We all know weddings are expensive, but do they have to be? Aside from a few of the more expensive things such as the venue, dress, and the photographer there are plenty of alternatives one can find in order to not spend a fortune on your wedding. The benefits of saving money are huge: more money to spend on an awesome honeymoon, a professional photographer, to start your marriage with and without debt!
I got married during my second year of college and I was dirt poor. I paid for my own tuition every month and I lived in Austin… need I say more? My wife at the time before our wedding had a decent job and so to my shame she paid for mostly everything! But during our year of engagement we found some creative ways to save money, here are some tips I’ve learned as well as others I’ve gathered from other brides.
Day of the week
Saturday is the most expensive day to get married, Friday is second, and Sunday is third for most venues. Weekdays are even cheaper although they may be more inconvenient depending on how far your guests have to travel. You can save hundreds, sometimes over a thousand dollars by changing days. Simple as that.
Since when does your special wedding day have to become a restaurant service feeding all of your hungry friends and family? It doesn’t! So either use gifted family members to cook something in bulk like barbecue, or do finger foods and cocktails. If you time your wedding right your guests won’t come hungry and expecting a sit down meal. We timed out wedding to start at 3 so that reception would be at 4.
Depending on your guests alcohol can be a very expensive choice, especially if it’s an endless bar. Cutting it back will not only save you money but it might also mean Aunt Patsy won’t be table dancing by the end of the night and the rival cousins won’t be displaying their new WWF moves before you leave.
Let’s face it- decorations will only get used once and then forgotten about in someones storage. So why would you want to buy them brand new? Shop online for used decoration someone can’t wait to get rid of! Unless it was one wild wedding they are likely to be in good conditions! I found 20 large candles, with hurricane glasses, and 6×6 inch mirrors to go underneath for our center pieces. All that for $60! At one wedding I photographed the bride found an old house being disassembled and the owner was selling the doors made of old, aged wood on craigslist. She connected the doors and they not only became a display for their engagement pictures in the lobby but also a country chic background for their ceremony spot.
Contact your local stores such as Hobby Lobby, Michaels etc. and ask when they have discounts on certain departments. Only shop during those times and you can save 30-70% on every item you buy if you go at the right time.
If you want to buy a cake cutting set for $100 which you’ll use once be my guest! However there are some special items in your wedding that can easily be found in good condition and borrowed for their single use. Ask your family and friends if they have any wedding stuff left over and be creative!
Getting a wedding cake large enough to feed all of your guests is bound to be pricey. So an alternative is to have a small single tier cake made for the bride and groom / wedding party. For everyone else get a larger flat sheet cake. Some even have 2 bottom tiers made of cardboard with fondu to make them look real and only the top tier is edible.
And hey, there’s always cupcakes!
Renting one location is better than renting two, duh! Not only will you save money but no one has to drive anywhere or walk anywhere. For our wedding we moved the ceremony chairs out of the way creating a dance floor area while the reception tables were already setup around the perimeter of the dance floor. Avoid event halls as they typically cost the most.
Venues know when they are higher in demand and can make more money so they charge more during spring and fall than winter and summer. Now, I’m not saying have a Christmas wedding or a summer pool party wedding but pick a month that’s just on the fringe of wedding season months and you’ll save a lot if it’s before or after wedding season price peaks.
Rent or buy used
Think about this: the bride usually spends thousands on a dress she will only wear once but the groom spends a few hundred at most renting a suit he could wear on various special occasions! My wife knew a bridal shop owner and was able to score a dress that a runway model wore one single time and then it was put in storage. The dress was discounted 50% because of it! Plenty of brides are wanting to get rid of their dresses and would love to find someone who will put it to good use! Call your local stores and ask about used dresses, modeled dresses, and rentals.
Larger tables means more guests per table and thus less tables overall which also means less centerpieces. If it’s an option with your rental service it may be a way to save money. Consider rectangle tables too!
Do you really need all your facebook friends to come, and your buddy’s from high school, and your aunts friends who knew you as a baby? No, you don’t. Be selective, be the bad guy, choose who will remain active in your new life together. Family first and then closest friends. When making your guest list remember it’s your wedding!
For certain things such as centerpieces and stage decoration consider fake flowers. Hobby lobby has 40% off every week for different departments – every time it’s for the flowers section go crazy! Because they don’t perish you can resell them or use them around the house! Buying your flowers long ahead of time sure beats worrying about having the fresh flowers delivered at the right time and to the right place.