Happy wedding season Bottle and Heels family! I love weddings, and when I say that I love them I mean that I am obsessed with them. So when I was getting ready to plan my own wedding and read that the average cost of weddings in the US was $31,000 I knew right away that I was going to have find ways to cut costs and save in whatever way I could.
I am coming up on my two year wedding anniversary and since we are entering into prime marriage season I figured now would be the best time to share with you all how my husband and I pinched our pennies like crazy for a wedding of 350 guests! (We’re insane, I know). Hopefully these ten tips help ease your mind (and your bank accounts) and you can start focusing on what really matters – getting to spend a lifetime with your best friend!
1. Don’t hire a wedding planner.
This may get me in trouble with a few people. If you can afford a wedding planner and having one will help you relax on your big day then by all means invest in that peace of mind! But if you’re trying to save wherever possible, ask a friend, a sister-in-law, an aunt to help make your day run smooth. I had my sister-in-law as my wedding planner and it was the best decision I could have made. She was already a super organized person, she was detailed oriented, she knew me and my husband, I wasn’t afraid to tell her what we wanted out of that day and she LOVED doing it. You already know how you want that day to go. Write it down and let someone else who you know and trust run the schedule for you.
2. Hire friends or college students for your photos / video needs.
My husband and I were both film and theatre majors so we had a HANDFUL of extremely talented friends who were willing to do our photos and videos at our wedding for half of what a company was offering us. And guess what? Our pictures and video turned out amazing. If you don’t have friends in this area, go to the local university and seek out their film students. They’ve all had experience behind a camera and with an editing program and they’re going to love the opportunity to add some footage to their reel and a check to their bank account.
3. Find a venue that’s all inclusive for your reception needs.
I knew from the get go that if I wasn’t careful my wedding was going to get expensive because I knew I was going to have a big wedding. My family is huge. There was no way I could avoid it. I lucked out and found a venue that provided enough space, linens, champagne for the toast, all the tables and chairs, lighting for the dance floor, food, AND two open bars. For one rate. And that rate fit perfectly into our budget. It was too good to be true. We booked the space without thinking twice and never looked back. It provided the perfect back drop for our reception.
What most people don’t realize is that on top of paying for a venue for the reception you then have to pay for caterers, alcohol, tables and chairs, linens, champagne, and often times the venues will only work with specific catering companies making it hard to choose your budget as their prices are set. Do your research, take your time and when you find somewhere that is within budget BOOK IT.
4. Consider getting married in the off season.
This is actually something we decided not to do but it would have saved us even more if we had done it. Venues know that the most popular times to get married are in the spring and fall (with June and September being the peak months) so their prices go WAY up. However, in the off season (primarily January, February, and March) their prices are considerably lower because they’re not booking as fast.
5. Keep your guest list under control.
It is a known fact that the more people you have attend your wedding the more the cost of the wedding goes way, WAY up. As someone who had an original list of about 500 people we struggled to cut that list down to 350. However, the more we cut the list down the more money we saw ourselves saving. This is something you need to be aware of. Only invite the people that you will look back on and think thank GOD they were there. If you’re just inviting someone because you hang out occasionally, reconsider and save yourself the extra cash.
6. Hire a hobby baker for your cake.
We saved the MOST money by having my friends, two amazing hobby bakers, take care of our cake / cupcakes. The average price of a wedding cake is around $500 for a wedding guest list of about 100 people. The price only goes up from there. I was charged for the price of the ingredients and that’s it. Hobby bakers are looking to get their work out there and since it’s their side gig they’re not dependent on the huge paycheck. Do some research on instagram for people in your area. You’ll be pleasantly surprised with what you find. Best part? They did such a good job every single cupcake was gone before the night was over. Every. Single. One.
7. Skip printed invitations – go digital!
Printing out fancy wedding invitations are SO. EXPENSIVE. And the worst part? They just get thrown away. We live in a digital world. Send out an e-vite. Seem lame? Maybe. But it will save you sooo much time and money. AND e-vites send your guest reminders of the event. It’s a win-win-win all around.
8. Set up a honeymoon fund instead of traditional presents.
This is something that is becoming a huge trend with couples all over. Setting up a honeymoon fund is a great way to save money. If you’ve been living on your own for a while you’ll find that you already have most everything for your new house. Getting the new knife set right away may not be a priority for you. But having people donate to your honeymoon fund that will then pay for your plane tickets or your hotel stays or your adventures while on your honeymoon will put your traveling heart at ease. You won’t regret this decision at all. Guaranteed.
*Bonus: people will still want to give you a gift because wrapping gifts is fun and people really enjoy it, so you can still register for a few items and I bet they’ll show up on the gift table.
9. Skip the fancy center pieces and “extras” you think your guests want.
We opted for less decorations and paid for the lighting package instead. We were very happy with our choice as most everyone spent their time on the dance floor and not at the tables.
You know what no one is going to remember from your wedding? The centerpieces that you thought were so important or the little gifts you gave everyone as a thank you for coming. First of all, your guests should be honored that you asked them to be a witness to you and your partners vows. They don’t need anymore thanks. You’ve thrown a party to celebrate the beginning of your life together and they were invited. That’s a huge thank you in and of itself.
If you want to decorate consider DIY-ing. This is what my brother and sister-in-law did for their centerpieces and they turned out beautifully and cost them way less than having a company provide centerpieces for them.
10. Choose less expensive flowers or opt out of flowers all together.
This was the only pictures we got where everyone is actually holding their flowers…
If you want flowers choose flowers that are in season. If you want flowers that are not in season when you are getting married they are going to cost you a pretty penny. I also saved my pennies by giving my bridesmaids only a few flowers rather than giving them full bouquets. The flowers were not a priority for me, they were a gift provided by my mother because she wanted them. If you think about it, the only thing the flowers provide are props for the pictures. They don’t last beyond the day and most of the time you end up forgetting about them anyway. If you’re not a huge flower enthusiast, don’t waste your money on them.
Notice how I’m the only one holding my flowers in the picture? We all forgot the flowers on the bus. At every stop.
These are only 10 ways to save money. There are HUNDREDS of ways to pinch your pennies and cut costs for you wedding. Whether you spend $5,000 or $60,000 or zero dollars on your big day, it will be just as special no matter what. You are there to celebrate your love for each other and the beginning of the rest of your life together. Don’t get caught up in the materialistic side of wedding planning. Focus on what’s important – each other and the vows you are getting ready to make.
If you think I missed out on some major tips for saving money comment below! I’d LOVE to hear how you cut costs for your big day as well!