I am getting married on Nov. 21. During the early stages of planning, I had dreams of a 12-piece Motown-style band, an open bar and a 500-person guest list. Then, I got smacked in the face with the one word every bride dreads: budget.
The average wedding these days costs just around $28,000. My parents divorced seven years ago, and although they knew at some point I would be married, I don’t believe they expected their youngest child to get engaged during the biggest economic downturn in decades. Needless to say, my high expectations were kicked in the rear when these words were uttered, “Your budget is $15,000.”
As an event consultant who also happens to be planning her own wedding, I’m here to share with you six things every budget-conscious bride needs to know to cut costs at her wedding.
1. Use Your Resources
Does your mom still have her wedding dress in her closet? Yes, I can imagine – It probably has long sleeves and lace and smells like vinegar. Pull it out, try it on. Can you cut the sleeves off? Can you find a seamstress who can turn that dress in to your vision?
Do you have a friend who is musically talented? Ask that person to play at your rehearsal dinner or even during your ceremony. It will save you money and add a sweet personal touch to your big day.
My future mother in law does beautiful calligraphy. Now I’m not saying every person’s mother in law does calligraphy, and even if they did, it’s possible that she doesn’t want to use that talent for your wedding. My point is: Look to the people who are close to you. It’s the one time in your life that it will actually be hard for them to say no!
2. Rely on Referrals
One of the first vendors I booked was my caterer. I immediately asked her to recommend other vendors I needed, and she led me to my florist and helped me pick my reception spot. With her guidance, I was led to the right people. I feel at ease and comfortable knowing that my wedding day will be beautiful.
Pick your vendors’ brains and ask for recommendations. At Party Reflections, we frequently make referrals when we see a good fit. And many clients have asked us for testimonials or a portfolio to verify that we, ourselves, are a trustworthy vendor. Never stop short at knowing you are in good hands!
3. Be Honest
Another good point to consider when interviewing potential vendors is to be honest. If you have $1,200 to spend on photography, tell that to the photographer! A lot of professionals are willing to come up with a custom package to fit within your budget. Don’t be scared to tell them how much you have to spend in fear that they will turn you down. We want you as a client. You are exactly why we do what we do!
Most often, girls love projects. How much fun would it be for you and your bridesmaids to get together, share some champagne and do a collage for the bridesmaids luncheon or rehearsal dinner? Some easy (and cost affective) do-it-yourself projects include programs, goody bags, invitations, save-the-date cards, guest souvenirs, centerpieces, paper bouquets ... and the list goes on!
5. Get Online
The information out there is endless. Blogs and sites are great for finding out things like what months are slowest for wedding vendors – which is valuable info (literally)! If you get married during an off-season month, it is highly likely that your vendors could be running specials.
6. Go to the Shows
Find out when they are and where they are, grab your maid of honor and your momma and go! This is a great opportunity to meet vendors, sample food and maybe even win something big.
My November wedding seems to be right around the corner. Although I am unbelievably excited, working within such a tight budget has been a very humbling experience – even stressful at times. Being an event specialist, I have seen pretty much anything and everything when it comes to weddings. Rest assured, that almost 99 percent of the time, I’m not working with the next candidate for “Platinum Weddings.” (Myself included!) To my budget conscience brides out there: Congratulations, best wishes, and I know exactly how you feel!
Sara Towne is a senior event consultant for Party Reflections, Inc. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org