Weddings are glorious celebrations of love… but they can also be a funeral march for the couples’ bank account. Weddings are often large, expensive parties, and for couples on a tight wedding budget, this can cause insane amounts of stress leading up to the big day.
But there are all kinds of ways that couples can cut costs without sacrificing quality as they plan their wedding. We spoke to two wedding planners — Meredith Corning of Meredith Events in Arkansas and Tasha Motto of Vital Image Wedding Studios in Wisconsin — to find out their top five tips for brides seeking to save big time on their wedding budgets.
WGM Says: Keep track of your wedding budget and more with our super helpful wedding planning guide!
1. Get creative with your wedding flowers
It’s no secret that wedding flowers can rack up quite a bill, and for brides on a tight wedding budget, Corning says this is a great place to make some creative cuts.
“Reuse any ceremony florals at the reception,” she advises. “Cut down those arbor arrangements, and place them on the head tables.”
She especially recommends putting those beautiful bridesmaid bouquets that all too often lay forgotten on the guest tables, to work!
“Place empty bridesmaids bouquet vases on tables, and ask your bridesmaids to find an empty vase at the reception,” she says. “This could negate entire centerpieces, or they can be used at random tables like the sign-in table, gift table, bars, etc.”
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2. Go with a limited open bar
If funds are tight, but you still want to ensure everyone has a good time sans a cash bar, Motto recommends going with a limited open bar.
“Especially in Wisconsin, it is all about the beer,” she says. “As long as you host beer, wine and soda, everyone will be fine.”
And if there are still those who want to drink from the top shelf, those drinks can be available if guests would like to pay for them. This way, the feeling of hospitality (and the full dance floor) that comes with an open bar is preserved without the pressure to foot the bill for expensive liquor.
SEE MORE: Figure out how many drinks you’ll need with our wedding alcohol calculator
3. Watch for wedding gown sales (and even consider renting!)
Don’t hesitate to buy your wedding gown at a discount! For something you will very likely only wear once, finding ways to save a little on the cost is a great idea.
“Watch for bridal salons’ annual or bi-annual sales,” Corning says. “If you shop during this time, you are likely to get your gown up to 75% off as they are clearing out inventory to make room for the new items.”
She even brought up a growing trend when it comes to gowns: renting!
“More brides are renting their dresses! I know this idea doesn’t often appeal to the average bride, but imagine having the ability to rent a $10,000 retail gown for around $2,500. Totally worth it!” she says. “And trust me, your daughter is not going to want to wear your gown.”
4. Be wary of “all inclusive” venues
Wedding venues that put themselves forward as “all inclusive” can be a major win or deal a massive blow to your bank account (and wedding budget), Corning says.
“I have personally found it is more cost-effective to piecemeal out everything, but the exceptions are venues like country clubs that typically will charge nothing for the venue space as long as you use their catering,” she says. “And that can save you thousands!”
On the other hand, “hotels [also] do this, too, but it’s the total opposite,” Corning says. “They will overcharge you for the food and bar to make up for not charging you for the space, so you have to watch for those things.”
It’s also especially important to keep an eye out for hidden taxes on things like alcohol and hidden fees on things like the dance floor set up or clean up.
WGM Says: One thing to note is that I’ve recently seen hotels begin to charge hefty venue rental fees on top of food and beverage minimums when they used to charge a lot less. While hotels will help you save on chair and table rentals (since they’re almost always included), you’ll really want to weigh that cost against other venues you look at.
5. Hire a wedding planner
Last but not least, and not surprisingly, one of the ways these wedding planners recommend brides can save money is by choosing to hire a wedding planner! It may seem like another added expense, but this is most definitely an area in which you are spending money to save money.
“If you go with a established wedding planner, then they will have built relationships with vendors in the area,” Motto says. “That means they book them for you and get a more discounted rate then if a couple were to go to them directly.”
You can’t put a price on a relationship, and the carefully fostered relationships planners have with their vendors can save you money and boatloads of stress.
“A couple is a one-time client for vendors,” she explains. “Wedding planners are repeat clients so vendors are more likely to please them in order to ensure they bring more clients back.”
There are endless ways to save your wedding budget depending on your priorities, location and vision for your wedding day, but these are just a few places to start! Happy planning!