Weddings are many things – emotional, stressful and fun. But they don’t have to break the bank. Although, many dream weddings do. For the pragmatic bride and groom, here are 18 tips you can use to save big money on your big day.
Many a bride has dreamed of the invitation they would send to their wedding invitees. I know, you’ve been secretly planning this all your life. And let’s not forget the joy you felt when you received your friend’s beautiful invitation. But what did you do with that invitation after their wedding? Better yet, did you lose it before the big day and scramble to remember the start time and where to go? Many do. That’s why so many planning their big day opt for a less expensive approach.
- Make your invitation yourself
There are a ton of companies (Canva, Zazzle, Vistaprint) with beautiful and fully customizable options that you can design online and order straight to your home.
- Postcards or online RSVPs
More brides and grooms are choosing to use email RSVP through their wedding website or by creating a new email address instead of including a printed (and paid postage) RSVP. For those with quite a few older guests who may struggle with online responses, you could consider including an RSVP postcard.
- Seating chart over individual escort cards
I loved designing my escort cards, but ensuring the print lined up, the order was alphabetized, and the mini glitter laser cut butterfly was meticulously pasted in the middle of the card was labour intensive to say the least. You can of course pay someone to do this for you, but if it takes a lot of time, it will also cost a lot of money. Why not opt for one big seating chart instead? Many brides choose to do this themselves using an old frame, chalkboard paint or an old mirror. You can also design a large image with each guests’ name and send it to your local print shop as well. Printing one large item will cost much less than cardstock, printing and laser cutting for 200 guests.
- Double up your escort card and menu
If you do decide to print an escort card for each guest, consider making them slightly bigger and including the menu on each. Not only does this save set up time, it saves money by reducing print for two separate items.
When you spend significant funds fine tuning each detail of your day, you undoubtedly want to make sure you have proof of each detail when it’s over. That’s why, generally, photography (and sometimes videography) is worth every penny.
But there are ways to save a few bucks here as well.
- Make your own photobooth
Go to the dollar store, or order some items on Amazon and pull together your own props and backdrop (a great example here). It will cost you less than the $5k many photographers want for a photobooth. Choose to purchase (or borrow) a Digital Polaroid or Fuji Instax for on the spot printed pictures. You can also download an app (like Photobooth Mini), set up a tripod and cell phone (or tablet), and have guests send their pictures to their email addresses instead!
- Explore up-and-coming photographers
There are plenty of students and nouveau photographers with wonderful portfolios looking to make a name for themselves and their talent. They can be just as good as an established photographer and you’ll spend thousands less on their services.
It’s easy to get excited by all the wonderful décor options you’ve been saving on your Pinterest board. Of all the perfectly designed weddings you’ve pinned, it seems like you can never have too many flowers. Well, that’s true if you have Kardashian money. But for the rest of us, you can absolutely have too many flowers. Flowers are lovely but carry a significant price tag.
- Use candles instead of flowers
Candles can add a romantic ambiance to your wedding, especially if you’re wedding is held long into the later hours of the day. This is a more cost-effective alternative to flowers and are still elegant.
- Choose planters and shrubs
For those who love greenery, you can ask your florist for small concrete planter and shrubs instead. Not only do they breathe fresh life into your décor, they can also double as party favors or prizes on the big day and cost much less than some traditional wedding flowers.
- Scrap the boutonnieres
In many cases, your groomsmen’s hearts won’t be set on a flower pinned to their lapel. Why not give them a pocket square instead? This is not only stylish, it’s a gift they can reuse for other special occasions.
Decorations don’t have to be designer to look designer. You can choose many trendy and cost effective options that make your wedding day more unique and reflect you.
A great way to celebrate your relationship is to print some photos that mean something to you. Have a few loved ones who passed before your big day? Placing their photos in spray painted/bejewelled dollar store frames, is a wonderful way to not only add sparkle and shine to your décor, but to honour those who are celebrating with you in spirit.
- Banners and garlands
Having an outdoor or summer wedding? Why not create your own pennant banner or tassel garland. You can create chic banners that match your theme and cost almost nothing (but time) to create.
FOOD & DRINK
Many of your guests are looking forward to celebrating you on wedding day. But others (think about the plus ones), are going for the food and booze. It’s important to make great choices here because often, this is what your guests will remember most. But – these choices don’t have to break the bank.
- Buffet or family-style meals
The classiest affairs boast plated meals served to each guest. However, it costs the venue (therefore you) a lot of money to hire enough staff to serve each person. You can reduce costs if you consider having your meal served family style, or better yet ask for a buffet. This is a little more work for your MC, but your guests will love the choice to build their plates as they please. You will love the reduced price tag.
- Be strategic about the late night
Having a late-night menu is not only luxurious, it’s great to ensure your guests have barrels of fun on a full stomach. Your guests will love your choice of comfort food, and you’ll love it too after a very long day. However, not everyone will have the munchies late at night. In fact, not everyone will stay that late to enjoy the late meal. This means you can save a ton of money by ordering for only 70% of your guests.
- Ask for à la carte bar
It seems easier to order a full open bar as part of your meal package. But unless all your guests are frat boys, you likely won’t use nearly as much alcohol as you think. Ask for an à la carte open bar, which means you’ll only pay for how much alcohol you and your guests consume.
- Design your own sweet table
A wonderful way to save money (and frankly time) on your bonbonnieres is to create a candy and sweet table instead. You can buy your sweets in bulk and on theme, and let your guests bag their own sweets before they leave.
- Have your wedding on an off day
I went to a wedding on a Wednesday. I hated it. There was no way I could get there on time from work and was tired the next day. You don’t need to be this extreme to save money on your venue, but you could still choose a day other than Saturday. Consider a late Friday wedding, leaving enough time for guests to leave work slightly early to make it. You could also consider a morning wedding followed by a lunch reception. This breath of fresh air on a sunny Sunday morning can save a lot of money and be the perfect way to start your life as a married couple.
- Have your ceremony and reception in the same place
You will likely save money on the venue if you can package both your ceremony and reception at the same place. You’ll also save in transportation costs, particularly if you have a larger family, bridal party, or out-of-town guests to transport.
- Reduce your bridal party
50 of your 100 guests do not need to be in your bridal party. Sorry. Although it can be hard to choose which of your best friends are really the best – consider the amount you’ll spend on bouquets, boutonnieres and attendant gifts. You can reduce this cost significantly by choosing just a few of your closest attendants to stand with you on the big day. And don’t worry about snubbing anyone, your true friends will understand, and some may recognize savings for themselves as well. Although it’s a big honor to be asked, it costs a lot (e.g. bachelorette/bachelor, bridal shower, wedding gift, wedding attire etc.) to be an attendant in a wedding.
Saving a few dollars here and there can mean you can splurge in other areas that are true priorities for you.
Looking for more cost-effective wedding advice? There’s a ton more where that came from. Coming soon is CONTENTEVENTS’ Ultimate Wedding Planning Ebook, that will help you plan your wedding (and save money) like the experts do. Stay tuned to the Toolbox for more info.