Insider’s Guide to saving money on your wedding without compromising quality
As not only a wedding photographer, but lover of weddings in general, I have immersed myself in the wedding industry for several (read: 7 going on years now! In that time I have seen many brides have the wedding of their dreams. I have also seen brides end up in nightmarish situations.
I understand that EVERY person on earth has a budget for their wedding (unless you are secretly royalty… in which case… call up your grandmother the queen). Whether that budget is big or small, it matters very little as long as you have your priorities straight when planning your wedding. You CAN have a beautiful wedding on a shoestring budget! The vast majority of brides are planning their one, and only, wedding which makes most of you.. total wedding newbs. Us, we have seen hundreds of weddings. I want to share with you a few tips about saving money on your wedding without compromising quality!
With a little time, a lot of elbow grease, a few favors called in and several hundred hours spent searching on the internet, you CAN have the wedding of your dreams on ANY budget! It just depends on how willing you ARE to work for what you want.
In order to do this remember these things:
1) Do NOT compromise on these three things or you WILL be sorry: Photos (obviously!), Flowers, Cake. From a visual standpoint… these three things truly DO affect how your overall wedding FEELS. And honestly… I guarantee you that you KNOW someone who has tragic wedding photos. Don’t fall victim to the newbie photographer or the cheapo photographer… they are wedding VILLAINS!
2) Choose a date with budget IN MIND. Popular dates = competition. Competition= more $$. Consider having your wedding in the “off season” (which for Kentucky is December-April) or on an odd day (Sunday-Friday). Your family will more than likely be taking off work anyhow and your whole week will revolve around your wedding so what does it matter if your wedding DAY is Friday, SATURDAY or Sunday? Most vendors offer big discounts for these for off season and odd days. Because there is not a ton of competition, they are able to give you sometimes sizable discounts.
3) The grass is always greener- when it’s FREE! Have the ceremony or reception at a location that doesn’t COST money. Use your own church, or a friend’s farm. Saving money on venue gives you room to spend in other places! Many wedding venues cost several thousand dollars which can go a long way toward decor. You can really dress up a place for $3000-5000! That is a whole lotta tulle! (Just joking… please don’t use a ton of tulle!)
4) Pick a theme that lends itself to value. If you choose bling and crystal to be in your theme… you ARE going to spend more money. Period. These things just COST more. Vintage, eclectic and natural themes can rely on FOUND objects. Forget about everything being all matchy matchy… who are you? The Brady Bunch?
5) DIY things that you CAN do easily. Things like programs, invitations and favors… there are SO many ideas out there that there is little reason to spend thousands on paper products. Anyone with a decent printer and the internet can come up with some amazing things on their own. Plus… these can be done MONTHS ahead of time and can be neatly stored away. DON’T however take on too many projects or you will turn into Bridezilla! (Bridezillas are BAD… )
6) Check out sales. The wedding industry is not unlike any other industry. We have SALES. We offer incentives. Be READY to book when you go to wedding shows and you can save BIG money and get lots of freebies offered by professionals there. Follow the blog, Pinterest and Facebook pages of your vendors and watch for specials and incentives. Hit up Craigslist, the Knot classified or a local wedding consignment. You never know what you might find. Really they only used it ONCE! Still plenty of use left in it!
7) Think outside the box. You would be surprised what you can do with a can of spray paint! Make Pinterest your friend. Enough said. (If you don’t know what Pinterest is by this point in my list… you need more help that I can give you!)
8 ) Limit “rentals” – often you can purchase things for less than the cost of renting. Things like tablecloths… these can be made from material found at fabric stores for $1-3 a yard. You can do a large runner over a table instead of floor length linens.. or do a simple white linen (less expensive) and really embellish on the table DECOR.
9) Save money on an officiant by having a friend marry you. It is more special / sentimental and most officiants charge several hundred dollars. Did you know you can get ordained ONLINE to perform a wedding in Kentucky? (neither did I! …until a friend of a bride said he could have paid a bit more to become a MYSTIC WARRIOR when getting ordained ONLINE! Well yeah. Everyone wants a Mystic Warrior to marry them!? Rock on!)
10) DON’T put your money where your mouth is! Seriously… who cares if your dinner plate cost $5, $10 or $50? People will remember your wedding by the emotions of the day, how beautiful you were and how your photos remind them that your day looked! Let’s be honest, after they have downed their 5th free beer… no one cares!
11) Have your wedding at at time of day that does not require you to serve a FULL BUFFET or plated dinner. Morning / breakfast weddings or early afternoon are becoming more popular for this reason.
12) Booze. Yes… you can spend a big honking lot of money on alcohol. To save money limit your “open bar” to a cocktail hour only. OR Beer and Wine only throughout the night. OR Have a single signature “drink” that fits your theme and nix the rest. Especially if you are having a Sunday afternoon wedding booze is not EXPECTED or REQUIRED!
13) Florals… choose something that is native to the area or “in season”. Why? You can chop it down yourself! I know my favorite florists Suzi and Doug are absolutely gagging to hear me make that statement BUT… if you have the most beautiful florals in the world… and no pictures of them… what good did it do you? Or consider alternatives to live florals such as these awesome flowers made from fabric, or a broach bouquet? Having a whimsical wedding? The bridesmaids can carry paper pinwheels! Consider a monogrammed pocket square for the groomsmen’s gift and have them wear that instead of a boutonniere.
14) Borrow an old sportscar or vintage car from a friend or call a car club to ask if they would be interested in transporting your bridal party. This can save hundred on the standard “Limo”.
15) If you have “favors” in your name… CALL THEM IN! Weddings are an “all hands on deck” situation! If you have an army of cousins who can help you save on the “cleaning” budget by cleaning up instead of paying the venue… do it! If you have a handy crafty friend, ask them to help with your favors or build the perfect arch for your ceremony. This is no time to be shy! If there ever was a time to take FRIENDS and FAMILY up on their offers to help… it is NOW! Aunt Gina can sew… put her to work making flower girl dress or bow ties for the groomsmen. Your best friend is a graphic artist? Have her design a monogram, logo, invitation, or other printed materials for your wedding!
Yes, weddings are expensive. But we knew that BEFORE you got engaged. If you are not engaged but close to it… start SAVING. With enough time, planning and creative thinking, you can have an amazing wedding day that you are proud to remember!