- Shorten the wedding-planning timeline. Don’t wait a year to get married and it will be easier to simplify the wedding. “A recent trend I’ve seen is that couples are saving money by planning a more last-minute wedding, rather than the traditional 11-month runup,” says Alan Fields, coauthor of Bridal Bargains: Secrets to Throwing a Fantastic Wedding on a Realistic Budget. “The shorter time horizon will force you to streamline and keep you, by necessity, from getting sucked into the vortex of elaborate weddings.
- Schedule the wedding in off-peak times. When there’s less competition for dates, you can have more negotiating power. “You can shave 20 to 30 percent off the cost of a wedding by planning it for November, or January through March―except for Valentine’s Day,” says Fields.
- Consider choosing a nontraditional venue. “Where you have the wedding often drives the cost,” says Fields. Rather than a dedicated wedding reception hall or country club, check out less expensive facilities, from city-run spaces like zoos and civic gardens to restaurants or more offbeat locations that have some meaning for you, from a beach to your parents’ yard. One caveat: If the space is not equipped to cater a party, calculate extra costs for bringing in tables, toilets, or even a kitchen
- Make it a daytime reception. “It’s always cheaper to serve lunch or brunch than dinner,” says Fields.
- Avoid the traditional sit-down dinner or buffet meal altogether. Instead, host a cocktail reception with cake and punch or cake and cocktails. Or have a potluck reception, which makes for a less formal, more intimate wedding with a nice feeling of community.
- Serve signature cocktails. “Alcohol is one of the biggest expenses of a wedding and can burn a hole in your budget fast,” says Fields. Since most reception sites charge for every bottle opened, even if it was for just one drink, consider offering a limited bar. Choose a signature cocktail (or a series of signature cocktails) that use one type of liquor. Then, ask to stock a few other bottles based on the wedding party’s preferences (i.e., if your dad drinks only scotch). Another option is to serve just beer, wine, and enough champagne for toasts.
- Make your own centerpieces. This is definitely a time commitment, so consider making the centerpieces for the cocktail tables or the rehearsal dinner. “A lot of people are using freshroses.com and other websites to order wholesale flowers to make their own centerpieces,” says Fields. “You can order enough flowers to do 15 for about $300, then check out how-to sites for DIY instructions.” (See Turn Supermarket Flowers Into Beautiful Bouquets.) Or go online to check out the wedding flower packages from Costco―have bouquets and centerpieces shipped to you for huge savings.
- Try a less-expensive package.“Photographers usually offer packages based on the hours they’ll work,” says Naylor. To buy a less expensive (shorter) package, she suggests, “do your at-home, getting-ready pictures as candids. Cut the cake early so you can release the on-the-clock shooters, and let your guests supplement your album with candids.”
- Hire a Wedding Coordinator. Wedding Coordinators have relationships with vendors and can help you negotiate prices for every aspect of your wedding. We also know where we can cut corners and where you should never! Hire me today 🙂