Just the thought of a wedding budget can be overwhelming, especially if you’re working with a modest budget. Which elements of the big day can be skipped, and which should always be accommodated? Going into debt over a wedding is never a good idea, but even a moderate affair can drain your bank account alarmingly quickly. While the priorities and choices are ultimately up to you and yours, here are a few tips to help you decide where and how much of those savings to invest in your big day.
It will be much cheaper (up to 50% less) to book a venue for a Sunday or weekday wedding. Off-season weddings (November, January, February, and March) are usually cheaper as well. If you are set on a summer wedding, why not plan for an outdoor wedding? Many beautiful parks and public gardens are much more affordable than indoor venues, and you already have at least half of your decoration taken care of! Another win-win for both you and your guests is to use the same venue for the ceremony and the reception—guests love it when they don’t have to drive to a second location. You can also try thinking outside of the usual venue ideas—check with art galleries, or bed and breakfasts.
Food and Drinks
Providing dinner for your guests can significantly increase total costs. To avoid this, choose an early afternoon, later evening, or even mid-morning wedding—all times that fall between meals for guests. Instead of serving entrees, you can offer hors d’oeuvres, snacks, or simply dessert. Just don’t plan a reception that takes place at 6pm and doesn’t offer a meal—that’s a quick way to ruffle guest feathers. And as for drinks, if you’re really on a budget, skip drinks altogether, or offer a simple cocktail or punch bar instead of wine and expensive liquors.
Flowers can be really pricey, so unless they are a huge priority for you, skip the table garlands, flower walls, and flower-draped archways. Instead of choosing elaborate bouquets for centerpieces, use blossoms as highlights instead, such as an orchid submerged in vase of water and topped with a floating candle, a few large, long-stemmed statement blossoms in a vase set atop a scattering of glitter. Same rules apply to the bridal party flowers: splurge on your own bouquet, but give the bridesmaids simpler arrangements, such as a cluster of lavender, three peonies encased in fern leaves, or a simple baby’s breath bouquet. Check with vendors at your local farmer’s market for options that are often less pricey than formal florist arrangements.
Paper Goods and Postage
Your guests probably won’t even notice if you cut costs with the save the dates, invitations, and ceremony programs. Mail postcards for the save the date, and have guests RSVP online or by postcard to cut your postage costs by 30-50%.
As a bride, you’ll probably feel one of two ways about your dress: either that it’s a dress that you’ll only wear once, so why splurge; or that it’s a once-in-a-lifetime dress that you’ve dreamed of for years, so skimping isn’t even an option. If a designer dress is really important to you, cut costs in other areas of the wedding instead. If cost is more important, ask your David’s Bridal consultant to try the designer dresses that have been discontinued and marked down. If you’re a fan of simple, understated, or bohemian styles, you can also get creative and often find formal white or ivory dresses in surprising places, for substantially less than formal bridal gowns.
How many times have you attended a wedding and noticed (much less remembered) the bride’s shoes? Exactly. There’s no point in dropping a few hundred dollars for a pair of shoes, especially if you’ll never wear them again. Alternatively, you could spend a bit more if you’ve found a style that you could wear to future events. Planning a summer garden or woodland wedding? Just go barefoot!
While the bridal party will pay for their own dresses and suits, travel, party tabs, and accommodations, you’ll still need to think about bridesmaid/groomsmen gifts and flowers. Elaborate ways of asking your friends to be a part of your wedding party are popular, but if you’re on a budget, skip the fancy invitations and go for something simpler like a mailed letter, a coffee date, or even a phone call. Your friends will just be excited that you’ve asked them; they really won’t be thinking that you didn’t ask them in the right way.