The average wedding usually costs several thousands and keeping up with the Joneses on everything from flowers to formalwear can put you in debt for years to come. To limit wedding costs, cut corners that neither you nor your guests will notice.
Professional bridal consultants, also called wedding coordinators, negotiate special terms with vendors ranging from florists to bakers. Even after they mark up these services to derive their profit margin, they still may offer you lower pricing than you can obtain yourself. Look for formal credentials from a certifying organization, validating the experience of the consultant you hire. Some professional wedding services also cost less when you reduce the amount of service you require.
For example, rather than forfeit beautifully memorable images captured by a professional photographer, hire her solely for the ceremony itself, a limited time before it and a specific portion of the reception, rather than for an all-day booking. To supplement the professional you hire, include friends and family members in the picture taking. Allow the use of camcorders, cameras and smartphones to capture specific parts of the service, and ask everyone to upload photos from the reception to an online wedding album or social-media page.
Timing & Location
The most popular -- and most expensive -- wedding days fall on summer Saturdays. Unless Grandma Margaret and Uncle Joseph absolutely can't make a Friday or Sunday date, choose a different day of the week -- and another season -- to cut costs and gain access to more venues. Look at public facilities, including city parks, for low-cost alternatives to private locations, verifying their rules on alcohol service as applicable.
Seasonal considerations also apply to flowers. If you concentrate on the overall look of your bouquets rather than on using specific blooms, you can save money on the color and arrangement you want. Do-it-yourself bouquets don't suit every bride, but if you have allergies that don't mix with greenery, find attractive artificial blooms and craft your own arrangements. To quantify everything from where and when to what and how, plan on some serious online research time on your computer or tablet device, and bookmark every useful resource you encounter.
DJ rather than live band, reception lunch instead of dinner, invitations you print on your home computer or send digitally from your smartphone through an online service instead of expensive custom stationery: creative swap-outs can help you trim your budget. Check with a local university music department for ensembles that play for a smaller fee than a cover band charges. Contact a local culinary school and inquire about obtaining your catering or cake from advanced cooking or pastry students. You even can spend a limited amount on a small custom-decorated cake for the ceremonially photographed first slice, and serve your guests a much larger, simpler confection that your mother whipped up in her home range's convection oven. Broaden your retail horizons when you look for supplies, outfits, shoes and decorations. Stores that cater to brides and items marketed for weddings carry a premium you don't have to pay.
Narrow your sights when you compile your guest list. Even if you start with everyone in your synched smartphone-tablet-and-computer address book, every friend you haven't seen since your five-year reunion and every relative, regardless of how distant, you can shorten the list by omitting everyone you won't feel crushed to leave out. A relatives-only affair cuts costs substantially, even in a large family, because it reduces the number of reception tables, place settings and food servings. Even substituting a smaller number of larger tables trims the number of tablecloths you need to rent.
Choosing a wedding dress from a current bridal magazine limits you to this year's fashions. No one but you—and the store from which you buy—will know that you saved money by buying a dress from last season's styles. A plain, flattering, less-expensive gown lets your jewelry shine instead of an ornate dress. You can shrink the price further if you consider gently used consigned dresses, yielding an originally expensive choice for a fraction of its original price. Dieting your way into a too-small dress adds needless stress and the cost of last-minute alterations.
Photo Credits: Sarah Vantassel/Demand Media
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