Ways to Save on Weddings

Today’s guest post is by Masha Kott.  I decided to publish this post because I know how expensive and difficult paying for weddings can be.  As someone who spent a wee bit too much on our September 2012 wedding, I hope this post can give engaged ladies a heads up on how to reduce costs and still have a great party. Masha does a GREAT job uncovering some of the hidden costs and savings for your big day.  Enjoy! -Nicole

For most women, the 20’s is a time of giant leaps – we make big career moves, we travel and see the world, we discover passions and our individual style and, for some of us, we get married. A wedding is a meaningful life event and, many times, the financial costs can be equally extravagant. Nowadays, the average wedding costs $26,951 (and significantly more if you live in a major city). However, you can easily say your “I do’s” at a considerably lesser price if you do your research and learn to avoid those unnecessary charges.

The first thing to do is to discuss what is worth splurging on and what is less important to the two of you. This is a personal decision, as one couple might think their reception is incomplete without dancing to their favorite local band, and another might want to indulge on exotic blooms that remind them of their romantic cruise.

It is important to prioritize your wants so you care careful not to overspend on the details you consider frivolous and are forced to go over budget or leave little money for the things that count. Additionally, never impulsively spend without doing your research and shopping around for the best price. A little bit of flexibility can go a long way and it is smart to ask the professionals “what do you envision for this price” rather than telling them what you want. For instance, florists are probably familiar with flowers that perfectly adhere to your desired color scheme but don’t cost the fortune of the pricey buds you’ve been eyeing. Having an open mind about the time, day of the week and month of your wedding will also result in considerable savings.

There are numerous ways to pinch pennies on the reception’s fare, starting with the cake. Consider recruiting the talents of nontraditional sources like culinary school or perhaps even your local grocery store, one cunning trick is to have dummy tiers made from Styrofoam; the bride and groom can cut into the real layer and then guests can be served a sheet cake that is prepared in the kitchen, a switcheroo that will be lost on the majority of guests. Another avenue to consider is to take a modern leap away from the traditional dessert to serve goodies such as cupcakes, pies, sundaes and more.

Be aware that many venues provide alcohol at inflated rates, so finding a locale that allows you to provide your own could allow you to save significantly (even with the presence of a corkage fee). Furthermore, don’t feel pressured to provide an open bar to your guests, as this is a wedding and not a frat party. The options of select wines, beers and one or two signature cocktails should be enough to satisfy your guests. Furthermore, you might be surprised how much champagne usually goes to waste during the wedding toast, so have it available upon request rather than automatically served.

Also, beware that the cost of wedding jewelry and accessories can be crazy!  If you have a fashionable relative why not ask, say, your grandmother, if you can sport her wedding diamonds as you walk down the aisle? Most will be both touched and will happily lend you their jewels. Are you a fan of the vintage look? With their permission, perhaps have your mother’s wedding dress cut, hemmed and fitted to incorporate her love into your own, individual look.

Consider having a destination wedding. While this is obviously no guarantee that you will ultimately save money, there are fiscal benefits to holding your wedding in a foreign location. Firstly, the guest list can be drastically smaller and you can exclude the dozens (or hundreds) of people that would be expect to be invited to your nuptials if they were down the street rather than an airplane ride away.

Of course, you will want to choose a beautiful location like a majestic mountaintop or a picturesque beach, so you won’t need to spend thousands of dollars on decorations. Talk to various lodgings and resorts about whether or not they can offer you and your guests package deals for the accommodations. Depending on your chosen location, you might be surprised to see a significant decrease in costs of such wedding elements like caterers and facility rentals.

Additionally, your exotic wedding locale can also serve as your dream honeymoon destination, addressing too different sets of costs with one solution. Ultimately, it is wise to sit down with your fiancé to deliberate the desired size and type of wedding you envision – trying to coordinate for 50 people to fly to the Swiss Alps will be significantly more expensive than having your closest friends and family surround you on a beach in Belize.

How have you or other brides you know saved money on a wedding?  

If you had to cut one thing at your wedding, what would it be?  

How can you save money as a wedding guest?

Masha Kott

Originally from Samara Russia, Masha Kott considers herself the quintessential Texan with her love of cowboy boots, Tex-Mex cuisine and Matthew McConaughey. As a freelance writer and marketing manager of a popular fine dining establishment, she didn't have the time to fret and worry over her 2011 nuptials and, instead, used her professional insight to save money in ways that involved neither begging her parents to help out or sacrificing her dream wedding.