You and your partner are in love and so ready to do the “I do.” The thing is, you are both more practical than fanciful. A big expensive wedding it someone else’s dream. Even so, you don’t want to just to City Hall and get it done. You do want to invite friends and family to celebrate the beginning of your new life day with you. But you don’t want to sink tens of thousands of dollars into it. At the end of the day you’d rather put those dollars toward your future together.
Don’t despair, we do have some tips to help you make the most of your most special day without breaking the bank.
To guest or not to guest
The number of guests you invite impacts everything else in the wedding. The size of the venue, costs of food and drink, invitations etc. Remember you don’t have to invite all your friends and associates and family you only see at weddings to your wedding. You can reserve the wedding day for your most near and dear and then send out an open invitation for everyone else to join you for a night out of celebrating – a post-wedding party.
For the wedding proper, step one is deciding on a maximum number of guests you can afford or actually want to attend. And then figuring out a way to get to that magical number. Martha Stewart offers up six stress free ways to cut your guest list in half. Essentially it means pairing down to the people who are most important to the couple.
Give the parents a hard number to work with. Don’t feel obligated to invite a plus one just for the sake of it. If the invitee has a significant other of course they can bring them, but your wedding is no place for a blind date. If you invite one person from the office, that doesn’t mean you have to invite the entire staff. Finally, it’s perfectly okay to say no to children.
What about a Wednesday?
Traditionally weddings happen on a Saturday or Sunday so those days cost a premium in terms of venues and catering. If you move your wedding day to a week day (or week night) you will likely be able to create significant savings.
Friends with talents
Do you have a friend who is a particularly accomplished photographer? Perhaps instead of giving a gift, that person could be your official photographer. Is there a guitar player or a horn player in your friend or family group? Imagine how beautiful it would be for the bride to walk down the aisle under the musical notes of someone she loves. How about a crafty person who could contribute simple, tasteful table decorations?
I was at a beautiful wedding last summer in my friend’s backyard. They rented a tent and strung lights all around. The bride filled mason jars with strings of lights and a little greenery and set them on every table. The effect was magical and cost next to nothing.
Or rather than assigning different tasks to individual people you could have a wedding creation party and bring people together to assemble favors and center pieces and invitations. Add some wine and a spread of delicious snacks and you have a pre-party party! The wedding will feel even more special to everyone who participates in its creation because they were integral to bringing it to life.
Think less is more with flowers
Cut back on the flowers. Instead of bouquets for the bridesmaids give them each a single rose or tulip–or sunflower! Either cut back on the bride’s bouquet or choose a different single flower for her. There is a definite elegance to a single flower and sometimes that one stem can be as beautiful as a whole bouquet.
Many couples choose to send out invitations and receive responses online, creating significant savings in regards to invitations and postage. If you’re not prepared to go fully paperless you can still save by receiving responses either online or via telephone.
A wedding dress is a big price tag for a single use garment. You may have a little less choice if you decide to rent, but not will you save the cost of the dress itself, you’ll also saving cleaning and preserving costs.
Another option is buying a used dress from Craigslist or eBay. Or going with a non-traditional wedding dress. The dress you wear at your wedding is your wedding dress, regardless of what it was designed for. Choose a dress that brings you joy and bring on the guests!
If the wedding is small enough you may consider doing the catering yourself (meaning with the help of friends or family). Otherwise think a little outside the catering box. Like a small family owned restaurant. They’re likely to be personally invested in the outcome and provide you with a good rate.
Bring your own bar
Rather than going with a full open bar, consider limiting it to beer and wine and enough champagne for a toast.
Make lists of all the things you’re going to want and need for your wedding, then get creative. Figure out who you know that can help. Decide what you can do yourself. Plan on having fun while creating a memorable event that fits in with your life plans!