Every bride dreams of a fairytale wedding. But in today’s economy, financial concerns may make happily-ever-after seem impossible to achieve, at least when it comes to the wedding day festivities. Given the average U.S. couple drops $30,000 to tie the knot, it’s no wonder a bride-to-be can experience a bad case of sticker shock.
Of course, in an expensive metro area like Los Angeles, the news gets worse. Consider, for example, the prestigious 90210 zip code, where weddings can average as much as $50,000. It’s enough to send even the most traditional bride off to Vegas. But don’t fold just yet. Instead, with a little forethought, you can stage a spectacular Los Angeles wedding without going all in.
No matter in which city you choose to exchange those vows, receptions are your biggest budget buster by far. In L.A., choosing the location and food wisely may mean the difference between draining your life savings prior to achieving wedded bliss, or holding on to that nest egg for real emergencies of the non-matrimonial variety. Since most locations charge by the head, the simplest way to fit your dream wedding into your not-so-dreamy budget may be cutting back the guest list. Scaling down from 150 to 100 guests can easily save you thousands of dollars. And besides, do you really care if Great Aunt Millie’s old boyfriend shares in the joy of your special day?
Trading the open bar for beer, wine, and a signature cocktail serves up a one-two punch of cutting back on both expenses and drunken guests. Also, consider catering your own reception at a beach location. The gorgeous view allows you cut back on décor, and this way, you’re sure to come up with menu options that fit your pocketbook.
In fashion crazy Los Angeles, every girl wants to dress to the nines, especially on her wedding day. But fancy designer wedding dresses can cost upwards of several thousands of dollars, which takes a serious bite out of your budget. Savvy brides, however, know they can often find the perfect gown at a fraction of the cost at sample sales. Check when your favorite designers will be hosting them, and make sure you’ve lined up an excellent seamstress. Another great option is using The Brides Against Breast Cancer foundation, which travels around the U.S. offering a huge selection of donated gowns at a steal. Plus, what could provide better wedding day karma than knowing that the proceeds from your dress may help save someone’s life? Also, look for online stores going out of business, consider having a custom wedding dress made based on a designer original, or you might take a gander at eBay resales. Or, if you don’t care to throw down an extra hundred on storing a dress you’ll never wear again, think about renting. Specialty rental shops like Santa Monica’s One Night Affair have thousands of wedding and even bridesmaids gowns from which to choose. And at about $50-$150 a pop, you can pocket a few grand right there. If you simply must buy your own expensive designer dress, check out Encore Bridal’s online boutique. They specialize in upscale resale and sample wedding gowns and better yet, are associated with the L.A. Bridal Bar, so you can actually have live assistance with fitting and selecting dresses.
While providing foliage may seem like an insignificant expense, flowers can actually end up representing about 8-10% of the overall wedding budget. And even the non-mathematically inclined know that ten percent of thirty grand is a lot of cash to blow for some disposable decorations. To cut back on your horticultural displays, consider using mirrors and candles for centerpieces and just a sprinkling of fresh flowers. Grocery stores can design lovely bouquets at a fraction of the cost of most flower shops, or shop for your own blooms wholesale at the L.A. flower district market. Other cost-cutting strategies include staying seasonal, forgoing the exotics, and if you’re especially intrepid, approaching other couples about sharing and splitting the cost of church displays.