Ways to Cut Costs When Planning a Wedding Yourself
Are you planning a wedding and doing it on your own without the help of a wedding planner? Wedding planners can be great - they not only help you plan your wedding, but can get a lot of the work done for you, and they have valuable connections within the wedding industry. However, because their jobs are so extensive, they can be pricey, which means that not everyone can afford to hire a professional. If you're planning a wedding on your own, and doing it on a budget, you might consider some of the following ideas that could save you money.
Recruit friends to help with your wedding plans
If you're planning your wedding on your own without the help of a professional, consider recruiting help from friends, especially the wedding party. When you ask a friend to be a bridesmaid or groomsman, it is implied that they will be there to help you with whatever you need, but if you need a lot of help, tell them that from the beginning. Ask if they would be willing to do specific tasks for you and be available if and when you need them (within reason of course). You might also consider asking other friends, as well as family members to help out. Many people would be happy to help a good friend plan their special day, and honored to be asked not only for help but ideas as well.
See if you can cash in some favors with friends
If you have good friends who have careers related to the wedding industry - make-up artists, hair stylists, photographers, bakers, florists, etc. - see if you can work out a deal with them. You can't always expect a friend to do things for free or even at a really reduced price - after all, they do have to make a living - but there are some friends who would likely be willing to either give you great deals or lend you their services for free as their wedding gift to you.
For example, if you have a friend who does hair and make-up, see if he or she will come to your "base of operations" (wherever you're getting ready for the wedding) the morning of the wedding and do your hair and make-up, and maybe even do the same for your attendants. Not only does it save you the cost of an expensive professional, it saves the travel time for you, which can be a huge source of stress the day of the wedding.
Get creative to save money on your wedding
Are you creative? If you are, or you have friends who are, you could save a ton of money on things like flowers, centerpieces and guest favors. Real flowers are the preference of most brides, but have you considered artificial flowers? I know the very thought makes some people cringe, but there are some truly beautiful real-looking artificial flowers out there. Take the time to look in a craft or hobby store like Michael's where they have a large selection of artificial flowers and there's usually someone around who could help and maybe even make suggestions for the bouquets. Flowers are expensive and they die quickly, but an artificial bouquet is something you and your attendants can have forever as a lovely keepsake from your wedding.
When my brother and sister-in-law got married, we made the bouquets
ourselves out of artificial pink and white roses, tied together with
ribbon, with a sparkly butterfly accent adorning the bouquet for each of
the bridesmaids, as well as two bouquets for the bride - one for her to
keep and one to use in the bouquet toss at the reception. We also made
the flower girl's basket and filled it with artificial rose petals.
Four years later, I still have my bouquet in a place of honor in my
living room and my sister-in-law has hers with her framed wedding
Have a brainstorming session with your friends to come up with ideas for guest favors and centerpieces. See if anyone has a creative talent that could be turned into creating beautiful, inexpensive centerpieces, or unique and memorable favors. You could search online for ideas - there are brides who blog and write articles about how they did their weddings for cheap, along with sites that list ideas for homemade wedding favors. You could also try sites where you can buy wedding favors and see if they spark some ideas for things you can duplicate and make yourself for less money.
Save money on the invitations
Invitations are an important part of any wedding, and you want them to look nice, but they can cost a small fortune. The truth is, many people just throw them out anyway, so with that in mind, why not try to save money on invitations by choosing inexpensive ones or making them yourself. You can buy kits at stationary stores, or computer software programs to make them and print them yourself. Handmade invitations are a great idea for smaller weddings; if you've recruited friends who are willing to do anything for you to help with your wedding, see if they would help you create invitations. You can make an example to show them what you want, then have them working on the others, addressing envelopes, etc. This sounds like a really tedious task, but the money it saves is worth the effort. You could even make a night of it and invite your whole wedding party over, have drinks and snacks, listen to music, and have a reward at the end, like a movie or dinner out. The more people you have working on them, the less work for each individual person, and the faster it goes.
To use another personal example, for my brother and sister-in-law's wedding, they had beautiful, inexpensive invitations and one of the bridesmaids and I addressed and stamped all the envelopes, had a few glasses of wine, blasted some music, talked and laughed and we had so much fun it didn't really seem like work. We also broke up the time by taking short breaks to give one of the groomsmen dancing lessons in my brother's kitchen.
Books about planning a wedding on a budget
Have a small wedding party
Having a large wedding party can be a lot of fun, but it can also add to your expenses (not to mention your stress levels if you have to keep track of everyone). If you're paying for all your wedding party's expenses, costs can include flowers (bouquets and boutonnieres), dress and tux costs, hair and makeup, bridal party gifts, and transportation (think of the difference in cost between a limo for a few people or a huge bus or Hummer for an large wedding party - the cost is often as enormous as the vehicle). Having a smaller wedding party can reduce costs in all these areas. Also, many wedding party members these days pay for their own outfits, so if you want to cut costs further, let your wedding party know from the beginning that they will be expected to pay for their own dresses or tuxes.
If you have a lot of friends and feel bad about not including them in the actual wedding party, you could still include them in some way by asking them if they would like to greet guests as they arrive, do a reading at the wedding, or be a co-MC at the reception. There are many ways to involve people that don't need to cost you extra money.
Cutting costs at the wedding ceremony
The ceremony is usually the shortest part of the wedding (depending on your religious and ethnic backgrounds). If you want a very small, private ceremony with only family and your closest friends, you could cut a lot of the ceremony costs and then have a large reception, which you can spend more on, or put the money toward the honeymoon. For example, if you decided to be married by a justice of the peace, you could eliminate the need for flowers, a ring bearer, flower girl, site decorations, etc. Even if you were married in a church, you could still cut many of these costs. A lot of people these days want the actual wedding ceremony to be a private affair, whether they believe that the ceremony should only be for family, or they're uncomfortable with the idea of hundreds of eyes watching them, or they simply want to cut costs.
An important point to consider when planning your wedding
However and wherever you decide to cut costs, remember: yes, your wedding is a very important day, but it is only one day of your lives together. Do you want to start off your lives together by going into debt, which can make your special day not-so-special when you're paying it off for the next several years? Keep in mind that if you're just starting out, there are still future costs to consider - homes, maybe children, vacations, retirement, among many other things. Your special day can still be special and beautiful and not cause you to go into debt.
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