13 Tips for Ballin' on a Wedding Budget

Let's face it, weddings are FREAKING expensive! There are hidden costs left and right and if you aren't careful you will quickly blow a budget. Here are 13 easy tips to keep you from going broke on your big day! 

photo by amber rhodes lapoint

photo by amber rhodes lapoint

 

1. READ THE CONTRACTS

I cannot stress this enough, when you sign a contract with a vendor make sure that you know about deposits, late fees, processing charges, overage fees, taxes, damages etc. These will easily sneak up on you at the end. Especially when you rent, if you spill something on a shirt, a table linen gets ripped, a chair gets broken they may charge you, so be aware of what you are signing. 

2. Beg, Borrow, and Steal

Maybe not the last part, BUT there are many times you can ask for a little bit of help here and there. See if you can trade services, if you have a friend who is a professional (I coordinated a friend’s wedding and she sang and played my first dance song at my wedding). Borrow jewelry, decor, china, serving platters etc. People love to help make sure you have the wedding of your dreams. 

3. Dwindle Down the Guest List

The easiest way to save money without sacrificing style is knock a few people off your list. I always recommend categorizing your guest list into at least three tiers. The people that MUST be there (even if you hop on a plane for an elopement in Iceland they would be there) , the people that you would enjoy having there (extended family and good friends), and the people that you would like for them to be there but if it comes down to it you would be okay without them there (coworkers, long lost family that popped up after you got engaged, and friends you haven't talked to in 5 years). It makes it much easier when it comes time to start cutting the list. 

To add to this here are a few general rules that might help you narrow it down. If you or your S.O. has never met this person, it is not the day to be introduced to your long lost cousin Charlie. Do not feel obligated to invite people that invited you to their wedding, you are in a different financial place and have different priorities, have coffee with them one day after the wedding but again you won't rekindle any friendships within the two minutes you get to talk to each guests. And if you wouldn't take this person out to eat and pay for their meal, you don't need to pay for them to attend your wedding. 

4. Keep Your Receipts

Honestly, there are a couple of ways you can do this. You can set up a bank account with the money that you only want to use towards the wedding (when you run out, you have to stop though). If it is on credit cards and you can't keep up with the paper receipts to save your life, take pictures of the receipts and have a folder on your phone that you can look at later. Or keep a folder with all of the receipts and update your budget periodically. But whatever you do keep up with what you are spending! 

5. Buy things you can reuse or resell

Let's be realistic for a minute. I still have things in my closet that I swore I was going to resell from weddings, parties, and events that have long since past! But at least reuse them. Back to that begging, borrowing, and stealing, someone else will probably be getting married after you, see if you can get with someone who would like to use the same table clothes, drink dispensers, arch, etc and split the costs or sell it to them. 

6. Pick and Pay for Your Big Things FIRST

If you want an extravagant venue, kick butt photographer (highly recommended), over the top florals, or a venue filled with farm tables......take them out of the budget first and then adjust the rest to what you have left. It may seem like a no brainer but I've seen too many people wait until it was too late and they ran out of money for the things they wanted most. 

7. Dress to impress but not to go broke

Please keep your dress within your allotted budget. It is a very important part of the day but not the only one. I know the drill, you are at the bridal shop and get in the zone and you grab a dress twice your budget and say you will JUST try it on. No ma'am! Put it down, and step away. A great photographer can make a less expensive dress look fabulous. Make sure you balance your budget and leave room for all of the important things. 

8. Weigh all of the options

There are venues that will be more expensive, but they have all of your tables, chairs, and some decor (which saves you in delivery, set up, and rental costs). There will be cheaper venues but they make you use specific vendors that might be more expensive. Talk to everyone, see what is included in the prices and weigh all of the options to see what fits you best!

9. Do a First Look!

I'm a huge advocate of first looks! Most ceremonies are around 6 so by the time you get to pictures you lose daylight. Guests have to wait while you take family and couple pictures, this means feeding them hors d'oeuvres or open the bar earlier so they are occupied, and you may need your photographer longer so you can get everything in the timeline. Having a first look allows it to be so much more relaxed, and you can save money and grief!

10. Smaller Bridal Party

Sometimes you have so many friends it is difficult to decide who to choose. But keep in mind the costs that having a bigger party entails. You need more gifts, you need more bouquets and boutonnieres, if you help pay for their hair and makeup or accessories it adds up. Instead of everyone being in the bridal party think of ways they can be a part of your day. They can read a verse or poem during your ceremony, sing a song, do a toast, etc. It doesn't mean you love them less, just that you have a budget you need to stick to!

11. Evites

I cringed typing that, just so everyone knows. I am very old fashion and LOOOOOOOVE stationary. I would not recommend ditching invitations all together (and please don't ditch the stamped and addressed return envelope for the RSVP) but if you are quickly dwindling down your budget and still wanting to invite your coworkers, and your fiancé’s fraternity friends and you know having a physical invitation doesn't matter to them you might forgo giving EVERYONE a paper invitation.  

12. Have One Location

Having one location saves a lot of time and money. It makes it easier to shuffle everyone from one room to another verses directing everyone to a new location. You can reuse decorations, you can use one set of chairs, it takes less people to coordinate it and make everything happen. So overall, highly recommended. 

13. Pick a different time or date

Fridays, Sundays, and midday weddings are cheaper. You're more likely to have available dates, you don't have to pay for an entire dinner, and people tend to drink less alcohol....just food for thought! 

14. HIRE A PLANNER/COORDINATOR

I had to throw in this extra, planners are not here to make you spend more money. We've seen everything under the sun and are here to combat extra expenses and unnecessary spending. We help you find alternatives that fit your budget and do a lot of the leg work for you! We know people and prices and can help you navigate your wedding planning process in a fabulous and graceful way without going over budget!