Your wedding will be one of the biggest parties you will ever plan. Many couples don’t realize how costly a wedding can be until they start planning their own. The average wedding in the US is now estimated at $28,000 for 100 people. No matter the size of your guest list, planning is the key to any successful wedding.
You're probably thinking, "Can I still have my dream wedding for less?" Yes, you can!
As a couple, the first step is to define your vision, the style and theme of the wedding — which may take some time to determine. It’s better to know what you want before you starting planning than changing directions several times during the process.
It’s also important to know who is contributing to the budget and how much their contribution will be. Today, wedding funds can come from the couple, bride’s parents and grooms parents.
Prepare an extensive budget and consider all the details. Remember that what most determines your budget is the number of guests you plan to invite. Half of your budget goes toward food and beverage.
Research all the vendor categories; do some leg work to determine the average wedding-related costs or where you plan to have your wedding. Remember what it costs in Wooster, Ohio doesn’t mean it will be the same on Hilton Head Island, SC.
It may take some time to gather this information. If you don’t have the time or if you are planning a destination wedding, call a local wedding planner. Hire them for a few hours to help you prepare a budget. Not only will you have a well-planned budget, but you will learn a lot about the area, including what to expect. If you don’t know what categories generally make up a budget, check out Monthly’s Wedding Budget Planner.
If the budget and your contributions do not match, get creative and compromise:
- Since the guest list is the largest contributor to the size of your budget, it’s always the first place to start trimming.
- If you can’t compromise and want to have an evening wedding, consider having your wedding on any day other than Saturday, since it’s generally cheaper.
- If the time of the year is not a concern to you, how about a wedding off-season?
- If you have your heart set on a Saturday and don’t want to compromise, have a brunch wedding. It will reduce your food and alcohol costs.
- Buy a gown off the rack instead of having it custom made. If your budget is really tight, borrow a dress from a friend or shop at a consignment store. For men, if you're wearing a tuxedo, place your order from the same store. You will get a group discount and, depending on the number of tuxedos ordered, the groom’s tux is generally free.
- Having a smaller wedding party (number of attendants) cuts down on flowers and gifts.
- When it comes to flowers, be honest with your florist about your budget. Give them a general style and color scheme and any flowers you don’t like. However, allow them to be flexible to use cheaper alternatives.
- Be creative!! More and more brides who are on a budget are making their own centerpieces.
- Of all the components that help set the tone of your wedding, good music tops the list. The current trend in do-it-yourself weddings is to use an iPod. But remember a good DJ will do much more then play music. They will emcee the reception and make sure your guests are out on the floor.
- When selecting a wedding invitation, select one that will only require one stamp. Add your reception information on the ceremony invitation to eliminate the expense of the reception card.
- Rent, borrow or make as many items at possible! A cake serving set, toasting glasses, gift box and jewelry are some ideas. If you don’t get them as gifts and you don’t have them as family heirlooms, see if the venue has them to use or ask a friend. All these little things add up and renting, borrowing or making them can save money.
- If you are contributing to the wedding, there is nothing wrong in waiting a year to be married. This way you can save more money and ultimately have the wedding of your dreams with no compromises.
Things Not to Skimp On
- Your rings will be worn for the rest of your married life and are testament to your love and marriage.
- Your photographer will capture the memories of your day forever. Do extensive research and shop around. You will find photographers at all price ranges and levels of experience. Determine what you want in a photographer. Do you want someone hourly and a CD of images after the wedding? Or do you want someone who will will create a beautiful album?
Having Family and Friends be Your Wedding Day Vendors
Well-meaning family and friends will offer their services to you, possibly saving you money. Ask yourselves these questions if you are considering taking them up on their offer:
- What if you hire Uncle Jim, who is "kind of, sort of" a photographer, you hate your wedding photographs?
- What if your friend, Todd, was a DJ in college and he can save you money? But on your big day, Todd gets smashed at your cocktail party, passes out, hits his head and has to be taken to emergency room, where he spends the night — leaving you without music at your reception.
Things like this can happen. Let your family and friends be guests at your wedding, to support you and enjoy the day with you. Hiring professionals for your wedding means they will be there for only one reason: to do their job.
A little thought, creativity and common sense will go a long way to having the wedding of your dreams. Good luck! Have fun with your planning and have a fun wedding day!