10 Creative Ways to Cut Your Wedding Costs

See how to reduce the costs of wedding planning without compromising the elegance of your big day.

from Forbidden Advice
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    Hire a wedding coordinator to save you time and money.

    Most brides think that hiring a wedding coordinator will break their budget. It's a little-known fact that wedding coordinators can actually save you money after you get all the discounts and perks they have arranged with partner vendors, says Sharon Naylor, who has written 30 wedding books including 1000 Best Secrets for Your Perfect Wedding. But use caution when selecting a planner: Anyone can call herself a "wedding planner." Look for someone who is certified by organizations such as the American Academy of Wedding Professionals or the Association of Bridal Consultants (www.bridalassn.com) who have consultants throughout North America.

    Take a class in wedding planning.

    Before you start your wedding planning, learn from the experts by going on a weekend course. Although these courses are designed for people embarking on wedding planning as a career, you'll pick up huge amounts of inside information. You could also treat the chief bridesmaid to a hair and make-up course. She may then be able to take care of the bride and other bridesmaids, as well as the bride's mother, and perhaps save you dollars on your bill.

    Cut to the cake.

    Plan to cut your cake and toss your bouquet early in the night. Your wedding guests will never know you've done this to let your photographer and videographer leave early, and it will cut down on the per-hour costs. Plus, after the professional photographers leave, your guests will be more likely to keep snapping pictures themselves.

    Focus on flowers.

    This nugget comes straight from a former florist: "The cost of flowers is minimal—it's the labor it takes to arrange them that costs so much," says Deb McCoy, president of the American Academy of Wedding Professionals. "To save money on flowers, put your money into your bridal party flowers and go with nonfloral table centerpieces at your reception." The flowers in the bride's bouquet and on your mom, dad, bridesmaids, and other relatives are the flowers that will forever be in your photos, so that's where you want to invest. Rather than having floral centerpieces, McCoy suggests something you can make yourself: "Put beautiful, tall candles on the tables and surround them with glass pebbles, or float votive candles in water." You will save a ton of money.

    Buy booze by the head, not by the drink.

    Even if most of your wedding guests are nondrinkers, don't let the caterer talk you into paying by the drink. The secret about teetotalers is that many actually do imbibe when the liquor is free, and what's free for them costs you about $7.50 per cocktail. "I was pulled into this trap when I planned my stepdaughter's wedding a few years ago," says McCoy. "Because most of the people in my family don't drink much, the catering director persuaded me to pay for the liquor by the glass. It ended up that the liquor bill was more than the food bill." It is almost always cheaper to buy liquor by the head. Caterers "may charge you $20 per head for a four-hour event where guests can drink as much as they want," McCoy says. "With a per-head liquor contract, there will be no surprises when it comes to paying the bill."

    Consider your credit card your secret weapon.

    Even if you have a million dollars in the bank, experts will tell you to pay for everything related to your wedding and reception with a credit card. This will protect you should anything go wrong with your vendors. If the first-rate photographer you booked gets hit by a bus the day before the wedding and you put the deposit on a credit card, your money will be refunded. If you had paid with cash, your money would have gone down with the photographer. Your credit card is like a free wedding insurance policy in your wallet, so use it.

    Skip the custom-printed invitations.

    Here's a secret: Most people couldn't care less about other couples' wedding invitations. Your guests will probably never even notice the scalloped edges and silver ink that cost you an extra $2 per print. Therefore, they probably also won't know if you've made your invitations yourselves. Instead of ordering them custom made, use invitation software; although they are the enemy of wedding invitation designers, invitation software packages offer modern fonts and graphics, and they are easy to use.

    Book a budding musical talent.

    If you have always dreamed of having a live string quartet or even a rock band at your wedding reception, but can't afford their fees, hire music students. A local school (perhaps one that specialises in the performing arts), university or music college will be able to recommend some students. To avoid disaster, hold a brief audition for your musicians before you hire them, or ask if you can hear them perform at a concert or gig.

    Use local expertise.

    Ask around and you'll quickly discover bargain talent in your area, whether you want a wedding dress or outfit stitched, a cake baked, special ties or cravats made for the bridegroom and his party, or flowers arranged for your church and reception.

    Before you commission someone to do any one of these jobs, be very clear about what you want and what you are asking them to do. Collect pictures and recipes torn from magazines, visit wedding shows and try on dresses you can't afford. If suppliers won't give you illustrated brochures, make careful notes and sketches just after your visit.


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    Your Comments

    • sgnycnp

      I disagree with nearly every tip! Literally nearly everyone. I had a beautiful wedding at the Jersey Shore, and save thousands by doing the things I could — and leaving the experts to others — i.e. wonderful beautiful expensive invitations (that several guests commented about) and it set the tone for our wedding — oh and a killer (nearly broke the bank) band!!! We’ve been married 6 years, and people still rave about the band. Our club that held the wedding asked — “where the heck did you get these guys — is someone in the business!??!, they are the best we have ever heard!!!” I saved by doing everything extra myself — and worked with a florist who understood I wanted simple and beautiful. People waste obscene amounts of money for it to be perfect, but instead pick things that are important to you and go with it. (I attending a wedding where the bridal bouquet was bigger then the bride! I carried my mother’s bible (that she carried on her wedding day) with a few simple roses and ivy that adorn the book — I spent more on my maid of honors bouquet then mine — yet quests raved about my simple, but heartfelt bouquet.)

      Wedding sites charged $4.00 a piece for a gift bag — I found a non-wedding site that sold 100 bags for $20 total! Stay clear of the wedding trap — my hair……I wouldn’t let them charge me a “bride cost” — did that by not having her place my veil — literally saved $200! On our wedding night, my band didn’t have a “wedding” meal, instead I sent them menus of local restaurants in advance and they choose their dinner — it saved over $600, and both the band and my husband and I were thrilled. I don’t know if I have ever seen a list of wedding savings I have ever disagreed with so unilaterally — except maybe by the head drink cost………but even that should be analysed. . How to save………..my dress was wonderful and less money then my best business suit. You’ll wear it once — feel good, but don’t go crazy. My wedding gift to my husband — a bench on the boardwalk……lasts nearly a lifetime (replaced post Sandy), benefited the town and as a side note, was a tax write off.

      Find another list — take tips from mine — but most importantly remember the reason, and don’t get caught up in the minutia. Good Luck!

    • http://jigar-doshi.com/ jigar doshi

      some nice and simple tips to cut down on the costs. :)

    • Kelsie

      As a floral designer, I have to disagree with #4. The cost of flowers is not minimal—it completely depends on the flower and whether or not it is in season. People need to start learning what things cost, but I understand that most people aren’t ordering flowers on a regular basis. If you want to save money on flowers, go with flowers that are grown locally or that are in season. Another money-saving trick is to drop the bridesmaid bouquets in vases at the reception to function as centerpieces. Bottom line: work with a professional and stick with a budget.

    • Traci

      I still don’t understand the need to invite 300 guests to a wedding (even 100) or pay thousands for a cake, flowers, etc. What happened to the meaning of getting married? All this “crap” has nothing to do with love… it’s materialistic, overdone & ridiculous.

    • Monica

      isn’t it only 9?