The road between engagement and “I do” is paved with as much effort and expense as your time and budget allow. The average cost for a wedding is up to a staggering $30,000. But there are ways for couples to save some money. Jill & Brian Blume met through an online dating site and were recently married. They saved money by handling a few details on their own.
“We’ve got a mortgage, we have student loans, so staying on budget is very important to us. We had to get creative on how to do that, but we made it work,” said Jill. Brian adds, “While we want a nice wedding, we also want a nice life, so finding that middle ground is important.”
Taking care of simpler chores like invitations and decorations saved them thousands of dollars. “He works in web design and I’m an elementary teacher," said Jill. "So he’s got the graphic designer part of it. I’ve got the crafty side of it. So it ended up being a very artistic wedding with some very unique design elements, things that our guests have probably never seen before.”
Angie Hicks, founder of Angie’s List , suggests looking into a qualified wedding planner. “A wedding planner may actually make sense especially if you’re not finding yourself to be highly organized because it is really important. It’s a big event. Also a wedding planner can come in handy when you are reading through contracts. They might end up saving you money because they know how these contracts are supposed to read and they might catch things you could miss."
It's advice Jill and Brian took to heart. “You are trusting someone with one of the biggest days of your life and to know we can trust her, it’s a good feeling. I’ve been to enough weddings and seen enough of brides literally running around in their wedding dress freaking out directing traffic an hour before their wedding and I didn’t want that,” said Jill.
Here are a few more money-saving tips from wedding planner Marie Frey. "They can save money using a Friday or a Sunday as their wedding day. The venues typically charge less on those particular days. They can cut back on their guest list. Each guest that they invite is going to have a dollar amount associated with them so if they can cut back on that, that’s a big help. And then sometimes just having a smaller bridal party that can help them also.”
Angie’s List: Budget-friendly wedding tips
- Guest list: If you haven’t seen someone, even a relative, in more than a year, consider whether you must extend an invitation. At $100 a person, taking 10 guests off the list saves $1,000.
- Wedding date: Pick a day other than Saturday. For example, Friday or Sunday food and beverage minimums are considerably less. If planning a destination wedding, consider marrying on a Wednesday or Thursday.
- Venue: Have the wedding at a location that has a caterer, chairs, tables, silverware, glassware and table linens. If you rent a space and have to bring in everything, it can add up quickly.
- Wedding dress: Consignment boutiques and department stores may offer deeply discounted dresses. Don’t be afraid to ask to see samples that have been in inventory for a long time. If you find one you like, ask for the best price.
- Men’s outfits: Forgo tuxedos in favor of similarly colored suits or themed outfits.
- Favors: They’re not necessary, and in most cases are tossed out at the end of the night.
- Flowers: Pick flowers that are in season with your wedding. Choose blooms that are open and fuller; this will cut down on the amount needed. Re-use ceremony flowers at the reception. Large dramatic centerpieces can cost $500 or more; consider varying centerpieces, such as florals for a third of the tables, candles for another third and a smaller combination of flowers and candles for those remaining.
- Cake. Wedding cakes can range from multi-tiered fantasy confections to iced Styrofoam imposters that look great but save money when guests are served less-pricier slices out of the reception hall kitchen. Cupcakes are a popular option, as well, and can be arranged in towers.
- Food & drink: Provide one main entrée rather than multiple choices. Offer two or three hors d’oeuvres, rather than five or seven. Offer a plated meal rather than a buffet, which can cost more per person because the caterer may fear running out of food. Provide beer kegs rather than individual bottles. A $350 keg provides about 160 glasses, compared to $815 for 160 bottles.
- Go with a pro. Consider hiring a professional wedding planner. They typically know the best professionals for the budget and will negotiate discounts or complimentary upgrades.
Angie’s List Tips: How to hire a wedding planner
Whether a wedding is planned to be a modest ceremony or a big-budget blow-out, a professional planner’s main job is to sweat the small stuff so you and your family don't have to.
- How soon? Consider hiring a wedding planner at least nine months to a year before the big day.
- How much? There
- are planners who cater to couples on all budgets in needs of various services. Most prices start around $1,000. Be aware that fees can vary greatly, from a percentage of the total wedding cost, to an hourly rate, to “day-of” or “month-of” fees. Also, expect that after your first planning session, you’ll be asked to meet again at crucial points, such as for purchase and approval times, the rehearsal and, of course, the wedding day.
There are a lot of things you need to do before the big day arrives. Check out the Angie’s List 12 month wedding checklist .