Most people regard their wedding day as one of the most important and meaningful of their lives. Many also believe they have to spend a fortune to create a truly special wedding. Fortunately, it is possible to create an elegant and tasteful event on a budget, allowing you to apply the savings to a car purchase or down payment on a house instead.
Read on for some ideas that will help make your big day memorable without requiring you to spend a bundle.
Consider planning your wedding during off-peak months when vendors are more open to negotiation for expensive items such as catering fees and the reception site. Generally, the months of November, January, February and March see less wedding activity. Because Saturday is the most popular day for weddings, you may save money by marrying on a Friday or Sunday.
Charges for traditional wedding venues can be exorbitant. If you live in a large city, look outside the city limits for better deals. Think beyond the traditional country club or reception hall. Consider an art gallery, park, beach, bed and breakfast, civic garden or zoo. Remember that you may have to rent tables and flatware. Do your homework first to make sure a non-traditional venue is the most cost-effective option for you.
Some budget-conscious couples ask a friend or relative to perform the ceremony, adding a special, personal touch to the wedding and saving $200 or $300 at the same time. Some churches offer online ordination, sending credentials by email. Your county clerk’s office or marriage license bureau can tell you whether such an officiant has the legal status to officiate a marriage in your state.
Engraved invitations are elegant, but they are also very expensive. Creative do-it-yourselfers will save substantially by printing invitations from their own computers. A number of websites offer original ideas and instructions for making invitations. You might also consider ordering plain invitations and using a hole-punch and ribbon to decorate them. Your invitations will be more memorable for the personal touches you give them.
Avoid traditional bridal salons, and consider buying the wedding dress at a department store or outlet. Other ideas include finding a vintage gown you love, buying through a discount gown retailer or online auction site or saving hundreds of dollars by renting a gown. You can make the occasion more meaningful by wearing a gown belonging to a dear friend or family member. Shop for shoes to match your dress in the summer when regular shoe stores stock a selection of white footwear, allowing you to bypass expensive bridal shops.
Choosing to wed in an art museum, garden or tastefully furnished home will save money on flowers because these venues already feature attractive decorations. Silk flowers are a cost-effective option for centerpieces and decorations. If you must have fresh flowers, use those that are in season, and buy them from a local wholesaler. Use blooms with larger heads because they give the impression of more flowers using fewer stems. Inexpensive filler, such as hydrangea leaves and ferns, will boost the visual impact of your arrangements.
Food is one of the most expensive wedding items you will buy. Remember that buffets are cheaper than sit-down meals. Holding a daytime reception and serving a brunch or lunch will save you even more money, as will choosing food that is in season. You might consider a potluck-style meal for a small, intimate wedding, saving money on food, preparation and service.
Wedding cake specialists charge a great deal for their expertise, so look for cheaper suppliers. Get quotes from grocery store bakeries, which often offer considerable savings over traditional bakeries. Consider renting a show-cake for the cake table, and serve guests from inexpensive sheet cakes kept in the kitchen. There is nothing that says you have to serve cake if you prefer other desserts. Cheesecake, brownies and dessert buffets are always popular.
Photographs capture your wedding for posterity, so you want to make sure they are done well. Look among your friends and family for a talented amateur photographer. Consider hiring a photography student, but ask to see a portfolio first. If you do hire a professional, have the photographer take photos only at the ceremony, and let friends and relatives take care of the reception.