Weddings On A Dime

Just because you are on a tight budget doesn’t mean that your wedding design needs to be seriously compromised – planners can still plan stunning weddings on a budget.  One trend we’ve noticed is that couples are still planning spectacular weddings – but they are inviting fewer people.  Since food and beverage are typically the mostly costly elements to a wedding, this can mean significant savings.

More cost-saving tips

  • Plan a winter wedding or a wedding on a Friday night or Sunday brunch – you may get vendor discounts (you should definitely ask!) and food and beverage minimums may be lower.
  • Skip some of the stationery elements that are costly and wasteful for the environment.  This means: no favors (which are often left behind), no ceremony programs, perhaps a seating chart instead of escort cards, and you can even skip save-the-date cards.
  • If you have guests who love to drink, consider an open bar with only wine and beer, plus perhaps one delicious signature cocktail.
  • Have your ceremony and reception in the same venue.  Many places will not charge a ceremony fee (like a house of worship would) and you can save on the cost of limos. 
  • Choose flowers that are in season when considering your wedding colors and floral designs.  In-season flowers are much less expensive (and don’t have the environmental impact of those transported from around the world). 
  • Use lots and lots and lots of candles!
  • Cupcakes are cute and quite inexpensive – sometimes as low as $1.50 each, instead of the $3.50/slice standard minimum for wedding cakes.  Still want a cake cutting?  Order a small 9″ cake to cut!
  • If you have an amazingly articulate, eloquent friend or family member who you would trust to officiate your wedding ceremony, they can do so for $50 with a permit from the state.  This is opposed to Justices of the Peace who charge $150+ and rabbis, ministers and celebrants who are often $500 or more.
  • True DIYers can have fun with homemade centerpieces, handcrafted invitations and more fun DIY projects.
  • Finally, I can’t forget to remind you of two things: 1) if you’re really stressed about money, elope! and 2) hiring a wedding planner like me can save you 10-20% on services like catering, photography, floral design and more.

Don’t Skimp Here

Let me conclude by suggesting a few areas in which you should not cut corners in the interest of saving:

  • Photography!  You’ll regret it later if you do.
  • Music.  Affordable DJs are out there. The flow of the reception will be negatively affected by an iPod.
  • Your wardrobe.  It’s important that you feel 100% comfortable and beautiful in your wedding attire.

Bernadette Coveney Smith is the owner and founder of 14 Stories, the first firm in the U.S. to specialize in planning in legal weddings for same-sex couples. She is the author of Gay Wedding Confidential, The Lesbian Couple's Guide to Wedding Planning, and The Business of Gay Weddings.