Weddings are expensive. A deposit here, a fee there, and before you know it you’ve run up quite the tab. One of the best ways to prevent a big bill at the end of it all is to keep track of finances. The other is to be spending savvy.
There are many ways that you can cut costs when planning a wedding. Sacrificing a few things is one, but there are also plenty of ways without doing so. Even if you have an unlimited wedding budget—and let’s face it, most of us don’t—you’ll still appreciate these handy money-saving tips.
1. Rethink Your Wedding Date
One of the easiest ways to cut down venue (and possibly vendor) costs is to get married on a weekday and/or out of season. Saturdays are always the most expensive day to get married, no matter what time of the year it is. You can further lower the price by opting for a brunch wedding instead of an evening reception.
2. Avoid Key Words
In many cases, it’s impossible to hide the fact that you’re getting married from vendors. However, if it’s doable, it can save you big bucks. Vendors are known to mark up their services if the word “wedding” is mentioned.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Haggle
Knowing how to negotiate is a powerful tool. By shopping around, you’re not only searching for the best deal, but you also get a good idea of how vendors differ. You can use that knowledge to ask for discounts or arrange for a more cost-worthy package. Of course, you shouldn’t make over-the-top requests, but there’s no harm in checking if the vendor is willing to work with your budget. What you don’t ask for, you won’t get.
4. Choose Your Decor Wisely
Decor can eat up a lot of your budget as well, so make an effort to reuse as much of it as you can. If you’re lucky, your venue will already be ornate enough that you won’t need much extra. But if you’re not, you can prevent overspending by going vintage. Spend some time scouring through thrift shops, garage sales, and flea markets. You’ll be surprised at what you can find!
When it comes to flowers, always choose in-season and local flora. Ask your florist what will be the cheapest choice at the time of your wedding and consider potted plants or foliage as an alternative. It’s good for the environment, as well.
5. Trim Your Guest List
You may be tempted to invite everyone you know to your wedding, but that’s the one thing that will dramatically increase your spending. There is always a fixed cost associated with every person on your guest list and it’s often not cheap. By reducing the number of people you invite, you will see substantial savings. In addition to limiting the number of invitations, also cut down on how many plus-ones you allow.
6. Pass on the Paper
When it comes to invitations, not all need to come in physical form. Some modern couples forgo paper altogether, opting for e-vites instead. However, if you’re more traditional, you can limit your stationery expenses to the official wedding invitation alone. With everything else, including save-the-dates, you can stick with electronic versions.
If you want to save even more money on invitations, why not make them yourself? All you need is a printer, card stock, and a template. There are plenty of gorgeous free templates you can find online that will rival that of a professional. You can also double up on paper-related savings by skipping other printed items such as menus and programs. Instead, provide all the necessary info on one large poster at the event, or have your guests refer to your website or app for all the details.
7. Ditch the Favors
Wedding favors are becoming unnecessary. Do you really expect your guests to treasure your monogrammed shot glass? Most of the time, they’re an extra expense that doesn’t really serve its intended purpose. And far too often, guests will forget them at the event, anyway. If you must have one, make it small and useful. You can never go wrong with food, however, which can also be consumed at the event.
Instead of hiring an open bar, bring your own booze and save a lot of money. You don’t need to have every type of liquor on hand, anyway. Guests will be happy even if you just serve wine and beer. And instead of champagne, opt for Cava or Prosecco (no one will know the difference).
Liquor stores always offer discounts for bulk purchases, but you can save even more money by going to the vendor of your favorite drink directly. With very large purchases, you can ask for a corporate discount, which can shave off up to 30% of the bill.
9. Mix Your Own Music
When it comes to musical entertainment, live bands are usually the most expensive. A DJ is far more budget-friendly. Alternatively, you can create your own playlist for the big day and assign someone to be in charge of it for the night.
10. Tap into Your Connections
Think if you know any family, friends, or colleagues who can help you save cash on your wedding. Maybe your nephew is an aspiring DJ. Perhaps one of your friends has a summer cottage that’ll make for a fantastic venue. Or maybe your uncle can chauffeur you to the reception in his vintage car. You shouldn’t expect anyone to help you for free, but you’ll surely save a lot of money compared to official vendors. You can also barter with them for a talent of your own, or request the favor be in lieu of an actual wedding “present.”
11. Fake the Cake
There are multiple ways you can save money on a wedding cake. The easiest one? Skipping it altogether. Some couples have been known to have a plastic version at their wedding and serving an individually baked or store-bought one instead. You can also opt for a different type of dessert, such as cupcakes, donuts, or mini pies. Or buy a plain-looking cake from any bakery and decorate it yourself!
12. Use the Right Credit Card
Most credit cards offer some kind of cashback or reward system. If you don’t have a good one, now’s the time to open a new account. With all the spending you’ll be doing for the wedding, you can rack up quite the savings without any extra effort. In addition, many credit cards have purchase protection and insurance. Check the terms and conditions on yours to see what they will cover and what they won’t. For example, some will reimburse you if anything is lost or stolen. Others will cover the cost if a service you hired isn’t up to standard.
13. Professional Planners Can Help
Most people see wedding planners as an extra, sometimes unnecessary, expense. This isn’t always true. But don’t dismiss hiring a planner completely because many have close connections with certain vendors that will actually save you money.
14. Don’t Skimp on Wedding Insurance
Last, but not least, this is one of those examples where you have to spend money to save money. Wedding insurance is a small price to pay for peace of mind—most policies are really not expensive. Should anything go wrong on or before your big day, having insurance will save you a ton of unexpected expenses.