T’is the season! Wedding season that is.
Getting engaged is magical. The ring, the bubbly, visions of your honeymoon destination, and of course the social boasting that inevitably follows. Beware, that high can quickly turn into anxiety once you start the actual planning. “Weddings cost HOW much?!” is something you’ll find yourself saying more than you ever imagined.
Depending on the type of dream you’ve envisioned, it could cost up to $45,000 – not exactly a cheap wedding. According to The Knot, the national average cost of a wedding in 2016 sat around the $35,000 mark. Yours doesn’t have to be though. Here are the top 5 ways to lessen the financial burden when wedding planning.
Plan An Off Peak Wedding
April to September is the high time for hitching, and venues charge accordingly. Plan your day off-season. Most places deeply discount winter weddings–and are sometimes decorated for the holidays so you can save on your day and decor. Plan it during a holiday week, on a Thursday or Sunday, and save even more.
I went to a wedding on New Year’s Eve, which was a perfect way to ring in the New Year and the newlyweds. And! Winter wedding dresses are drool-worthy.
You don’t need flowers as much as you need a floral aura at your wedding. Gone are the days where mandatory rose centerpieces grace every table and bouquet. Fresh flowers are a huge expense; cutting back, or cutting them out completely, can help make your wedding more affordable. There are a number of cheaper alternatives to flowers.
Silks: If you want the look of flowers but not the price tag, fake it. Most craft stores have fake flowers for next to nothing. More expensive silk flowers look and feel real, but even lower priced plastic flowers can be dressed up, and absolutely beautiful.
Paper or Fabric: A crafty couple can pull off fabric, or paper bouquets, wrapped with floral tape and ribbon. Super unique and as thrifty as it gets.
Non-Floral Centerpieces: The center of your guest tables can be a true representation of who you are. In the age of Pinterest the only limit a couple has for centerpieces and tablescapes is just how much room is on the table, and their budget. Candles, lanterns, framed photos, wine bottles with fairy lights, and even fishbowls can be centerpieces.
Skip The DJ
Before you skip this section, hear us out. We’re not suggesting you host a silent wedding. We love music as much as the next gossip mag, but if money’s tight, spending up to $2500 on a DJ or a band might not be where you want your resources to go. If you’re not looking specifically for the DJ experience (an MC, blowup guitars and sunglasses, fog machine, and other assorted light shows), then a carefully selected playlist and a set of decent speakers could save you loads. Streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube gives endless playlist options to keep the party going.
Will You Marry Me (And My Husband)?
If your nuptials are secular, ask a special friend or family member to marry you. Anyone can be legally ordained, online, for free by the Universal Life Church. A professional wedding officiant can cost up to $600. Your best friend will probably do it for a bottle of wine (that you’ll drink half of!).
The ask-a-friend mentality can also be applied to a number of other services: photographer, hair and makeup, even food.
Master The Menu
Food is huge at a wedding, in character and in cost. Catering is typically the single most expensive bill for most weddings, but it doesn’t have to sink your budget. The traditional sit-down, chicken, fish, or beef is no longer the norm. More and more couples stray from served entrees and instead choose creative, and often less expensive, options.
Home Cooking: Have an Aunt Marie whose lasagna is the family secret? Or a brother-in-law whose BBQ ribs win ribbons? Ask for help. Most people are honored to have a part in your day. Don’t totally cheap out though – pay for the ingredients and let their hard work be their gift to you.
Buffet: If you decide on professional catering, choose a buffet. It is almost always less expensive than a sit-down dinner. An added bonus to having a buffet dinner is that most guests prefer to get up and mingle before and, sometimes during dinner, so it won’t feel like a cheap wedding hack.
Tapas And Cocktails: Don’t do dinner at all. Everyone’s favorite part of the wedding is cocktail hour, so why not extend it? Serving small plates and drinks keeps your guests’ bellies and glasses full until it’s time to dance.
Food Trucks: Ever rising in popularity are food trucks at weddings. A caterer on wheels. Some food truck options could be as expensive as a traditional caterer, but the cool factor might be worth splurge.
No matter what route you choose to go with vendors, make sure to run a background check before you give anyone money.
At Last, The Dress
We saved the most important cheap wedding tip for last. If thrifty is your theme, then you’re likely less attached to a fancy venue, sit-down dinner, or blow-up guitars and glow sticks in order to save a few bucks. But even the high priestess of penny pinching can be knocked off budget when it comes to her wedding dress. An inexpensive wedding dress doesn’t have to be a reject from the backroom. Gorgeous gowns can be affordable.
Gently Used: If you have access to the internet, then there are thousands of beautiful wedding dresses that you can afford. Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, and Poshmark all give you access to dresses that were worn only once or sometimes not at all. If you don’t want to do the heavy lifting yourself, Racked.com put together a list of reputable sites to buy wedding dresses from. Despite superstitions, most wedding dresses for sale are not from some tragic breakup. Women sometimes buy a number of dresses before settling on one. Others buy a ceremony dress and a reception dress, and some just don’t have a sentimental attachment and need the space.
Checking out sample sales is another way to get designer dresses for under market value. If you’re looking for vintage, thrift and consignment shops are your oyster, or ask your mother.
Rent: It’s not just tuxedos that can be rented. Sites like Rent the Runway and JJ’s House offer wedding dresses, as well as other styles and clothes, for rent. You can easily rent a dress for only a couple of hundred dollars, and then simply return it after your special day.
Who Needs a Wedding Dress? If a white gown isn’t important to you, or doesn’t fit your personality, then don’t wear one. You’re a bride, no matter what you wear!
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