Sep 16, 2012

I am from South Carolina and love all things weddings.
  • Last updated on September 6, 2010 at 10:35 am
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These are some of the plans for my dream wedding on a small budget.  Weddings can be beautiful and meaningful even when you don't spend the national average for a wedding.  Try using some of these tips.

1. Keep the guest list down.  Only invite the people that you really want to be there and that you would be disappointed if they didn't show.  The more people that come the bigger the venue for the ceremony and reception, the more food and drinks for everyone, the more tables and decorations for everyone, and the more favors for all the guests.

2. Don't marry on a holiday weekend.  Gas, airfare, and hotels are more expensive then.  Any out of town guests will have to pay more to come to the wedding, and vendors will charge more as well.

3. Get married on an off day or time.  Sat pm is the most expensive.  Try Sat around lunch, Sunday brunch, Sun pm, Fri pm, or Tue pm (if Jewish since it is doubly blessed.)  Venors will charge less during these times since they have less going on.

4. Getting married at a hotel?  Try an airport hotel.  During the week they cater to business people, but on the weekends they are dead.  They have ball rooms but fewer than a downtown hotel.  This means that your wedding may be the only one that day so everyone will be focused on you and not the 10 other wedding that day at a downtown hotel.  Hotels have event planners on staff.  This means that when you paid for the venue you paid for a wedding planner too.  Out of town guest will stay at this hotel and be picked up by the hotels airport transfer bus, which means you don't have to worry about picking them up.  You can get a good deal on their rooms because it is the weekend  and the hotel is less busy and you have an event there.  Most of these hotels have chefs, tables, chairs, and basic linens.  All you will need is the florist, photographer, and videographer.  Notice that there is no need for wedding transportation.  And most hotels will give the bride and groom their room for free and an anniversary gift of a hotel room to use on your 1st anv.

5. The time of year of the wedding plays a big role in the cost.  Feb is expensive because flowers cost more because of Valentines Day.  May is expensive due to Mother's Day.  June is the top month for weddings so all venors will charge more.  Dec is expensive for obvious reasons, vendors charge more then too.

6. Wedding cakes can be expensive.  Bakers use cake stand ins for their display cakes.  Have the bulk of the cake displayed at your wedding made from stand ins and only one layer of actual cake so you can cut it and have the normal photos.  The quests will be served sheet cake that tastes as great as you would have had for the actual wedding cake, but costs a ton less.  Since the caterer or hotel staff would take the cake back to the kitchen to cut anyway, no one will know.

7. Pick flowers that are in season or are readily available all year long.  Flowers that are out of season are more expensive since they have to be shipped in from out of the country (usually Holland or Ecuador.)  Some types of flowers are just expensive period cause their growing season is very short a great example is peonies.  Any flower that is difficult to grow will cost more to use for your wedding.  If you plan to use expensive floral be prepared to cut back in other areas.

8. If you are getting married in a church, then consider having the reception there too.  Most churches have a fellowship hall with a kitchen attached.  The church may even have tables, chairs, and basic linens that can be used.  Be prepared to pay a clean up fee unless your family will be cleaning up after the wedding.  This will make things easier for the wedding day as far as transportation goes.  Just be sure you know your house of worships rules regarding alcohol if you plan to serve it.  Another consideration is photography.  If your wedding and ceremony are at the same location then you should consider taking most pictures before the wedding if you are not having the cocktail hour.  Since cocktail hour is more food and drink for everyone, it may be best for the budget to just skip it.  This means that your guests will be waiting a long time for you to take all your pictures if you do them after the ceremony.  This may not seem like much, but since you can't have them just sitting there for up to an hour you have to let them go ahead and eat.  This means that when you get there they are just about done eating.  Therefore, they will inevitably come up to you and congratulate you while you are trying to eat the meal you put so much thought into.  You will end up not eating at the reception and taking to go boxes to the hotel to eat.  I have seen this time after time.  

9. Consider your family and friends.  They all have been blessed with talent.  Use their talent.  Need musicians for the ceremony, use your childhood friend that play piano every week for her church.  There may be some great voices, musicians, poets, photographers, bakers, florists, your family that could help you with your wedding and their part could be considered their gift.  Just be sure to give them a gift of money for all the time that they took in preparing. (Example:  Shirley is a church pianist and is often asked to play for weddings.  She enjoys making others happy so she says yes.  She finds out what the bride and groom have visioned for the ceremony.  Then she goes through all her books of music to find the wedding songs for the entire ceremony and learns each piece.  She has to be available for the rehearsal and be at the piano playing long before the actual wedding while all the guest are being seated.  This is a lot of time, consideration, and work.  Even if Shirley is not charging for her services, she should be tipped.)   

10. Think out of the box.  If you enjoy doing makeup but want a special look for the big day, then look to the department store makeup counters.  They will do free makeovers.  They are hoping to be able to sell you some cosmetics in the process.  If the eyeshadow or lipstick she used were fab, then buy just that.  Your regular makeup with the new makeup and tips learned and the all you need to create a fab look.  Be sure to take pics of how it looked and practice before the wedding.  You may have to try several makeup counters to get a look you like.  Live music is great for the ceremony and reception.  Try a  local college with a music department.  The students will be great and cost less than a normal musician/vocalist.  No money for a live band for the after party, then rent the ipod dj station.  These have been used for many weddings and with a well thought out playlist the dancing can go all night.

11. For more tips check the online resources.  A lot of the information here I leaned from watching Get Married hosted by Colin Cowie or another wedding show on tv.  Get Married is available for free download on video podcast.