5 Simple and Creative Ways to Keep Your Wedding Under $10K: Tips and Pictures
Decide What's Important to YOU
Like so many women, I had an image of what I wanted my wedding to be like. I also had an image of what I wanted my bank account to look like after the wedding was done (not empty). I wasn't sure if we could pull it off, but looking back, I had everything I wanted and more. The beauty of it was, many of the things that we did to save money actually made the wedding much more special and personal. I hope the ideas below will help you do the same.
Obviously my values will come through in my suggestions - to be honest, they probably won't appeal to someone who wants a very fancy wedding. But I imagine that if you're trying to figure out ways to have a wedding under $10K, you have probably already let go of the idea of having a personal attendant for each guest.
#1: Fire the DJ
Better yet, don't hire him in the first place. All you have to do is rent speakers and hook up your ipod. You can put someone in charge of pressing play for the ceremony music, then for the walking out music, to start the cocktail hour, and to start the dancing. You can also get a microphone along with the speakers (all part of the same rental) and use it for your ceremony and toasts, if needed.
For the music itself, this is one of those areas where I think being forced to find ways to save money ended up making our wedding more fun and more special to us. My husband took on the job of creating the perfect play lists for the cocktail hour and dinner and for dancing.
Tips for making your own play list:
- For dancing, you have to front load with the best, high energy dance songs.
- You also want to mix in a number of songs from the 1950s and 1960s if you will have any older guests - the family members tend to dance earlier so get them on the floor with songs they know, then mix in newer songs. It is a blast to see your great aunt getting down with your best friend from college to "Monie Monie" and it makes everyone feel like they belong.
Cost savings: $300ish to rent speakers versus easily over $1,000 on a professional DJ.
#2: A Cake is a Cake is a Cake
If you are trying to keep your wedding under $10K, do not buy a "wedding" cake. It mystifies me how much money bakeries are willing to charge (and people are willing to pay) for the exact same cake, just dressed up all fancy. Bakeries use the exact same cake for their wedding cakes and their regular cakes. And you don't have to worry about transporting the tiered cake, or some drunkle (drunk uncle) knocking over the cake before it's time to cut it. We bought the biggest circular cakes that our favorite local bakery had, and had a family friend with an artistic eye arrange some flowers on top of it. It turned out gorgeous, and was at least a third of the price.
Cost savings: depends on quantities, but generally a regular cake will cost around $2-3 a slice, while a wedding cake will be closer to $6 or more. So for a 150 person wedding, you are probably saving at least $500.
#3: Do Your Own Flowers
Professional flowers are another huge expense. This one also blows my mind, because the flowers themselves are really what is beautiful. Yes, a nice arrangement makes it look extra nice, but you can do it yourself, or even better, you probably have a friend or family member who has an artistic eye. Enlist their help! People generally like to feel involved, and there are lots of helpful on-line instructions for arranging flowers, as well as books you can check out from the library, or books and dvd guides you can buy (if you could go in on something like this with other friends having weddings in the same year, that could definitely make it worth the price, especially if you don't have friends who already know how to work with flowers).
There are a number of logistics to deal with for flowers - here are the basics:
- Buy them wholesale from a florist. I got married in a relatively small town and there were still multiple options. Pick a few simple flowers that look great together. We also got rose petals that were surprisingly inexpensive and were great for the flower girls. Friends can arrange them in vases right at the wedding site ideally, and then put them out on tables and where ever else you want them.
- For the vases or other holders, you can get really cheap glassware at IKEA. We sent home arrangements with people who wanted them, and they got a complementary vase to go with it! We also borrowed large vases from friends to use for the larger arrangements.
- For the corsages and other flowers for people to wear - it's really not that hard to do it yourself. We were again lucky enough to have a family friend who was willing to do this. As I mentioned above, there are lots of great online resources to walk you through this, or books and dvd guides to check out from the library or buy.
Cost savings: Again, depends on quantities, but professional flowers are incredibly expensive. I think you can count on saving at least $1,000 if not much more.
#4: Beer and Wine are Just Fine
This was a hard one for us at first, but we ended up getting married at a county park that only allowed beer and wine, so we were forced into this choice. We had always had an image of having a great open bar for all our friends, but honestly, it was a huge blessing that we were forced to limit our options. Everyone had a fantastic time and nobody missed the open bar at all. Cost-wise, it was huge. Not only do you save on the alcohol itself, but you also save on costs of bartenders. We still had one bartender (who came with the caterer) to pour beer and wine for guests, but we were also able to put wine bottles out on the tables, and beer in tubs. We invested in a few nice looking tubs that we kept as wedding gifts to ourselves, and they worked very well for nice presentation of the beer, so it didn't just feel like we were tailgating.
There are so many great beers and wines, and you can get them at great wholesale prices. Costco or other warehouse stores are a great place to start. Tubs are pretty easy to find anywhere - online you may be able to find bigger savings if you keep an eye out for sales. Personally, I think the metal ones look a lot nicer than the plastic ones, and you can keep them for yourselves, or give them away as thank you gifts to people who helped.
Cost savings: also depends on quantities, but an open bar can get incredibly expensive. I would honestly say you will save at least $1,000, if not much more.
Do you think it's ok to have a wedding without favors?
#5: Do Yourself a Favor - No Favors
This one was the hardest for me to give up, but I am really glad we did. No one seemed to notice, and the thing that pushed me over the edge was the fact that we had an after-party at a bar, so it wasn't going to make logistical sense to give people something they were going to have to keep track of. And we had plenty of beer, wine, and cake, so it didn't really make sense to give them another treat to eat. Along with favors, I would also recommend forgoing the cameras on tables - I don't know anyone who got memorable photos from them, and most got lost or thrown away. There's also the environmental argument that you don't need to provide people with more "stuff" that may just get lost or thrown away.
Cost savings: It's hard to think of a favor that would run less than $3 a person, so for a 150 person wedding, you're saving almost $500.
Conservative Estimate of Savings
Skip the D.J. (do your own music)
Buy a regular cake
Do your own flowers
No hard alcohol (beer/wine only)
Do What Works for You
These five choices saved us easily $4,000 (and probably much more) and many of them actually made our wedding nicer and more special than if we had paid 'full price.' A wedding is a wonderful time to get your family and friends involved, and some of my favorite moments from the wedding weekend were my friends from different circles laughing together as they put the flowers together, or our uncles, cousins, and friends from college all dancing together to the play list we had created.
I'd love to hear if others have ideas about how to save costs and still have a beautiful wedding!