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Plan a wedding on a small budget

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Your wedding day is a glorious day – one that has usually culminated from months of planning, hard work, and a lot of to-do lists. However, as any couple will tell you, the cost of a perfect wedding day can easily range from $20,000 to $30,000 or more. 

The highest happiness on earth is marriage

William Lyon Phelps

In today’s economy it’s just not sensible to spend that kind of money on one, albeit special, day.

Because of changes in family structures, the traditional model of the bride’s family paying for the wedding has become impossible or impractical for many couples. As a result, many young people are left with that horrible feeling that the word “budget” has to be associated with the wedding day. 

Rather than equating the word “budget” with doom and gloom, you can successfully take on the exciting challenge of creating a perfectly elegant wedding at the lowest cost possible. It means a bit of extra work and a spot of bargain hunting, but the end result can often be as magical as a highly expensive wedding day.

So how can you save money on your wedding day? Read on to find ten different areas where you can substantially cut costs and still have your day as perfect as you’ve dreamed of. 

 Setting the Date and Finding a Venue 

Implementing some cost cutting methods when setting the wedding date, where you’ll get married, and where you’ll go on your honeymoon can save you a lot of money.

Consider these options:

Wedding date

If possible, avoid setting the date over a holiday, because your venue will cost a lot more than it would in off-peak times.

Honeymoon

The honeymoon will also cost more during the peak travel season, so take advantage of off-peak specials where you can. For example, for summer tourist destinations like the coast, airfares, hotels, and tourist attractions are all less expensive during the fall and winter. In many of these areas, it’s still quite warm in the fall but the masses of summer tourists have left to go back to school and work and the high prices have fallen to off-season rates. 

Location for your wedding and reception

If a Church wedding is important to you, find out if it’s possible for you to hold the reception at an adjoining hall or somewhere close-by so you don’t need to spend money on additional transport for your bridal party – taking them from the ceremony to the reception. 

You can save even more if you make use of alternative wedding venues.

For example, you get married at the beach or in a park. Doing so will cut the cost of the church or hall, plus the need for decorations. If you can depend on the weather, you can arrange to have your reception at the same place. That way, you’re only paying for furniture rental and the catering. 

Our wedding was many years ago.  The celebration continues to this day.

Gene Perret

 The Menu 

The option of having a sit-down dinner is one that a lot of couples are choosing to go without because it’s one of the biggest costs in a wedding. Instead, you can have a buffet style meal, which would be a lot less expensive and your guests will have a chance to pick foods they prefer, rather than sitting down to a set menu.

Also, consider asking friends and family to chip in to help with the reception – either with money or home catering.

For smaller wedding parties, it’s not uncommon to find people “bringing a dish,” potluck style. This strategy cuts the cost of catering down to virtually zero, and it’s an inexpensive way for your family members and close friends to contribute towards your wedding day.

You could spring for some wine and beer for your guests, along with some non-alcoholic choices, and still have a lot of fun. It’s not necessary to provide full bar facilities. 

You can also select some special bottles of wine or champagne to make the toasts with and that should be plenty.

The number of guests should also be considered because feeding them can be the biggest cost of a wedding. If you want to have a lot of family and friends with you, choosing one of the above-recommended cost-cutting measures to prevent you from going into debt just to feed them all!

The Wedding Attire 

Every little girl dreams of having the perfect gown that will transform her from a young lady into a princess. And the wedding dress industry makes millions of dollars every year catering to that one dream! Little girls don’t think of life beyond their wedding day – young ladies paying for their own weddings do. 

So what can you do to have the dress of your dreams and still be able to afford the rest of the wedding?

Here are some suggestions:

  • Consider buying a pre-loved dress and having it altered.
  • Go for classic designs and frequent the end-of-season bridal store sales.
  • If you want something a little different, look for evening wear instead of wedding attire; it’s a lot less expensive and can look just as lovely.
  • If a wedding dress is totally out of your budget, go for a themed wedding that has you and the guests all dressing up in clothes that are fun and easily rented or made. 
  • Hunt around the family tree for a seamstress that might be able to make your dress as a wedding present if you supply the materials.

It’s more common now for bridesmaids to pay for their own outfits, but this means that they should have a bit more choice in what you want them to wear. This is another area where end of season sales in evening wear could net you some gorgeous dresses, for a fraction of the cost of making them.

For elegant design purposes, just keep one thing consistent for the whole bridal party – either the style of the dress or the color.

What about wedding attire for the groom and his groomsmen? You can rent the groom’s tuxedo, but if he already has a nice suit, that can look just as nice. Buying cummerbunds and matching shirts and ties are less expensive than renting tuxedos, but still give the groom’s party some matching flair.

In all of the wedding cake, hope is the sweetest of plums.

Douglas Jerrold

 The Wedding Cake 

Considering what goes into a wedding cake, they are remarkably expensive, although a lot of that cost does go towards the skills of the cake decorator who can make your cake the centerpiece of your entire wedding reception. However, this is also an area where you can cut some costs.

Try these ways to save money on the wedding cake:

  • Only have a small one or two-tiered cake for the bridal party, with a larger, less ornate cake for the other guests to enjoy.
  • Use fresh flowers on your cake instead of those made with sugar. Sugar flowers are very labor-intensive and cost a lot.
  •   Reuse the flowers from your wedding ceremony to decorate the cake table.
  • Keep the inside of the cake plain and simple instead of complicated, more expensive recipes and fillings.
  • Buy a couple of store-bought white iced Christmas cakes when the sales are on and have them decorated for the wedding. 

Stick to a couple of ideas, such as having the bride and groom figures on the top of the cake and some flowers, but other than that enjoy the cake for what it is – a cake!

When you think about just how little of the wedding cake actually gets eaten by the bride and groom, it’s pointless to spend a lot of money on a small part of what is simply a reception tradition. 

Flowers 

If you’re not careful, flowers can also be a major expense for your wedding. They are beautiful for decorating the wedding ceremony area, walls, rows of seats for the guests, and the reception area. There are flowers for parents, the groom, groomsmen, bridesmaids, and of course the bridal bouquet. That’s a lot of flowers! 

Even so, there are quite a few ways you can reduce your flower bill: 

  • Choose an outdoor venue that doesn’t require as much decoration.
  • Have the bride carry a few flowers on long stems rather than a full-blown bouquet. A single rose or white lily can look simple and elegant. 
  • Reuse flowers wherever possible. Use flowers from the wedding ceremony’s guest seating area to decorate the cake table. Use the bridesmaid’s bouquets as table arrangements.
  • Do away with fresh flowers completely and make your own (or purchase inexpensively) silk flowers that will last forever as a memento of the wedding day. 
  • In the reception area, use large tables rather than small groups. This way, you won’t need as many table arrangements. 
  • You could also replace floral table arrangements with living plants in decorated pots or fruit and dried flower arrangements. Think Yule-time logs with a wedding twist. Get creative with this and rope some friends in to help – it’s all part of the wedding fun. 

The most precious possession that ever comes to a man in this world is a woman’s heart.

Josiah Gilbert Holland

 Photography and Videos 

You have just one chance to capture the memories of your special day. This is why every year hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent on professional photography and video services for weddings.

Unfortunately, like many things associated with the wedding industry, finding quality services may be difficult, and the price you pay for quality is substantial. So what do you do?

There are a couple of things you can do to save on the costs of the photographs and videos. Thanks to modern technology, most people have access to digital video cameras. Simply ask a minimum of three people who will be coming to the wedding anyway to record the event for you. 

Then, after the wedding, have the best clips from all three videos professionally edited into one keepsake.

You can do the same with photographs of the event or use still shots taken from the video recordings. Have them printed and added to your wedding album. 

Remember: Your wedding album can include more than simply photos. You can also save ribbons, the bride’s garter, pressed (or silk) flowers, invitations, table placement cards, as well as cards and emails from well wishers. 

Love the moment and the energy of the moment  will spread beyond all boundaries.

Corita Kent

 Stationery and Favors 

Technology can come to your rescue here again in this part of the wedding expenses. There are a number of programs available now that will allow you to create your own wedding invitations on the computer and print them out onto specialty paper.

These can look as professional as custom printed ones, and they can be finished at a fraction of the cost. 

The placement cards on the tables can be created by hand (especially if someone you know has calligraphy skills) using the same card as you used for the invitations.

Menu cards and favor bags can also be handmade and add a lovely elegant original aspect to the wedding theme. 

Although you’re surely very grateful for the members of your wedding party and your wedding guests sharing this special moment with you, try to avoid feeling that wedding favors need to be an expensive token, rather than a heartfelt memento.

Some inexpensive favors include:

  • A piece of wedding cake
  • A silken flower like some used for the wedding itself
  • Confectionary, especially if it’s personalized
  • A hand inscribed card
  • A small teaspoon to commemorate the date and the occasion 

Favors should be planned around the idea that it’s the thought that counts. If you want to buy something for your guests, give each couple a small gift rather than every person.

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.

Helen Keller

 Affordable Wedding Music 

This is another part of the wedding day that can cost an absolute bundle or, if planned well, can just be a fun part of the day.

Bands, unless you happen to know one personally, are going to cost a lot of money. A DJ could cost a little less, but good ones still command high prices. However, a wedding without music tends to be a bit bleak, so what can you do? 

One free option is mixed CD’s or DVD’s. You and your fiancé can compile your favorite songs and combine them all on a CD or DVD and then set them up to play continuously during the reception.

You can do the same thing during parts of the service where you want music, although it might pay to have someone manning the machine in case you have a technical glitch. 

Best of all, this strategy doesn’t cost you anything but time!

 The Wedding Planner 

A wedding planner is like a brand new handbag: it’s nice to have, very convenient and looks good, but it isn’t really necessary. Admittedly, wedding planners do take over a lot of the work that goes into a successful wedding day, but if you’re on a budget, it may pay to do the work yourself. 

Your wedding day doesn’t have to be a perfectly choreographed event. Your wedding is simply the two of you coming together in love and making your wedding vows in front of family and friends.

When you focus on that core element of your wedding, then you may be able to cross expenses like a wedding planner off your list. 

Your wedding will mean a lot more to your family and friends if they have a part in organizing it and doing those countless chores that a wedding entails. You’ll make a really good impression on your in-laws if you invite them to help as well. 

If you’re a little worried about the planning part of your wedding because you feel that your mother or future mother-in-law might be a little overbearing, the most effective way of stopping that from happening is to have a clear list drawn up at the start – allocating different jobs and responsibilities to different people. 

Show your family you have a clear plan in mind that will make you and your fiancé happy. When the different tasks coalesce into one clear plan, it’s easier for everyone to help make your wedding day as special as you’ve always wanted. 

To keep your marriage brimming, with love in the wedding cup, whenever you’re wrong, admit it; whenever you’re right, shut up.

Ogden Nash

 More Budget Wedding Tips

If you’ve been planning your wedding with the money-saving strategies in this report, you’ll be saving literally thousands of dollars. And yet your wedding day will still be wonderful! 

If you’re still straining to meet your budget, though, here are a few extra tips to help shave off a final few dollars from the wedding day bill:

  • Still, having trouble finding that perfect wedding dress? Take a look at liquidation sales for wedding boutiques and rental shops; you can pick up bargains from bankrupt stock auctions for cents on the dollar. And the dresses are usually kept in immaculate condition. 
  • Save more money on food. If the food budget needs to be tightened a little more, consider providing home-style cooking – fried chicken, pizza, entrées, finger foods, or theme based foods – that will be less expensive and add a spot of fun to the proceedings.
  • Inexpensive venue. If you need an indoor location, consider using the local community center as a venue. It might appear a little shabby, but with a bit of cleaning and some homemade decorations, your wedding grotto can still look fantastic – think: lots of little lights (soft is better than harsh), crepe paper decorations and flowers. Even blown-up photos of the bride and groom as they were growing up can make an interesting wall or table feature. 
  • Call a wedding consultant. If you’re getting married in a church, find out if they have a local wedding consultant. Although she won’t do the work of a wedding planner, she probably knows of places where you can get some bargain prices, and she’s likely to be invaluable with helping with the church decorations as well.
  • Reserve everything well in advance. Booking things at the last minute is likely to result in higher cost or, even worse, complete disappointment if your booking can’t be made for the date you’ve set.
  • Get married on any day but Saturday. It’ll be easier to get bookings associated with the wedding and will likely cost less. 

And for a special bonus tip:  

Have fun with the planning and on the day itself. A wedding is a time for joy, for sharing time with friends and family and starting on a new life with your fiancé.

If you keep that thought above all others, then the details about the wedding day will all be put into perspective. 

For some couples, planning a wedding can seem like climbing Mount Everest. But rather than seeing it as an insurmountable mass, think instead about enjoying the challenge it presents to you. You plan your wedding in the same way that Sir Edmond Hillary became the first man to climb Mount Everest – by doing it one step at a time. 

If you, as a couple, make the budget aspect of your wedding planning a challenge, instead of an obstacle, you’ll not only have a wonderful wedding day to remember but also you’ll have passed the first challenge of your married life with flying colors! This will bring you even closer as you move forward in your life together.

My greatest wish for the two of you is that, through the years your love for each other will so deepen and grow, that years from now you will look back on this day, your wedding day, as the day you loved each other the least.

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