Boston may be home to the Red Sox, but you’ll be lucky to afford any socks after you pay for your Beantown wedding. At almost thirty grand, the national average for weddings currently approximates the cost of a decked out minivan. In Boston, however, the price tag can climb at a dizzying rate, rivaling that of a luxury sports car. Sound crazy? It may be, but it’s true. For example, a typical two hundred guest wedding at the popular Boston Harbor Hotel could easily set a bride back seventy thousand big ones. Whether you have ten or one hundred grand to spend, every couple will benefit from establishing and sticking to a budget. Otherwise, plan to watch those charges speed out of control faster than you can say, “I do”.
Budgeting for the Big Day
The experts agree—a typical couple will overspend their wedding budget by about fifteen percent. And it’s understandable. Most brides have dreamed about this day for years and want their wedding to be special. But remember---the most important thing is making the occasion memorable for you. At the end of the day, your guests could care less whether they ate macaroni and cheese or lobster, or viewed local seasonal flowers or blooms specially flown in from Tibet. Well, the guests that matter, anyway.
So decide ahead of time your matrimonial must-haves, then be flexible with the rest. Set your budget and stick to it. And research, research, research. A little knowledge, creativity and flexibility can go a long way towards giving you that perfect wedding at a perfect price.
Venues and Catering
Since the reception’s venue and catering costs eat up the lion’s share of your budget, there’s good reason to consider these carefully. While upscale venues are abundant in Boston, plenty of less blue-blooded locales exist as well. For example, the Lantana and the Myriad Ballroom offer catering at well under $50 per person. If your heart’s set on opulence, like the grandiose State Room or Four Seasons, consider getting hitched in the off peak months of January through April. Cutting your guest list down to size may make some intimate, more affordable venues a possibility. And don’t forget to negotiate. The word is brides often pay twenty percent more for the same food as business customers, because in their pre-wedding fugue they forget to haggle.
Even brides with admirable self-control find themselves blowing their budget when it comes to the dress. After all, who wants to stroll down the aisle looking less-than-perfect? Before you charge an extra two grand for that designer must-have, however, consider some budget-saving possibilities. Check out Filene’s Basement’s
”Running of the Brides” event, where lucky girls can nab exquisite designers gowns for a mere fraction of the cost. Or, if simple and elegant is your thing, take a peek at the bridesmaid dress selections and order your favorite in white. You’ll be radiant just knowing you saved enough for a few post-vow shopping sprees.
Since capturing your nuptials on film usually comes with a hefty price tag, downgrading the photographer seems like a reasonable course of action. But the wedding experts concur—this is the one area where you don’t want to scrimp. Don’t plan to save money by having a family member take the wedding pictures, unless you’ve prepared yourself for an album full of photos of Cousin Jimmy’s thumb and cropped off heads. Do look for small ways to save. Quality discount photographers are available these days, or hunt for an artsy one that just does a little wedding photography on the side. Often, they’ll throw in the proofs for free and save you a quick $500.
Those skyscraper tall fondant cakes may be all the rage, but really---do you need to throw down a cool grand on a pile of sugar and flour? Instead, display a modestly sized cake, then “cheat” with a simple layer cake that you bring out already sliced from the kitchen. Or, if size really does matter, consider having your baker ice a faux cardboard bottom for your cake. It’ll look just as fancy, and only you will know what’s beneath those beautiful layers.