Over the last few weeks, several friends, family members and acquaintances have gotten engaged which of course has prompted discussions around wedding planning and the inevitable, how much will all of this cost? Your wedding should be memorable, but it shouldn’t break the bank. Check out the following tips on how to save in different areas:
Budget Costs and Save For The Wedding Before Setting A Date
This isn’t always possible for those who want to get married within 6-12 months. However, for those planning on being engaged for 1-2 years before tying the knot, it would be prudent to save the money based on your expected budget. We’re in a recession and if you know that should one of you lose a job things would be on hold then it’s best to save and have the money set aside so the show can go on should you lose your job. Never dip into your emergency fund for a wedding. Go to Vegas instead!
Get what you love and make sure you swoon when wearing it! But, don’t break the bank. Ebay has quite a few custom wedding dress makers who can make exactly what you want or pretty close to it fir $200. It is best that you start this process early and test out some vendors by looking at previous work. Ebay also has overseas sellers who will sell you the dress at an insane discount because they sell their stock dresses to the same companies who mark it up 300-700% and sell it back to you.
People throw these out once the day is over so there’s no need to spend more than $150 in this area depending on how many guests you’re planning on having. Vista Print has an awesome deal for wedding invitations at $75 for $200 invitations. If you really want something fancy for your own memories then create that special invitation just for you and maybe your parents but otherwise, paying for something your guests will eventually toss in the trash is a waste of money.
Target also sells wedding invitations that can be printed out at home. Again, you may spend the same amount of money as Vista Print depending on how many guests you plan on having.
Whatever you do, please don’t make your bridesmaids spend $300+ on a dress. They will hate you for it especially if they can’t wear it again. Trust me, I’ve been there a few times! Give them information on how to rent a bridesmaid gown/dress as prices start as low as $65! Do them a favor and rent the dress!
This is one area that has come down in price over the years with the advent of the iPod and other music devices. Unless the DJ is coming with his own equipment, talk them down to a decent price. Today, I would pay no more than $600 for a DJ at my wedding. When got married, they were charging $1500 for 4 hours. I didn’t go with that option and I am glad we didn’t. Bottom line is I would get a schedule of music I want played and have an iPod savvy friend or family member work the iPod during the course of the day. At the most you may need to rent speakers and other equipment but that’s it.
All in One Catering Hall (location + food/catering in one place)
This is often the best bet when trying to secure a catering hall with a wedding location. You pay for everything in one price rather than going a la carte when you find a location that doesn’t offer catering. Wedding caterers are known to jack up the prices because they know how to pull at your heart strings given the enormity of the big day. They will charge you extra down to the type of fork you use, so be savvy about this and get everything done for one low(er) price.
I was fortunate enough to be able to use my uncle’s home as he has a rather large estate at 10,000 square feet and 8 bedrooms. Therefore we were able to save $4000 on the location and move some of that money towards the caterer. You can even check with large estates that have gone empty if they are on the market. Check with the Realtor to see if the owner would be open to renting out the home for your big day.
Something else that helped cut costs is that since my family is Vegan, we did not have the cost markup that can come with having meat on the menu. Before you gag, no one knew the menu was vegan! Based on some of the selections, let’s just say the meat eaters thought we had meat on the menu! And to this day, people talk about the menu on our wedding day, it was indeed delish!
I tend to think that this is an area where you should splurge because this crystallizes all the memories of your wedding day via video or pictures. This is not the time to skimp and go with a photography student or a novice in the field. I’ve heard horror stories of people not showing up or forgetting film etc This isn’t limited to newbie video/photographers but personally, it isn’t a risk I would take. Still paying more than $2000 in this area is a bit much. Make sure you understand what you’re getting and talk to other brides to get a sense of their experiences.
This is my favorite option and I even wish we did this instead of staying stateside. Looking back, the whole wedding would have cost us no more than $7000 if we went this route. Brides are often concerned about some family members not being able to afford this option but if money is tight, do it. You can always have a party when you get back to announce your nuptials formally.
Looking at the Ritz Carlton in Jamaica (where I totally want to have a vow renewal ceremony!) and based on the numbers it would cost no more than $5000. I’m a little older now so it doesn’t bother me that certain people wouldn’t be able to make it. If they think you are important enough then they will make it their business to be there. And, if they can’t, that’s OKAY too. Remember, everyone who is supposed to be at your wedding will be, don’t sweat the people who can’t or won’t come if you choose this option. This is your day, own it.
As always negotiate prices in each area where you can! Nothing is set in stone as all vendors are eager to get your business. Most of the time they are expecting you to negotiate and have a price in mind based on your request. As the day nears, compose yourself and be mindful of your spending, but don’t forget to stop and soak it all up! You have one chance to get it right so don’t let anything mess it up!