We all know that planning a wedding can get expensive. So, how do you save money? I went to a Facebook group filled with former brides and I asked them, what did you do to save some money? This blog post is filled with ideas to help you in your planning!
I would start by asking yourself what is most important to you. Do you want gorgeous flowers but don't care about stationary? Do you have to have specific decor but don't care as much about flowers? Where are you willing to save a little money?
Just remember, for some services such as hair and makeup, catering, and photography...you get what you pay for!
***TIP: When making a post on Facebook about what you are looking for in vendors, be very specific about what you are looking for. If you aren't specific you are going to get a TON of comments about things that may not fit your vision or availability. Save yourself time by being specific and not wading through companies/people that don't fit what you are looking for.
Don't say, "looking for an affordable caterer"
Say, " looking for a caterer that can provide service on February 28 for $4,000 for 80 people in Evergreen"
Off season or week dates
Here in Colorado, winter is off season and it is significantly cheaper to get married November-April. It is also cheaper to not get married on the weekend, Saturday being the most expensive day of the week. Beyond your venue, other vendors may be less expensive not on the weekend or more likely to give you a better deal.
- Most brides have an idea of what their dream dress looks like. My advice is to look online or contact a bridal store to see what the price range of their dresses are. If their dresses start outside of your price range, don't go there! You don't want to fall in love with a dress you just can't afford. When you get to the bridal store, only pull dresses that fit within your budget. They will probably say, "if you like this dress, I bet you will loooove this other dress we have." Just don't do it!
- Buy a used dress: Find a dress you love? Check in a Facebook group to see if anyone has the same dress in your size used. Remember, the dress has only been worn one. Get it cleaned and save a ton of money
- Recommended bridal shops: Abeille Bridal in Loveland is actually owned by one of my former brides so I am a little partial. But the owner Lauren is super sweet. Abeille Bridal has all dresses under $1,500 with most of the store under $1,000. They even have some $500 dresses.
- Check out trunk shows
- Affordable sites: These sites offer super affordable dresses for a simple bride or elopement. They aren't as high quality, but you can easily find pretty dresses $50-$200. Check out Lulu's and Ever Pretty
- For some, real flowers just aren't in the budget. Try silk or wood flowers. I personally did half and half. In the package with my venue, my table centerpiece flowers (real) were included. I was in charge of getting my own bouquets, boutonnieres, and arch flowers. I opted to do silk flowers for those and was very happy I did. I ended up saving around $1,000! One great thing about fake flowers is you actually can use them again as décor in your home.
- Do it yourself: If you want real flowers, save a little money by getting flowers from a grocery store or home depot. Depending on the time of year, you may also be able to get flowers in bulk from a local farm. You can also look for wholesale florists. Several brides recommended Trader Joe's for your bouquets. You can also do your own silk or wood flowers
- Rent fake flowers: So you have decided to go with fake flowers. Did you know you can rent them? Celebrations LLC in Parker does custom silk pieces, including arch flowers, that can be custom made and rented. After your wedding, just return!
- Add greenery: Scaling back the amount of real flowers and adding more greenery can help bring down the cost of each bouquet while still being beautiful.
- Skip the boutonnieres: The groom and his party could go with pocket squares instead of boutonnieres. You could also do a boutonniere for the groom only, then going with pocket squares for the party. You can find pocket squares around $10 each!
- Limited florals for party: Some brides said they got their dream bouquet and saved on their party bouquets. A secret, they don't really care. And if they do, it isn't their day! Some people said their party did no flowers, just bride and groom. One bride said that their party did a single long stem flower instead of a bouquet.
- Limit stationary: Instead of spending money on save the dates, invitations, rsvp cards, etc...try utilizing a wedding website such a Zola. Send out just an invitation that says to visit your website for more information and to RSVP. Allow your guests to RSVP through your website as well as find out all the details about your big day. You can save several hundreds of dollars by not printing multiple cards. Not to mention, a huge savings on postage.
- NO stationary: Some people said they decided to do no invitations and did everything electronically. They used their wedding website to send invites, give information, and get RSVP's!
- Visit Canva: Canva doesn't advertise to weddings, making it a way cheaper way to DIY your wedding invitations. Did you know you could print 200 double sides invitations with envelopes for only $120! Seriously go check them out. I personally use Canva for all my business needs and stationary.
- Thank you cards: Go to a local store or order cute blank cards online for your thank you cards. Fancy thank you cards get expensive and honestly people don't care what the card looks like, they care about the content. Write a super personal thank you card on a cute blank card to save a little money. Pro tip, don't wait to write your cards. Writing your thank you cards right away will help you remember something personal to write to each person. If you are going on a honeymoon, take your cards with you and write them on the plane to pass the time.
- Skip the program: Skip making a ton of programs, as they will just get left on the seat or thrown away. I know what your thinking, well my mom would love to have one. Make some memorabilia for just your immediate family or those who would want it. (Canva). 10 programs is way cheaper than 100+
- Menu: Want to put the menu on the table? Try doing one double sided menu in the center of the table displayed instead of a menu for each seat.
Most stores offer discounts and sales during holidays. Did you know you could get awesome "black Friday" deals for wedding items? I got engaged in early November, so I spent my black Friday wedding shopping. I even purchased my wedding dress and bridesmaids dresses that day and saved!
Food & Alcohol
- Downsize your desserts Do a six inch cutting cake of your dreams just for the two of you instead of a huge tiered cake. Then smaller desserts for everyone else such as cupcakes, donuts, mini desserts, or variety desserts.
- Visit COSTCO! If you are able to bring any items yourself, Costco has amazing and affordable food. Some locations, such as the Lone Tree location have alcohol. I can attest to the fact that the Costco/Kirkland brand Vodka is delish! They have liquor and wine
- When it comes time to do toasts, you can save a little money by doing a cider toast instead of a champagne toast. You can also ask if people would want champagne or cider, you would be surprised at how many people don't like champagne.
- Some venues do allow you to bring your own alcohol and this can be a huge cost saver. (Just make sure to bring enough).
- Don't provide an open bar. This isn't a huge deal as long as people know. It is a bummer to show up to a wedding with no cash because you didn't know. Just make sure you are making guests aware ahead of time
- Do half open bar/half not. Provide beer and wine for guests, let them pay for liquor
- Purchase used, Facebook groups are a great way to find used items and save on all those little décor items. Some people said that they posted they were looking for free items and ended up getting some free things to use.
- This tip doesn't really save you money, but pick décor you can repurpose to use in your home after your wedding. I tried to pick out items that I could later use. I picked out big lanterns for our ceremony space that now sit on our front porch. I picked a cute Mr and Mrs sign that is mirrored that now sits on our nightstand. Silk bouquet is on our dining room table.
- Dollar store: The dollar store is great for one thing, vases! Vases for your centerpieces can get expensive. Did you know the dollar store has $1 glass vases!? Yes! They do also have votive candles and regular candles. And you can purchase in bulk on their website, check it here
- Thrift shop: One bride did mismatched candles on the table and found them inexpensively at thrift shops and Goodwill/Arc
- Venue left overs: Some venues hold onto décor that has been left behind by previous brides that you can use at no cost
- Balloon decor: Balloon decor can look fabulous with a smaller cost than real flowers throughout your venue
I always recommend to my brides who are looking to save a little on their photography costs to shave off some time at the end of the night. Do you really need a photographer to take pictures till the end of the night taking pictures of people dancing? Save a little money by having them leave after your big moments, first dances and cake cutting. I have had couples who really wanted to do a grand exit, but didn't want the photographer there till the end. They did a mock grand exit earlier in the evening.
Want a videographer, but don't know they you can afford that service? Go to Facebook (of course) and say ISO of a videographer who is new or just starting to build your portfolio. Just remember you get what you pay for. But, you could get a brand new videographer, sometimes free or very affordable.
- Favors can get very expensive. Order blank items in bulk then have someone local customize them for you such as Malana. Malana Boris Designs will take your items and customize them for you. A great example is bulk order chapstick with no label, then have your names and wedding date added.
- For my wedding favors, I only spent around $150 for 100 favors. I did small sparkly silver boxes (no names or dates) then put two truffles inside. One was my favorite flavor and one was my husbands favorite flavor. Something people could eat and enjoy and not get thrown away.
- Some people said they didn't do favors at all and no one cared.
- One bride recommended either not doing favors or only doing about half the amount you think you need. She said at the end of the night, the table was mostly full and ended up taking them home.
Hair & Make up
- Do it yourself or have your bridesmaids help you
- Check with local schools, most are half the costs to do your hair and make up
Negotiating isn't always an option. But, don't be afraid to say, I absolutely love what your offering but this is my budget. Is there any way you could work with my budget? The worst that can happen is they say no, you don't have anything to loose. Just don't get upset if someone is doesn't budge of their pricing. I very rarely ever budge of pricing, but it could go either way depending on the vendor.
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