Your wedding is likely to be one of the most memorable days of your life. The moment you and your partner tie the knot is going to feel magical no matter what your wedding looks like, but most people would prefer their magical moment to happen in a beautiful place, in a well-planned ceremony, and witnessed by family and friends.
Unfortunately, sometimes the cost of that magic can be astronomical. Wedding costs have soared in recent years, and the average price tag for a wedding is now over $30,000. That gorgeous, elaborate dream wedding you’ve planned all your life may be a little extravagantly priced for your budget, but there are a number of ways to budget your own wedding without sacrificing that magic.
1. Keep your guest list short and sweet
Roughly 50 percent of your costs will go to the reception, and the vast majority of that cost will be in the form of food and alcohol for your guests, as well as tables, seating, table tags, any wedding favors and venues large enough to accommodate everyone. Needless to say, the size of the guest list determines the cost of your wedding. There’s simply no way to get around the fact that the more you invite, the more costs you will incur.
The best way to keep a wedding affordable is to keep the guest list as trim as you’re willing to keep it. Rather than a 250-person event, strive for a smaller wedding of 100 or less. This will allow you to look at smaller locations, and might even afford you the option of using someone’s spacious backyard or home as a venue, which can save on venue costs and slash your expenses even further.
2. Thrift and borrow decorations
Renting linens for a night can cost several hundred dollars. Borrowing linens from your parents costs nothing. Buying linens used can cost less than $50 for a full set if your local thrift shop has them around.
Using thrifted table decorations, DIY centerpieces and curtains your friend still has left over from her birthday bash will cut down on renting and shopping for these extra costs. Borrowing things like speakers and browsing Craigslist for wedding decorations can also turn up decently priced surprises to chip away at the expenses on your budget list. Everything adds up, which means anything you can knock off the total price counts.
3. Find an unusual wedding locale
A city park may have little to no fees to rent the space for your wedding, and may give you the beautiful manicured landscape and outdoor ceremony you’ve always wanted. Canadian company, Wonderstruck Events Vancouver, suggests a small guest list will give you more options on budget venues.
For example, a local art museum that you know looks stunning in the right light can be persuaded to close for a night for a cheaper cost than a traditional venue, and without the associated difficulties like minimum head counts, expectation of tips and bloated costs that come with the wedding industry. Look for out-of-the-way places to hold your wedding.
4. Ask for labor among family and friends
If you have a friend trying to start his DJ career, ask him to DJ as his wedding gift to you. If you have a cousin with a camera and an eye for style, ask if she will be your wedding photographer for the day for a nominal payment (or as her gift, as well!). Does your mom have a skill in the kitchen? See if she’ll help feed your wedding party for the reception.
Ask your brother who works in a bar to make mixed drinks for guests, ask your other cousin who’s in Orchestra if he and a few friends could record a piece for your wedding. Even a wedding planner can be outsourced to a family member or friend eager to help out in exchange for not having to spend cash on a gift.
5. Plan according to the season
Everyone knows June and July are the most expensive months to get married. The cheapest months to get married tend to fall in the winter and fall, including January, March, April and November. These cooler months tend to come with even cooler nights; one quick way to save on costs and avoid a chilly affair is to plan a mid-day wedding, which is often in less demand and therefore cheaper to book.
In addition, using foods and flowers that are in-season and locally grown can save boatloads in costs. Flowers alone can wrack up hundreds, up to thousands of dollars, especially for a wedding that uses out of season or exotic plants, or supplies flowers for the entire bridal party.
Using food that’s in season and locally grown, whether it’s catered or home-made, will also keep costs from racking up. For example, the cost of strawberries in a strawberry dessert could be $4 or $5 a pound in the summer, but in the cooler winter months when it’s in season you can find locally grown-strawberries in many regions for $2 or less per pound.
Your wedding doesn’t have to be dull on a budget. You can have a glamorous dream wedding that leaves you breathless without leaving your wallet empty afterwards. Enjoy your wedding planning!
Featured photo credit: lindsey child via flickr.com