Stretching Your Wedding Dollars (November, 2011)
Tradition calls for the bride’s family to pay for most of the wedding, but lately this seems to be the exception rather than the rule. Now that more couples are waiting until their mid-twenties and thirties to marry, they’re also likely to pay for part or all of the wedding themselves, even if it means having a longer engagement or a less elaborate affair.
To be sure, a wedding is no minor financial undertaking. All of the elements of a wedding the music, flowers, dress, reception, photographer, and favors add up quickly. To stay within your budget, be sure to set your priorities early, and throughout the process of planning try to remind yourselves of what is most important to you. Here are some of PrescottWeddings.com suggestions to help you keep on budget.
Schedule your wedding for early November or January (off-peak months) instead of the high season of the holidays or in the summer. Fridays and Sundays are typically less expensive than Saturdays while morning and afternoon weddings are often more affordable than evening affairs.
Choose fewer attendants or invite fewer guests. The more attendants you have, the more you’ll pay in gifts, flowers, and perhaps accommodations. Include close friends in other aspects of your wedding instead. Also, set guidelines for your guest lists. For example, don’t encourage single guests to bring dates, or determine not to invite coworkers.
Skip the full bar; instead serve wine and beer and perhaps one signature drink, such as a punch or a favorite cocktail. Compare the costs of brining in your own wine and paying a corkage fee with buying it through the caterer, which can cost twice as much.
Eliminate reply cards, and instead insert a small blank stationery note for guests to reply instead. You’ll save money on formal printed stationery and postage, plus you’ll receive some wonderful keepsakes.
Choose flowers that are in season at the time of your wedding, and include berries, herbs, and other botanicals in your arrangements in place of costlier blooms.
Tap the talents of people you know. A recent bride was able to stick to her budget by enlisting the help of family and friends among them, a professional cake decorator and disc jockey. Her mother, aunt, and grandmother helped her make her dress, and another friend officiated. Think twice however about cutting corners on photography. After all, when the day has come and gone, you will cherish your photographs as much as your memories.
Don’t “borrow” money by charging it on a credit card (ask yourself if you still want to be paying for this wedding in five years) however that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use them at all. In fact, it’s a good idea to pay as many wedding costs as possible with your credit card, paying off the balance every month. Not only can you earn frequent flyer miles - perhaps to use toward your honeymoon - but if you have the right type of card, you may also protect yourself from vendors who don’t deliver (check your card issuer’s policy).
The Thrifty Bride (March, 2010)
Did you know that, according to the Bridal Association of America, the average wedding in this country today costs $30,860? In today’s economy, many engaged couples and their families don’t have that type of money to spend for a wedding and are looking for ideas to plan a beautiful day while keeping costs to a minimum.
For years, brides have found ways to keep wedding costs under control without their guests ever suspecting it. We at PrescottWeddings.com are passing on a few tips they’ve learned:
YOUR WEDDING DATE: One of the easiest ways to cut down on expenses is to choose a less-popular month. Selecting an off-peak time provides more negotiating power with your caterer, florist, musicians, and a whole host of other servicers and suppliers. By getting married in November, December, January or February (except for Valentine’s Day), you can save 20% - 30% on the total cost of your wedding. If you are getting married during the other months, plan on getting married either on a Friday or Sunday. Many times the reception venue’s minimum head requirement is waived and you’ll generally save 10% on the cost as well.
THE GUEST LIST: This sometimes is the hardest to do as you probably want all your family and friends to be present on your special day. However, if you can cut back on your guest list, you’ll automatically save money just on the reception costs. Many caterers, banquet halls, and hotels charge $40 per person (including tax and gratuity) and the price can easily go up from there. If you pare your guest list even by 10 people (that’s 5 couples), you’ve saved $400.
INVITATIONS: Yes, Crane is beautiful, top of the line elegant stationery but the cost can run from $3 to $10 each. Instead, consider going to a craft store and purchasing a “do-it-yourself” kit that can cost as little as $1.50 per invitation. As the American Bridal Association estimates that the average wedding has 160 guests, making your own invitations can save anywhere from $300 to $1000! And skip sending out “Save-A-Dates” or having Wedding Programs printed. Trust us. Your guests won’t care.
WEDDING GOWN: If you prefer not to borrow your mother’s classic wedding gown and don’t have the time (or talents) to make your own, you can purchase a designer wedding gown at dramatically reduced prices by shopping at a discount or wholesale wedding dress store. Designers’ web sites normally provide a list of sales, and it’s quite likely that your local bridal salon will be amenable to send out an e-mail alert on the discount offering. With some good hunting, a bride can find a designer dress that would normally sell for $2,000 for as little as $249.
FLOWERS AND DÉCOR: Bridesmaids’ bouquets can be pricey - $40 to $75 each. To save costs, many brides are opting for their attendant to carry a single hydrangeas or even a simple, elegant calla lily. If you have 4 bridesmaids, going the single flower route can save you around $200. For your reception, avoid elaborate floral centerpieces. Instead, use mirrored plates on the table (mirrors reflect and magnify) and decorate with tea lights and a single floating orchid.
RECEPTION: Hiring a caterer rather than booking a banquet hall is a good way to cut per-plate meal costs. The price per plate can be nearly half of what a banquet hall would charge. Depending on the caterer and the menu chosen, savings could amount to as much as $5,000 for a wedding with 100 guests. However, keep in mind that many caterers do not provide tables and chairs for the couple’s venue, so calculate the cost in what you would have to pay in renting those things yourselves.
CAKE: The wedding cake table is a focal point at many weddings however the cost of the wedding cake is anywhere from $3 - $5 per person and higher. For 100 guests, that means your cake can cost $300 - $500 and more! Instead of having a large, tiered wedding cake to serve all the guests, opt to have a small wedding cake for the traditional slicing and serve your guests from a sheet cake which will only cost about $80, saving you money.
ALCOHOL: No, don’t think of a cash bar. Your guests are just that guests and they shouldn’t have to pay for anything for the pleasure in attending your wedding. You wouldn’t charge them if they were dinner guests at your home, would you? Well, the same rule applies for a wedding. Here are some ideas to cut alcohol costs. By serving bulk wine in carafes on the table, rather than bottles of wine, you can cut wine costs by 50%. If you must have champagne, have it available at the bar rather than having it served to every person present. Just that little trick itself will reduce champagne consumption by 30% - 50%, lowering your total alcohol beverage cost.
PHOTOGRAPHER: Photography packages can run from $1,000 to $3,000 or more. These packages often include up to eight hours of coverage and an additional photographer or assistant. Instead ask about a basic package which is generally around $500, which would include only one to four hours of coverage by one photographer.
MUSIC: While a live band can cost anywhere from $1,500 to $10,000, a typical D.J. charges between $600 to $1,200. If you opt for a D.J. instead of a band, you can save at they could save at least $900, if not thousands of dollars.
MISCELLANEOUS: From your cake topper to your garter to your guest book you can save money buying them online and you’ll have more selection.
Cutting the Cost but not the Dream (November, 2007)
It’s not uncommon for a Bride even those on a strict budget to discover that they’ve gone over the spending limit. The cost of a wedding from invitations to meal service can quickly add up. But with a little strategizing used by professional wedding coordinators, you can still have the wedding you’ve always wanted without breaking the bank.
Invitations reflect the style and formality of your wedding.
- Determine how many invitations you are going to need and then add 25 more. (Trust us, you’re going to need extras.) It’s more pricey to reprint an additional 25 invitations than if you had included them with the original order count. Also, don’t forget to order extra envelopes for those addressing mistakes.
- Order all your wedding stationery needs at the same time, whether it be reception cards, informals (thank you cards). Some manufacturers offer quantity discounts. At the very least, you’ll save on proof charges.
- Want bows or ribbons attached to your invitation? Buy the ribbons yourself and attach them. Printers charge an extra $45-$75 per 25 invitations to do this service for you.
Flowers accent a wedding and reception but here’s some facts about flowers that you might not know.
- Flowers cost about 20%-30% more during the major holidays such as Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day and Christmas.
- Low table centerpieces are about half the cost of high ones, so think about interspersing high and low arrangements throughout the reception area.
- If available, take advantage of votive candles offered through the reception venue rather than ordering them through the florist. Most florists charge $2 per candle.
- Add more greenery and foliage to the centerpieces, rather than flowers which cost more, to create that full lush look.
- Limit the floral arrangements at the church. You’re generally there for only an hour and most churches are beautiful enough on their own.
- For your Bridesmaids bouquets, select flowers with large blooms. You’ll only need 2-3 stems rather than a number of smaller bloom flowers.
Music options are limitless and so can be the cost.
- In hiring musicians, many require a minimum number of hours and charge per hour, per musician. Decide on the music you want and how long you’ll need them. If you want a harpist at your ceremony and she charges a minimum of three hours, have her play during the cocktail hour in addition to your wedding.
- DJ’s typically charge about half what a band would cost. And with today’s modern technology, create crystal clear sounds.
- Don’t forget the local talent of young men and women eager to start their career. Going to your area’s college’s music department to hire musicians is about half the cost that professionals charge.