(All photos courtesy of: Picture Perfect Photography. Click to enlarge.)
Must reads: Tips for a Budget Wedding in the Wall Street Journal.
Wedding Trim in the Boston Globe.
First and Foremost: Draft a budget! Put everything in your budget you would like to have and WISH to have at your wedding. Carefully think through all details and establish a firm budget. Then scale it down. Stick to it.
Vendors: Ask wedding vendors you're dealing with for discounts. Are you or your future husband in the military? Sometimes there will be a discount for military. It never hurts to ask. (Where NOT to cut costs: These will last a life time, your photographer. (Letting your photographer go after the important events, will save you as well, ASK) - Music will make or break your day. If you hire a DJ, they will act as MC, orginizer for the day and keep it moving. If they say they don't do that, find someone else, again, ASK)
Note: When hiring any vendors, get it in writing......READ the contract. If you have any questions, ASK. It never hurts to ask, at worst, they say no. Pay with a credit card. If any issues, you can call your credit card company, they will go to bat for you.
Wedding Day: Have your wedding on OFF days: Saturday's are MOST expensive.
Time of Wedding: Daytime or mid-morning, brunch weddings will save money.
Less Expensive Months: November to February. The demand for wedding officiants, locations and wedding supplies are lower in the winter months. Weather plays a large part.
Guests: The total number of guests count for approximately 40-50% of your wedding budget, depending on the location and site. For substantial savings, check your guest list once, twice, then cut back the number of guests. Get a wedding website to keep all your guests informed. Wedding Website
Location: If possible, a family member's backyard or a beautiful city park can make ideal settings for a romantic ceremony or reception. These settings can often be considerably less expensive than many other fancier venues and may lend a more personal touch to your wedding. Have your ceremony and reception in the same location will save travel time as well. Maybe a beach wedding, small and personal. Private restaurant rooms tend to be cheaper than hotel ballrooms as well as intimate.
Formal Wear: Look for a wedding dress in the bridesmaid dresses. Bridesmaid dresses often come in white. Many formalwear shops offer package deals for wedding groups for example, a discount on the groom's tuxedo when three groomsmen rent. Shop around for a special offer, sale or a discount.
Food: You may want to consider hosting a high tea; a dessert reception; brunch or luncheon instead of a multi-course meal. Another possibility is "drop-off catering." The caterer delivers already prepared food and sets it up. Sometimes you have an option of 1/2 plate. Meaning smaller portions of: steak, chicken or fish. Or if you are really adventurous, cater all of part of the reception yourself. Buy in Bulk: Food and beverages are cheaper if bought in bulk. Head to your local discount club and see if you can pick up some of the essentials for your reception. Wine and champagne can also be purchases at a substantial discount when bought in cases, so look for that as well.
Bar/Beverages: Eliminating or limiting a traditional full bar to one or two hours will really cut costs. Serving beer and wine only, not serving alcohol at all or only pouring a champagne toast. Depending on the rules at your reception hall, if you are able to buy the liquor yourself and then hire someone to pour it -- the savings potential is enormous.
Invitations: The quality of printers available has many people printing their own wedding invitations, wedding programs, and thank-you cards. Even if you want something professionally done, you might consider ordering from a discount retailer or a party store. There are tons of sites online which allow you to design your own invitations. Take a look.
Eliminate Response Cards: Miss Manners pretends not knowing what they are when she finds them in an invitation. Response cards are small cards where guests can check a box indicating that they are attending. Etiquette dictates that a formal written invitation deserves a formal written response. Response cards are for lazy people. Plus, response cards, when they are printed, cost nearly as much as the invitation and will increase the weight of the original invitation. So, a vote for frugality is a vote for etiquette!
Cake: For weddings of 100-150 guests, displaying a smaller decorated cake for 75 on a cake table, and a sheet cake for 75 in the kitchen. Note that some bakeries will not charge less for sheet cakes, so get quotes. Or a cupcake cake is popular, you can even have a cupcake baking party and DIY.
Flowers: You pay more for premium flowers. Focus on seasonal flowers to avoid the costly imports. If you love Calla lilies, consider using one lily as the focal point and surrounding it with inexpensive filler flowers or greenery. Transport your ceremony flowers to the reception location. Silk flowers are generally cheaper than real ones. That means you can buy them months in advance and shop for sales.
Decorations: Try using potted houseplants or plain pillar candles as decorations. They can be less expensive than flowers and you can tie them into your wedding theme or make them very personal then they can be reused. a small glass dish with floating candles can look elegant in the middle of the table. Try to do as much of the decorations yourself and you can cut costs here.
Shop the Dollar Store: Don't be afraid to purchase items there. No one will know. Bowles for floating candles as centerpieces. Candles. Silk flowers.
Favors: Favors for each guest can get expensive. New trend is a Candy Buffet. Something your guests will want to take home. Candy Buffet.
Candy: Purchase candy after a holiday. If you are looking for same color candies, after holiday "sales" you will find inexpensive candy. You can store candy, and if done properly it can last a long time. Candy Life & Storage.
Honeymoon: Register with a honeymoon gift registry. Friends, family and guest can purchase parts of your honeymoon for you. Saves them bringing a give and will save you getting two or more toasters. Book a all inclusive honeymoon or cruise. Honeymoon Gift Registry
Out of Town Guests: You will have friends from far and wide and you will need to arrange for their accommodation. Book a block of rooms VS single rooms.
Limo: Borrow a friend's nice car for transportation. Avoid spending money on a limo and use a car with a personal touch.
Ask for services as a wedding present: If you know someone who works as a professional musician, photographer or other wedding vendor, ask them for their services as a wedding present. They'll save money on buying you a gift, and you won't have to pay someone to provide the service.
Bridal Shows: A good place to start, with an array of wedding vendors under one roof, you can meet them personally, view their work and compare prices. Wear comfortable shoes, take a sheet of return labels with you to enter contests.
Bridal Books: Go to the library, you will find rows and rows of planning books. Save upto $20.00 + by checking out a book instead of purchasing.
FREE or almost free Wedding Website: GET ONE! Save time and telephone calls by having your wedding website online for all friends, family and far away guests to see what is going on with your wedding. Great for anyone in the military. Post dates, happenings, hotel information, fun things to do in the area......Time saver! Wedding Planning Website.
More from Real Brides: Helpful Hints and Tips.
Wedding Day Check List: FREE Wedding Day Check List Download.
Question? Who Pays for What?