You may have heard, but there’s a wedding going on over in England. It’s no big thing, just a couple of young people tying the knot, the bonds of holy matrimony and all that. But from the way people are making a fuss over it, you’d think that it was royalty getting married or something. (And frankly, even for royalty, I think the news media’s been a little…completely insane.)
Well, for those of us without massive inheritances and a country that is willing to support our opulent lifestyle via taxes, weddings have to be a bit more down to earth. No massive numbers of horses, no huge ceremonies with thousands of guests, no designer dresses.
No, if you are like Sondra and I, you’re going to have a much more understated (to say nothing of less expensive) wedding celebration. This does not, of course, make your wedding any less special or wonderful, although there’s a good chance that you’ll need to find ways to save. With the average cost of a wedding in the US at $27,800, finding ways to save some money on your nuptials will definitely help to keep more cash in your (or if they have the money and are willing to help, your parents’) pocket. So how can you have a fairy-tale wedding for a real life price? Here’s a few suggestions:
Keeping Your Wedding Costs Down
1. No Open Bar: This was one of the first things that Sondra and I agreed upon. A reception can end up costing a sizable amount (nearly half the total cost of the wedding), and anything that can be done to reduce that cost will help you save. You can have alcohol available for guests who wish to indulge (provided they will not be driving themselves home or otherwise putting themselves or others at risk), but if they do wish consume alcohol, they can pay for it themselves.
2. Consider a Used Wedding Dress: Now I know that many women, particularly those getting married for the first time, there is an image in their heads about the perfect wedding, and a large part of that image involves what they will be wearing on the big day. But, if you are willing to forgo getting the ‘perfect’ wedding dress and instead try to buy a used dress (or, if your mother, future mother-in-law, or other already married relative has a dress they’d be willing to let you use) there’s the potential to save a great deal of money, and potentially establish a family tradition in the process. While we’re on the subject of wedding attire…
3. Let Your Wedding Party Buy Their Own Outfits: Rather than paying for numerous bridesmaid dresses that will be worn once (and likely end up being the butt of jokes for years to come), why not trust the judgement of the bridal party to find their own (potentially used and/or cheaper) outfits? A simple description of the color scheme that the bridesmaids should adhere to (perhaps with a color swatch sent out, as well) should enable a reasonable woman to acquire a decent dress come wedding time.
For the men in the wedding party, you can consider allowing them just to wear nice suits, rather than the traditional tuxes. Although, given both the numerous varieties of suits that are available and the relatively low cost of renting a tux, you might make renting a tux mandatory, anyway.
4. Avoid Wedding Season: If you want to get married when everyone else is getting married, you’ll have to pay much higher prices as a result. The most popular times for weddings are May through October (although, as William and Kate have demonstrated, you might see a little spillover into April, as well). If you can settle for a late fall/winter wedding, you can get the facilities that would cost a (hopefully small) fortune in the spring or summer for a fraction of the cost. On the subject of when to hold the wedding…
5. Avoid Saturday Night Receptions: Did you know that the most expensive time to book a wedding reception hall is 7 p.m. on Saturday nights? Neither did I, but now that we both know, we can use that knowledge to help us save. If you opt for a reception sometime other than Saturday at seven, you can cut down the expense of the reception. You can have a Sunday brunch reception, hold the reception earlier on Saturday, or possibly have the wedding on a day other than Saturday, and save both the reception and hotel accommodations.
6. Cut Down the Music Expenses: One of the biggest expenses you could face is providing music for the reception. While a live band has connotations of wealth, class, and sophistication, it also has a sizable price tag attached to it. Find a good DJ, and you’ll still have a great reception, but at a fraction of the cost.
7. Consider Alternatives to Photographers: I almost hesitate to include this one, particularly as Sondra is quite dead set on having professional photographers document our wedding, but it is a major area to consider for savings. While I certainly don’t want to tell you that you shouldn’t have pictures to remember your wedding, that doesn’t mean you need to pay thousands to a professional photography service to get them.
With the proliferation (and cost declines) of high quality camera and video equipment, that might very well be someone (or more than one) in your family who is a high-quality amateur camera buff. Assuming he or she is willing, you might be able to get quality photographs and/or video for a fraction of what a professional would charge. Or cut down the amount of time you need a professional to just the wedding itself, and consider distributing disposable cameras to the guests to document the reception. Your guests have fun, you get lots of pictures, and even a hundred cameras would cost less than hiring a photographer for the reception.
There you have it, several ways to have more frugal weddingthe