Getting engaged can be one of the most memorable and exciting moments in your life. For the first few weeks, you will feel dizzy with happiness and bursting with anticipation. And you should be! You’ve met the man or woman of your dreams and have decided to make it official. Now it’s time to plan the wedding – invitations, music, guest list, catering, floral arrangements – the list goes on and on. Suddenly those happy feelings are replaced with panic and anxiety over what to do first and how it will be possible to afford the wedding of your dreams. Breathe! Remember that you only truly need three things to have a successful wedding day: a bride, a groom, and an officiant. Everything else is optional. Remembering this will assist you in making some tough financial decisions during the planning process. According to CNN Money, the average wedding in 2013 cost a whopping $28,427. With that in mind, the following tips will help you shave some of those expenses so that you can enjoy your special day.
- Categorize Your Cash: Start your budget planning by making a list of the crucial details, like the music, your wedding gown, the invitations, the flowers, and the photographer, and assign a number to each – one being the most important and three being the least. Invest your money in all your priorities (number ones) and cut corners on your extras (number threes). Just make sure you don’t put everything into the number one category!
- Think Out of the box: By using creative strategies you just may save yourself thousands. For example, have your wedding on a Friday or Sunday. Or instead of a dinner party hold a brunch, cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, dessert/champagne and cake, or even a lunch garden picnic. Still want an evening meal? Go for a buffet with chicken, pasta and in-season produce instead of beef. You’ll save the cost of extra waiters and expensive ingredients.
- Lighten Your List: The easiest way to trim your wedding budget? Cut your guest list. Remember, half of your wedding expenses go to wining and dining your guests. If it’s costing you $100 per person, eliminating one table of 10 can save you $1,000. When budgeting is a concern, keep your guest list to immediate family and the closest of friends. This will not only save loads of cash but you will enjoy spending this perfect day with the people who mean the most to you.
- Ask and Ye Shall Receive: Request an extra hour for cocktails or for your band to throw in that Frank Sinatra sound-alike before you sign on the dotted line. Most vendors would rather secure the reservation than nickel-and-dime you early on and turn you off.
- Get Organized: Buy a wedding planner or use a three-ring binder. Compile all your correspondences with vendors, notes you make during meetings, and photos or tear sheets from magazines you want vendors to see. Set up a special email address dedicated to your wedding, and store important vendor numbers in your cell phone. Be sure to keep a paper trail for all contracts and get any nonstandard changes to your agreements in writing or send the vendor a confirmation email saying, “Hello, just confirming that you’ll keep the venue open until 2 a.m. versus midnight.” Don’t take anyone on their word — by the time the big day rolls around, your contact may no longer be working there to vouch for you.
- Block Hotel Rooms: As soon as you have secured a venue and date, beginning looking for hotels in the vicinity of the reception location. This will be especially important if you have many out of town guests or you are having a destination wedding. Many hotels will allow you to reserve rooms for guests under a wedding party and at a reduced group rate. Some hotels even offer a free night stay or honeymoon suite for the Bride & Groom. If the hotels you contact insist upon contracts with cancellation penalties, pass on those. You don’t want to be responsible for rooms you can’t fill. Also find out ahead of time if your wedding date falls on the same day as a trade conference, charity walk, or other local event that could affect traffic and hotel room availability.
- Shop Untraditionally: There are lots of alternative options to purchasing just about anything wedding related. From gowns to favors to reception décor sites such as eBay, Amazon, and Oriental Trading have many low cost options. In addition to a number of thrift and consignment stores.