I was told weddings were expensive. I thought I was prepared. When we started getting estimates for tents, photography, and food I was blown away. It’s like the second you say “wedding” to a caterer they bump up the price by %20. There were some things that were really important and non-negotiable to us, like our reception venue (a rustic barn in our hometown) and the church. All other expenses are being squeezed and manipulated so that we have our fairytale day without breaking the bank.
One of the best suggestions I have gotten thus far has been to keep notes on what is important to us. Some brides might need designer shoes, while some of us are just fine in any thing that’ll match. I know flowers are important to me, while the cake is not.
Weddings can be whatever we want today and tradition is being broken now more than ever. It was a relief when I got engaged and my family and fiancé’s family kept repeating “it’s whatever YOU two want to do”. I know I got lucky. But it is. It’s our one day where we can be as picky as we want.
My point is to keep things that are important in the wedding and to cast aside old traditions that don’t serve you. Your guests will attend many, many weddings in their lifetime. There will always be that distant family member who has an issue with the lighting, or a family friend who will be talking smack at the next barbecue. This is your day. And most of the time, it’s your money.
I wanted to make a list to show what we’ve gladly cut out of our wedding budget. The formalization of this list was partially made to validate anyone planning a wedding who feels guilty about not doing everything “by the book”.
So, here it is, 10 things we’re cutting from our wedding budget.
1. Engagement Party
We got engaged in October and our wedding is in September, which makes it an 11.5 month engagement. Although I love a good party, it didn’t fit with our schedule and I couldn’t fathom spending a dime this. I feel like I could have justified having one if we were having a longer engagement. This also helped as far as a guest list, as once you invite someone to the engagement party, it is custom to invite them to the wedding as well.
2. A Bridal Party
I have no idea how much money we saved on this one. Or how much stress. Wedding planning is hard. It can be frustrating. But, it is not impossible. Remember that if you have a system and a plan, you can do anything. We decided against a wedding party before we got married and opted for a maid of honor and a best man only. This has in no way stopped me from going to my closest girlfriends for advice and suggestions.
3. Unnecessary Guests
Before I drafted our guest list, I thought I’d only invite 30 people and it would be manageable. Add in family, family friends, friends significant others, and clergy and that number skyrocketed to almost 150. We cut this down by reminding each other that it was our wedding and not our parents and by cutting out friends we thought we had to invite. When we started seeing estimates for $100 per head minimum, we whittled it down quite quickly. Someone reminded me that this is just one event. There will be holidays, barbecues, kid birthdays, etc. to celebrate with those B-list or C-list friends.
4. Photo Booth
Every dollar counts! Instead of paying for a photo booth, the paper, and someone to man it (+tip), we are planning on building a back drop out of wood, a lá Pinterest. I know when I’m taking pictures with my friends all we want is a cool back drop with decent lighting!
One type of beer and one type of wine. That’s it. We don’t drink, our families do. Your guests probably don’t need top shelf liquor. I have also heard of some couples having a quality champagne for themselves while their guests drink a more middle-of-the-road brand.
We are taking a family friend’s old car! Posting an ad on Craigslist, asking around or getting a friend to drive you that day can save hundreds of dollars! In our case, we have 15 minute drive from the church to the reception site, which will (hopefully) be close enough for our guests to get there without getting horribly lost.
7. Fancy Cooking
We are working with a wonderful catering company to supply steaks, salmon, chicken and the works at our reception. Our reception venue is literally just a barn (no bathrooms, no kitchen), so a big issue was bringing in ovens. We decided to go with foods that can all be cooked on site and on big grills. I know this one won’t apply to all.
8. Dinner Service
Everyone likes buffets. Save yourself a few thousand dollars and do it. Think of all the tips you won’t have to pay…
9. Large Centerpieces
We are keeping these small and low! These do not need to be over the top or extravagant. Some simple (and cheap) eucalyptus with some tea lights can be surprisingly elegant. I truly believe that less is more here. I hate when I’m at a seated event and I can’t see the person across from me due to flowers.
My mom has a professional printer at her house and she’s allowing us to borrow it to print on the envelopes for our invitations. I’ve always viewed this as an unnecessary expense.
I’m hoping by cutting out these 10 things we are lessing some of the financial strain and we can take a long, relaxing honeymoon in the Caribbean. Did you cut anything from your wedding budget? Leave a comment below!