The wedding is coming along slowly but surely. Let’s go through the wedding items I’ve accomplished in the past few months, shall we?
-Set the date
-Booked the venue
-Found a food supplier
-Found a decorator
-Found a photographer
-Found a videographer
-Found a party rental store
-Purchased a few wedding essentials
Check, check, and check! But oh wait, there’s still tons more to do.
And did I mention our wedding budget is $8k-9K. Considering the average American wedding costs $25,000 according to Google, I’ve got pennies to work with! Here are a few tactics I used to cut down costs:
1. Rent a community center for the reception and ceremony
I know what you’re thinking, some community centers can be…run down, but some centers can be absolutely gorgeous, it just takes time to find the right one that meets your standards, and luckily I did! By going this route, you’re also supporting your local community, good stuff right? right! The only thing about community center is that you’ll have to provide most things on your own. i.e. tablecloths, chair covers, dinnerware, speakers, etc.
2. Buy, don’t rent
If you’re going to go the community center route like I am, you’ll likely have to rent quite a few items. Do your research and find out if it’s more cost effective to rent or buy certain items. In my case, I found out that buying tablecloths and cloth napkins only costs a little more than if I were to rent them. After the wedding, I can then try to sell them to get a portion of my money back. So yes, you’ll be spending more money initially, but you have the opportunity to get some of that money back after the wedding.
3. Send out the save-the-dates electronically
The message in the every save-the-date is simple – “This is when we’re getting married – make sure you’re available. Oh, and here’s a pretty photo of us leaning on a tree”. When the info is this minimalistic, I say emailing is the way to go. In this day and age, everyone has an email address, even grandma, so save some cash and email those suckas out.
4. Design and print your own invitations
Unlike the save-the-date, the actual wedding invitation makes more sense to be printed out as it has more information about the wedding – it may be more beneficial for your wedding guests to have certain details directly in hand (directions, instructions, etc). Rather than spending loads of money on wedding invitation design services, ask someone you know who’s a graphic designer, or a digital artist, or someone who’s just really savvy in Photoshop to design your invitation. This way you save money AND have more control over what goes in your invite; it beats using an overused template off a random website that’ll overcharge you. You can then take your design and print at affordable print shops i.e. Kinkos, Office Depot, etc. If you need them to be cut to a specific size, these print shops will often provide those services for an additional fee, OR you can utilize their cutting machines and hand-cut each invite yourself. They’re free to use, but be forewarned, you will be there for a while. Note, if you design your invite to be 5.5”x8.5” or smaller, you can squeeze 2 invites on 1 letter size page, meaning you can get 2 invites from 1 print.
5. Have your guests RSVP via email or phone
Again, it’s 2014, everyone has an email nowadays. You’ll save money on stamps and envelopes. It’s more convenient for your guests. Bam, everyone wins.
6. Buy online
Buying items online may be a bit of a gamble as you won’t be able to see, touch, or evaluate what you’re buying upfront, but if you plan ahead, it’ll give you enough time to receive the item and return it if you’re not satisfied with your item(s). Also, you’ll want to look into online retailers with rewards programs like Amazon Prime; if you’re a frequent Target shopper, sign up for a RED card and get 5% off your purchases (don’t I sound like a commercial).
7. Sign up for email newsletters
If you know you’re going to purchase a large amount from certain companies, sign up for their email newsletters. Retailers will often send out coupons with special offers i.e Free Shipping, 20% Off, etc.
8. Buy from the Dollar Tree
Yes, the Dollar Tree – they actually have a lot of neat stuff in between the cheap crap if you look hard enough. I’m buying my centerpiece vases there, along with some decorative river rocks, sternos for the buffet, and a few other essentials.
9. Ask friends and family for help
This is probably a given, but it’s nice to be reminded that your family and friends are there for you if you need help, so don’t be afraid to ask.
10. Ask “Can I borrow that?”
Renting items can get costly quick and if it’s something household you need like a cake stand or a platter, ask your friends if they could lend you their items. I’m borrowing my future sister-in-law’s and mother-in-law’s pastry stands to hold some yummy cookies.
11. Find aspiring future professionals (cake decorator, photographer, videographer)
Hiring amateurs comes with it’s risks for sure, but as they’re just breaking into their industry, it’s likely they’ll give you a nice low rate, just be sure to ask to view their professional portfolios before you make a decision.
12. Buy the food and hire the servers
Hiring a caterer is always going to be one of the top expenses in any wedding. To cut down costs, I’m ordering the wedding food in party trays from a Chinese banquet hall, I’ll be hiring 2-3 servers (off Craiglist or temp agency) to pick up the party trays, set up the food buffet-style, and just maintain the service throughout the reception.
13. Set up a drink station
Drink stations are becoming quite trendy so jump on the band wagon and save some bucks! Here’s a neat drink station found on Pinterest. Rather than hiring a bartender and/or server to go around replenishing drinks, set up a few drink dispensers with different flavored beverages for the guest to choose from. If you want to booze it up, add a liquor basket on the side filled with the essential hard alcohols i.e. vodka, whiskey, rum, etc. Invite your guests to turn their virgin drinks into a slutty cocktails!
14. Make a music playlist
86 the DJ and create your own wedding playlist. You’ll have one less service to pay for (and one less meal to serve) and YOU get to control the music.
15. Ask musician friends and family to play at your wedding
If you insist on having live music but don’t want to shell out for a full-on wedding band, ask your musician friends and family to play a song or 2 at your wedding. They’ll be happy to be part of your special day and you’ll be glad to see them onstage doing what they love.
16. Buy flowers wholesale and arrange them 2 nights before the wedding
I realize this may be super stressful to do right before the wedding, but I’m willing to do it if it’ll save me a couple hundred bucks. Plus, I’ll be recruiting my bridesmaids and a few good friends to assist. It’ll be like a party!
I hope these tips prove to be useful to anyone out there looking to have a beautiful but inexpensive wedding!