Congratulations on your engagement! You’ve found the love of your life, and are now somewhere in the process of planning your amazing day. Whether you and your soon-to-be spouse are paying for the affair yourselves, or you have help from family members, you’re probably working within a budget. How do you manage to stay within that amount and still have your dream event? My fiancée and I were faced with this same question, many months ago, when we started to plan our wedding that is coming up here in June. Based on my experience, here are 10 tips on how to have the most wonderful day without going deep into debt:
The best thing you can do to help with the planning process is to start with a vision of your wedding day. What is important to you? How do you want your big day to go? What are your “must haves,” and what is not so important? Pick a few words that sum up how you want your wedding to be (Creative, fun, and colorful? Intimate, romantic, and sweet?), then refer back to these words whenever you have a decision to make. For our wedding, we want our guests to have fun and enjoy the celebration of our marriage, so every decision we have made has aligned with that vision.
Create a wedding budget. It will help keep you out of debt, or at the least minimize the amount of credit you need to use for your wedding. Find a budget template online (or email me and I’ll send you my template), and refer to your vision as you assign dollar amounts to each category. Once you have created your budget, be sure that the people who are helping you plan your wedding know your budget too! Take a look at this infographic that does a great job of laying everything out: http://visual.ly/ultimate-wedding-cost-checklist-infographic. We created our budget right away, and it has truly helped us out with our decision-making.
The greatest influence on your budget is how many guests you are going to invite. Each guest adds at least $100 to the cost of the wedding, and most guests come with a “plus one,” so the overall cost can add up fast! Here is an excellent flowchart to help you through the process: http://noeyehasseen.com/blog/borrowed-and-blue-the-dreaded-guest-list. My fiancée and I decided we didn’t want to meet too many people for the first time at our wedding. If there is a friend of mine who she hasn’t met in the two and a half years we have been together, then they didn’t make it onto the guest list, and vice-versa. This made the decision-making process much easier, and didn’t favor either one of us.
This is an area that can quickly get away from you. Band, DJ, photo booth, disposable cameras, fireworks, and whatever else you can imagine. Since our vision centered around the guest experience, we could have easily spent a fortune on all sorts of different ideas. A band is much more expensive than a DJ, so we picked a great DJ, which saved us $5,000 that we could use on other areas to enhance the guest experience. This was a tough decision, especially for my fiancée, but ultimately there were other aspects of the wedding that were more important.
There are ways to save money on alcohol without diminishing the guest experience. Our venue doesn’t allow shots, which is saving us some money. We were also able to purchase our alcohol from BevMo, and have it chilled and delivered to the venue the day of the wedding. We saved between $1,000-$2,000 purchasing the alcohol this way, even though we have professional bartenders. Finally, we decided to serve only beer, wine, and a signature drink, which also keeps costs down without affecting the overall wedding day experience.
It’s easy to justify spending a lot on photography because, after your wedding is over, photos (and/or videos) are what you’ll have left to capture the memories. But that doesn’t mean you need to spend a fortune. Aim to spend no more than 10% of your budget on photography. Check out different photographers and their styles, and confirm what is included. Some photographers may charge less to photograph the big day, but make their money on selling prints after the wedding. Others may have a larger fee, but will provide a CD of all the images so you can print them yourself. So again, set your budget and stick to it.
Shop around for a florist! Prices vary widely. Often you can get a better price from a florist who is newer to the business. Flowers are more affordable when they are in season, and if you move flowers from the ceremony site to the reception area, you can save several hundred dollars.
When evaluating invitations, remember to factor all costs associated with them: postage (to mail to your guests and on the RSVP envelopes), embellishments, calligraphy or labels, and envelopes (inner, outer, and RSVP). If your invitations don’t have to be super fancy, you can save some money by using services like Vistaprint. My fiancée is very creative, so she designed really nice ones for a fraction of the normal cost. If invitations rank really low on your priority list, you may want to consider a nice email invitation.
The wedding industry plays on emotions, and there might not be any aspect of a wedding that has more emotion than the dress! If you’re open to it, there are lots of ways to save on your dress: you can borrow a beautiful dress or accessories from a friend, you can purchase a new dress from a sample sale or pre-owned dress online (many dresses sold online have never been worn because brides changed their minds, got pregnant, or called off the wedding), or “copycat” dresses from seamstresses on Etsy.com.
Have you been thinking of hiring a wedding planner? Do it! A great wedding planner can save you thousands of dollars because of their connections and creativity. Our wedding planner’s connections and ideas have saved us lots of money! As an added bonus, a professional who does this all the time is taking care of everything and thinks of everything, so you can enjoy the planning process and your wedding day.
These are the top 10 tips from my experience in planning our wedding. How did you save money without affecting the overall wedding experience? Please share in the comments section below or on www.facebook.com/drbudgets.
If you are saving money for a wedding, planning a wedding, or need help merging your two households after getting married, give us a call at 619-800-3030 for your free consultation. In celebration of my wedding next month, we are currently running a special of $50 off a budget package through June 30, 2014!
- Published in Love and Marriage