We all know just how expensive a wedding can be. Whether you choose to tie the knot in the summer or winter, the cost of the venue, caterer, DJ, florist and so many other aspects of the big day add up fast. For many, it can quickly reach a scary number. With this thought in mind, Ashley McCabe, co-founder of Oly Events, has put together a list of ways that anyone can make their wedding budget stretch and get the most bang for their buck.
Get married in the off season. Choose a date that isn’t in spring or summer as these are the most popular months. Fall and winter are slower months for venues and vendors, thus reflecting lower prices. In addition to lessened costs, guests tend to be less busy in the off season meaning that there will likely be more people in attendance and fewer last-minute cancellations.
- Bring your own alcohol and bartender. Ask your venue if you can bring in a bartender to supply your own alcohol. Although this may be the less expensive route, be sure that the bartender is well-seasoned as this can have a huge impact on the enjoyment and vibe of your reception. When purchasing alcohol for the event, look into kegs, which are much more budget friendly compared to individual cans or bottles of beer. For the wine lovers, look into buying half gallon wine bottles at Costco that will last throughout the night.
- Create signature cocktails. In the spirit of libations, a signature cocktail is not only a fun and personal way to bring your signature flare into the wedding, but it can also be a big money saver. Instead of a planning to offer a fully stocked bar, consider creating one or two signature cocktails. With this route, hard liquor doesn’t need to be eliminated entirely, plus guests rarely forget a signature drink. “I always remember a couple’s signature drink and feel that it’s a personal and thoughtful touch to an evening.” explains Ashley.
- Pay in cash. Many vendors offer discounts if a couple is willing to pay for services up front or in cash. Vendors benefit from this as they avoid costly credit card processing fees. If a vendor hasn’t mentioned a discount, there’s no harm in asking if this is an option if it makes sense financially.
- Use simple invitations. “Remember, this is a feature that, unfortunately, ends up in the garbage,” says Ashley. Don’t break the bank on paper goods. Websites such as Minted and Etsy offer budget-friendly, single page invitations that are not only beautiful but memorable as well.
- Bust out that iPod! Instead of hiring a DJ or a band, consider creating custom playlists that can be played through the sound system at the venue or through a rented sound system. Ask an outgoing friend or family member if they’d like to act as emcee for the night, playing your curated music throughout the ceremony and reception. Not only will this experience be incredibly personal, but you won’t have to worry about the “Macarena” taking over your reception.
- DIY does not always mean cheaper. Always compare prices in store or online to the actual cost that it takes to make something from scratch (including your time to make it!). Brides often sell their gently used wedding decor items on sites like Offer Up and Let it Go at extremely discounted prices to recoup their costs, so check out those first before going straight to the DIY option.
- Cut out non-essentials. These vary from person to person, but try to eliminate physical elements that you may have noticed at other weddings that didn’t add to the overall experience. This could include anything from party favors for each guest, welcome bags, signage or extravagant florals. Less is more!
Choose in-season florals. When planning out your florals, it makes a huge difference to choose in-season flowers that can be sourced locally. Whether you’re using a florist or DIY-ing the arrangements, take the time to research what blooms are in-season during your wedding month. “If your inspiration photos on your Pinterest board include a certain flower that’s out of your budget,” states Ashley, “look into various options that are blooming during your wedding month that look similar and come in at a lower cost.” Also, scope out shops or farmers markets where these flowers can be easily picked up on the weekend of the wedding. These steps will greatly cut down on floral costs, plus, sustainable weddings are on trend.
- Hire a planner. A planner can help create a realistic budget and negotiate contracts, including helping couples uncover red flags in contracts and help with all of the previously mentioned cost saving tips. Planners also help avoid the pitfalls that they’ve seen many couples make, in turn saving you money. For example, requesting daffodils, an early spring flower, in an October wedding makes for an expensive choice. In addition, a planner can help guide all of the expensive decisions that have to be made and steer couples towards budget friendly choices. To top it off, wedding planners have local connections to lesser known vendors that often offer incredible services at a lower price.