Many romantically-minded people like to think of their approaching wedding as the best day of their lives – and with such high expectations, it’s hardly surprising that they spare no expense in organizing the big day. As a result, the cost of weddings is at an all-time high, with more elaborate affairs running easily to tens of thousands of dollars.
While your wedding is without doubt one of the most memorable events in your life and should be planned with care, many modern couples dislike the thought of spending the early years of their marriage paying off the bill for what is effectively a one-day party. This has seen the rise of the frugal wedding movement, which has quickly gained currency among young couples just starting out in life and others who are perhaps getting married for the second time and hesitate to make a big fuss.
Fortunately, a frugal wedding can still be a stylish event, and once you’re forced to get creative about all the details, it can often be an even better opportunity to express the personality of the bride and groom. If you’re trying to plan a wedding on a budget, here are a few tips to help make your wedding frugal but fabulous…
First up, consider the venue: hotels and other specialized “event” venues are notoriously expensive, and there are often many hidden charges (ranging from linen rental to corkage fees) that drive up the cost still further. Instead, think outside the box and consider a beach, park or private garden – not only is there less of a fee (if any) to use these spaces, but you’ll save money on decorations, as a beautiful location won’t need much embellishment. (Just make sure you check the local liquor laws if you’re holding the reception outdoors as well – you don’t want the police making an unexpected appearance at the party!)
If you’re worried about the weather, try booking a small, family-run restaurant – these can frequently offer a more affordable and easily customized wedding experience. Also consider the timing of your event – many venues are less expensive during off-peak months or if you book for less popular times of day. Scheduling a morning or afternoon wedding also means that you won’t be expected to provide a full meal – a buffet of finger foods is more appropriate.
Bear in mind one of the most dramatic ways to cut costs at a wedding is to trim your guest list – each added attendee usually means added cost. However, if you don’t want to prune back the list too much, you can always take advantage of the numbers by asking guests to use their talents to contribute to the wedding in lieu of a gift. This is a particularly good option for modern couples who are already cohabiting and have most of the household goods they need.
For instance, if you have a relative who is a talented at baking, ask them to provide the wedding cake. Or if your friend is a keen amateur photographer seeking to build up a portfolio, put them in charge of taking the wedding photos. You can easily get all your guests involved by making the wedding meal a potluck buffet, and have each attendee contribute a dish – that way you’ll only have to provide the crockery and catering equipment, which you can often purchase or rent wholesale.
In terms of supplies for the wedding, the earlier you start planning the better – that way you’ll have time to shop the sales and pick up discounted items in bulk. This is particularly useful for decorations – you can find balloons, ribbons, candles and other trinkets in gold, silver and white in the post-Christmas sales, or wait until after Easter if your color scheme requires pastels. Choose flowers that are in season and available locally – these will generally be less expensive – or source fresh blooms from your own garden and enlist an arty friend to create some simple yet elegant arrangements. Once you have these basic supplies, unleash your creative side and come up with your own centerpieces and table settings – you’ll be amazed how little it can cost to devise a striking and totally unique look.
And what of the all-important wedding dress, which is a major expense for many brides? Again, if you start looking early, you may find the dress of your dreams heavily discounted in the sales. Alternately, buy a very plain dress and hire a dressmaker to customize it, or even to make a copy of a dress you love – this way you can get a bespoke look at a fraction of the price.
These are a few of our favorite tips for organizing a fantastic wedding on a limited budget – what are yours?
Domenica Goduto is a blogger and copywriter who specializes in writing about food, events, lifestyle and travel for a variety of clients, including Lockhart Catering.