The blog The Simple Dollar recently did a series that included posts on having a reasonable courtship, a reasonable engagement, and of course, a reasonable Wedding. Naturally, by reasonable, the author means “not costing an arm and a leg.” Nowadays I’m hearing conflicting reports about wedding spending these days, with articles like Brides on a Budget: 75% of Weddings Being Scaled Back and Wedding spend climbs 5.2 percent both appearing in my inbox. Still, there are a lot of budget brides out there, and all budget wedding advice is not created equal. I thought it would be fun to take a look at some of The Simple Dollar’s advice.
Start your planning as far in advance of the wedding as possible. Set a tentative date as quickly as possible and start planning as soon as you can, even if you’re planning something very simple.
Doing so may let you lock in prices on wedding venues, hotels, and entertainment costs, but there are no guarantees. Making reservations early is simply the best way to ensure you can reserve the wedding venues and vendors you really like. That said, don’t let your zest for making those early reservations keep you from researching wedding services before putting down deposits, because hasty decision making can blow your wedding budget in no time.
The best place to trim fat for the wedding is the guest list.
While this is totally and undeniably true, that doesn’t make it an easy solution. The Beard and I actually started with a guest list of maybe 30 people, but we ended up with a wedding attended by about 100 people. Sure, you can have a smaller wedding, and many people do, but it seems to me that between the bride, the groom, and any parents who are hosting, it’s easy to come up with a list of 100 people you care enough about to want them at your nuptials. If this sounds like you, you may want to trim the fat in other areas of your wedding.
Do as much of the work yourself as you possibly can. You don’t need a wedding planner. Plan it yourself.
This is great advice for those brides and grooms who don’t fall into categories like “people who work two jobs” or “people who are entirely disorganized by nature.” Personally, I think it’s easy to save money when planning a wedding by doing most of the planning yourself, but it’s also true that you can actually save money by hiring a wedding planner if that wedding planner has the kind of connections that get you sweet deals on wedding cake, your reception venue, or catering costs.
Provide as many supplies as you can yourself – go bargain shopping. Minimize the supplies that others are providing and find them yourself.
Yes. Yes yes yes. And don’t think that the first price you find will be the best price since so many wedding retailers carry the exact same products at wildly different prices.
Look among close friends and family for photographers, organists, florists, and other key roles. At our wedding, my sister-in-law (a florist) handled the flowers (at cost) and my wife’s aunt played the piano (for free), plus a close friend volunteered to be photographer (for free) and another friend volunteered to be the DJ (for free).
I usually don’t advise people to do this, unless they know for sure that their friends and relatives would be delighted to pitch in. If your aunt who has taken all those cake decorating courses offers to make your wedding cake, wonderful. She may, however, want to enjoy your wedding as a guest rather than as a service provider, so if you’re planning to ask her to make your wedding cake, be sure she understands that she is free to say no. My advice? Wait for volunteers because oftentimes your loved ones will feel obligated to say yes once asked to help out.
Hold the ceremony in your home, your parents’ home, or outdoors.
It worked for me! Then again, I had access to a gorgeous piece of property right on the water in sunny Florida.
Use a good stereo system for the reception music. Don’t hire a band – and don’t hire a DJ, either.
I agree with this, but with reservations. If your dream wedding includes the majority of your guests cutting a rug, having a wedding DJ preside over the music can be the key to making that happen. Conversely, if you don’t mind seeing guests conversing instead of dancing, then DIY wedding music might just be the way to go. That’s not to say you can’t create a boogie-worthy playlist, but it’s not always as easy as it, er, sounds.
All in all, The Simple Dollar’s budget wedding strategies are pretty much the same old tips and tricks. Personally, I’m more interested in the individual money saving strategies that real brides and grooms use to plan weddings that are as fabulous as they are frugal. If that sounds like you, what are some of the ways you plan to save (or saved) money on wedding costs?
Photo by rougerouge