After reading yet another ridiculous article from The Knot - and subsequently ranting about it - I've come up with my own list of Better advice for the aspects of wedding planning that was addressed in their article.
- Set your priorities. Spend the money on the things that are most important to YOU. Don't feel the need to follow the guidelines set out in magazines and planners. It's *your* wedding.
- Beyond your main priorities, take a realistic look at where you will get the most bang for your
buck. For example, aisle runners, pew decorations - for the vast majority of your guests, they'll be seen only for a few minutes.. whereas your guests will be seated at their tables for most of the evening.
- Think about how certain elements can do double duty. Floral arrangements from the ceremony can decorate the reception. Rather than ordering a plated dessert, order a delicious wedding cake FOR the dessert. Not only is it the dessert, it can also be decoration! Also, many reception sites can host ceremonies.. centerpieces can be made of cake.. or of your guest favors! Get creative. Efficiency is a great thing!
- Cut your guestlist. You don't need to invite every person you've ever met! If you haven't even talked to them in, say, 5 years.. they don't really need to be invited. (Family may be an exception to this - just be reasonable!). Think about it this way. More people = more food to order, more tables to decorate, and potentially even a bigger/more expensive venue. It may mean more staff to cater/serve it, etc. Even if you're only paying $25/plate for the meal - 4 guests less, that's a $100 savings! It's not a popularity contest, and really - a nicer wedding for a smaller guest list is much more memorable and special than a huge wedding with every possible corner cut.
- Take a realistic look at your guestlist. You can usually count on 60% of those invited actually attending. Yet, many, many brides assume a MUCH higher rate of attendance for their wedding, and plan for that. I know, I know - no one wants to think that they're of "average" popularity - but no one likes to order/pay for food that won't get eaten, either. Having a realistic number of anticipated guests can slash *thousands* from your bill - and if you end up having more people come, that can usually be handled closer to the date, when you receive your RSVPs.
- Always look at the little charges, they add up! You may find something cheaper online, but once shipping is taken into account, it may not be the sweet deal it originally seemed.
- Don't think that you *have* to do anything. It's your wedding, follow YOUR vision!
- ALWAYS ask your vendors before you assume that ANY advice a wedding magazine gives you is the gospel truth.
- Contact design schools. See if you can find an art student looking for a project.
- Craigslist. You will find MANY freelance graphic designers. Hungry freelance graphic designers, at that!
- Do them yourself! Get some decent paper (maybe scrapbooking?), some glue sticks, and have some fun with it! For a professional finish, have your actual wording printed out on nicer white paper (you can fit 2-4 per sheet!) at Office Depot, Office Max, etc.. cut it out, and glue onto a nicer background.
- Ebay. Many freelancers selling sets of stationery MUCH less than $400 for 75 sets!
- If you are not affiliated with a particular church, find a freelance officiant online. This is one of the most important aspects of every wedding, so please - not only compare prices, but compare personalities/ vision. Find a good match for you!
- Talk to a professional florist. Let them know your budget, and ask advice on how to stay within budget. There are many ways to do this. Have your maids carry a single gorgeous bloom. Buy flowers that are in season. Buy many of a single type of flower, rather than a ton of different ones. Buy flowers that do not require a ton of labor.
- Grow them yourself. Arrange beautiful garden bouquets, or rally your girls/family to help.
- Buy them at a farmer's market, and/or buy them from a local farmer. Many will take special orders.
- MOST IMPORTANTLY!! Look for VALUE more than bottom line price! The cheapest is usually NOT a good option. If a photographer doesn't even value their own time, what's to say they're going to value your wedding day memories? Also, don't be someone's practice, as much as the "build my portfolio" thing may tempt you.
- Check references. There are unscrupulous photographers out there who steal portfolios (many full sized photo files can be found online!) and pass the work off as their own. Ok, this may not seem money saving, but hear me out. My husband and I found someone reasonably priced.. and our photos were so horrible, so unprofessional.. that $700 or whatever would have been just as good flushed down the toilet.
- Ask for options. Package deals may be cheaper than if you'd bought everything separately, but if you don't particularly want everything that's included in the package, you're wasting money.
- Figure out your timeline, and priorities. Maybe you don't need them there all night - just the formals, ceremony, and "photo op" times in the early evening. Trust me, you'll get tons of photos of people having fun from.. well, the people having fun!
- Make your own gown/bridesmaid gowns, or have someone you know do it. Plan WAY in advance, though!
- Look into second hand! Ebay, Craigslist, sample sales - there are deals to be had. Plus, you'll
feel good helping someone else pay their bills.
- Contact fashion design schools, or look on Craigslist for a seamstress. Depending on what you're looking for, you could save a mint!
- Although everyone claims that the bridesmaid dresses they chose can "be worn again", we all know better 🙂 To truly make this the case, go shopping for more generic-occasion dresses. Maybe have your girls pick out a favorite "little black dress" at a normal department store.
Hair and Makeup
- Craigslist! I found my hair person there, and she was AMAZING. Just ask for photos and make sure you're getting someone who knows what they are doing.
- Beauty schools usually have GREAT deals. If they're not open on your wedding day, you may be able to score a talented student anyway.
- Many city parks will hold receptions, and their fees are incredibly low. Find a freelance catering company: they're usually a lot more reasonably priced than the "big boys" tied to venues.
- Again, your biggest savings here can come from just having a reasonable view of your guestlist.
- Get creative. You don't necessarily need flowers or anything traditional as centerpieces. The
coolest centerpieces I've ever seen were stacks of books!
- Find a student.
- Whatever you do, don't do the "friend with an IPOD" thing. LOL.
- Order a good cake, and have it double as the actual dessert. Good cake gets eaten, and IS a dessert.. why order 2 desserts?
- Fake cake is not usually cheaper, and in many cases can be MUCH more expensive (once you factor in the extra real cake you'd have to order to serve!)
- ASK your cake person what you can do to bring down costs, don't make assumptions. Many of the things that people think are "just a simple ____" are actually more work/more expensive.
- Rent a car, have a friend drive. You can rent a nice sportcar or whatever, much less than a limo would be (seeing as how many limo places have minimums).
- If all else fails, hire a cab. Seriously. This is a MUCH better option than getting on a subway or public bus.
- Many, many favors are left at the reception at the end of the night. Keep that in mind as you plan / pay for them!
- Check your venue to make sure that food-item homemade favors are even allowed there. Many venues will not let you do this, for liability reasons. Big waste of money to do them up and not be able to use them!