We’ve all been there. That “oh crap” moment when you’ve realized you’ve spent too much money on something and it’s time to tighten the belt. Well, that can (and probably will) happen during the wedding planning process. But there are ways to save a few dollars before the wedding day. Just know that what you can cut back on will definitely depend on where you are in the wedding planning process. A few general guidelines: If you have a signed contract and you’ve paid a deposit, you can’t (and shouldn’t!) try to back out of a contract just to save money. Also, trust the professionals (your wedding vendors). Ask for their advice. Chances are, they may be able to help you determine a few ways to cut corners by re-prioritizing. Need tactical tips STAT? Here are a few was to scale back:
1. Determine if you can reuse your ceremony chairs for dinner. If your venue doesn’t come with chairs, and you’re expecting 150 guests, that means you may need two sets of chairs for the ceremony and the reception. Determine if the chairs can be moved while guests are out of sight during cocktails. Don’t ask your guests to move their chairs; this is a definite no-no. You might need to pay a bit more in labor, but it likely will be less expensive than two sets of chairs. (Photo via Matthew May Photography)
2. Opt for beautiful chargers instead of fancy china. Yes, it’s what guests will see when they sit down. But chances are, once the meal is served, they won’t notice the decorative plate that their heirloom tomato salad or beef tenderloin is plated on. (Photo via Stephanie Pool)
3. Ask your caterer if you can choose slightly less expensive wines and liquors. If you are spending $2-3 less per bottle, that could add up at the end of the day. Also, find out if you can switch to a lower priced hard alcohol package if you’re serving hard alcohol. Or skip hard alcohol and just serve beer and wine. Another option to keep the catering bill down: Offer just one entree (instead of a choice of two) and you’ll save a few bucks per person. The caterer should still include a vegetarian option at no additional charge. (Photo via Alisha + Brook Photographers)
4. Find out if your DJ can provide ceremony music + amplification. Is a string quartet or Spanish guitarist not a high priority for you? Your DJ can play lovely, appropriate music during your ceremony and provide the microphones and amplification needed for your nuptials. (Photo via Jose Villa)
5. Skip the multiple desserts. If you’re already serving wedding cake, don’t do a dessert bar too. To cut corners and save money, go with one dessert for simplicity and savings. You can also order fewer servings of cake than your guest count if money is tight. There is usually cake leftover at the end of the night! (Photo via Lori Paladino Photography)
6. If you haven’t ordered them yet, skip programs, menus and favors. We all love beautiful paper and a nice tchotchke that says “Michael + Alison,” but if you’ve overspent, these are nice-to-haves not need-to-haves. Feed your guests, yes. But telling them exactly what they’re going to eat is also not mandatory. (Photo via Gertrude & Mabel)
7. Assess your Etsy habit. If you find yourself buying every cute thing you see on Etsy or Pinterest, step away from the computer (or your phone). Pin it and save it, but wait a few days. If you’re still thinking about it a few days later, and it works in your budget, then go for it. Weddings do tend to make us want/need/love/buy everything we see, even if it might not quite go with your overall look, or worse, not be in the budget. Just. Take. A. Deep. Breath. (Photo via Jose Villa)
8. Haven’t booked a photo booth? Skip it. Sure, photo booths are great and all, but Instagram and social media make it easy to access fun wedding photos. So if you haven’t booked a photo booth yet and are tight on moolah, just pass. You’ll still get plenty of candids from your photographer (and friends). And people will still have fun even if they’re not wearing a furry purple hat or jumbo neon sunglasses. (Photo via Stephanie Pool)
One final word of wedding wisdom as you’re fretting over finances, here’s a little secret. Not everyone will come. Inviting 200? Chances are you’ll get closer to 160-170 guests. Which means fewer tables, centerpieces, linens, meals and so on. It will all be OK!
Have a budgeting tip? Share it in the comments below!