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Planning a wedding without breaking the bank

May 2022 | Financial Education, Uncategorized

It’s no secret that weddings are expensive. However, they don’t have to break the bank. There are many things that you can do to save money, without sacrificing your dream day.

We’re going to talk about a few aspects of the wedding, and how you can save along the way.

The very first step in evaluating how to save money on your wedding is determining your priorities. Do you have a specific venue in mind that you absolutely can’t dream of getting married anywhere else? Or maybe you couldn’t care less about the venue, but an all-inclusive honeymoon is the most important? Or, maybe you’re a foodie and you really want the 5 course meal to be the only thing people are talking about as they leave your wedding.

Think through all the aspects of your wedding, and determine what you simply cannot compromise on. Budget out those items, and then let’s look where we can save you some money.

Pre-Wedding

First, let’s talk about everything that goes on before the wedding. This includes purchasing rings, engagement parties, bachelor and bachelorette parties, etc.

Rings

There are a couple of ways to save money on rings. An obvious way to save money would be to use an heirloom ring that is essentially free apart from potential cleaning or resizing, or buy a second-hand ring from an antique store or pawn shop.

If you do want to purchase new, there are alternative stones that are much less expensive than a traditional diamond ring.

Alternative Stones

The biggest thing to consider when picking an alternative stone is the hardness of the stone. Stone hardness is measured by the Mohs scale. Typically, and engagement ring needs to be durable enough for everyday wear, which can take a serious beating on a weaker stone. You want to select a ring that is above a 7 on the Mohs scale.

Moissanite is a very popular option because it looks most like a diamond. They are colorless, clear, and sparkle very similarly to a diamond. However, they are FAR cheaper than diamonds. Moisanite is also a 9-9.5 on the Mohs hardness scale, meaning they are almost as durable as diamonds.

Check out this article for other options of alternative engagement ring stones. 11 Alternatives to the typical Engagement Rings (diamonds.pro)

Parties

There are lots of ways to save money on the many parties associated with the wedding without sacrificing on the fun. Typically, a wedding will include these parties:

      • Engagement Party
      • Bridal Shower
      • Bachelor/Bachelorette Party
      • Rehearsal Dinner

Saving money on parties

Since these parties can rack up costs, here are some ideas to save some funds:

Buy décor second hand, or make what you can. 

– Thrift stores are a great place to find décor, glassware, table settings, tablecloths, and much more.  There are also lots of DIY options. Check out wedding blogs, Pinterest, or DIY Youtubes to find some inspiration.

Reduce/Reuse

– Before you click “Order” on that cart full of “She Said Yes!” banners, think about how you will use every item. Prioritize one wall where guests can take photos, and use minimal decorations everywhere else.

– Though it’s tempting to buy a new “Bride to Be” cup for every party, try to reuse decorations and other items between parties – no one will notice but you!

Food

– Catering costs can add up quickly, especially if you’re catering every party. Try to make your own food, or have a food truck instead of catering. Typically a food truck is roughly $10 a plate, while catering is around $40.

– You can also make the parties potluck style – let guests know whether they should bring an entrée, appetizer, snack, drink, etc.

– If possible, bring your own food and drinks for the bachelor/bachelorette party instead of eating and drinking out.

 

Wedding

Here’s the real meat-and-potatoes of wedding planning – the day of. Like I mentioned before, make sure you have your list of no-compromise items already budgeted so that you can adjust other things to accommodate.

 

Here are some tips on how to save money on the following wedding components:

  • Venue
  • Catering
  • Drinks
  • Decorations
  • Clothing

 

Venue

The venue is typically the largest expense for the wedding. The average cost is about $6,000. Here are some tips to reduce your venue bill:

– Get married on a weekday.

– Use the same venue for the wedding and reception.

– Outdoor venues are usually cheaper.

– Get married at a family member or friend’s house/property instead of paying for a venue.

Catering

Catering is a huge cost at weddings. It typically falls around $75 per plate.

Reduce catering costs by:

– Opting for a buffet style (roughly $25 per plate) or food truck (roughly $10 per plate).

– Eliminate a dinner altogether and serve hors d’oeuvres or just offer dessert. This works best if your wedding is at a non-traditional time of day and doesn’t fall during a meal. Don’t leave your guests starving, you may want to communicate that a meal is not provided.

Drinks

Different venues have different rules, and be sure you are following all liquor laws for your state. But here are some tips to keep bar costs down:

– Instead of having a full bar, offer a limited selection. It’s popular to offer two signature cocktails (one for the groom and one for the bride), and a beer and wine option.

– Buy your own drinks from a bulk store such as Costco, and have them be self-serve instead of using a bar service.

– Provide drink tickets to limit guests to a certain amount of drinks, or opt for a cash bar and make guests pay for their own beverages.

Decorations

There are tons of ways to save on decorations for your big day.

– Find a venue that has decorations included. Another bonus, you aren’t stuck with an absurd amount of vintage bottles and votive candles in your garage for the rest of eternity.

– Buy second hand. Check resale websites such as Facebook Marketplace, Offer-up, and Craigslist. Often people will sell their used wedding decoration for great deals. You can also find great options at thrift and antique stores.

– DIY decorations. Paint your own signs, make your own garlands, arrange your own bouquets, build your own dance floor, etc. Check out wedding blogs, Pinterest, and DIY Youtube videos for inspiration

Clothing

Wedding dresses, tuxes, bridesmaid dresses, getting ready outfits, etc. It can all add up!

– Shop sales. There are wedding expos and events that sell off-the-rack or sample dresses at deeply discounted prices. Do some research to see if this exists in your area.

– Rent. There are lots of companies that allow you to rent designer dresses online such as Renttherunway.com and poshare.com. This can be a great option for the bride, bridesmades, and guests alike. Tux rental companies such as Men’s Warehouse are good options for the groom and groomsmen.

General tips

  • Pair down the guest list.
    • After the pandemic, it has become more acceptable to have a smaller wedding and offer a video steam for those who aren’t invited to attend the big day in person. The best part? Even the virtual wedding-goers will often get you a gift.
  • Skip the favors.
    • Wedding favors seem fun, but even if guests remember to grab them on their way out, they often end up donated to Goodwill or thrown in the trash within a couple of months. Save yourself the money and don’t give a favor.
  • Get married in the off-season.
    • Summer and Fall weddings are typically the most expensive. Getting married in an off season can save you money on venues and other vendors.
    • If your guests have the ability to come on a weekday, venues and other vendors are much cheaper. Thursday weddings often work well, but you may want to check with essential guests (i.e., family members and the bridal party and groomsmen) to ensure a weekday wedding would work for their work/school/daycare/etc. schedules.
    • The honeymoon will also be cheaper as you can typically get better rates on flights and hotels in the off-season.
  • Use your talented friends.
    • If your friends have skills that can be used at your wedding instead of hiring a professional, it can save you a lot of money. However, it is nice to still compensate them, depending on the situation. Here are some examples of where friends can help:
      • Hair and makeup for the bride and bridesmaids.
      • Officiating the wedding
      • Emceeing/DJ’ing
      • Catering/pre-make a buffet meal
      • Bartending (ensuring you follow all liquor laws of your state)

Now that you’ve learned ways to save some money on your wedding, check out this virtual coach to help you build out your wedding budget.

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