I recently found an article that discussed three tips for cutting wedding costs: replace the photographer with disposable cameras and photos from guests, forget about hiring a DJ and use an iPod, and don’t buy a wedding dress. Well, sure, if you remove (admittedly) three of the largest expenses then your wedding is obviously going to become quite a bit cheaper.
In my opinion, you just shouldn’t. You will be selling your special day short. You won’t have polished images to look back on 40 years down the road. You won’t have music at the reception that seamlessly changes based on the mood and need of the crowd. You won’t have a dress that feels like YOURS and all the magic that comes with that. I could continue on and on rebutting what the article mentioned advises, but that’s not helpful to anyone. Instead I'll explain ways to manage a smaller budget but still find ways you can have everything you need to make your day feel complete. I’ll even throw in some of my favorite wedding photos to make the information a little easier to digest.
The best piece of advice is to be creative. I’m not going to lie and say that working with a minimal budget is going to be easy. I’m just going to say that it is possible, but you may need to be a little resourceful to make it work. Maybe you host a later reception and serve hors d’eourves with a limited drink selection in order to save on food and drink costs. Maybe you go scouting one day and find the most charming little farm, and when you talk to the owners of the property they agree to rent it out to you for a steal. Maybe you opt for candles and feathers saving on the cost of flowers or you do a sundae bar in lieu of a wedding cake for dessert. However it is done, there are constantly opportunities throughout the planning process to save money just by thinking of alternatives.
Okay, with this talk about being “creative”, this is the part where I should share my dirty little secret. I didn’t pay a penny for photography on my wedding day. Before you start shouting “hypocrite", let me explain. When I started looking at wedding photography I realized that I had a dilemma. The photographers that I loved were way out of my price range, and the people I could afford had work that just wasn’t appealing to me. So how did we creatively get engagement and wedding photography that we absolutely loved? We worked for it. My husband and I spent several weekends painting, landscaping, and doing other odd-jobs at our photographer’s home, and in return we received beautiful photos that we still cherish. Now I’m not advising that this works for everyone, but if you can find someone in need of services you can provide then it can be a nice match. Oh, and if someone out there is willing to come clean my house weekly; I will happily photograph your wedding in exchange.
If you’re on a budget then being flexible can really help with costs. Friday or Sunday weddings tend to be less expensive than Saturday weddings. It’s possible to book transportation at a large discount if you’re willing to use their services around their schedule. Be upfront and tell your vendors what you’re looking to spend for their services and ask them to build you a custom package. Most are more than willing to adjust coverage time or replace offerings with more inexpensive options, and you may be surprised with what their response is. Be willing to cut unnecessary items or change things as long as in the end you’re still getting what you want at the end of the day.
Another thing to keep in mind when you’re planning is going to be the total costs involved, and don’t be afraid to ask questions and really look at your options. You may find a beautiful church that has a really low rental fee, and then you might discover that you’re required to pay an expensive fee for their officiant, organist, and other services that would maybe be more budget-friendly if you were allowed to hire your own. When searching for a reception venue find out if outside food or beverages are allowed, and if they aren’t, then look at the cost of their on-site catering and possible other rentals like dinnerware or table cloths. By considering these extras you are able to get an idea for the true expenses which will allow you to make a more informed decision; and choose a more cost-efficient option.
What it really comes down to is to make every decision deliberately while being aware of every possibility, even the ones outside the box. By protecting and wisely spending every dollar of your budget you are then able to look back knowing that you planned and paid for the best wedding possible.