The Date Debacle
Originally, we thought about getting married in the summer. Being that we live in Florida though, we didn’t want our guests from up north to melt in the Florida heat. I also didn’t want to be sweaty in the pictures hehe.
Not to mention that apparently, summer weddings are more expensive for everyone involved. The venues we toured charged an additional fee for the summer months. Flights were also more expensive for our out of town guests.
After considering several other dates, we settled for March 24th. Not only did we get an amazing discount from the venue, but it also worked great for my son’s school schedule. Since he’s on spring break, my mom can watch him while we go on our honeymoon. Win-Win!
Anyways, in the short time that we’ve been planning our wedding, we’ve found plenty of ways to save money. This is great because we’re paying for everything upfront, so we have a set budget that we can’t exceed.
Here’s the best ways we found to save money on our wedding:
Find an All-Inclusive Venue
We toured a total of 10 venues before we settled on one. Some were gorgeous, luxurious sanctuaries, while others were hotels or local parks. Some offered packages with varying inclusions, while some only offered the space for rent and we were responsible for bringing in everything.
As we calculated the cost of the DJ, the decorations, the cake, the lighting, the photographer, a master of ceremonies, the food, the drinks (why aren’t we just eloping??… I digress), etc, we realized that not only was it more expensive to deal with separate vendors but also more stressful.
In the end, we opted for a banquet hall that had an almost all-inclusive package. The price per person included the use of the place as well as the catering, the decorations, the cake, and several other things. While they didn’t include the DJ, they referred us to a local photographer who offered, wait for it,…..
An all-inclusive package that covered everything the venue wasn’t offering: The DJ, photo and video. It was perfect!
Skip the Bridal Party
My fiancé and I decided to go sans bridal party. We figured we had very limited time to choose who would be part of our entourage. We didn’t think it would be fair to them to ask them to prepare with such short notice.
Turns out, every vendor we spoke with confirmed that this is now a trend they’re seeing.
Having a bridal party can be stressful. You need to consider their opinions and accommodate their unique situations. When I went to look for my dress, I went alone.
As I waited for my attendant, I watched her finish up with another client who had 6 other girls with her. As she tried on each dress, her friends would comment on it. One would like it, the other one wouldn’t. Their opinions were so conflicting, that the girl ended up leaving the store almost in tears, and empty-handed.
What Was My Experience Without a Bridal Party?
I tried on several dresses and narrowed it down based on price and comfort. With minimal stress, I was able to walk out dress in hand in the span of two hours.
I have heard countless stories of members of the bridal party backing down at the last minute, causing some sort of drama, trying to take over the wedding, or just being plain rude. We opted for not dealing with any of that.
Having a bridal party can also be costly. If you choose to have one, you need to consider if you’ll be covering any of the cost for those members of your party who cannot afford the expenses.
It is also tradition to give a gift to each member of your party at the end of the wedding as a token of appreciation for their participation.
Additionally, you will have to have a rehearsal dinner to make sure everyone knows their places and order of their entrance at the ceremony.
One of the things I found shocking in this process is that rehearsal dinners are NOT included… in anything! Not only will you have to pay the venue for the service, but any vendor that you invite will also charge an extra fee to attend.
In our area for example, officiants charge a fee between $50 to up to $200 to attend a rehearsal dinner depending on how long they will be there for.
Since we don’t have a bridal party, we get to skip the rehearsal, and the extra cost, altogether.
Also be aware that the more people that need to be photographed, the more your photo and video package will cost. Since in our case the photographer only needs to photograph us, he can manage to do it with just one more assistant. If we had a wedding party he would have needed to bring another person with him, which costs more money.
Trim Down Your List
Trimming down your list is by far the number one way to save money on your wedding. Venues will normally charge a per-person fee that can be as low as $50 in our area for a bare-bones celebration to upwards of $200 per person for an all-out affair.
With that kind of cost, even a difference of five people can have quite an impact on your expenses!
It’s tough to decide who to invite. If it were for me, I would have invited all my family, friends, my neighbors, their dogs and their cats. Ok, maybe not their cats, but you get the point.
However, I knew I had to limit the number of guests if we wanted to stay within our budget.
It’s a Tough Decision
We started with a list of about 80 people, limited to family and close friends. From there, we started to trim it down based on how close of a relationship we still had with our guests. If we hadn’t spoken to a friend in years, we chose not to extend an invitation.
There are a couple of things you should agree on from the start. Decide if you will allow children at your wedding, or if you will invite your single friends alone or with a plus one.
At the end of the day, it’s pretty much impossible to have everyone you want to celebrate with you, so come up with a couple of rules and apply them to every guest without exception. This will allow you to keep the list short while minimizing hurt feelings.
It had not occurred to me that shopping online for wedding supplies was a thing. However, after I bought my dress, I asked for help finding a veil at the bridal store. The attendant told me it was better to get it at Amazon since their cheapest one was $200… That’s as much as some of their dresses!!
Not only did I buy a beautiful veil from Amazon for $20, but I also bought the party favors, ring box and jewelry as well. We used sites like Etsy for decorative items like picture frames and candle votives.
Think outside of the box when it comes to your wedding supplies to save some major moolah.
In that same spirit, one of the best ways to save money on your wedding is to be flexible.
Allow me to explain. When we were touring the different venues, we realized most venues charged a higher amount if we wanted to have the wedding on a Friday or Saturday. Although we had originally thought about having the wedding on Saturday the 23rd, we realized that we could save a ton of money just by moving it one day, to the Sunday.
When it comes to catering, flexibility can also help keep costs down. As we learned, many couples nowadays are opting for having a buffet instead of their guests choosing a specific entree.
In that case, you have to choose how many types of meat and sides you will serve. Packages can vary significantly in cost, so unless you’re absolutely set on serving an almond crusted salmon at your wedding, keep things simple (and affordable) by opting for a simpler package.
In our case, we chose one generic chicken option, one generic fish option, and two pasta dishes as the main entrees, and three sides.
We figured that would be plenty of food for everybody, and it would give guests some flexibility with their food choices.
Another area where being flexible can save you money is in the flower arrangements. Although the package we got from the venue included a floral package for the centerpieces, it did not include my personal flowers (bouquet, boutonniere, etc).
Most florists will use hydrangeas as a “base” flower, but if you’re set on say, tulips, or orchids, you will probably be charged extra for those types of flowers.