When you consider that the average wedding costs over $20,000, you may be thinking that there’s no way you can afford the day of your dreams. You may not be able to go all out, but there are lots of ways to pare down your costs and have a gorgeous wedding. Here are ten ideas for saving money, allowing you to afford a beautiful day on a budget.
1. Keep the Ceremony Realistic
If hotel ballrooms and country clubs are out of your budget, think of the less expensive, creative alternatives. These could include gardens, parks, beaches, or – cheapest of all – someone’s home or backyard. And don’t forget the creative choices that may reflect your personal story: the college campus where you met; the mountaintop where he proposed; your favorite restaurant.
2. Pare down the Guest List
The fewer guests you invite, the less you’ll spend on invitations, postage, rented tables and chairs, food and wedding favors. Plus, having a short guest lists means you can easily accommodate invitees at a home or backyard wedding. Limiting your guests to family and close friends with still make your day meaningful and will cost a lot less.
3. Choose Low-Cost (or free) Invitations
For invitations, save the dates and thank yous, try shopping online rather than in specialty boutiques. If you’re crafty, you can make your own! You’ll save money by eliminating engraving and fancy enclosures, and you’ll have a one-of-a-kind design.
If you’re a child of the digital age, you may just want to keep it simple by setting up a wedding Web site and take RSVPs online.
4. Dress for Less
The quest for the perfect dress means pounding the pavement. Visit bridal shops and boutiques to determine what looks best. Next, do a search on eBay or Craig’s List – you might be surprised at what you will find. (However, make sure you have accurate measurements before you whip out your credit card). Shop sample sales, consignment shops, outlets, or online (search for “cheap” or “used” wedding dresses) and don’t eliminate prom and cocktail dress as options.
5. Good Photography Doesn’t have to Cost a Bundle
Everyone has a friend who is good with photography, so don’t be shy about asking (and be sure to get your photos in a digital format so you can print them out yourselves). Or, employ a professional photographer, but use him or her only for the ceremony and a couple of posed shots. Put instant cameras on the tables at the reception and let everyone take photos, leaving the cameras behind as they leave the festivities!
6. Flowers: Less is More
Have an artistic friend make your bouquets out of seasonal flowers bought at the wholesale or farmer’s market. Long-stemmed Gerbera daisies and some greenery tied with a bow are colorful and beautiful. Boutonnieres are a snap to make, and you can go green by including natural objects like seashells, rocks, branches, or leaves in your wedding décor.
7. Decorate for almost Nothing
You don’t have to hire a decorator to make your reception space shine. Use a vases, pitchers, or jars from thrift stores as centerpieces and fill them with garden flowers and greenery. The mix-and-match look is one-of-a-kind and definitely a hot trend. Accent tables with tea light candles in glass jars or pillar candles of different sizes set in groups. Surround candles with sprinkled rose petals or leaves.
8. Forget the Champagne
Champagne is expensive and can up the cost of your reception, especially if you plan on serving it all night. Forego the champagne toast and serve only wine or beer – plus at least one non-alcoholic drink – instead. If you want to splurge, serve a signature cocktail designed especially for you (keep your wedding colors in mind and let the color scheme carry over into the drink).
9. Reduce Food Costs
Sit-down dinners are extremely expensive, so you might jettison that banquet in favor of something else. Serve a signature cocktail with a variety of appetizers so guest can mix and mingle at food stations. Plus, a wedding where people can get up and walk around can be more fun and feel less formal. An all-dessert reception is also very popular for late-afternoon weddings, and can feature all your favorites, from cream puffs to cheesecake.
10. Cut the Cake
A huge, multi-tiered wedding cake designed to serve 300 people is going to cost you a bundle. Instead, opt for a small, two-tiered cake for show and for that cake-cutting moment, but order sheet cakes, cookies, or cupcakes to serve the guests. Believe it or not, you can also rent a beautiful non-edible cake (search online for options) that will make for the perfect centerpiece but will cost you a fraction of what a real cake will cost and eliminate the danger of falling tiers or other mishaps.