The average American spends $33,391 on their wedding. Although some may have the means to plan an extravagant wedding, many do not have a huge wedding budget for a one day celebration. However, even the smaller wedding budgets do not mean that an amazing wedding can’t be created. A majority of brides and grooms quickly realize that their wedding is a party that lasts for a few hours and they decide to become their own wedding planner. Even though many are not willing to make any sort of financial sacrifices, others decide to save money on the wedding to put towards other things. These days, many couples are changing the ways they plan a wedding and find themselves straying away from tradition to make their day the way they want it. By doing this, there is more flexibility in how and what you choose to spend money on. The tips listed below are merely suggestions and ideas to help save you money and stick to your wedding budget if that is your goal.
Tips for Sticking to your Wedding Budget
Have a Friend or Relative Officiant
For those having a non-religious wedding, hiring a random officiant to preside over the ceremony can seem so stiff. To some, it’s not very meaningful to have a person who they have met maybe once prior performing such a special event. Instead, look to your guests to see if anyone holds a certification that allows them to officially perform wedding ceremonies. Chances are, there will be someone on your guest list that is able to marry you. In addition to recognized members of clergy (such as priests, ministers, or rabbi’s), judges, clerks of court, and notaries can also legally perform wedding ceremonies in most states.
Choosing someone you already know to stand up there with you can make the couple feel more comfortable and at ease. A guest or family member that you ask to perform the ceremony will most likely not only be willing to do it but also feel honored and excited to do so. Most likely, they won’t ask you to pay a fee for their services but if they are expecting something, ask if they would do it as a wedding gift to you instead of them purchasing a gift off your registry or writing you a check. If they insist no payment is necessary, there are several options to show your gratitude that will save you money rather than paying an officiant fee. Examples include a gift card to their favorite restaurant or a bottle of wine.
With the wide use of technology today, paper invitations and RSVP’s are becoming a thing of the past. For those that don’t mind straying away from tradition, try utilizing an online RSVP service. Several wedding websites offer an option to count RSVP’s directly on the website and notify you of your guest’s responses. This service will help keep those overwhelmed couples organized because it generates an accurate guest list for you, alleviating you from trying to keep track of who is attending, who is not, and any plus ones. If you are already creating a wedding website that you tell your guests to visit to find out information about the wedding, view your wedding registry, and make song requests, they may as well check something off their list while they are on your site and submit their RSVP. In addition to being helpful for you, it is very convenient for your guests because they don’t have to worry about sorting through mail to find their RSVP card and remembering to fill it out and put it in the mailbox. If a wedding website isn’t for you, many couples are making private Facebook groups for their wedding guests to join. There is also an option on Facebook to reply if you are going or can’t make it. Many people spend a lot of time on social media so you will most likely get quicker responses from this method anyway.
Buy a Suit
Although the cost of renting a tuxedo can sometimes cost less than purchasing a tux or suit to own, it doesn’t always make financial sense because you have to give it back. Unless it is a black tie wedding, many grooms are choosing to eliminate the tux from their wedding wardrobe altogether and wear a suit instead. Purchasing a suit allows your to own it long after the wedding is over. This is not only smart, but cost-saving in the long run. Whether the groom wears suits on a daily basis or only frequently for special occasions, adding an extra suit option to your wardrobe will come in handy more than you think.
Book during Certain Times of the Year
Despite weddings occurring all throughout the year, there is a certain season where weddings are more prevalent. The typical wedding season is from late spring to early fall making this time period more expensive than any other times of the year. Many couples trying to decide when to get married usually avoid hot summer months, especially if they are having an outdoor wedding. However, if you plan to remain indoors, or provide a tent with cooling options such as fans, this time may be your best choice. Many venues are not being booked up during these months, allowing you to secure your reservation for a much lower price. Although winter is often a more affordable season to get married, be careful with planning a December wedding. Many venues may not be available due to an influx of bookings for company Christmas parties.
This one may seem non-negotiable, and many will debate that couples should not skimp on their wedding photos. We agree, you must document the day and you have to have professional pictures to showcase such a special occasion. However, many couples will tell you, out of the thousands of pictures their wedding photographer produced, they may have 3-5 that they actually printed out and framed. Although it varies by location, the average cost of a wedding photographer is $2,814.
Typically, that price only includes the hours the photographer worked during the wedding and photo editing and printing may add an additional cost. You may think that you need a photographer present to capture every moment of the day from the time you begin to get ready until you depart your venue, but more realistically, you aren’t going to frame pictures of the bride getting her hair and makeup done, or even guests eating dinner, and hang them on the walls in your house.
Not hiring a professional photographer is another way to make your guests feel included in your wedding. Ask if any of your guests have a quality digital camera that they wouldn’t mind bringing to take a few pictures for you. Additionally, with the progression of smartphones, many of your guests will be able to take stunning pictures that you would never guess are from a cell phone. Create a cute hashtag for the wedding and ask guests to use it and tag you in any pictures they take and share to their social media. This will allow you to easily view and access the pictures your guests took.
If you aren’t willing to forego a wedding photographer altogether, only schedule them for the minimum hours. Nine hours of photography services are just unnecessary and excessive. Instead, have them focus on the ceremony, family shots, and bridal party pictures that you know you will want to share and keep. If time is still available after you accomplish this, schedule those momentous moments you want captured at the beginning of the reception. For example, do your first dance, cut the cake, and throw the bouquet first thing before your photographer leaves.
Many bride and grooms planning a wedding quickly find out the unbelievable cost of music. DJ’s can cost approximately $100 to $300 an hour. With all of the available music options currently accessible, many couples are ditching the DJ and providing music themselves. There are several benefits to providing your own music for your wedding. This ensures that only the songs you approve of are played and at the times you desire. You can pre-plan your playlist and spend time making selections of songs that are meaningful to you and your guests will enjoy. Websites and apps like Spotify, Pandora, and Google Play Music, allow you to stream music and even select pre-made playlists. For a small $5 to $10 charge, you can upgrade to a premium account that will eliminate commercials and ads.
Flowers die. Sorry, that’s the truth. This is another topic that many will disagree on. While some planning a wedding strongly feel that each table should display a floral arrangement, other’s can’t fathom purchasing flowers that will eventually die. According to a survey conducted by The Knot, the average amount spent on flowers for weddings is over $2,000. When discovering this is how much you will be required to pay for the bouquets, centerpieces, and boutonnieres, many will be astonished and potentially look for alternatives. If flowers are a must at your wedding, check out some of the faux floral arrangements available or create your own with the available fake flowers at your local craft or hobby store. One of the best things about doing this is that they will last forever. After the wedding, the faux flower arrangement can be used in your home as decor or even given as gifts to your bridal party or other guests that helped make your day possible.
A wedding cake is a must have at your reception. Not only does everyone love desert, but cutting the cake together, giving each other a bite… or smashing it in the face, is not only a fun, but traditional part of every wedding reception. However, some wedding cakes can cost an absurd amount, making it an expensive food item to serve to your guests.
A wedding cake does not have to come from a professional bakery to be beautiful or delicious. Take a look at your local grocery store’s bakery department when in the market for a wedding cake. Many grocery store’s bakeries offer custom wedding cakes that resemble those of the expensive ones found at most professional bakeries for sometimes less than half the price. Similarly, many couples are choosing not to have a wedding cake at all at their reception instead choosing fun desserts such as donuts or macaroons to provide in place of a piece of cake. This option not only eliminates the need to cut and serve cake, but makes it easier if there are any leftovers at the end of the night. Instead of trying to box up extra pieces of wedding cake, you can easily package small, individual items to either save or hand out to your guests to take home with them.
White Dress…Not a Wedding Dress
What makes a dress a wedding dress, the color? What says that wedding dresses can only be found at bridal shops? If you are wedding dress shopping, take a trip to your local mall. You may be surprised to find a plethora of white dresses that if you didn’t know any better, look fit for a bride. Many department stores regularly carry ball gowns, floor length formal dresses, and even prom dresses that look very similar to the dresses you may see at any wedding. A majority of the time, these dresses are not only available at a cheaper prices than most bridal shops but there are more sizes available. Many bridal shops only carry a limited selection of sizes available, leaving the bride with the extra costs of make necessary alterations. Another convenient feature of visiting department stores is that you never need an appointment. A majority of bridal shops require an appointment to be booked weeks, sometimes months in advance. With the busy schedules of wedding planning, brides are sometime overwhelmed with trying to find a date and time that they, along with family members and bridesmaids are able to attend.
Ditch the Wedding Planner
A wedding planner is one of the most unnecessary expenses couples can add to their wedding. Although it can be nice and convenient to have someone else do everything for you, don’t you want to be the one planning your wedding? Why have someone else make the decisions and potentially wrack up the costs of items you are trying to save money on. Not all wedding planners do this but many may pressure you into more expensive options and vendors for your wedding and wouldn’t necessarily agree with the choices you make with saving money being a priority.
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Sources: What the Average Wedding Budget Looks Like in America, State Law Officiants Requirements, What are the Most Affordable Months to Book a Wedding Venue, How Much do Wedding Photographers Cost?, Wedding DJ Costs, Average Cost of Wedding Flowers
Photo Credit: Anna So Photography, Pixabay