Smart Ways to Save Money on Your Wedding – So You're EnGAYged, A Gay Wedding Blog

I (and my better half) were reflecting on our wedding planning recently, specifically the budgeting aspect. It’s not part of the process that I really blogged about when we were planning, except for one of my first blogs where I talked about the particular challenge of budgeting for a wedding in New York City. what Bek and I were reflecting on was whether or not we felt that anything from our wedding felt missing, or inadequate, or “cheap”, because of any of our cost cutting measures. And we both agreed that we thought we had done a good job of balancing the splurges and the saves, while satisfying everything we wanted and that we thought would make our guests feel like they had had a really special experience.

Everyone, no matter the size of their budget, wants to get the most bang for their buck. Maybe most of you are already aware of some of these, but I still thought it might be useful. some of these things were stuff we hadn’t considered till we started talking to our vendors and really brainstorming together for ways to save money. so I put together some tips based on a few of the things we did to try to save as much as possible.

CATERING: Most people know that a buffet can cost you less than a plated dinner. But if you don’t want a buffet because you want your guests seated and served, there’s another way to save money: family-style! a big portion of the cost for catering comes from the rentals and servers, which is part of why plated dinners cost more – more dishes for courses, and more servers to get guests served quickly. But with family style, you need less rentals and less servers. And it also just costs less for food, too. so we ended up saving quite a bit of money by having dinner family-style. *Bonus: It’s fun! And get’s people talking more. Sharing food brings people together, kind of the point of the whole wedding thing, right? other than getting married…*

RENTALS: hopefully everyone knows you can save money if you arrange rentals yourself rather than let the caterer take care of it. so that’s a great option for those who can make that work for them. Our priorities were such that this option didn’t work for us. But, even if arranging your own rentals doesn’t work for you there are things you can do to save on rentals. If your caterer is a restaurant, or associated with a restaurant, ask them if it is any cheaper to use the restaurant’s stock of plates (or other dishware) instead of their rental stock – that alone saved us about $500 . other things you can do to save on rentals: if your ceremony and reception are in the same place ask the caterer if time allows for them to use the same chairs for the ceremony and the dinner, the price increase to have a slightly nicer-looking chair is less than the cost of the chepest chair+a chair cover, bigger tables means fewer tables so if space allows to sit larger groups you can save a bit, coloured linens cost more so if you’re heart is set on having your wedding colours as part of your dining then consider using other table accents for the colour and save money with the white linens, ask about having an outside source do the bar glassware (more on this in the bar section), and always check first to see what the venue has available – even if they don’t have everything, don’t assume you’ll need to rent everything, so be sure to take full inventory of what the venue can provide (right down to the coffee cups and salt and pepper shakers, cuz the littlest things add up when you’re renting).

FLOWERS/DECORATION: I know flowers are traditional and are so often an assumed part of the wedding, but I still urge people to consider going flowerless. yes, it’s greener and more ethical (though there are local and ethical flower options out there, they often cost more), but it’s also cheaper! And can be more practical. For myself, I loved that I had all the centrepieces, boutonnieres, arrangements, etc. ready to go and sitting in a box long before wedding day – I didn’t have to count on a delivery being on time, or having to do arrangements myself the day-of, or not knowing if they would look exactly the way I wanted. I did it myself, got exactly what I wanted, and saved money and stress (I realize for some doing it yourself is more stress, but when it came to having a destination wedding, the more control I had over what happened the better – even if it meant more work ahead of time). so consider non-flower alternatives like paper, feathers, arranged objects, etc. There are a million great ideas out there. If you do plan on doing flowers, there is still stuff you can do to save money. Obviously, if you or a friend/family member have the creative touch, then buying your flowers in bulk and doing it yourself saves you. But if that’s time or skills you don’t have, then work with your florist to cut the cost: use in-season flowers, consider minimalist arrangements, provide your own vases for centrepieces and arrangements (which you can find cheap at dollar stores, Ikea, or second-hand), consider flowering plants, and see if alternative arrangements like wreaths, boughs, or garland are more affordable. If you need to cut some costs, consider how many people really need flowers: does the whole wedding party and family need bouquets, corsages, and boutonierres? Maybe there are alternatives that can save a bit.

BAR: And open bar is going to cost you more than a limited bar, which is going to cost you more than a wine-and-beer bar, which is going to cost you more than a dry bar. we went the limited route and had “signature cocktails”, which seems pretty popular these days. But we didn’t want people to feel limited, so we specifically chose cocktails whose ingredients could be used for other drinks when combined with the non-alcoholic drinks available. so those who wanted our cocktails could have them, and those who didn’t actually had a decent selection of other drinks to be made. And we skipped the champagne for the toast (we just didn’t have a toast, it wasn’t a big deal for us. PLUS, that saves you money on the rentals to not have the champagne glasses). And did you know, there are services that JUST do bar? look around, because some of those services will do your bar service for less than the caterers. And if your caterers are good people to work with, they won’t have a problem with this. so don’t assume your bar and food need to come from the same place. OR you can buy the alcohol yourself and hire your own server, OR if you have a good caterer they can help arrange for you to buy the alcohol yourself and they serve it. That’s what we did – we had a great arrangement where we bought the alcohol, but they provided wine which meant that they had a licence to serve alcohol for the event and could serve our booze. so we used their bartender, and their bar supplies, and they provided all the non-alcoholic beverages, but we got to buy the booze and save a LOT of money. I think we saved about $3000 this way, seriously.

VENUE: We’ve all heard about how the day of the week can affect your cost (Saturday being the most expensive), but the truth is it can be hard to have a wedding on a day that isn’t Saturday. we considered other options, but ended up going with the Saturday. BUT we picked avenue where the price is the same – yes, they are actually out there. my biggest piece of advice, though, is look to unconventional venues. There are lots of places that have the space, and capability, to host a wedding but that typically don’t. Our was in a loft that was mainly used for commercial and fashion photography. they had weddings and special events there sometimes, so they were knowledgeable to work with, but that wasn’t their main function so their pricing was lower than the other lofts we looked at that were used just for special events and weddings. so consider alternative spaces: studios, libraries, stores (seriously – we almost had ours in a cool old bookstore that rented it’s space for special events, but it wasn’t big enough for us), piers, private galleries (often more affordable than the big ones or museums), schools, and warehouses. I actually read an article the other day about funeral homes hosting weddings, and cheaper that your average chapel or hall! we purposefully picked a place that required little decoration to achieve what we wanted. And we made a point of having everything in the same place, so that we saved on the cost of transporting people (buses are expensive!), and we could condense the whole thing into a shorter period of time.

Anyone else have tips for ways to save money? what are those things you’re doing/have done to keep on budget?

Image by Kelly Prizel Photography

Smart Ways to Save Money on Your Wedding – So You're EnGAYged, A Gay Wedding Blog


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