We’re in the midst of wedding planning. We’re planning on a pretty tight budget, so we’ve looked for big secret ways to slash thousands from the costs, specifically for the party part of it. We were in for some disappointment: there really aren’t too many. The biggest ways to save are sometimes a little bit painful if you’ve got a big, what-has-become traditional picture in your head.
Cut Your Guest List
This is THE best way to cut down your expenses. Each person that you invite means your venue needs to be a little bit bigger, the food budget needs to expand, and the bar tab at the end of the night will be a little more unpredictable. It can be really hard when you have a bunch of people that are really important to you in your life, but a huge party isn’t worth putting yourself into debt over.
Boo. No one likes this one. In fact, when my grandfather found out that my parents’ wedding reception was a cash bar, he told the bar tender to put everyone on his tab. But let’s be real: can you really afford to pay for all of your guests to have unlimited $6-15 drinks all night? If the answer’s no, then don’t. You could have a dry wedding. Or you can set up an open bar for the first hour or up to a certain dollar amount and then have it be cash from there on out. Or you can have it be a cash bar all night (I’d let people know tactfully on the invite or before they arrive somehow.) If the people you invite love you, they won’t care, or you might even have a grandfather like mine that does care, but neutralizes their annoyance themselves.
Get Married Outside
This one isn’t so painful. A lot of public parks will let you do this for little to no cost. You may even have a friend or relative that would be willing to host as a wedding gift. You can save a ton on the venues and probably won’t have to spend as much on decor. (Nature is already beautiful.)
Having a lunch- or brunch-time wedding can save a ton of money on the venue, food, and drinks. It’s good for your budget, but people might not dress as classy, and if you’re looking for a bumping party the time of day will probably put a damper on your plans.
Hire Your Friends
Have a friend that’s in a band? Or a cousin that’s an aspiring photographer? Asking your friends and family to help out with work that would normally go to vendors is a great way to get free or reduced-price services. Make sure to tell them that counts as their wedding gift.
DIY isn’t always cheaper
DIYing your wedding can be a great way to save. Or it can be a way to stress yourself out at a relatively similar price threshold. Decorations and the like for weddings are expensive because marketers know that people will pay big money for weddings, but buying the supplies and making them yourself can come out at a pseudo-lower price with a high opportunity cost. If you know you have a bunch of materials that are free or cheap but nice-looking, go for it. But remember that wedding planning can be uber stressful, and making boutonnieres at the last second may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back on your big day.
Evaluate What’s Really Important to You
We’ve sat down and talked about it. What’s important to me is having a stress-free day that celebrates our love. Not just me and him, but our kids, too. The family we’ve created. What’s important to him is making sure I’m happy. (That was only after I said no to the pyrotechnics.) Stress-free means there probably won’t be a ton of DIY projects. We have a very specific and meaningful date in mind which happens to be on a Friday in a colder month, so outdoors and lunch-time is out of the picture. We haven’t figure out the bar thing yet for our (sad face) short guest list which we’re evaluating to see if there’s anyone that does any wedding-vendor type things. But when I think about the wedding day, it doesn’t matter how many people are there to witness us exchange vows; what matters is the LOVE we put behind those words.
As we go on through this process, I’ll be posting more about the wedding costs and ways we’re saving, but that’s where we are for right now.