One of the things I am most proud of about my wedding is the things that I did to pull off one fancy wedding for a huge savings! I estimate my savings on my husband’s and my wedding to be between $35,000 to $40,000. I think that’s HUGE!!! And there is nothing, save one of my bridesmaids getting in to a car accident on the way to the wedding, that I would change. I still can’t believe she made it and was ok.
My first tip to saving money when it comes wedding budget is do not invest in a wedding planner binder that you purchase from Barnes and Nobles or other bookstore. They average between $30 to $40 and can cost even more than that!! There are plenty of wonderful sites online that have super cool planning sheets from typical timeline lines to the day of schedules, to budgets, to you name it! You can easily assemble one on your own and save money with any number of sites. I know Weddingwire.com, TheKnot.com and WeddingChannel.com offer these. Plus, 1-800-Registry does too with an online planner as well. But if you really want a “cool” wedding binder with the tabs already made go to any bridal show (make sure it is a FREE show) that 1-800-registry is at and for registering for free for their site, they give you a cool binder with tabs. It is pretty generic and not too detailed but I loved the binder and tabs. I added sheets I found online AFTER I realized the binder/planner I bought (non-returnable) was not working for me.
Speaking of these sites, I would suggest flipping through bridal magazines but avoid buying them. At $5-10 a pop, these add up quickly!! All of these sites above have wonderful resources of photo galleries that feature everything you could imagine in photographs that are perfect for planning your wedding. You want examples of vintage weddings, they have it. Need ideas for centerpieces, that got those too. As I said, you name it, they have it in pictures. As you find images you like either pin them on a wedding planning board on Pinterest or save them to your hard drive or tablet. Print out the ones that you LOVE and fit your theme or feel of your wedding. These hard copies of favs can go into your binder.
So in my last posts Weddings: Dreams Fulfilled or Budget Breakers (Part 1), I suggested determining the feel and priorities of your wedding. These are key to budget and I will look at them in more detail in just a minute. BUT even more key when determining the details of the wedding is “How much TOTAL are you willing to spend on your wedding…all in…with or without honeymoon?” Right behind that is who is contributing how much and to what? For example, in my wedding planning, I came to find out that my husband was a traditionalist and would only be paying for the items that the groom’s family traditionally pays to have. For those of you who don’t know, most of the burden of costs traditionally falls on the bride’s family while the honeymoon, rehearsal and a few extras in a wedding fall on the groom. I have attached my budget planner (see bottom of post) which is divided by husband and wife traditional roles. Now my friend who got married this 2013 took a more modern approach. She, her fiancé, her parents and his mother all contributed to the costs. Once you know who is contributing what and frankly, how much, you now have your total budget for the wedding.
Most budgets will divide the total budget costs generally by the following percentages of costs:
- Ceremony – 5%
- Wedding Attire – 10%
- Photography – 9%
- Videography – 5%
- Stationary – 4%
- Reception – 35%
- Cake – 2%
- Flowers – 6%
- Décor – 3%
- Music – 5%
- Transportation – 2%
- Rentals – 3%
- Gifts – 3%
- Parties – 4%
- Miscellaneous – 4%
However, these are general rules that are determined by the priorities and feel I suggested figuring out in my last post. For easy math, a budget of $10,000 would look like this:
- Ceremony – $500
- Wedding Attire – $1000
- Photography – $900
- Videography – $500
- Stationary – $400
- Reception – $3,500
- Cake – $200
- Flowers – $600
- Décor – $300
- Music – $500
- Transportation – $200
- Rentals – $300
- Gifts – $300
- Parties – $400
- Miscellaneous – $400
If you have ever started pricing (and I can only speak for here in So Cal), but $900 for photography is a REALLY REALLY small budget when you start pricing photographers. In fact, prior to finding my photographer, the cheapest was $1,800 for 3 hours. My wedding went from 2:00pm to 8:00pm and that did not include getting ready time. So, if you are working with this budget, there are some choices to be made and some budget funds to be shifted. I will look at vendors and how to save with them in more details in upcoming posts. But here are some things to consider as you start planning your budget.
Priorities, Priorities, Priorities
Now you can see why I suggested looking at this first. If you don’t know what your must haves are and can live withouts, this could be really frustrating to figure out a budget, especially when you get to pricing things. For example, my husband and I had only seen bad, long, drawn out videos of weddings and even when doing bridal shows as a vendor, that was what I continued to see. So we both agreed, “Why waste 5% of our budget on video, let’s use it else where.” A small twist to that. There are things from my wedding that I would have loved to have on video and new good videographers create an edited “feature” of your wedding – about a 30 minute clip. Had I seen this prior, I might not have been as willing to let it fall to the way side.
A good friend of ours was willing to sacrifice on uniqueness the venue in order to have everyone she wanted (a guest list of over 200) at her wedding. My niece opted for extremely simple décor to keep costs down. For her, the priority was to spend as little as possible on her wedding. Again, its all about priorities. As I said last posts, I jokingly would share in order to have my cake, I would walk down the aisle in a burlap sack if need be. I am not, however, suggesting such extremes.
Do They REALLY Need to be There?
One of the easiest, although not often simple, ways to reduce budget costs is to reduce the guest list. The majority of the costs to a wedding are at the reception from cake, food, beverages, favors, rentals, etc. So reducing the number of people that will be at the reception is a huge way to decrease costs. You can still have them at the wedding by doing ceremony and reception cards in the invitation. For those invited to the reception, they can get a simple reception card added to their invitation.
You can also limit costs by limiting your bridal party to select friends and family that are truly close to you. I recommend no more than 4 per side. Plus, your numbers don’t have to match either. My niece-in-law had her maid of honor and one bridesmaid. Her husband had a bestman and three groomsman. It looked just fine.
DIY: Doing It Yourself vs. Hiring Out
Another way to save, is to look at where am I willing to put in the man hours versus am I more comfortable hiring out. For example, for my wedding, my niece-in-law and my friend’s wedding, we all served as our own wedding planners. Now this is not for everyone but it does cut costs. Its work but it can save you $1,800 plus.
Another example is on stationary. I will go into details more in my next post but I did all my own stationary with a kit, scrapbooking skills and Photoshop. All of my invitations, menus, place cards, programs, wine labels, seating charts, etc. were all custom designed and featured multiple mats and crystal and pearl embellishments. Now it took time but all in supplies, kits and stamps, I was still around $200 for about 125 invitations.
Yet another example, my niece-in-law decided to do her own flowers since she was doing a very simple arrangements.
A really budget saver is whether or not you decide to utilize your own items as décor or that of the venue. Again, I will focus on the venue décor, when we talk about venue and vendors. But, one of the best things I did to save money was to raid my house. I used my office’s cork board for the seating chart. I used serving ware and plates I already owned for my candy buffet. I pulled photo frames and similar items to do table numbers and family member memorials.
Buy It to Use NOW and LATER
I am a huge fan of Michael’s Craft Store and you can get some AMAZING deals with their coupons. And I used a whole lot of coupons during my planning. Not only did I get the base for my invitation kit but I got a lot of the décor items. However, the only time I bought items was if I knew they COULD and WOULD be used in my new home as décor or functional items. For example, I bought several apothecary jars in addition to the ones I already owned for my candy buffet but I knew I would use them again in my décor for my home. One of them is currently a cookie jar in my kitchen, another a decorative jar in my downstairs bathroom and yet another is my oxyclean holder in my laundry room. Peacock decorative globes and a teal, brown and silver bird now sit in my living room were once decorative items on my candy buffet, guest sign in table and more!
Two Birds with One Stone
There is a whole lot that happens with respect to weddings and if something can do double duty, then all the better. One of the best ideas for this comes with photography. If you only have a formal photographer for the main ceremony and traditional photos, disposable cameras can act as entertainment and a way to catch the rest of the evenings memories. Also with Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, you can have guests tag and/or hash tag their photos so they go straight to you too!
Another good double duty is to combine parties. Instead of doing a bridesmaid luncheon and rehearsal dinner do them at the same time. You can honor and thank both your groomsmen and bridesmaid at your rehearsal dinner and give them their gifts that evening. Speaking of gifts, if your gift can do double duty by honoring your bridal party, help them save costs on your wedding, and add get them needed attire items, then hooray for everyone. This was one of the things both my husband and I did. My husband bought his groomsmen’s hats, shirts and asked my mother to make handkerchiefs for their pockets. I gave my bridesmaids everything they would need for their makeup, hair and nails including custom made headpieces and shoe clips.
If you get creative, there are tons of ways to save money for a wedding. These are just a few ideas to start. Next post, we will look at stationary. You can keep costs low with some smart shopping, double duty and DIY.