I am thrilled to have been asked to contribute to this article on GoBankingRates.com.
11 Easy Ways To Save Money on Your Wedding
Your big day doesn’t have to come with a big price tag.
A wedding is a momentous occasion in a couple’s life; you want it to leave a big impact on you and your guests, not a big dent in your bank accounts. The wedding industry will lead you to believe that weddings should be big, glamorous, pricey events, but in truth, you can have a perfectly lovely event on a budget that will leave you and your guests pleased.
Let Guests Take Photos
Jim Campbell, founder and CEO of Honeymoon Goals, has a fantastic hack to save on the high cost of professional photographs, which also engages guests.
“Instead of hiring a wedding photographer, which can cost up to $3000, give all of your guests a disposable camera and have the photos printed the following day. You get so many great moments from your wedding that you wouldn’t have got to see, and everyone gets a say in how you remember your wedding.”
Though you may feel as though you need to put together a memento for guests, their memories of the event are more precious than any trinket you can buy. A simple way to save money on your wedding, according to Amber Sironen-Massey, owner of Epic Elopements, is to not give out favors.
“They are a waste and people never take them. Depending on the size of your event this could save you $500 (or more). If you really want to offer something, make a donation to a local charity or organization.”
Downsize Your Cake
People don’t come to weddings for the food. They come to celebrate your special day. Sironen-Massey said when you buy a big cake there is often too much leftover. “Scale back on the cake. Yes, a big cake is beautiful, but you are spending hundreds to throw it in the garbage. Talk to your cake maker about possibly putting in a Styrofoam layer.”
Be Flexible on Your Date
Wedding venues and vendors often offer different rates for each season and also alternate their rates by the day of the week, according to Retno Dwinika, founder and lead wedding planner at Amora Bali weddings. Flexibility is key to savings. “Often, you’ll pay less on weekdays and more on weekends. Being flexible with the wedding date can save you a lot of bucks when seasonal price differences can save you a lot on your vendors or venues.”
Reduce Your Guest List
One of the biggest wedding costs is the number of guests you invite, said Amberly Odom, a wedding planner with Wrennwood Design. Venue and food often add up the more people you invite.
“Each guest for example may cost $500 to attend,” she said. “The cost will increase depending on how luxurious you want the day to be.”
“Other than the number of guests, you can opt for a buffet over a plated, seated dinner. The cost of the food itself isn’t necessarily decreased, however, the amount of staff needed is not as high as a buffet.”
Downsize Your Bridal Party
If you’re not able to scale down the total number of guests, you could try to decrease the number of members in your bridal party, which will save you a considerable amount of money, Odom suggests. “This means you’ll spend less on bridesmaids/groomsmen gifts, personalized flowers or custom dresses or outfits.”
Go With a Signature Drink
If you are paying for alcohol at your wedding venue, Odom recommends “You can opt for a single signature drink that can be batch made or serve beer and wine versus a full open bar.”
Use Secondhand Decorations
Before you spend a mint on brand new decorations and more, Lindsey Nickel, owner of Lovely Day Events, recommended couples look at secondhand sources for items such as “reserve signs, favor signs, and any other signage that doesn’t have a specific name or wedding date on it on secondhand shopping sites like Facebook Marketplace.”
Other items you can find second hand might include picture frames, votives, candles, a card box, or basket to put your cards in. “Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box and look inside your home for items like a tray for cards or decor on your bookshelf for your welcome table.”
Send Electronic Invitations
Not only can you save money but also trees for your wedding by using electronic invitations, Nickel said. “This trend has been on the rise and I highly encourage it. Also, some of my clients have opted out of printed paper programs for their ceremony in lieu of one giant sign–which can also be purchased secondhand, along with the easel to place it on. Or they’ll opt out of wasteful, paper-based items altogether.”
Serve a Family Style Dinner
Instead of a sit-down, plated dinner, consider having a family-style menu, said Tracy French of The French Connection Events. This would look more like meal items put on platters in the center of each guest table so guests can pass them around. “[This] will often be less expensive over a plated meal as your caterer will not need as much staff to serve each guest.”
However, she cautions, “You will need to limit your table centerpiece size when doing this to accommodate the family-style food service but the payoff is a more interactive reception while saving dollars.”
Though you may have dreamed of a big wedding, if your budget doesn’t allow it but your heart can’t wait, the most affordable way to save on a wedding is to elope, Dwinika said.
“As opposed to throwing a party just because of the social pressure of your friends and family, eloping would make your day with your partner so much more meaningful. As an alternative for a $34,000 wedding, you could elope in a beautiful destination, where you’ll also celebrate your Honeymoon. Share the pictures with loved ones afterwards. Whether they are there or not, I promise you, they will still be happy for you.”