Day dreaming about your perfect wedding, but stuck in the clouds when it comes to vision versus reality? Establishing guidelines and sticking to budgets will help you to plan your ideal wedding without compromising the overall concept (or your bank account). Saving money doesn’t necessarily mean cutting out the things you’ve been lusting after, it just means making smart decisions along the way. Here are some loopholes to get you that dream wedding.
1. Off-Peak Dates
If you’ve always wanted a spring wedding full of cherry blossoms or a summer wedding where the sun is shining, remember this: Peak season comes with a hefty price tag! To save money, opt for off-season months such as early March or late November instead. You’ll save not only with your venue, but select vendors as well. My husband and I opted for a February wedding just outside of New York City – and it was 60 degrees and sunny! Plus, we saved a fortune on our venue, band and photographer by getting married in an off-season month.
2. Semi-Custom versus Custom Invitations
If you had your heart set on luxury stationery, get creative. We met with two design firms that wanted to charge well beyond our budget for custom invitations. We instead chose Bella Figura (who just opened a flagship store in NYC), and were able to customize an existing invitation suite to the exact look we wanted – and saved at least $1,000 doing so.
3. Choose One “Wow” Feature
While you want guests to be amazed by every detail, choosing one standout feature will still provide guests a wow moment. We chose a long bridal table for 19 people that had a floral runner down the table. It completed the room and created a focal point that guests were immediately drawn to.
4. Book One Hotel Room Block
If you have a lot of out-of-town guests, consider choosing one hotel vs. two or three. You will get better rates for your guests and the hotel will offer more flexible pricing for the rehearsal dinner or post-wedding brunch. Having everyone at the same hotel also provides a welcoming environment for those who have traveled from near and far.
5. Double Up on Bookings with Vendors
Since my husband and I had a large rehearsal dinner upwards of 120 people, we provided transportation for both the rehearsal dinner and wedding. By working with the same company, we were able to get more competitive pricing. Doing this with other vendors may help to drive down the overall cost.
6. If You Don’t Ask, The Answer Is Always No
Simply asking your vendors what else they can offer may get you a few bonus extras. For example, your venue may throw in a dessert pass-around (we got mini ice cream cones), or you may get an extra 8×10 or two from your photographer. In any case, it’s worth asking, because the answer could be yes.
7. DIY Welcome Bags
You can purchase welcome bags or boxes that can be stuffed and shipped right to you. However, it’s totally doable to put these together yourself, with a little help, for a fraction of the cost. We suggest purchasing items from bulk retailers like Costco and printing your own water bottle labels and welcome cards. Some hotels also charge to deliver your bags to guest rooms. If they do, have the boxes or bags handed out at the front desk.
8. Purchase Your Wedding Dress During a Trunkshow
Many bridal boutiques offer designer trunk shows with new and existing collections. If you have a wedding dress designer in mind, book an appointment during a trunkshow when you may be able to get your dream dress at a small discount. You’ll have to be prepared to buy, because the offer may only be available during the trunk show dates (though you’ll still be able to purchase the dress afterwards at a retail price).
9. Forecast Your Guest List
When booking your venue, you’ll have to guarantee a total number of guests. If you’re able to guarantee a number ahead of time that makes them happy, they may drop the per person price. To help estimate, expect a 20% average drop off from your number of invited guests, and guarantee less than that. You’ll have to confirm your guests count closer to the date, and if you have more than you guaranteed, they may also throw in a small token of appreciation.
10. Open Bar vs. No Open Bar
When planning your rehearsal dinner or wedding, evaluate your crowd. If your wedding calls for an open bar, then by all means have one, but if you can skate by with beer and wine then why not? We only offered beer and wine for our rehearsal dinner, saving some dollars and eliminating (for the most part) wedding day hangovers.
11. Make the Most of your Venue’s Décor
You booked your venue for a reason. Maybe you liked the scenery or the architecture, but in some way, you loved it. So embrace it. You don’t need to decorate every inch of the place, rather let the venue shine for itself. You’ll be amazed at what a sunset, a drop of rain, or if all else fails, your photographer’s lighting can do. Plus, just remember who the real stars are – you and your husband! Case in point: Some of our favorite wedding pictures are in a parking lot.
12. Say No to (Some) Rentals
Though that cool warehouse with the oversized windows and wood floor may sound appealing, what’s not appealing is bringing in each chair and fork for every guest. And dare we say it, bathroom? Choosing a venue that includes all furniture, tableware, stemware and linens is way more cost-effective. Plus, with choosing a full-service venue, you can be sure that the décor will match the venue and that the operations will run smoothly. If you’re super into those luxe linens, you can still rent them from your florist at an additional cost.