With the economy in a rapid downturn at the moment, trying to come up with ways to save money for your dream wedding can seem difficult, even impossible. Here are a few useful planning tips and tricks for engaged couples looking to stick within a reasonable wedding budget.
It’s easy to get caught up in all of the little details, but before you book anything, it’s important to understand which details are truly most important to you. The bride should ask herself questions like, “What matters more to me, the entertainment or the flowers?” This will help you determine how much money to devote to each category. A little extra money should go toward your top three elements. For example, if having great music is most important to you, cross off something less necessary from your must-have list, like the chocolate fountain, to book the best DJ. Next, pick three things that aren’t as important to you (maybe rare flowers, unique invites or an extra-tall cake) and budget them accordingly.
Cut the Guest List
One of the most effective ways to lower wedding costs is to trim down the guest list. Of course, you want to invite everyone you’ve ever known to share your big moment, but that may not be practical once you understand the cost per head: At $100 a person, taking 10 guests off the list saves you $1,000! If you’re struggling with whom to cut, follow these simple guidelines.
Rule #1: If you don’t know them, cut them.
Rule #2: Kids can be cut; their parents should understand.
Rule #3: If your friends aren’t engaged to, living with or in a long-term relationship with their so-called “plus one,” they don’t get the option to bring a guest. Follow these and you’ll be amazed by how quickly the list whittles down.
Skip the Extras
You’re probably attracted to those ultra-glamorous details you read about in the magazines, but they can often spike the cost yet add very little value to the day. Why splurge on things most guests won’t even notice? Stationery is another area where extras can really cost you. Stick to simple, single-color invitations. Two shades of ink can be pricey, and oddly shaped invites (think square) require extra postage. Another unnecessary extra? Fancy transportation. Instead of renting a party bus or Hummer stretch limo, opt for traditional black or white town cars.
Flowers can also be a big budget-buster. To save money, choose blooms that are in season and grown locally. Or substitute less expensive flowers in the same shade. If you trade black magic roses for deeply colored dahlias, you’ll save about $4 a stem. So, if you’re going to have five roses per bouquet and 10 per centerpiece with a bridal party of five girls and a 150-person guest list, you could save as much as $700 by cutting back on this one small element.
Slim Down the Catering
You can still have a tasty meal on a budget. Limit your dinner to three amazing courses and keep the menu basic. By choosing specialties that are in season and local to the region, you’ll save tons. When it’s time for the big toast, it’s okay to break out the fancy champagne—just switch to less-costly brands for the remainder of the evening. You can also save on dessert by using a small cake to cut for the photos and having sheet cakes in the back to cut for guests. Another good idea is to skip the handmade sugar flowers, special molded shapes and fondant (buttercream tastes better!).