104. Save over $10,000 – 17 ways to save money on your wedding

Here are 17 ways to save money on your wedding:

1. Venue and Menu: The actual venue of your wedding can vary greatly in cost as well. Holding your ceremony in a local park is going to cost you less than holding it in a luxury hotel. Keep in mind, though, when choosing an inexpensive location, you may need to pay additional costs to decorate it the way you would like.

Choose a venue and a menu that gets the job done, offers food you are comfortable with and does not use up all your dollars. Remember, many respectable restaurants have a private room for bigger events and they will let you use it for free or very inexpensively if you have a large enough group eating. Don't forget Club halls like the VFW, Kiwanis, Rotary, Elks Lodge, etc... Many of them offer great discounts to members and great prices to the general public to offset costs. I am in the Phoenix Market and many beautiful resorts have square sterile rooms to hold your event in...
You are paying to be in that great resort! Typically these places run menus from $50 to $90 a plate and that covers food, room, linens, and some decorating. Say you have 150 guests at $60 a plate.. That is $9,000. Say you find a very nice restaurant with a very nice room. They offer a buffet at $17 per person and you can use the room for free. That is $2,550 and you just saved $6,550. Remember, most of the resorts have fairly pricey minimums to use the facility.. I can name a pile of venues where the minimum is over $7,000 for an event... I can name you over 10 venues where you are paying over $6,000 just for the facility... and your reception is on a concrete slab in a tent. If you go outside the tent for a cigarette or to make a call you can actually see the beautiful mansion, garden, golf course, etc.

2. Menu and Appetizers: OK, you examined your priorities and picked the venue that fit... Is that the end of possible savings.. NO, it is not! Switch from Filet Mignon at $80 a plate to the Chicken Marsala and Pasta at $60 a plate. 150 guests... You just saved $3,000. It's still a good meal. Even if you picked the restaurant choice... Say they have the same options and the difference is $5 per person (Filet Mignon or Prime Rib at $22 or Chicken Marsala at $17)... Saved $750 in that case.
Now, let’s talk appetizers. You need to have drinks available to your guests during the cocktail hour while you are getting pictures done... They will offer you appetizers. Decide if you need them at all. If you do want some sort of appetizer, choose wisely. Assume they offer a vegetable platter choice at $9 per person or a deli meats and cheese platter choice at $12. Shrimp Cocktails might be $15 per person. But they have a chips and Salsa bar that is $3 per person? Drop the appetizers from $9 to $3 and you just saved $900 during cocktail hour ($6 per person X 150 persons)! If you eliminate the appetizers and just offer the bar then you are looking at a savings of $1,350. Once again... is it a necessity and how much does it translate to the overall success of your event.

3. Chair covers: I will admit that covering chairs in wedding colors is very attractive. Typical cost of chair covers $5 to $7 per chair. Do you really need it? Probably not! 150 guests X $6 per chair = $900 in savings. It's your day.. Prioritize!

4. Wedding Planners: Ever since Jennifer Lopez showed us how cool it could be, wedding planners have become more common to use. From day of assistants, Full service Wedding Planners that cover it all, and planners that just consult to help you find vendors, prices range from $500 on the low end to $10,000 on the super high end.. Average is probably $1,500 - $2,000. Let me give you some ideas.. Most vendors have a professional organization. DJ's – NAME or ADJA, Photographers - PPA, Videographers - WEVA. Use these organizations to help you select vendors. Once you've selected a pro, ask them for help... I personally have done over 1,500 weddings and I know many great vendors and will help in the drop of a hat. Now, if you chose a truly professional DJ… they are going to do somewhere from 50% to 90% of what a wedding planner will do, if you involve them, ask them, and allow them to! They will help you immensely. Ask what online planning tools they offer that are available 24 -7. Ask if they have other resources that can help you.. You will be amazed. For about the average price of the Wedding Planner you can get a DJ that runs your event and offers all the same services, as well as guiding you through your special day. Assign one of your close friends or relatives to be your "go-to" person day of the wedding, so the DJ can work with them and not bother you and make sure everything happens. Talk to your photographer. They do not offer all the same services but they can offer great insights as well.

5. Flowers: Flowers can be expensive and typically by the next day they are mostly getting thrown away. Here are some floral tips. To save on flowers, use lush greenery in your centerpieces. Buy in-season flowers wholesale and then pay a florist to do simple arrangements (or if you're crafty, then you could DIY!). Think about using some silk flowers... Visit a dollar store… they normally have quite a few fake flowers in vases at $1 per vase. Many of the restaurants we recommended already have decorated their meeting rooms, so no flowers needed there. If you are having an outdoor ceremony you may not need to decorate anything but your wedding arch which would be very inexpensive. If you are getting married near a major holiday and getting married in your church, you may be able to use decorations already supplied for the holiday service. Acting wisely on these issues could leave you only taking care of flowers for your wedding party and your bouquet!

6. Champagne Toast: Not everyone wants or likes champagne, and it is expensive. Consider doing toasts with whatever drinks guests have in hand instead of champagne. Usually a facility will charge $3 to $8 per person for a toast. This will save you from $450 to $1,200 for 150 guests.

7. Bartending: Many facilities will require you to use their bar services. At a resort it is not unheard of to charge $500 to $800 for a keg of beer. Try to avoid that if you can. If your choices are limited consider hosting beer and wine and letting guests buy any mixed drinks they choose. If you are in a facility that allows, you can use a bartending service and literally get the bar and bartender brought in for under $200. You buy all the mixers, alcohol and drinks and they work for tips for the evening. Services even rent out frozen drink machines as well. Having a bar is often a key part of making the event fun and people will not like it if the bar is overcharging on drinks.. Consider your options carefully here as this will affect your event's success.

8. Trim Your Wedding Guest List: Sometimes people don't want to hear this, but it is the easiest and most effective way to trim the budget. If you cut your guest list from 150 to 100 and have a more intimate affair it opens up more option on halls, it allows a DJ to bring a smaller set of gear (saving you money). Less guests, less photos, save on photographer... But let's talk food. Budget wedding at $17 per person.. 50 guests saves you $850. Resort wedding at $60 per guest.. 50 guests saves you $3,000. It's common sense. Small intimate kickin' party versus larger party with less frills or just less money left afterwards.

9. Shop Demo or Sample Sales (or use the internet) for Cheap Wedding Dresses: If you wear a common sized dress (6, 8, or 10) check out sample or display sales, which happen generally once a year. This is a great opportunity to get a designer dress at rock bottom prices. Try discount clearance stores. There is a large one at Arizona Mills here in the Phoenix area. You can also look at websites like EBay, Craigslist and many others for internet deals on used wedding dresses. Remember, cleaning delicate fabrics on a wedding dress may cost several hundred dollars, so avoid the cheap dress that needs cleaned. Many towns have shops where you can rent a wedding dress. This could also save you hundreds of dollars.

So you need a special piece for an important event? You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on designer clothes when you can rent them at RentTheRunway.com for a massively reduced price tag.

10. Wedding Invitations: Don't go for engraved invites - regular printed invitations work just as well. Buy your invitations through a mail order catalog instead of going to a stationery store. The prices in these catalogs are extremely competitive and there are many of these catalogs to choose from. For a casual wedding, consider printing your own invites on your computer. Stationery stores sell printed paper meant to use in home printers for inexpensive wedding invitations. Forgo the inner envelope and blotter paper; these are leftover relics from the time when ink needed time to dry, and people desired a beautiful envelope. Rather than having a reply card, ask guests to reply online or by the telephone. Provide a map on the bottom of the invitation, instead of on a separate card. With all these small changes, you not only save on sending postage, you save on return postage!
Once again, this is all about your personal priorities… If it is important, do not cut in that area, but talk about each one with your fiancé and if it is something you can do without, save some money!

11. Wedding Date: The date you choose for your wedding has a big impact on how much it will cost. Spring and summer months are more popular and come with higher price tags. Many venues even have a minimum charge for weddings during these months. By planning your wedding during the off-season, you can receive the same quality of services at greatly reduced rates. But frugal brides know that having an off-season wedding could save you fifty percent or more off the cost of your wedding!
Because wedding venues are so desperate for your business during the autumn and winter months, there are likely to be no minimum charges. They are also more likely to throw in a few extras such as a room for the couple (if at a hotel), or an extra bottle of champagne. You also have more bargaining power. A venue’s space is likely to go unused during the autumn and winter months, so they may be more willing to negotiate a lower price for you.
Spring and summer are indeed great times to have a wedding, but when you compare the cost of having your wedding during the peak-season vs.off-season, the autumn and winter start to look good.

12. Time of Day: Daytime weddings can be significantly less expensive than evening or night time weddings. People are more likely to drink more in the evening. Additionally, a dinner meal is more expensive than a lunch meal.

13. Catering: The foods that you choose to serve your guests will probably be your biggest expense. If a twelve course sit-down meal is going to break the bank, try something like a buffet or a dessert-only reception.

14. Alcohol: While most people do serve alcohol at their weddings, the choice to do so is up to you. You do not need to offer a full open bar. You are free to limit the amount of alcohol that your guests are served or only serve less expensive types. Additionally, you can offer a cash bar, where guests pay for their own drinks. You can also offer a punch or serve beer and wine only.

15. Photographer: Choosing a well-known wedding photographer could cost you your first -born. To save money, hire a photographer who’s just starting out.

16. Cake: Wedding cakes can also be a ridiculously huge expense. Save money by ordering a large sheet cake that gets cut up in the kitchen before serving. That way you only have to spend money on a small display cake. Alternatively, cupcakes or several small cakes make good options.

17. The “W” Word: Simply say the word ‘wedding’ to a vendor and prices suddenly double! Vendors know that brides are desperate buyers who are willing to spend anything to get the ‘right ’ thing for their wedding. When shopping around, try to avoid using the word ‘wedding’ when asking for price quotes.

By knowing ahead of time where your money is likely to be spent, you can plan more easily. You don’t need the best of everything. A few small sacrifices can help significantly reduce the cost of your wedding.

You can also save money on your wedding rings; search the internet for more inspiration.

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