There are many ways to cut corners at your wedding so that you don’t have to break the budget to meet your vision of your very special day. However, sometimes people cut in the wrong places and, in the end, the guests can tell.
Here is a list I created using tips from clients who were married around the area and found ways to make some real good savings without sacrificing from the desired vision of the special day. This is a totally doable top 10 list of ways to save money on your wedding; a list that actually works:
1. PRIORITIZE EVERYTHING– A few years ago, I picked up a neat little tip I like to pass along to my clients from the Williams, who got married at The State Room in Albany, NY…“Before you even begin planning your wedding and reception, you really need to sit down with your partner and make a list of your top five priorities. This way you know what absolutely stays and where cuts can really happen.”
With it spelled out on paper, you both know what is important. This allows for everyone to be on the same page.
2. LIMIT THE GUEST LIST, BOTTOM LINE – Forget about corner-cutting on the DJ, the decorations, or the dinner, those are only savings that amount to pennies on the dollar… The best way to really save is to be ruthless with your head count. Keeping the guest list down as best as possible will drastically reduce your wedding cost, overall.
The Sefik’s, a fun couple from Clifton Park, NY got married at Mallozzi’s Wedding Hall in Schenectady. They pointed out that, “most caterers, venues, restaurants and banquet halls charge per-person.” They noted that if you have a 150 guests and can cut it down to 125, there alone you will save about $1,300.
So how do you do this? One tip if you see your guest list is getting out of hand, omit children and coworkers. Making category cuts across the board is the best way to make people not feel that they were being singled out.
3. FOOD & DRINK – Research all of your options and do not be afraid to ask questions. The Bovairs of West Sand Lake, NY who got married at Lakeview on Crystal Lake in Averill park, NY, recommended that you, “consider a buffet instead of a sit-down meal, or break tradition all the way. Why not go with a dessert reception, or a brunch or luncheon instead of a multicourse meal?”
Some people actually go with an all appetizer / finger food reception now.
Alcohol – Eliminating or limiting a traditional full bar to one or two hours will really cut costs. The Bevans got married at Herbert’s at Birch Hill in Kinderhook. Alternatives include serving beer and wine only, but not serving alcoholic mixed drinks. at all or only pouring a champagne toast.
Depending on the local laws and the rules at your reception hall, if you are able to buy the liquor yourself and then hire someone to pour it — the savings potential is enormous. If you can, in fact, bring your own booze, you can even return any full bottles that your guests don’t drink in the end.
4. Location, location, location. There are boat-loads of options for low-cost or no-cost locations, including local and national parks, forest preserves, your own back yard or that of a friend or relative.
Paul Diamond who got married at a nice little restaurant called, Cella Bistro in Schenectady, NY said, “Unthought-of restaurants are usually a under-rated option. Many establishments would love to have your business and, at the same time have gorgeous tables and chairs, and décor. You could save a bundle, all around.”
Also, by choosing a location that allows outside catering or you to bring your own booze, you are also opening up the potential for great savings! Saratoga’s Museum of Dance and Pryne Hall of Latham both allow for these potential savings, for example.
5. Wedding Attire – Here’s where you have many options for stretching your bridal dollars. You don’t have to buy at a traditional bridal salon. You could purchase a gown at an outlet or from a department store in the special occasion’s off-the-rack area.
6. FLOWERS – If you choose to wed in a location that is already naturally decorated, you will see big savings. To set a stylish mood without much work, plan the wedding to take place in a garden, art museum or even at a beautifully-gardened home.
Saving on flowers – Choosing flowers that have bigger buds means you’ll need fewer stems, thereby helping your bottom line.
Self-proclaimed “hippies,” The Losaws of Hudson Falls, NY got married at The Glen Sanders Mansion in Scotia, New York. They planted 200 bulbs months before their wedding, and then married right in the middle of the fully-blooming cheerful yellow tulips.
7. INVITATIONS – You don’t need to print invitations up on thick paper and chalk up another $500 bill. Invitations are definitely an area where do-it-yourselfers can show off their skills and can create great savings by pocketing the difference in costs.
Orvin Bennitt and his wife-to-be will be getting married at The Edison Club in Rexford, NY this summer. They showed me their announcements. They printed their wedding invitations on their computer, and I would have never have guessed!
8. GET BY WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM YOUR FRIENDS – Think of it as cost-free outsourcing. Posse up your friends and play to their strengths. Some people may have a creative inner-circle of peers who will want to donate services to you! This could be in the area of music for the ceremony, or even for photography!
Also, befriend teachers! Try calling a few schools if you want a decent student ensemble to play your wedding ceremony music! Or call your votec (like Capital Region Career & Technical School of Albany, NY) and get the floral class behind your wedding as a school project!
Initiate an Officiant – Are you looking for an intimate ceremony that has meaning AND affordability at the same time? Consider having your vows administered by a relative or friend, like the Carbones did at The Inn in Saratoga. Web sites like Universal Life Church (ulchq.com) and Esoteric Interfaith Church are two organizations that “ordain” laypeople so they can officiate weddings, legally.
9. Embrace The Off-Season – Wedding receptions that don’t fall during peak months will help you save big bucks. The Bucklands got married at a popular location called Gideon Putnam in Saratoga Springs, NY early in April. By doing so, they estimate that they were able to negotiate a savings of nearly $3,000!
10. Lose The Limo – “Transportation can be a huge cost,” says Mike Brooks, who got married at Crystal Cove in Averill Park, NY. “Since my bride wasn’t obsessed with having a vintage car drive us one mile to the reception, we just borrowed my friends’ SUVs to shuttle the bridal party and family. Nobody noticed the difference.”