The average wedding costs somewhere around 28,000 dollars, but smart couples know there are always ways to trim the fat. The key is to put the money where it matters most without losing any of the special touches. Here is how budget-friendly Cinderella can still have her dream wedding.
Pick the Best Date
Ever notice there are right and wrong times to plan a vacation — the same is true for weddings. Picking the right month and day of the week adds up to big savings. For example, avoid getting hitched during the peak spring months. Instead, look for a day in late summer or winter when the wedding venues are hungry for business.
You reduce the budget even further by getting married on Friday or Sunday. Those are the least popular days of the week to book a wedding. If you schedule the reception in the afternoon, you save more still. When negotiating with a venue, discuss what days offer the lowest rate.
Look for All-Inclusive Packages
The right location will cover the catering, guest stays, drinks, flowers for the reception and maybe even the music. This is especially critical if planning a destination wedding. You want to book a resort or banquet hall to get everything for one price. If you opt for a restaurant private room, you will pay for everything separate including service. All-inclusive is the way to save both time and money when planning your wedding.
Keep the Bridal Party Small
This cuts back on the floral bill. If you have five bridesmaids plus the maid of honor, you need seven bouquets. That doesn’t even cover all the corsages and boutonnieres. You can save hundreds on flower costs by choosing a smaller bridal party. You can nix the usher’s as well to save on extra boutonnieres.
Limit the Bar Selection
Cut back on bar costs by eliminating top-shelf and premium liquors. Wine, beer and maybe one or two specialty cocktails are plenty. This not only lowers the drink tab, but it makes the job easier for the bartender. A full bar for a large reception might require at least two bartenders but eliminating cocktails may mean one can manage.
Avoid the Fancy Appetizers
Sure, offering mini quiches and salmon mousse sounds fancy but maybe a cold bar with cheeses would be enough. You can pick specialty meats such as bruschetta for less and still look just as sophisticated. Ask for a simple cold appetizer spread and cut the food cost by about 10 dollars a person.
Go for the Food Knockoffs
No one will notice if the reception dinner is four-star instead of five. You can choose taste-alike options to cut costs without the guests knowing they are eating and drinking for less.
Well liquor instead of top shelf
Prosecco instead of champagne
Hanger steak instead of filet mignon
Grouper instead of cod
Offer just one or two entries and keep the choices generic.
“Would you like beef or fish for dinner?” If they want specifics, they can ask.
Ditch the Band for a Good DJ
A live band will cost about five times more than as a proper wedding DJ. The point is to get them dancing. Are you going really going to pay 10,000 dollars for a band when 2,700 for a talented DJ will do?
About that Cake
First, cut it in half. If you are inviting 150 guests, order a cake for 75 and instruct the servers to cut small pieces. If you are serving other food or a full dinner, no one will even notice.
Keep the snazzy details to a minimum, too. You can choose a nice sugar bloom on the top of the cake as opposed to a cascading bouquet that circles down each tier and save about 10 dollars a slice. Add colored frosting bands to the design to make the cake pop instead.
Speaking of the Guest List
Fine tune it at least a few times before sending out the invitations. Do you really need to invite third cousins? How about everyone one in the office from the mailroom to the president of the company? Limit the guest list to people who are close family or those you socialize with regularly. If you have not seen them for a while, an announcement will do the trick.
Don’t Pay for a Sitting Car
You want fancy transportation, and that’s okay. It’s a perk most couples dream about, but make it to a one-way trip. If you rent a car or limo for both your entrance and exit, you pay for it the entire night. That means hours of paying a driver to sit around while on the clock. Decide to make either a dramatic entrance or exit, and knock off hundreds of dollars from the transportation bill.
Invest while You Plan
If either set of parents are giving you a bulk contribution, ask for it early and invest in a three-month CD. That way you are adding interest while you do your research and planning.
Keep the Big Day on Schedule
Running late in not an option when planning a budget wedding — drivers, photographers, musicians — they are all on the clock. You may find yourself paying overtime. Print out a schedule and make sure everyone in the bridal party has a copy.