Not every bride these days has a Wedding Pot full of Mom and Dad’s money. So here are 20 unnoticeable ways to save without creating a wedding drag.
1. More Intimate Affairs - Smaller weddings of 100 guests or less are more popular than ever. Couples have caught on that smaller weddings lend affordability for more lavish elements. Fewer guests equal options for a smaller venue, a lower food and bar bill and less tables to seat guests. Cozy seating builds intimacy, including long feasting tables and furniture “lounge” seating. Family-style food makes for a sharing atmosphere and requires less wait staff. Every element will equate savings, even invitations. Less guests is win-win! Savings $$$$
2. Destination… Destination Weddings have become more popular than ever as a combined “wedding-moon,” that is part wedding, party honeymoon all in one. Normally these gatherings are primarily family or a small group of close friends and family. Most destination resorts do offer comprehensive packaged weddings with bells and whistles of your choosing. The U.S. dollar exchange rate is fluctuating heavily however, so research travel costs prior to setting your heart on an Italian Destination for example. The travel expenses for your guests can really add up fast if you aren’t careful. The more comprehensive the trip you book, the more locked in and pre-determined the costs will be. Savings $$
3. Save the Stamp- Save-The-Date by email or evites.com instead of sending one out in the mail. If your friends and family are e-mailers, use an email RSVP for your actual invitations too. Keep in mind that if you don’t stamp RSVP cards for guests to mail back however, those choosing to mail their response will have to provide their own stamp. Savings $
4. Get Resourceful - Do it yourself, design and print your own wedding invitations and programs, they will be one-of-a-kind. This is a great place to use the help of friends that have offered assistance with your wedding. Make your own party favors or better yet save more money by skipping the party favors altogether, nobody will miss them. If a friend or family member offers to host a Sunday brunch or other weekend festivities for your out of town guests, take them up on the offer. There is no shame in accepting help from others in order to make your wedding more special. Savings $$
5. Skip the Gift Registry- When guests see that you have not registered they should get the “monetary” hint. Besides, if you prefer to pay off your wedding rather than buy household goods that aren’t a necessity, then why register? Many couples are also registering at Honeymoon websites to save on their travel expenses. Sites with low surcharge % include www.honeyfund.com www.smarthoneymoon.com and www.thehoneymoon.com. Savings $$$
6. Rent or Design Couture- If you’ve got to have that designer gown then rent it. Major cities have boutiques where temporary alterations can be done on the hottest dresses and each dress is only kept in rotation for several rentals. If you need more major alterations however then save on the label. The best dress seamstresses can tailor a gown to look just like a real Carmen Suttera for far less money. Savings $$$
7. Get It ON PAPER- When planning early on, get costs from vendors put on paper. Prices can rise unexpectedly, particularly in an unsure economy, so if you don’t get a quote on paper you might lose out on the current rate! Also be sure to find out up front what the policy is on your deposit if the business were to go under. Savings $
8. Shop Around - Take the time to price shop. The gown you fall in love with may be cheaper elsewhere and you might be able to find a better deal on a limo. Even a specially designed wedding cake may be cheaper to have designed somewhere else. Also keep in mind that dress shops, bakeries, even hotel rooms tend to cost less in lower-priced neighborhoods because retailers have less overhead. So step outside Manhattan and Beverly Hills when shopping for your wedding vendors. Savings $
9. Skip the steak - Less expensive food options such as chicken or pasta will cut dollars. Cocktail hour appetizers such as veggie platters and guacamole/chips are inexpensive yet large portions for guests to nosh on. Savings $$$
10. Simplify Photography - Go with a basic photography package that covers your shooting needs for the wedding day and editing only. You can always order and pay for albums, photo prints and framed portraits after the wedding when your pocketbook is not so tight. Savings $$
11. Order Your Own Pics - If you have the ability to receive your wedding photos on disk from the Photographer, print them on your own through a professional lab just like the pros, but for a fraction of the cost (www.mpix.com). Savings $
12. Ditch valet - Unless you really need valet for parking logistics, skipping the hotel or country club valet will save you thousands. If the weather is poor or women are wearing tall heels their escorts can always drop ladies off before parking their cars. Savings $$$
13. Location Caution - A wedding held at a beautiful chapel or outdoor setting may cost a bit more up front, but you can save on decorations and flowers when your existing setting is already worthy. Savings $
14. Budget Caterers - When times are tough some independent caterers are more likely to noodle prices for you than a country club. Choose a less expensive location where you can bring in your own caterer or choose from a list of affordable (approved) caterers. These same locations that allow outside caterers may also allow you to bring in your own liquor, equaling a significant cost savings. Keep in mind however that rentals (china, flatware, glassware, ovens, etc.) can really add up fast if the caterer doesn’t own them. Also, when a location is more bare bones you most likely won’t have the luxuries of valet, a concierge or on-site wedding coordinator. Savings $$
15. Keep with Standard - Check out what comes with a caterer or location “package”. Do they include table linens, and in what colors? Are tables, chairs and dance floor included in the costs? Are chairs in nice condition, are chair covers included? For the most part try to stick with standard china, glassware and flatware as opposed to upgrading to specialty ware. Truly your guests will not notice a difference. Savings $$
16. Spend Where It Shows - Spend where your guests will be spending their time on your wedding day. If your guests will only spend one hour in the cocktail area then save the money on decorations and music in that space and spend for example, where guests will be eating dinner instead. Savings $
17. Seasonal Flowers - If you love peonies but your wedding is in January you will need to change your expectations. Be realistic. Flowers grow seasonally and they won’t grow unseasonably just for your wedding day. If you love orchids but don’t love the cost, mix them with other less expensive seasonal varieties. Savings $$
18. Re-use - Get a second use out of flowers. Pew flowers can be moved during the cocktail hour to double as centerpieces for guest tables. Large ceremony arrangements can be used as buffet floral pieces. The best part is that nobody will notice they are the same flowers because they are being used for completely different purposes. But remember somebody has to do the work during the cocktail hour! Savings $
19. Avoid Honeymoon Overindulgence - Yes, the honeymoon is important and lately it had become the trend for couples to increasingly spend more on these extravagant getaways. But keep in mind that if this cuts into your wedding budget you do have a choice of where to spend. Even if that means delaying the Honeymoon all together until a later date. Besides, you will most likely want some time to regroup and get organized after the big day. Savings $$$
20. Put Your Life on a Budget - Here are five simple cutbacks for your life the six months prior to your wedding. If cutting back your spending prior to the wedding means Vera Wang bridal shoes you may think twice about purchasing your daily Starbucks. In short, the more you are aware of where your dollars are going, the less you will spend. Remember that men are not always as willing to sacrifice their daily simple luxuries so that you can splurge on one day. Be understanding. But remember, a budget only works if you to stick with it. Savings $$$$
* Cut back! Instead of going out to dinner and a movie, try cooking dinner together and renting a flick at home. See if you can get a better rate on both of your car insurance policies… seriously! Look for a better rate to refinance your student loans and car loan. Have your hair trimmed and manicure done at a beauty college for a few months, or do your nails yourself.
* Replace the gift exchange with your honey (Valentine’s Day, Birthdays, Christmas) and put the money towards your honeymoon or wedding night. Or if you know you will both cheat and buy for one another, then set a $20 limit and stick to it. Tell your friends that you are skipping Christmas gifts this year to pay for the wedding, they should be understanding. For family and other special occasions put together gift baskets and shop around to purchase thoughtful themed gifts. You will find that you can get away with spending less money if you put time, thought and energy into gift giving. When the wedding arrives, purchase small gifts for attendants and don’t go overboard. Any gift of thanks will be appreciated no matter how large or small.
* Grocery shop with a list and don’t give in to temptations that aren’t on it. Cut coupons for the trip, it can add up to substantial savings over time. Buy food that is on sale and remember that if it’s not on sale, it might be next week. Also, buy the generic or store brand products. Make your lunches to bring to work with you instead of eating out or buying fast food every day.
* Carpool, if you and your fiancé live together and drive the same direction, carpooling will give you that added time together each day and save on gas.
* Sell it! if you have stuff you don’t use or clothes you don’t wear, sell them. Have a garage sale to get rid of household items and unwanted furniture, and sell your barely worn/unworn clothing at a consignment store. Between the two of you it might turn out you have a lot of unnecessary stuff to get rid of before married life begins.
$ - Save hundreds
$$ - Save hundreds or thousands
$$$ - Save thousands
$$$$ - Save HUGE
Submitted by Jackie Baird, www.bendedkneeweddings.com