One of the most important things after you are engaged is to set a realistic wedding budget. Deciding on what your wedding will look like naturally flows from this crucial first step. When my fiance and I reviewed our initial wedding budget there were items that we never thought about, or that we assigned an unrealstic amount. As a result, we found ourselves adding $1000 mid-way through the wedding planning process.
It can be annoying to know you have to spend more money than you originally thought. In reality, you are likely spending the amount that a wedding should costs – your initial numbers were simply not realistic. I am not talking about couples that spend $15,000 dollars over their initial budget. Those couples were either way too conservative on their original numbers or mid-way through somebody let go of the reigns and the budget when out the window. Blowing $15,000 over an original budget means somebody needs to go back to accounting class or has to learn how to say “no.”
Don’t let this scare you. You just need to plan wisely and follow these top 12 best ways to cut wedding costs.
1) Guest List
I’ve said this before and I will say it again, “Bob, your 5th cousin twice removed does not need to be invited to your wedding.” Trimming the guest list will not only make it more intimate, it will help your bottom line. A reception accounts for a large portion of a wedding budget – more guests means a higher reception cost.
Scout out your nearest mail box because you are going to get quite acquainted. There is a lot of mailing to do throughout the wedding process. I personally believe weddings account for a significant amount of business for the the postal service! Save-the-dates, invitations, RSVP cards, wedding shower thank-you cards, and wedding thank-you cards, that is a whole lot of postage stamps. One way to cutout postage is to email your save-the-Dates. In addition, create a wedding website and use it for guests to reply instead of an RSVP card. You will eliminate the postage completely if you do it this way. I found MyWedding.com had some great options. Of course, if you can personally deliver an invitation then do so.
3) Invitations & Stationery
Do your homework before you put any ol’ number in your spreadsheet for invitations. Wedding stationery can quickly add up, and DIYing wedding stationery can be time consuming. Unless you are dead set on having the perfect invitation that sets the tone for your guests with luxurious paper and gold foil (I highly suggest Minted.com), don’t kid yourself with adding a conservative number.
4) Crowd-sourcing Photos
Photography is a wonderful keep sake. However, let me pose this question to you: “How many houses have you been to that you can remember seeing a photo on the wall from the couple’s wedding day?”
*tap tap tap * hello? is this mic on? Silence…Yes, that is what I thought.
Photography can add an extra $2500+ dollars to your wedding costs. Consider asking some of your friends that have fancy cameras if they would like to help. Give them each a portion of the wedding they are responsible for, so that they don’t feel like they have to work the whole night.
Another idea too is have a computer station where people can download their photos from their own camera at the end of the night. This way you will get photos from every angle and may even find one or two frame worthy ones.
5) Let Them Eat Sheet Cake
Big fancy cakes on TV shows that have made you want to have a 7-tier, ganache filled, with dotted swiss piping work is great. However, they can sting your wedding budget. Cakes are pricey items, especially if you are looking for lots of detailed work. If you want a traditional ‘cutting of the cake and smooshing it in each other face moment’, that is fine. Keep the cake on the smaller side and buy a sheet cake to serve to guests later on. Better yet, choose a fake cake with a real top layer that you can cut. Nobody has to know.
6) Wide Open Space
Do you have your heart set on a beautiful location like Flood Mansion in San Francisco? I did. Until I saw the price. Once I saw the minimum $11,000 venue price tag, I was not so fond of that venue anymore! Try renting a venue in a public area like a park or historic site. A rental space that doesn’t scream wedding venue will usually not be priced as high. If you are into the rustic outdoor wedding feel and know somebody with either a big backyard or wide open field, see if you could use it for your wedding.
7) Less Decor
As the saying goes “Less is more!” Find a venue that speaks for itself – like a Tudor ballroom or conservatory. Having your wedding in a grand venue allows you to spend less on decor because the existing building will do the talking. Wedding decor, rentals, or even thrift store finds can all add up. Make sure to keep track of all your purchases in a wedding binder.
Tip: Plan your wedding decor before you buy. Many brides will be wrapped up in the excitement and will find they will buy before they plan. This will leave you spending more money and actually buying more decorations then you will need in the end.
Everyone wants them but not everyone will have the budget. Flowers are a big ticket item. Email a few florists and get an idea of pricing before you pick a number out of your hat. I met a girl that puts flowers together for a hobby. She quoted a price of $500 right off the bat for 2 urns for the ceremony, 2 bouquets, 5 boutonnieres, and 4 corsages. That did not include her time and potentially additional flowers that she might need. Definitely do your flower homework to help cut wedding costs.
Try and stay away from an off-site rental. Instead, a venue like a restaurant/hotel/club that provides all the tables, chairs, stemware and staff is a better option. Your budget can quickly balloon when you start to rent items piece by piece.
10) Limit the alcohol
Instead of serving hard liquor try to keep to only wine and beer. If you would like to have another type of drink choose a fruity drink that everyone will enjoy like a Sangria punch. Also, see if your venue will allow you to bring your own liquor and negotiate no corkage fee (if applicable).
11) Hair and Makeup
Did I mention that when you say the words “wedding or bride“, the price doubles? That has certainly been my experience in planning a wedding, and it is especially true for hair and makeup costs. If you want to get your hair and makeup done on your wedding day make sure that you get the right numbers and allocate the correct amount.
12) Hidden Fees
The final way to cut wedding costs is to analyze the fees you may not initially think about when you and your partner are both sitting on the couch crunching numbers. The following fees are an example of hidden fees, and I have included my expenses in brackets as a rough guide: liquor licence( $25), corkage fees, venue insurance ($164), venue tax (106.49) , attire alterations ($381.80), rights to play music licence fee ($29.80), wedding licence ($100), marriage commissioner fees – includes ceremony fee, tax, millage, rehearsal fee ($161.15), service staff tips ($372) and reception tax ($177.90). All of these add-ons came to $1518.14 for my wedding budget. Oh, now I feel better! That is where my extra mystery $1000 add on mid way through came from.
Tip: The first items I recommend removing from your wedding budget are favors and monogrammed cocktail napkins. Instead, use what your venue offers and write perseonalized notes to each guests. They are free and more memorable.
Final Thoughts on Cutting Wedding Costs
These numbers are not meant to scare you. Instead, they are there to make you think about items that you may not budget for originally. Know your budget and know what you can’t live without on your wedding day. A good way to gauge whether you need to buy or have certain items at your wedding is to ask yourself “Are my guests going to notice if I don’t have it?” Think about your guests. You and your partner will be running around that day like chickens with your heads cut off. If you make it your mission to please your guests, they will be the ones that will rave about your wedding for years to come!
Stamp: Captured by Love and Lavender
Camera: Captured Atelier Pictures by from Vintage Travel Themed Wedding
Cake: Captured by joielala from Stunning Cacti Wedding
Makeup: Captured by Drozian Photoworks from Bohemian Peacock Themed Wedding