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By Bobette Kyle
In some ways, getting married is like buying a house; it’s a major milestone in life and–almost always–there is initial sticker shock. (“It costs how much?!”) For those of you who cannot afford the average $26,000-ish wedding cost, some ideas for keeping both the dream and piggy bank intact are below (these are some of the 300+ tips from the Dream Wedding on a Dime; 7 Secrets for the Budget-Savvy Bride ebook):
Tip 1: Invite close friends and family; send announcements only to more distant acquaintances.
Guest count is the largest single determinant of wedding costs (more guests require more food, more drink, a larger space), so it stands to reason you will spend less if you invite fewer guests. Also, a more intimate wedding is more likely to live up to your dream, since you will be able to share more time with those most meaningful to you.
Tip 2: Find an inexpensive, unique wedding location.
Keeping the guest count intimate opens up many venue opportunities. Your parents’ or others’ back yards, walk-out basements, fields, barns, parks, unused buildings, and rooftops all become potential–and inexpensive–wedding venues. Also, when not constrained to often bland reception halls, you open the door for the venue itself to add character to your wedding. For some ideas to get your creative juices flowing, see 76 Unexpected Wedding Reception Venues.
Tip 3: Have the entrees catered and provide your own side dishes for a buffet.
You can do everything yourself, of course, but that can be much more stressful for you (i.e. good for the budget, not so good for the dream). If you hire a chef to prepare your favorite specialty, and assign side dishes to those willing to help, you get both a culinary treat and family & friends’ signature dishes. If you do opt for having the full menu catered, buffets generally cost less per person than sit down meals.
Tip 4: Hire a planner for a la carte services or day of coordination only.
A wedding planner plays a crucial role of taking the pressure off you so you can enjoy the day. If hiring a full service planner is out of your price range, there are other options as well. Identify the parts of your wedding most important to you and those with which you are least experienced. Then find one or more professionals who will focus on those elements.
Day of coordination is also critical. To do it all yourself is like both directing and starring in your own production. It’s doable, for sure, but it is a lot more work and likely to be less than dreamy. Your wedding day should be fun for you.
Tip 5: Look for products that will serve double or triple purposes.
Items that play two or more roles in your wedding, or those that will play a role in your everyday life afterward, often cost less than buying each separately. Some favors, for example, can also serve as centerpieces, desserts, or both. Buying shoes you will also use later is another example. Finally, if the groom wears a suit he can also wear to work, that’s one less purchase later.
Tip 6: Make liberal use of the Internet.
Product selection is larger and the potential for cost savings is greater online compared to what you can find locally (veils are a good example). Plus, there are numerous forums where you can discuss your plans with other brides-to-be. Finally, using Pinterest to build inspiration boards is much easier and more fruitful than cutting and pasting magazine photos.
There you have it! Six approaches to saving money on your wedding. I know yours will be wonderful! ~Bobette