Ten Tips for Planning a Wedding on a Budget
It sometimes seems like the minute you get engaged you're instantly inundated with information. Wedding magazines, well-meaning friends and family, and the wide-open Internet all start vying for your attention. And your money.
It doesn't matter if your budget is $10,000 or $100,000, planning a budget wedding is tough and many brides feel like they can take all the help they can get. We consulted the top wedding resources to come up with a list of tips to help make wedding planning on a budget easy and stylish:
Schedule your wedding for an off-season
Most weddings occur between the months of May and October, so this means that caterers, venues, and florists will all be booked and charging more for their services. If you schedule your wedding during the off-season, prices will be more flexible, venues will actually be available, and you'll find the competition for goods and services a lot less stressful. Along this line of thought, try to avoid scheduling your wedding near a holiday, as many vendors get booked for holidays and may not be available.
Shop around for a non bridal wedding dress
Wedding dresses aren't the only white dresses to be found, and you can often find absolutely lovely white dresses for a fraction of the cost of a wedding gown because the dress isn't a "wedding dress". Many brides have a lot of luck finding prom dresses that look perfect and fit well within their budget. Some great places to look for your wedding gown are consignment shops, sample sales, and Ebay. By shopping around, you may just find your dream gown at a price you can actually afford!
Choose flowers, fruits, and veggies that are in season
Fruits, veggies, and flowers are all more affordable when they're in season, and they usually taste and look better too. Work with your florist and caterer to find out which in season options you're looking at and then design your plans around those options. You may be surprised to find out how much cheaper some of these things are when they're grown locally! Another great tip regarding flowers is to avoid using white flowers because these bruise easily and necessitate the florist having to throw more of them away in the search for good blooms, which makes them more expensive for you.
Look into brunch
A nice breakfast or brunch is far less expensive than a nice dinner, so if a sit-down meal is a non-negotiable for you, you might want to look into having a brunch reception. The nice thing about this option is that it gives you the whole evening to spend with your brand new spouse!
Enlist your talented friends and family
Chances are excellent that you know someone who has the ability to help you out somewhere during your wedding planning process, so make the most of this! If you know someone who's good with graphics, enlist their help in designing invitations or programs. If you're having a dessert reception and want to keep costs down, ask your mom, aunts, grandmothers, and girlfriends to help you pull everything together. Who knows, this might end up being one of your favorite memories from your wedding planning!
Cut your guest list
This is a hard choice, but it's by far the easiest way to trim your wedding plans to fit a budget. Many couples choose to omit invitations to friends they haven't seen in over a year, others invite only close friends and family to the actual wedding, and then host a more casual low-budget reception at a later date. However you choose to do this, know that the fewer guests you have at your reception, the lower your cost for food and drinks will be.
Theme your event to hide what you're not spending money on
One of our favorite ways to cut costs on wedding planning is to hide what you're not spending money on by picking a theme that will distract guests from that fact. For example, you can have an Italian family-style dinner and serve red and white wine with dinner. The liquor selection is perfect for the theme, and guests won't ever notice that you didn't offer an open bar. Another option is to have a Mexican food buffet and serve beer, margaritas, and soda as refreshments. These are very low-cost alcoholic options, go great with the theme, and your guests won't ever suspect that you're trying to stay within budget.
Pick your location wisely
Some locations are more affordable than others, so it pays to really investigate the various location options in your area. Charity-owned venues, family churches and synagogues, and public parks are all very inexpensive places to have a wedding and reception. Just bear in mind that, if you choose to have your wedding in a park or backyard, you usually have to arrange for shelter, bathrooms, and seating and these hidden costs can add to your bottom line.
Figure out your priorities first-thing
The best way to ensure your wedding meets your budget needs and is also the event of your dreams is to prioritize early. Make a list with three categories: Must have, would be nice, and nice but not necessary. Organize all the elements of a wedding into these three categories and meet them all one by one. This will help you stay focused in your wedding planning and ensure that your event is exactly how you imagined it.
Be efficient. Some things can serve two purposes at a wedding
Our favorite way to cut costs is to use personalized wine labels to turn the wine at your reception into part of the décor. An easy way to cut down on your flower budget is to use wine bottles as your centerpieces. Order some custom wine labels in your wedding colors, label all the wine you're serving at your wedding, and group the wine in the center of the tables at the reception. Tie them together with ribbon, surround them with candles or flowers, and you've just hit two birds with one stone! Another great way to do this is to use personalized bottled water as both a wedding favor and refreshment. Simply arrange bottles of water in tubs of ice around the reception and your reception will be colorful and your guests will be hydrated!