Plan Your Big Day For Less....Five Tips Every Engaged Couple Needs
We have all seen the dream weddings on TV, online, and in magazines. Gorgeous flowers, beautiful music, lavish food, unique and stunning venues, designer gowns…..live peacocks heralding the entrance of the bride! But do you know how much all of those wedding extras can cost? Are you willing to go into debt to make your wedding fantasy a reality? Just like all of you, I have a wedding board on Pinterest filled with inspiration and #goals, but I’m going to give you five tips to keep your bank account in the black while still planning the wedding you’ve always dreamed of!
First things first: set a budget! This may seem super obvious, but once they are caught up in the romance and thrill of being engaged many couples jump into wedding planning without a financial plan, making it very easy to overspend. If you take a moment and sit down with your fiance and your family to create a blueprint of what you have to spend, it will really guide you in your decision making. Knowing you have a set amount allows you to really reflect on if you need fireworks and a children’s choir; or if that money can be better used elsewhere. This leads us to tip number two: prioritize!
Once you have an overall budget, the easiest way to stay within that budget is to look at your priorities. I always ask my couples what are their three major focal points for their big day. For some it may be photos, food, and music; while others are concerned with the dress, venue, and wine. In almost every wedding the majority of the budget will go to venue and food, about 30-40% of the budget; how you allocate the rest should be a reflection of your priorities. If the decor isn’t that important to you that is a perfect area to scale back so you can splurge on a really great photographer.
Tip number three has been around for centuries: bartering! If you have a useful skill, talk to your potential vendors about making a trade. Maybe you have graphic design skills and you can help a baker redo their logo in exchange for your cake. The most important part of bartering is that it has to be value for value. No one wants to work for free, so make sure the service you are offering is of similar value to what you are getting. If you don’t think you have any useful skills to barter, don’t forget about manual labor! Time can be equally valuable to a small business owner and offering to intern or work for services may not get a freebie, but it will almost certainly get you a discount.
Tip number four is all about getting creative and I’m not just talking about DIY. Have your wedding on a Thursday evening and save upwards of $2000 from the weekend rate. Look for venues that allow you to bring in outside catering or your own alcohol. Research bridal stores and when they are likely to have blow out sales or trunk shows. Buy your flowers wholesale (or even from Trader Joe’s) and arrange them yourself. Instead of a buffet or a plated meal hire two local food trucks to provide the food. Culinary schools often offer catering for just the cost of food so their master students can practice. There are as many ways to creatively save as there are people in the world, you just have to think outside of the box.
The last tip may seem counterintuitive because it is an expense; but in the long run it can really offer major savings to engaged couples: hire a planner. Wedding planners will have relationships with vendors and venues and can often get couples a discounted rate or even extras thrown in. A good planner will also be able to help couples define their vision and priorities, all while helping them keep track of the budget. Feeling stuck on ways to creatively save? A planner can guide you to unexpected solutions and great discounts, all while working to make your big day a perfect day!
Ultimately, the goal of any wedding is to celebrate love. I firmly believe that couples don’t have to go into debt or use their entire savings to create a fantasy wedding. Follow these tips, be flexible, and you can achieve your dream day and still have money in the bank. Happy planning!