Your wedding is one of the most important days of your life, and of course you want to splurge a little to make it special. But sticking to your budget is important too, especially if you don’t want to start your life together neck-deep in debt.
The first step is to identify what’s most important to you, spend on what matters, and cut corners on the things that don’t. This differs from bride to bride. Some ask a friend to take the pictures but spend an open bar and a big band-others want professional photographs, and schedule a lunch reception because it’s less expensive than a dinner menu.
If you’re not sure what your priorities are, ask yourself these questions: what do I want to remember about the wedding? Is it “my guests had the time of their life” or “I had the dress of my dreams”? Take your cue from there.
Also, buy a notebook and write down all your expenses related to the wedding, and have all your receipts in a file. Aside from the obvious costs like ordering the invitations, don’t forget the incidental expenses like having all of them mailed. Every month, review your tally of costs with your fiancée. If you find that you have gone over your budget, then rein the expenses in.
Here are some ways you can cut corners:
- Flowers – Explore other ways of decorating the church or reception tables: Seashells, scented candles, balloon bouquets. Always use flowers that are in season.
- Photography and Videography – Don’t order the wedding album or frame-you can do this yourself at a later time, when you’re not as deluged with expenses. You can ask a friend to do the videography, or approach a college or university film club. Most film students would be happy for a chance to earn a little extra on a weekend, and won’t charge as much as a professional cameraman.
- Reception – Adjust the time of your reception so you can serve brunch or tea instead of lunch or dinner. You can also order separate meals for your suppliers (e.g., band, host), or a children’s menu for any young guests (they’d be happier with hotdogs, anyway). Another way of getting big bargains is to look for those that offer “special packages” that include the cake, food, use of the venue itself, and even extras like limo service.
- Souvenirs – Make them yourself, if you have the time. For example, place several chocolate kisses into a small tin, while the more artistically inclined can make very inexpensive frames from materials in a crafts store. Or you can kill two birds with one stone, and ask a friend to take “studio” shots of your guests against a special set-up in the corner. Give them a copy of the picture to take home as a souvenir, while simultaneously compiling an album.
- Cake – If you really want a high-tiered cake, you can always ask for mock Styrofoam layers so you get the impact but don’t spend on something that most people won’t eat, anyway.