Guest Post: Planning a Wedding on a Budget
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Guest Post by Amy at Belles on a Budget
Seven quick tips that will help you plan the wedding of your dreams without breaking the bank.
1. Plan ahead. Giving yourself plenty of time to plan the wedding will end up saving you so much money! Planning in advance will let you take advantage of the sales and deals over several months, giving you more control over your budget. This way, you’ll be able to hold out for an awesome coupon code for your invitations, wait for a clearance sale for your bridesmaid dresses, or jump on a major deal for your honeymoon.
By planning in advance, my husband and I were able to grab the perfect honeymoon cottage in Hawaii before the price of a weekly rental went up by $250- and before it was booked for the entire summer!
2. Use Your Coupons! As Hip2Save readers, we all know the amazing value of coupons, but you may be surprised how often those coupons can come into play with your wedding planning. From manufacturer’s coupons helping you score free items for Out of Town Bags to craft store coupons helping you save 40-50% off anything from paper to vases to place cards, clipping coupons can have a big impact on overall wedding costs.
With coupons, the Out of Town Bag above was put together for less than $1! (The price breakdown: Sobe waters- free at Target, candy- $0.05 total at CVS, granola bars- $0.10 each at Safeway, popcorn- $0.06 at Giant, Nut Clusters- free at Safeway, gum- free at Giant, and gift bag- $.50 at Oriental Trading.)
3. Prioritize. Discuss with your fiancé what the most important aspects of your wedding are, and keep them in mind during the planning process. Want breathtaking pictures that will make you swoon for years to come? Then spend a little more to get that photographer of your dreams and skip the pocketfold invitations. Will that gorgeous historic mansion make your day? Book it, but opt for a lunch reception or heavy hors d’oeuvres instead of a plated dinner.
One friend of mine went for the beautiful custom-made invitations she had always wanted, and then scored her perfect wedding dress at Nordstrom for only $150! She stayed within her budget and got that detail that brought everything together for her.
4. Communicate! When you are venue shopping and meeting with vendors, don’t be afraid to talk about being on a budget. Ask about their ideas on how to minimize costs or creative ways to achieve the overall effect you want while sticking to your budget. Not only will this give you some great ideas, it will show you how willing these vendors are to work with your budget before you book with them!
One of my family members, for example, expressed her budget concerns to a photographer that she loved, but who was out of her price range. He told her of an upcoming promotion that ended up saving her 10% off the package price- making it within her budget!
5. Look Out for Hidden Costs. Hidden fees can appear in several aspects of wedding planning- the trick is to know about them and ask about them! When venue shopping, make sure to ask about cake cutting costs, penalties for bringing in outside food, and corkage fees. Many venues are willing to negotiate on (or even eliminate!) these fees, so bring them up before you sign a contract and see what they will do for you. Also research fees when ordering printed items like save the dates or invitations. Know about set-up charges, color ink fees, and shipping costs before buying and make sure to factor mailing costs (based on shape, size, and weight) into your bottom line!
For her event, a friend asked about corkage fees only to find they were $30 a bottle!! She negotiated the fee to $8 a bottle- a huge difference! She still came out ahead by providing her own wine and paying the lower corkage fee, rather than buying the wine directly from the hotel.
6. Use your friends…in a good way!! You know those moms/sisters/friends that are incredibly detail-oriented and love planning parties? Let them help! They will love it and it will be a major help to you, and could end up saving you tons of money. The key is to give specific, concrete tasks and only relinquish as much control as you are comfortable with! Some tasks that work well: making dessert for the cookie bar, accompanying you with shopping trips so you can use more coupons, assembling programs or favors, and putting together Out of Town Bags.
I asked my immediate family, aunts, and future in-laws to each contribute their specialty cookie to my cookie buffet, and then labeled each one. Not only did this make the cookie bar more meaningful, I ended up being able to put the whole thing together for only a few dollars- the cost of some serving dishes and platters at a yard sale.
7. Be creative. One of my favorite ways to save when planning events it to think outside the box! As much as you can, stay away from items with that expensive “wedding” label on them—that will make the price much higher! Instead, look at “raw materials” and envision how they can be combined to create something beautiful, affordable, and uniquely you.
My husband and I, for example, were inspired by photo booth strips and decided to take our own photo strip Save the Date magnets: my sister took the pictures, we formatted them in a Word document, and then printed them on magnet paper from a craft store. The final cost of the entire project came out to be under $25!
And Above All—Have fun!! This is such an incredibly special time and you should absolutely enjoy it! Congratulations on your wedding!
Want more tips and specific ideas? Check out Belles on a Budget for details on how to save on nearly every aspect of wedding (and honeymoon!) planning.