Want that luxe look on a budget? Here are some ways to stretch your dollar without anyone ever being the wiser. Small changes and smart planning that we’re betting none of your guests will notice. (Don’t worry, your secret will be safe with us.)
TIPS FOR SAVING ON THE CEREMONY
Exchange vows in a garden. Host your ceremony outdoors in a garden to take advantage of the built-in floral decor.
Choose a single flower bouquet. Going with a single type of flower or one single jumbo flower, such as proteas, peonies or dahlias, for your bouquet or your bridesmaids bouquets will create visual impact but won’t be as expensive. Like this bride, above, who chose astilbes.
Use in-season flowers. On that note, work with your florist to ask which flowers are more likely to be in season during your wedding. Often, with flowers, you are paying for shipping from far away places, or are paying a premium for flowers with a short growing season, such as peonies.
Choose the time and season wisely. November to April often sees shoulder season rates as it’s outside the popular summer season. Time of day and day of the week matter, too. You’d be surprised how much more you are paying for a Saturday wedding venue during a prime time. Other options to consider include brunch weddings or a dramatic Friday evening wedding.
Use a wedding sign.
Instead of printing out (and paying for) individual programs, use a sign to welcome guests and let them know about the ceremony’s proceedings and who’s who.
Use postcards for replies and save the dates. We love stationery but if you want to save a few dollars, look into sending postcards or electronic save the dates or reply cards. Postage and paper costs add up faster than you think.
Skip square invites.
Yes, that’s right. Simply changing the shape of your invites to not be square will save you on postage as there is often a surcharge for irregular shapes. Crank up the tunes from your smartphone.
Okay, we’re biased but buying another bride’s gorgeous gown is smart. You get all the benefits of a trendy design or luxury label as your dream wedding dress at a fraction of the cost. And you’ll still look like a million bucks. Even smarter, choose a PreOwned gown with a corset back and you’ll be less likely to need alterations.
TIPS FOR SAVING ON THE RECEPTION
Inquire if your venue has a support team. Using the venue’s on-site staff and planners can save you quite a bit of money. And who knows the venue better than they do?
Host your reception at a restaurant.
Using a favorite restaurant for your reception does double duty: you’re more likely to keep the guest list small and you get to save on rental costs for things like linens, cutlery, tables, chairs and more. You might even save on wedding menu stationery if the restaurant provides menus and you’ll get to use some on-trend decor.
Serve signature cocktails. Good news: If you are swooning over those wedding photos of sharply dressed waitstaff delivering super pretty drinks to guests, you’re in luck. This is actually a money saver. Choosing one or two signature cocktails for the bartender to make at your reception can save a lot of money as you end up buying just a few kinds of alcohol in bulk and you won’t have to stock a full bar. If you look for a store that buys back unopened bottles, you’ll save even more.
Skip the menus.
Instead of individual printed menus for each guest, write the menu on a chalkboard, mirror or piece of wood (depending on your theme) at the entrance to the reception or one for each table.
Use a cutting cake for photos. Cutting the cake is a fun tradition, but can be expensive with some cakes costing upwards of $5 a slice. Instead, host a dessert bar with a variety of treats such as a doughnut tower, cupcakes, candy or other alternative sweet for your guests to indulge in. Then have a bakery make a small cake for you to cut. All the show at a lower cost.
Buttercream’s better. Often it’s a matter of looks, but buttercream is a less expensive option than fondant (and tastier, we happen to think.) Wedding cake styles that use buttercream include stylish naked wedding cakes so you won’t sacrifice an ounce of style, either.
Limit your open bar hours.
Choosing to serve unlimited drinks during a cocktail hour then switching to wine, Champagne or beer at the tables for the reception will save a bundle. Most guests won’t notice.
Grow or make your own favors. Buy pretty packaging in bulk, then use team work and a family recipe to DIY edible wedding favors. Some great choices: cookies, truffles, jams or flavored oils. Home made is best made. To further reduce costs, consider giving one favor per couple instead of one per person.
Staff your buffet. Buffets aren’t for everyone, and choosing to staff it may seem counter-intuitive, but it creates a classier feel, keeps the lines moving and will help people control their portion sizes, ultimately keeping food costs down. Another trick event planners use? Provide 7″ plates instead of 10″. People won’t feel the need to fill every inch.
Skip the live music.
Opting for a DJ instead of a band won’t matter when people start to head to the dance floor. If you’re set on live music, consider using a violinist during the ceremony only, to control costs.
TIPS FOR SAVING ON DECOR
Use one venue for ceremony and reception. Combining your ceremony and reception at different areas of the same venue is a smart move. Discounts sometimes come into effect, you won’t have to spend extra on transportation and it’s easy to reuse design elements or the venue’s setting to your advantage. This is especially nice if the venue offers both indoor and outdoor options. The best of both worlds!
Work with your venue’s existing decor.
Instead of creating a whole new theme, work with strong design elements that already exist to your advantage. For example, the venue pictured has an amazing vine canopy and view that needed only minimal additions.
Upcycle your floral arrangements.
Re-purposing your ceremony flower arrangements is a power move when it comes to saving money. Aisle flowers, altar flowers or even bridesmaid bouquets can be used for sweetheart tables, centerpieces or supplementary displays such as bars or dessert tables. Pictured: The altar arrangements are used on reception tables at this wedding.
If you can’t spend a bundle on decor, do try making signs for the important things such as bride and groom’s chairs, “This way to the dance floor”, dessert table and bar. They’ll anchor photos and are an easy DIY design element.
Optimize lighting and draping. Using these decor features effectively will help limit floral and decor costs, but will still look great in photos and to guests.