Monday, August 16, 2010

Most Common Budget Wedding Tips

Okay, so there are tons of websites out there that give you tips to save money on your wedding. Unfortunately, the majority of them give the same advice over and over. Why? Because they are the most practical, typical suggestions and they WILL save you money. However, maybe these aren't an option or you've done them and you need more ideas.

My best friend in the gown she found at a thrift store

I hope this blog will help on more ideas. But since these tips DO save you money, I will list a bunch of common ones. This list is not exhaustive, but it is the common ones. I have sorted them by topic.

General Savings:
  • Cut your guest list. Every guest adds to your overall cost, so the more you can trim this, the more you will save. It's not just the per plate fee you save, but on favors, invites, programs, etc. And if you can get yourself down to a smaller bracket, it might cost less or open up less expensive venues as an option.
  • Don't have your wedding on Saturday night. Having it Saturday morning, or Friday or Sunday will save you tons. Having it on a weekday will save you even more.
  • Have your wedding in January, February, or March.  (With the exception of Valentine's Day). This is the off season for wedding venues. April, December, November, and possibly October can also be cheaper than the other months, depending on your region.
Decor (flowers, etc):
  • DIY: many things, most especially flower arrangements, centerpieces, invitations, and programs can be made by yourself.
  • DIT (Do it Together): get your friends and family together to help you. Whether is taking advantage of something someone does (Cousin Sue is great at photography), someone has (your best friend owns a white garden arch you can borrow), or are willing to do with you (your relatives might get together and make all the food!), this can save you a lot.
  • Select flowers that are in-season or use artificial flowers.
  • Hit dollar stores and Walmart, especially for favors, thank you notes, and candles.
  • If you're getting married in a church, it is often suggested to have a wedding near a holiday, where the church will already be decorated.
Paper stuff (invites, etc):
  • DIY: Lots of places, like Walmart, Michael's, and Target sell kits for making invites, you just print them out on your own computer. Or you can get blank cardstock and start from a blank slate. This works not just for invites, but programs, place cards, table numbers, etc.
  • Eliminate programs, inner envelopes, and blotter paper, unless you REALLY feel they are necessary (for me, programs are a necessity!).
  • Avoid square invitations, which ALWAYS cost more because they can't go through the post office's normal sorting machine.
  • Many modern couples are asking for RSVPs by phone or internet. It not only saves money, it saves trees. If you have older relatives who wouldn't approve or be able to navigate a website, consider printing off reply cards for them, and letting other guests use a website.

  • Choose a cheap or free venue: a relatives house, some parks, and some church halls could be free.
  • Many of the tips under 'general' apply to venues.
A friend's wedding that took place in a church hall
  • Shop sample sizes, if you are one, and the internet for your dress. is a good resource for, well, pre-owned wedding dresses. Another site is  Ebay is another classic, and not only for dresses. And, of course, You can also shop thrift stores, consignment shops, and check your newspaper.
  • Get a white bridesmaid's dress instead of a wedding gown. Many are just as lovely for a fraction of the cost.
  • Use a relative's gown, or rent one, since you're only wearing it for one day anyway.
  • Borrow a friend's nice vehicle or seriously, just use your own car. Who says you need a limo, really?
  • Have an 'ipod' wedding, where you hook up an ipod or mp3 player with a pre-selected playlist to a stereo system instead of hiring a DJ or band.
  • Look for students! Musicians or photographers in school can be just as talented, but will charge less than the pros.
  • Ask a talented family member or friend. Just be sure sure they will do a good job, since the photos and video will be the record of the event for years to come. Be sure to ask something like this diplomatically, as many a family member has felt more like hired help and resented it. Yet others may be overjoyed to be able to help.
  • Ask around to see if anyone knows someone trying to break-in to the photography market. Every photographer needs a portfolio, but they don't just start with one. My best friend actually got her wedding photography for free this way!
  • MAKE SURE you understand the terms of a photography agreement. It won't save you money if your photographer's fee is small, but you can only buy photos from them at astronomical rates. Try to find one that will give you a CD or DVD of your photos with the rights to print them yourself. You can also try to hire them for less hours (let an amateur get pictures of the pre-wedding stuff, for example, or do the cake cutting at the beginning so you can send them home after the first dance) since photographers often charge by the hour. If they offer an album, for example, sometimes you can get the price lowered if you don't want one. 
Cake mentioned below from Sam's Club (figurines were added later)
  • Consider breakfast or lunch. Or just have cake and punch!
  • Do potluck or hors d'oeuvres.
  • Get your cake at a grocery store or Sam's Club. My best friend got her wedding cake that served 50 people for $36 at Sam's Club. Publix wedding cakes have more variety, and start at around $50. Another option is to just get a white cake and decorate it yourself with flowers or ribbons. Also, many couples get a small, fancy wedding cake for the cake cutting, but serve a sheet cake to most of their guests.
  • Don't have an open bar. In some circles, it is okay to have a cash bar (in some it's a major faux pas, so ask your friends and family).  A common option is only serving wine and beer (much cheaper than liquor), and some couples choose to only have a champagne toast.  And if you and your fiance don't drink, consider a dry wedding.