We’ve come up with five basic planning strategies and a multitude of specific tips to help you.
1. Cut Down
Have two bridesmaids instead of 6 (save on gifts). Serve three courses instead of five (save on price-per-head). Invite 100 guests instead of 150 (save on everything). Do the math: If your wedding comes to $100 per person for food and drink, cutting your list from 150 to 100 saves $5,000.
2. Loosen Up
The less formal the affair, the more affordable. Instead of a sit-down dinner, go for a casual brunch or barbecue. Get rental cars in lieu of limos.
3. Pick and Choose
You don’t need top-of-the-line everything. Ditch the hors d’oeuvres and spend your food budget on exquisite main meals. Serve a great cake, but skip the dessert table.
4. Put It Off
Get silver or white gold wedding bands now, and upgrade to platinum on your first anniversary.
5. Do It Yourself
Never underestimate the cent-saving power of elbow grease. Coordinate the alcohol yourself, make the bomboniere, address your own envelopes, include DIY decor.
Now that you’ve got the basics down, here are some specific suggestions by category:
Keep the wedding invitations simple. Remember, top-quality paper, fancy typography techniques and custom-coloured inks increase the price, as do decorative envelope linings and multiple enclosures. Choose one fabulous element and keep all the rest simple. Use response postcards or make save-the-date cards yourself. To keep postage costs down, stay away from oversized or overweight styles.
Got your heart set on couture? Save big bucks (as much as 15 to 35%) by simply swapping out the fabric. For example, a dress made with of poly satin instead of silk satin will cost hundreds less. Want more creative ideas for saving money on a designer wedding dress?
Wear basic black non-designer tuxes. Encourage all the groomsmen to rent from the same place — often that means the groom’s tux will be free. If your wedding is semi-formal, wear a nice suit that you already own.
Choose a hire car over a limousine. If you really want the limo, don’t stretch it: stick with an average-size car, use it for only the bride and/or wedding couple, leave out the amenities, and have the wedding party carpool.
Swap an expensive flower for a less expensive one. Even little substitutions add up: If you exchange Black Magic roses for more reasonably priced deeply coloured dahlias in all your bouquets and table arrangements, you’ll save about $4 a stem. If you were planning on having five roses per bouquet and 10 per centrepiece – with a wedding party of five gals and guest list of 150 people, you’ve just saved $520.
Exchange vows in a naturally beautiful place. Pick a public park, a flower garden, or an already ornate house of worship so you don’t have to spend a cent on decorations.
Skip the home wedding. You may think you’ll be saving money by having your wedding chez-vous, but that’s not always the case. Between tents, chairs, catering, and portaloos, home weddings are more stressful and inevitably more costly than a we’ve-got-everything-you-need reception spot.
Reduce the number of overall dinner courses (making each of three courses fabulous costs less than serving five individual courses) and keep your menu simple. Stick with the specialities of the season and region. Buy your own alcohol. Have the caterers bring out the fancy bubbles for the toast, but then switch to a less expensive champagne for the rest of the night – no one will ever see the bottle, or know the difference.
Order a small, fabulous cake that’s exactly what you want and, in the kitchen, have several sheet cakes of the same flavour cut for your guests. Stay away from tiers and (time-consuming) handmade sugar flowers and special moulded shapes. Have your caterer decorate each plate with a flavoured sauce, instead. Forego fondant if you are not getting married in winter: butter cream icing is tastier and less expensive.
Keep the band small. If their equipment is modern and up-to-date, a small combo band shouldn’t sound like it’s that small. Or have the band do double-duty, playing at your ceremony and then at your reception. Alternatively, opt for a DJ — they almost always cost less than a band. The best DJs and bands are in highest demand on Saturday nights, so try Friday or Sunday for a slightly discounted rate.
Consider having only the ceremony filmed. Forego complicated editing. (You’ll want at least minimal editing done, however — otherwise you’ll end up with four to eight hours of video, some of which is not so interesting!) Use a single camera, and forget special effects like animated titles or still photos.
Hire your photographer for just the ceremony plus a limited amount of hours at the reception. Keep prints simple, and stay away from special treatments like sepia tones, multiple exposures, and split frames, which add to the cost. Select a package carefully — some include parents’ albums, but many don’t, which means you may pay an additional fee later. Opt for faux leather rather than the real thing.
Use the rewards/frequent flyer points you earned when using your trusty credit card to pay for your flight. Avoid travelling during high season, the peak tourist time when things are most crowded and in demand. Or get a package instead of purchasing plane tickets, hotel, and food separately. And definitely let people know that you’re on your honeymoon. It could result in perks like chilled champagne waiting for you in your suite, or free upgrades.
by The Knot