Getting married can be the happiest day of your life but it can also be insanely expensive and leave you starting married life deeply in debt. With people spending an average of $26,645 on a wedding in the United States (and that’s without taking into account the cost of a honeymoon) – it’s a good idea to get the costs under control sooner rather than later. So here are out 20 tips for a frugal wedding:
Cut The Guest List
Seriously, you don’t need the guy from the garage who cleans your car or the girl from the coffee shop who makes great lattes at your wedding. Stick to the people who really matter – you’re not under any obligation to invite anyone you don’t really want to. When you have your initial list; try to cut it by 20% and then do that again. The fewer people attending; the less you’ll be spending on somebody else’s good times and the more you can spend on your own future.
Make Your Own Invitations
Wedding invitations might seem a big deal when you’re sending them out but like most pieces of mail; they’ll soon end up in the garbage or pinned under a pile of paper on a noticeboard somewhere. So create your own – there are plenty of computer packages you can do this with easily – and save some cash on designers and printers.
Get Help Not Gifts
You can dramatically reduce the costs of a wedding if you have talented friends by asking them to donate their services rather than giving gifts. Photographers, bands, catering, etc. can normally be done for next to nothing by a skilled friend or two. Sure you’ll have less clutter in your matrimonial home but you’ll have the spare cash to buy what you really want – when you really need it.
Skip Saturday and Get Married Another Day
Saturday is when everyone gets married, so venues cost more. Move the day and you could save thousands of dollars by booking on a day when venues are under-utilized.
Don’t Use a Venue Tied to a Vendor
Venues that force you to use their catering, bar staff, etc. are counting on big commissions on over-priced services. You can save a small fortune by choosing a venue where you can pick and choose the entertainment and the service staff from the best value deals on the market.
Keep the Ceremony and Reception in the Same Venue
The less you change the environment; the more can be reused to cut down the costs of the day. Hotels are great places to have a ceremony and reception together and they’re experts in recycling efficiently. It’s also worth noting – hotels will normally offer cheap catering too because they’re expecting some of your guests to book rooms there.
Buffets Not Sit Down Dinners
Sit down dinners cost a small fortune and often there’s a large amount of food wasted. A buffet with finger food is often far more cost-effective and it enables the guests to mingle freely with everyone else. A win-win for your wallet and the memories your wedding will create.
Skip the Wedding Cake
Wedding cakes cost hundreds of dollars because tiered cakes are time consuming and very skilled work to make. There’s no reason you can’t substitute wedding cake for a different dessert – tradition aside, there’s nothing special about an insanely expensive fruitcake.
Fix the Alcohol Options
You aren’t required to buy every guest multiple drinks of their own choosing. Lay on a couple of kegs of beer and a few bottles of Vodka and that’s probably enough – or you could even consider going alcohol free. Getting wasted at weddings isn’t a mandatory activity.
Fill the Bar Yourself
If you’ve picked a venue with no vendor ties – you can stock the bar yourself. That means no inflated venue pricing for alcohol and that can be the perfect way to cut the bar bill in half or more.
Make Your Own Bouquets
If you’re a touch handy with arts and crafts (or know someone else who is) you could save an absolute packet by doing your own flower arrangements. There are plenty of websites where you can order flowers without arrangements and then put them together yourself. This can cut thousands of dollars from the costs of your wedding.
Buy Second Hand Decorations
You’re not the first people to get married and you won’t be the last. There are often serious bargains to be had in second hand wedding decorations on places like Craigslist. You’re only going to use them once so why would it matter that they’d been used before? Also, you can sell them on Craigslist again when you’re done with them to get even more of a discount on your big day.
Buy Bridesmaid’s Dresses Off the Rack
You don’t need to commission designer bridesmaid’s dresses – you can buy perfectly serviceable, and much cheaper, dresses off the rack. The ultimate frugal wedding planner buys these dresses when they’re on sale and that keeps costs to a minimum.
Don’t Mention the Wedding
Want to keep vendor prices to their lowest possible levels? Don’t mention that you’re having a wedding. Lots of vendors boost their margins on people’s “special days” because they know that they’re willing to pay more. So unless it’s absolutely necessary just describe it as a function and you’ll get a much better deal.
Borrow a Sound-System
For a small intimate wedding; you don’t need a thousand dollar rig to play music on. Bring your own sound system from home or borrow one from a friend. Everyone will still be able to hear the music and you’ll be saving money.
Consider a Wedding Dress That Isn’t a Wedding Dress
A wedding dress is a white formal dress; but so are lots of other cheaper dresses. You don’t have to shop for your dress in a wedding boutique for it to be a wedding dress. It’s the actual wearing of the dress at a wedding that makes it a wedding dress. So avoid expensive specialist retailers and look for bargains elsewhere.
Watch Out for Small Fees
Delivery charges, set up charges, etc. can soon start to add up. It can often be cheaper to have a friend pick things up or go and help out at the venue before things get started than to pay these little charges yourself.
Maximize Credit Card Rebates
If your credit cards offer points or cash back make sure you maximize their use whenever possible (as long as you can clear the whole balance at the end of the month) you could get a few hundred dollars in rebates on your wedding shopping that way.
Sell Everything You Don’t Need When the Wedding is Over
From dresses to table centerpieces – there are thriving second hand markets for all these things and given that you won’t need them again; you might as well cash in on them while they’re relatively new and will fetch the best price.
Getting Planning and Doing as Early as Possible
The more you plan ahead; the more you can investigate low cost options and get the best bargains. You can hunt out sales and discounts and maximize them. The most expensive weddings are always going to be those arranged at short notice.