So you’re getting married. Congratulations! Are you planning your wedding and looking for some time and money savings tips? You’ve come to the right place. Consider this truth-telling time so that you can avoid some of the more common pitfalls. Planning your special day can and should be such a fun experience that you’d repeat if you could. Since you don’t want to say, “If I had it to do over again I’d…,” consider the following:
1. People Will Remember Two Things about Your Wedding: The Food and the Feeling
Years from now (or sooner), no one but you and your spouse are going to remember what your invitations, flowers, wedding favors, or cake looked like. So why blow a lot of money on them? In all of the weddings that I have talked with people about, not once has someone said, “Girl, I will never forget their invitation.” People WILL remember and talk about the food and how they felt attending your event. They may not remember exactly what they ate, but they’ll remember whether or not they enjoyed it. They may not remember specific details about the day, but they will remember if they had a great time and if everyone seemed happy. If you keep these two things in the forefront and make them a priority when planning your day, the decisions you make can enable you to save time and money.
2. Beautiful Invitations Eventually End Up in the Garbage Too
So don’t spend a lot of time obsessing over them or paying a lot of money. If you saw the movie “Bridesmaids,” you probably remember the scene when the main character Annie Walker received an invitation to her best friend’s Paris themed bridal shower. It was a fancy pink striped box that held a candle, statue representing the bride and groom, the printed invitation, and best of all a small box that when opened had a butterfly that flew out and “kissed” her. That invitation package clearly cost some bucks. Of course most invitations aren’t that elaborate, but the point is people are spending a lot of money on something that will eventually end up in the garbage. At least in Annie’s case there was a pretty box to save, and a candle to burn.
Today’s invitations not only set the tone for the wedding, but allow couples to show off their unique style. It should be a fun process, but not one that breaks the bank because no matter how lovely, most of your guests will eventually dispose of it. That’s good money in the trash.
Luckily, there are so many options available that can literally save you hundreds of dollars. From kits that can be purchased at arts and crafts stores, to online retailers like Ann’s Bridal Bargains, there’s something lovely for every budget. Designed your own? Keep costs down by using a discount printing service like Vista Print. Want to design your own, but don’t know where to go? Use a site like Fiverr to get your dream design for less. Want to save even more money? Do away with the paper entirely and send electronic invitations. Sites like Evites provide a number of free and paid options. Better yet, use a site that offers multiple services because…
3. A Good Wedding Website Can Help You Save Time and Money
They can be super easy to set up and personalized to reflect your individual style. More importantly they can keep you organized by storing everything in one place – which will be a real time saver. Even better? There are a lot of FREE options! A good site will allow you to accept and track wedding RSVPs, display a map to your ceremony site, reception venue, and/or lodging, store vendor information, create a seating chart, maintain a ledger of costs and payments, track gifts and thank you notes, and provide a central location for contact. Sites like Wedding Mapper provide this for free. For couples who want additional amenities, paid upgrades are available. Having it all in one place can save money on aspirin too because there will be fewer headaches. You’ll both know where everything is and you can review it at a glance. To make sure it remains a timesaver, don’t go overboard with the personalization. You know, the telling of your story with pictures, videos, stories and anecdotes. It’s cute, but what people really want from your wedding website is practical information such as directions, and where your registry is located.
4. There are So Many Ways to Get the Dress for Less
Did you know that the average cost of a wedding dress is $1300? That’s a lot of money for something you’ll be wearing once. I’m sure you’ve heard it before but it’s true! Whether you plan to go the traditional route or not, there’s no reason to pay that much, as you can have your perfect dress for so much less. For instance, you can rent a dress for as little as $75 from sites like Rent the Runway. One challenge with rentals is that you can’t alter them, so consider other awesome options like buying a pre-owned dress. Brick and mortar consignment stores that specialize in wedding gowns, as well as online shops like Preownedweddingdresses.com offer a great selection and an even greater savings. Retail stores like Black House White Market and J. Crew have gotten into the wedding dress game, offering great styles at fantastic prices. Many brides have their dream dress made overseas for as low as $200! Intrigued? The book, “Bridal Bargains: Secrets to Throwing a Fantastic Wedding on a Realistic Budget,” by Denise Fields describes how to do just that, along with tons of other money saving wedding tips. If you can bear to part with your dress after the wedding you can recoup some of the cost by selling or consigning it for another bride to wear and love. I purchased my dress (pictured above) from a consignment store for $250 and I LOVED it.
5. Avoid Bridal Magazines & Television Shows
The first time I actually looked at a bridal magazine was after I purchased my dress, shoes and accessories. I was thrilled with my choices as they were “me.” I hadn’t decided on the hair 100% and thought I might find inspiration in a few magazines. All I can say is that I was over the moon happy that I had already purchased everything because the magazines did what they were designed to do – make me ooh, ahh, salivate and desire, regardless of the ridiculous prices. There was even a moment, a tiny one but still, where I doubted my dress and wished for one in the magazine. Don’t go down that rabbit hole. Magazines and shows about dream weddings will clue you into things that you would otherwise never, EVER, have thought about “needing” or wanting – promoting a false idea of what a wedding is supposed to be or should have. More choice is not necessarily better in this case. Pearl encrusted bridal bouquet holder. Beautiful? Oh, yes. Ridiculous and completely unnecessary? Absolutely!
6. Beautiful, Money Saving Wedding Flowers are Possible and Make a Lot of “Cents”
Wedding flowers cost an average of $1200. Say what?! Someone please explain why so much money is spent on wedding flowers. To keep costs down while still having beautiful flowers, consider the following. Buy flowers that are currently in bloom, otherwise you’ll pay a premium for your dream flower that’s out of season. If you’re using a florist, don’t tell them that you’re purchasing for a wedding, at least until your final price is locked in. It’s like roses on Valentine’s Day. The price will go up.
If you’re willing to design the arrangement yourself, consider using an online flower wholesaler like Fifty Flowers. Wholesale clubs like Sam’s Club and Costco are also great choices for pretty flowers for less. Or you can do what we did and showcase the flowers as accents as opposed to the primary décor or centerpiece. My husband and I scouted three locations, two supermarkets and a farmer’s market, that had beautiful and inexpensive flowers. We chose three so there were options if one had a bad day. The day before the wedding we bought what we liked and spent $100, including the $5 DIY bridal bouquet. It’s amazing what a few bottles, vases, and ribbon will do! Pictured above is one of the flower accents used during the outdoor cocktail hour. Not only did we save a ton of money, we saved time as well because we limited our choices to what was available and on hand.
7. Wedding Décor Can be Totally Sharp, Classy, AND Inexpensive
Many couples use flower arrangements as their table centerpieces which can add a lot to your budget’s bottom line. You can slash your budget significantly by being creative and using an almost infinite number of options for your centerpieces and décor. How? Three words: Coupons, Ebay, and borrowing. Craigslist counts too. For the DYIer, arts and crafts stores like Michael’s provides inspiration, as well as 50% off coupons. White string lights which are practically a holiday time staple and are probably sitting in your basement, or can be borrowed from family and friends, can create a magical dreamscape. Tea light candles, even flameless ones, in decorative holders add romantic drama and can be had by the dozens for twenty to fifty dollars on eBay. Still want flowers? Use them as accents as shown in the photo above. Not only will you save money, but your guests will be able to see each other over this lovely centerpiece.
8. You are Not Limited to a Specific Caterer
Since the food (and drink) is one of the things that will stand out in your guests’ memory, you want to get this one right. It’s not about your budget, per se because done well, hamburgers and hot dogs can be great wedding food. All things being equal however, if your goal is to provide a fancy-ish catered meal and it comes down to choosing between “lesser quality” food options so you can, let’s say buy the fancier decorations, spend the money on the food. It will feel worth it when people ask when they can expect to be invited back for your next event. As far as I know, no one has ever asked for a repeat invite because of pretty decorations. With that said, these money saving wedding tips can help you have the menu that you want and eat it too.
Yes, you can definitely save money on food by holding your reception during less popular times (think Friday night or Sunday brunch). It is also true that buffets are generally less expensive than sit-down meals. However, the biggest food money saver occurs when you hold your reception at a venue that allows you to cater with whomever you wish. Doing this one thing will allow you to control everything from your price point to all of your food choices. Finding a venue that will allow you to do this may take a little work, but the savings can be immense. When working with a caterer, do not tell them that you are planning a wedding menu until your menu and price has been locked in. As with the flowers example above, wedding packages may very well be priced higher than other options.
My husband and I saved a ton of money by using a company that specialized in college dining services. Many college food service operations are contracted out to specialized companies that may also have catering arms. Your memories of college dining hall food may not be fond, but you may be surprised at how well they do fancy. Set up a tasting to see. It could very well be the biggest cost saver of your wedding. Other tips include renting table cloths, china, tables and chairs from party companies because it may be less expensive than through the caterer. Also, sometimes buying the table cloths is even cheaper than renting and you can sell them and recoup some of the cost!
9. Your Wedding Cake Doesn’t Have to be Large Enough to Serve Everyone
Heck, it doesn’t even have to be a cake! The wedding industry certainly knows how to get us to buy into whatever they are selling. The cake is no exception. To hear them tell it we need a specially engraved cake knife and server, as well as a floral bouquet for the knife. That’s right. Flowers. For the knife. That cuts your cake. Seriously? Novelty options such as cupcakes, small pies, ice cream sundaes, Viennese tables and more can be marvelous options which on the face of it sound like they would be less expensive than a fancy cake. Just make sure that they are. If you need to have a wedding cake, consider a small one, appropriate for the two of you to enjoy and have your yummy, yet less expensive sheet cake in the back ready to be sliced and served. Believe me, no one is going to wonder or care how all of those square slices came from a small round cake. Tip: Order a cake for half the number of guests attending and serve half slices. If you’ve ever been to a wedding you’re sure to have seen all of leftovers from partially eaten slices that were then just thrown away. By now people are up and mingling.
10. You Could Spend Forever Selecting the Perfect Wedding Favor
For once, the issue here isn’t as much about money as it is about time. There are so many cute wedding favor ideas (that your guests will actually enjoy) that you could devote hours, no days poring over all of the options. The best way to insure that your party favor doesn’t set you back a lot of money is to be open to the possibilities. People who are locked into an idea, and inflexible regarding what they will accept, incur the greatest cost. Sites like TheWeddingShop.theKnot.com have everything from personalized chocolate covered pretzels, to olive oil, chap stick, mints in decorative tins and more for prices that will make you smile. If you can live without personalization you could save even more. For instance, we bought milk chocolate heart-shaped lollipops (pictured above) that were on sale on the Godiva website for $2 each with free shipping. Some folks “oohed” because it was Godiva, but for us it was more like, “Yummy. Awesome price. Order it. Done!” Make a pact for how much time you will spend making your favor decision and stick to it. That’ll be one less thing on your to do list.
11. There’s Such a Thing as an Ipod DJ!
Live Band or DJ? Neither, since the average price of a live band is $3,000 and a reception DJ is $1000, thank-you-very-much. Thanks to rentable Ipod DJ equipment you can have great wedding music for $500 or less. Locate a rental company that carries this type of equipment. The rental cost could be as low as $65 a day. Rent some speakers appropriate for the size of the venue. You could even bypass the Ipod DJ equipment totally by renting speakers that allow you to connect your Ipod directly to them. Either way, plug in your iPod and you’re good to go! Okay, so it’s not quite that simple. You have some choices to make. Will you develop your own playlist or pay a DJ to record a dance set for you? With some time you can pretty easily develop your own pre-ceremony, ceremony, cocktail and dinner hour playlists. The dance playlist can be a little trickier as you want to include songs that will appeal to everyone as well as have the right mix of fast and slow songs. If you’re confident in your abilities then what you spend in time you will definitely save in money. As far as the duties that a DJ usually handles such as introducing the bridal party and the speeches, etc., and pushing the play button on your electronic DJ, ask and assign someone in your wedding party to handle those responsibilities.
These are just some of the many money saving wedding tips to be had. With a little time and research you’ll find substantial savings on other aspects of your wedding such as your photographer (no, don’t use uncle Bill), transportation (are limos necessary?), ceremony programs, printed menus, embossed place settings (remember, these get thrown away like invitations), keeping the guest list small, and more. How do you plan to save? Mazel Tov!