Plan ahead and get organized! Planning your wedding can offer a great deal of stress and also a good amount of unnecessary costs. The biggest waste of money is made by careless mistakes and failure to make “the best decision for you.” What sort of careless mistakes? Well for one, not getting enough estimates and looking at enough providers. Why would you pay for a mediocre wedding cake or floral arrangement when you could have possibly paid $600 less through another baker or florist who possibly could have given you the same product or better? Couldn’t you use that extra $600 dollars for the shoes and veil you wanted? or Maybe to put in your savings? YES YOU COULD and yes you should!
You need to get estimates for every aspect of your wedding. From your venues, transportation, floral arrangements, invitations, photography, etc. For every one price-point you receive, look for two more to make sure you are not only getting the price you can afford but the best quality you can afford. Without estimates and computing budget sheets where you can compare your ‘luxury’ wedding to your ‘humble’ beginnings you run the risk of :A) Booking a venue you can’t afford in which you will each have to cut costs by reducing other expenses or cancel the venue, book somewhere cheaper, and eat the cancelation fees. B) You select floral arrangements and centerpieces too soon and find that they don’t live up to the quality you wanted or don’t match your theme.
Recruit your troops:
“Be all you can be”: One of the greatest Army slogans of all time was “Be all you can be” and that can not be expressed more when it comes to being the Bride and Groom. Be all you can be by knowing how much you can afford, understanding costs, learning about the inner-workings, and knowing your own strengths and limitations… push yourself but not over a cliff. Don’t compete with fellow brides or friends for the best wedding, make your aim about YOUR wedding. Pick a theme, budget, time, and location, and is ALL YOU.
“Army of One”: One of the most unsuccessful army slogans of all time, admitted by officials, because it contradicts the ideals of teamwork and the initial meaning was often taken out of context. But this slogan provides a valuable message. You are only one person and can not and should not do everything, neither should your mother-in-law, friend, or anyone else besides a trained professional. A wedding planner is trained and has experience in planning weddings and will still do a fair amount of delegating because she/he knows one person alone cannot put a wedding together but one can orchestrate it. Find out if the venue you are looking at has a wedding planner they consult with, the planner may come with reduced fees as a way to sell the venue as a “full package.”
“Army Strong”: The replacement slogan for the short-lived “Army of One” is currently “Army Strong.” If you are not going through a wedding planner for whatever reason, don’t just rely on a single person to do everything. Make a team and orchestrate them in a way where their talents shine. For example, a friend who does accounting for a living can help you make a budget, a friend who is the life of the party may have a network that will let you know when to book cheaper, if you have children maybe your friend who loves kids would be more than thrilled to watch your kids while you and your fashionista pal look at dresses. Overall, build your team together early enough to not overwhelm them with tasks but rather in a way that with each progression your team gets stronger and more connected to your goal.
Scheduling the day of the week wedding is crucial for several reasons, particularly budgeting and booking. When deciding on the day of the week, consider how flights are booked on travel websites, ever notice how flights on weekends costs more than on weekdays? Sometimes the difference is more than a few hundred dollars. The same is true for hotel rates for rooms and sometimes banquet halls. Find out from your venue provider is rates vary throughout the week just as they would throughout the various seasons. I’m not saying book your wedding on a Tuesday making it harder for the people you want to come to be there keep options open when creating budget lists to choose from. Additionally, it is possibly that your favorite venue is booked on weekends for the next year but is available for a weekday option at reduced rate.
For those attempting to cut overall costs, daytime weddings and receptions typically costs less, particularly when it comes to food. Weddings and receptions that fall during the evening and night usually require heavier foods as well as a need for decorations to bring “light” to the night. Daytime events also can cut down on decorations and clothing as daytime weddings can vary from formal to casual. Be warned though, daytime weddings can come with the risk of having a wedding booked after you. This would mean you and your guests would need to vacate by a schedule time. However, the added bonus, if you find out who the bride-to-be is, and find that you two have similar tastes and trying to stick to budget, decorations could be shared, further reducing costs.
Unless you’re having a small wedding, having a wedding and reception at the same location can have major benefits. Not only is it easy on guests to not have to figure out new locations but many hotels, clubs, and halls have reduced rates for booking both or timetables that reduce costs the longer you stay.Additionally, you could further save on stress and costs by not worrying about set-up and breakdown at two locations as opposed to one. Above photo courtesy of Kevin Weinstein.
When you are looking for your photographer, be sure to know in the contract that you will receive all the proofs. It will protect you from some photographers/businesses who hold onto the proofs as a way to make you buy packages to attain the pictures.
After your ceremony or honeymoon, ensure that you have a notepad or book at hand as you open your wedding gifts. You should write what the gift is and who it is from. Note: this is not to ‘cheapen’ anyone, you’re on a budget and we’re in a recession. Everyone at the wedding should receive a ‘Thank you’ card. But, I do believe in particular everyone who gave you a gift should get a HANDWRITTEN ‘Thank You’ card. It also ensures that if the day you finally get to use the new expresso machine from Uncle Bob, that if it doesn’t work or is damaged you could call him up and asked for the store he got it from to replace it for a working one. Thank You cards do not have to be boring either, the above photo displays a unique way to add commemorate your day and show gratitude.
When looking for all your accessories for your wedding, don’t get caught up in the illusion and break the bank. Figure out ways your can accessorize and save. When it comes to jewelry, stay simple and understated ‘real’ pieces and ‘costume’ if you’re going lavish. Spending a few mortgage payments on blinged-out jewelry for just one day does not make sense, if your mother has genuine diamonds that pair well with what you have, then borrow those to match the theme of your dress. However, if you’re going for Lady Ice for your wedding, costume jewelry can be a great substitute for ‘spending in excess’ even Paris Hilton has admitted she normally has bodyguards around her for red carpet appearances when she is wearing ‘real’ gems, and hers is actually stored in a bank vault because not only are the ‘real’ thing heavier but ‘it’s dangerous’ to wear your income around your neck.
Pick a theme but remember you’re marrying your spouse, not your colors or decor. The more time you have to plan, the more flexibility you have in terms of commitment while you narrow down your choices. But picking a theme to work with, helps you narrow down on what your ‘musts’ are and cut out unnecessary details. For example, if your wedding theme is based on cultural, religious, or familial expectations then work with a priest, pastor, cultural advisor, or knowledgeable family member to make sure you’re not overlooking important details or overwhelmed by aspects that could actually be let go. Traditionally bridesmaids have paid for their dresses. However, out of respect for your bridesmaids’ budgets, if you are wanting to fit them with lavish laces and designer duds, you should make their attire affordable either by purchasing it, assisting with costs, or giving them options. Talk to each bridesmaid privately, or have your Maid of Honor do so in order to get a price range that can be worked into everyone’s budget in order to select dresses for them that are pleasing to you. Another option is give your bridesmaids free range within boundaries; select colors, styles, and materials, and have the bridesmaids find their own dresses which they could use for another occasion. Solid and simple work best with the ‘free range’ option.
Weddings are costly, and like everything we purchase, the value comes with appreciation. Time and money go hand and hand, just like you and your spouse. Maybe this is the first big purchase you two are about to make, maybe not, but either way this purchase should be smart, cooperative, and a glimpse into your lives together. A ‘Dream Wedding’ is much like a sketch, it starts off with an idea, constructed of lines and imagination, but also foresight in having an overall image in your mind. It’s the chase, it’s the aim, it’s the continued pursuit even if you have to erase certain areas in order to get the picture ‘just right’. Stay tuned for more tips in the future and Best Wishes!