Everyone wants so save money on their wedding, even if they’re rolling in the green stuff. Before you fret and get irrational in your budget moves (leaving out one of your best friends but inviting the other two), remember that, in the end, no one cares if you had a Champagne fountain or that a Lady GaGa impersonator hatched out of an egg. Your guests are there to celebrate your love. Here, some surefire budget tips that will help you save while still allowing you to have the wedding of your dreams.
Liquid Dreams. You don’t have to have a Dry wedding to save money; there are other ways to cut down on liquor costs. Instead of Top Shelf liquor (Grey Goose, etc.), go with second-tier brands. Your caterer will know the difference; after one martini your guests will not. Don’t serve Champagne until the toast, or skip it for cheaper Sparkling Wine. You can keep the bar open only during the cocktail hour, and you can also just serve beer and wine. Another tip: White wine is cheaper than red, so serve it first.
Let Them Eat Cake. Dessert courses can cost a fortune, and if you’re having a cake, that’s a perfectly acceptable substitute. Many guests will pick one or the other, so don’t sweat knocking it off your budget. A compromise is to set up a dessert station, which generally saves you money because people only grab the goodies if they’re hungry. Also, it’s a trick as old as your ex, but make your tiered cake small (those fancy layers are expensive), and have a sheet cake in the kitchen. The caterers will cut that one up and serve it to the guests.
Love in the Afternoon, or Morning, or Weeknight. The most expensive times to book halls or restaurants or pretty much anything is Friday and Saturday night. Depending on the style of your wedding, consider a breakfast, brunch, or lunch affair. You can also book a Sunday or weekday night at your favorite place for a much cheaper rate—good to know if you’re set on a site that’s booked on weekends. Remember, too, that guests drink less on weeknights and during the day. On the downside, your guest list might be shorter; some people won’t be able to attend on a workday, and some guests will have to leave early so they can make it to work the next day.
Meet and Greet. No one’s gonna complain if you serve a chicken and simple meat dish at your wedding (remember the vegetarians too). Filet Mignon and lobster are not required (hint: you can go with lobster rolls and filet for cocktail-hour appetizers). Also, talk to your caterer about a buffet dinner as opposed to a seated meal. In general, seated meals cost a lot more because guests are automatically served a certain amount of food, whether or not they plan on eating it. Every good caterer knows how to market the buffet to the guests’ appetite, and to your advantage.
* Favors are wonderful and fun, and expensive. They’re not required, so if you want to save money, feel free to pass. Also, consider giving a favor but leaving out the monogrammed matches. Better yet, slice up the cake, place it in boxes, and give that as a keepsake.
* Flowers. You can leave out extra blooms in your venue, and have the florist use plants, or utilize any adornments the site offers.
* Guests. Want to save a thousand bucks? Take 10 guests off your list. The average price of each guest is at least 100 dollars, so use that equation when planning the size of your affair.
* More cake. And speaking of cakes yet again, your wedding is either two guys or two girls, so you don’t have to get a groom’s cake and a traditional cake—you two broke with the tradition when you first kissed.
Photo credit: Peter Galbraith
David Toussaint is the author of the Gay Couple's Guide to Wedding Planning, Gay and Lesbian Weddings: Planning the Perfect Same-Sex Ceremony, and TOUSSAINT!.