will always remember.”
Talents can extend far beyond music. Take some time to think about who may be able to lend a hand and ask if they would be willing to do so. More often than not, they will be happy to participate in your special day.
7. Save Money on Flowers
These tips might be able to help you save a bundle on your wedding bouquet and bridesmaid’s flowers.
Get to know your florist. Being a loyal and frequent customer can get you great deals throughout all seasons, especially if you get to know your florist personally. If you have an established relationship, you are much more likely to get a discount when you need a nice bouquet or make a large order.
Buy seasonal flowers. Many flowers are less expensive when they are in season. You can save a lot of money if you go to the florist with a color scheme in mind instead of a particular flower. Giving the florist the option to choose the exact flowers can save you alt of money.
Reuse vases or baskets. You can save a lot of money by reusing vases, baskets, or other presentation items. You can also consider buying your own and bringing it to the florist if you don’t have one at home.
Ask for arrangements with larger flowers. Larger flowers create a striking arrangement, but often require fewer stems per bouquet, which can cut the price.
Order early. The earlier you place your order, the easier it will be for the florist or flower company to plan and fill your order. If you wait until the last minute, you will probably find prices up to 30-40% higher than if you would have ordered earlier. This usually applies with both online shopping and buying flowers at a florist.
The thing to remember about wedding planning is that many of the “traditional” elements that you think you must have were introduced by the wedding industry. All you have to have on your wedding day is the opportunity to marry your best friend in front of the people you both love best. Everything after that is simply fondant on the cake.