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A special wedding celebration is a memorable event many people dream of having. But rising costs can push the total bill as high as $20,000 or more. There are many ways you can cut these costs, and still have a beautiful ceremony that fits within your budget. Here are 30 suggestions in 6 categories to make that day personal, without spending a lot of money.
First, sit down and decide how much you can afford to spend, and remember that you’ll need a bit extra beyond that figure for any unexpected expenses. Make a list or worksheet of everything you’ll need. When you’re getting quotes for venues, bakeries, florists or other vendors, don’t mention the word “wedding” – use the word “party” instead. A Boston television station tested this theory and found there was a 25%-30% “marriage markup.”
Invitations, Favors, Menu Cards
- Choose single page invitations without inner envelopes, and save postage by eliminating the RSVP cards, requesting responses by phone or email instead.
- Choose printed rather than engraved invitations; you might also consider printing them yourself.
- Email your save-the-date notices.
- Make your own menu cards and invite friends to help you assemble favors and centerpieces. Food favors or a recipe booklet might be more practical and economical than meaningless dust collectors.
- The number of people you invite affects the costs for food, centerpieces, favors, and rentals. Don’t feel obligated to include dates, children, distant relatives, or coworkers.
Flowers and Decorations
- Use more greenery and buy flowers that are locally grown and in season. Include non-floral decorations like lanterns or candles. Use coupons to save on craft materials.
- Use inexpensive flowers such as carnations for filler in large alter arrangements that will only be seen at a distance.
- Rent or purchase large potted plants to frame your ceremony site, they’re cheaper than large fresh flower arrangements.
- Create your own centerpieces using wide shallow bowls filled with water and several floating blooms. There are some very attractive vases and bowls at the dollar store.
- Coordinate flowers with another bride who has booked the same day and location, so you can split the cost.
- If you’re getting married in a church, choose a date near a holiday when the church will already be decorated. If you or someone in your party can handle the prep work, you can order fresh roses or other flowers from online wholesalers or warehouse clubs. Make your own wedding bouquet.
- Skip getting married in February, when flower prices are at an annual high for Valentine’s Day.
Attire and Rings
- Shop wedding sample sales, outlets, or the Internet for discounts. Shop regular retailers instead of bridal shops to find adaptable evening gowns for the wedding party. Check to see if a shop in your area will rent a wedding dress.
- Check out the jewelry section of warehouse stores like Sam’s Club or Costco, where the prices can be as much as 30% less than a retail jewelry store. Other handmade items like headpieces and ring pillows can be found from micro-vendors selling through sites like Etsy.
- Do your own hair, nails, and makeup; make your own veil.
- Plan the wedding yourself, and save the cost of a wedding planner.
- Get dressed for the wedding at home and save the cost of a hotel room.
Ceremony and Reception
- Hold your ceremony and reception in the same location, they will usually give you a discount.
- Get married in the off season, between and . Skip Saturday and pick a weeknight or a Sunday instead. You’ll get a better rate for days that are in less demand.
- Have your reception in a restaurant. Rent a private room or even the whole place on a day when they would be closed. Look for a restaurant with a pretty back garden that you can set up for the ceremony, and use later for dancing. This will save the cost of renting table linens, cutlery, dishes, glasses, tables, and chairs. There is no surcharge for the candlelight and flowers on the table, it’s all covered in the price of the meal, with no extra charges like cake-cutting or corkage fees. And best of all, the parking is free.
- City parks allow weddings for a nominal fee. Look for the ones with a covered patio, fountains, or grassy picnic areas. Or choose your own back yard or that of a friend or relative.
- Local theater companies and art museums may rent out their spaces during the off-season, on dark nights, or between engagements.
- Give your friends and loved ones different roles on the wedding day to cut down the number of attendants and the associated expenses.
- Give the caterer a limit and choose less expensive entrees, or serve a buffet to cut down on waitstaff. Other options include a dessert reception, brunch, or lunch.
- You may be able to save some money if you can purchase some of the food in bulk; save on drink service costs by providing your own beverages.
- Ask for a moderately sized decorated display cake, and use inexpensive sheet cakes in the back to feed the extra guests.
Photo, Video, Music
- Since photos and videos will be a lasting reminder of your wedding day, this may be the one area not to skimp on price. But you can opt for package deals to give you more bang for your buck. Make sure that you get a good set of pictures for yourself printed by the photographer, plus negatives or a CD of the images so you can cheaply print out extras for extended family members and friends who want pictures.
- Save on an expensive album by getting your own album and just ordering the photos themselves.
- Consider hiring a photography student.
- If you can’t afford a band or disc jockey, or just want to spend the money on your honeymoon, make a playlist on your MP3 player and appoint a friend or relative to monitor the music.
Above all, don’t borrow money to pay for the wedding, you don’t want to start your married life with debt. And pay for as much as you can with a cash-back credit card. It’s definitely possible to save without skimping.