Wednesday, February 10, 2016

How To Save Money and Still Have Your Perfect Wedding

Last Saturday, I did a free workshop at the Glenmore Inn Wedding and Event Open House on tips to save money and still have your perfect wedding. For the couples that couldn't make it or was late, here is the outline of my workshop! One thing that I want to say right away is these are not tips on negotiating with your vendors for a lower rate. If so, the workshop would be titled: "How to Make Your Vendors Hate You."

chicago wedding

1.      Plan your wedding early.
Engagements are usually around 12 months. The reason for this is planning a wedding takes time and money. You want to give yourself time to plan and save and not stress yourself out.

Budgeting: If you plan your wedding early, it gives you time to budget and save along the way. Often couples throw out a number as their wedding budget without knowing how much everything is. One couple decided on a wedding budget and after factoring the reception costs, learned they only have $3000.00 for everything else for their wedding. If you plan early enough and find yourself in the same position, you might still have lots of months to save for your wedding.

Last Minute Costs: Planning your wedding early also prevents from hefty last minute costs, such as booking an overbooked vendor or rush shipping costs on wedding decor. Word of caution to all my clients and readers: Always plan your wedding within your means, try not to go into debt for your wedding.

Timeline: Create a timeline for your wedding as soon as possible. This will give you a better idea of what you need or want for your wedding. It also helps your vendors understand what you need and what quote to provide you for services.

2.      Be Flexible.
The more open and flexible you are with all things related to your wedding, the more savings are open to you.

Wedding Months: Having your wedding during low season (November to May) will save you tons of money for everything. Reception venues are generally not as busy (except for Christmas) and wanting to fill their spaces. Vendors are usually more free during these months and may even have low season pricing.

Days of the week: If you are set on having a spring or summer wedding, consider having your wedding on Sunday or Monday if it is a long weekend. For the same reasons, the venue wouldn’t mind filling these days that would normally be an empty room.

pastel reception

3.      Consider What You Really Need
It is your wedding and you want it all and you want the best of the best. This all comes at a price. With some smart planning, you can have most of what you want, within your budget.

Photography: You can get your dream photographer for your wedding but consider a photography package for 7 hours instead of an 11 hour package. These couple can be significantly different in costs. If you plan out your wedding day through a timeline, you may find that 7 hours is really all you need. If it isn’t, you can make adjustments to your timeline, or add a couple of hours a la carte.

Transportation: A limo might not be necessary if you have a small wedding party; only have one venue for your wedding; and everyone would rather drive. If this isn’t something you absolutely want, you can put this cost towards something else.

Decor: Wanting a specific shade of teal for your chair covers or table cloths also mean big bucks. I'm not asking you to settle but if you are flexible to a shade of teal that is not quite the same shade as your bridesmaid's dress sash, you will save some money in the long run.

vintage plates

4.      Be prepared to do some things by yourself (DIY)
Likely you will have some skills or talents that can be transferred to wedding planning. Go with what you are comfortable and hopefully really good at. Then, tackle things that are interesting to you and make an attempt at it. The very worst thing that can happen is having to hire a professional after your attempt failed. Just don’t leave it too late.

Wedding Stationary – If you are savvy with a computer or comfortable with ordering your wedding invitations online through a supplier, just do it. Many online companies produce nice wedding invitations. They don’t necessarily look handmade or worse, cheap looking.

Décor – Centerpieces are often the things that brides like to and can do on their own. It is a little bit of hassle with the transportation, set up and take down of them but it is manageable. You will save a bit of money on this but don’t expect it to contribute tons to your photographer.

Makeup – If you have the skills, just do your own makeup. If Kate Middleton can, you can. Just because it is your wedding, it doesn’t mean you have to hire a professional for everything.

gummy favors

5.      Borrow and rent for your wedding.
If you had a friend that just got married and you can borrow their chair covers, do it and personalize it for your own wedding. If you can’t borrow, there are a ton of rental companies out there that will have what you want for a fraction of the cost.

Often it is cheaper to rent than to purchase them from IKEA for example. A perfect example of this is if you are hosting your own wedding or your catering company does not provide cutlery or plateware. You may think it is cheaper to purchase everything from IKEA and then you will own it afterwards right? But honestly, what are you going to do with a 100 plates afterwards? Sell it to someone with the same idea? This is a lot harder than you think. Another perk to renting is you will get better quality items and you can afford to get a side plate, salad plate, entree plate, and dessert plate. There is no way you would have purchased all of these plates right?

vintage plates

6. Barter and trade services.
If you are a graphic designer that can help your DJ redesign their business cards, just talk to them about potentially trading services or getting a discount. Bring this up only if you know your DJ is actually looking to redesign his business cards. Don't start the convo by dissing his cards. Another thing not to do is ask a vendor for a discount in exchange of telling all your friends about him/her. I've had this asked of me before and my answer was: You are going to be so happy with my services that you will WANT to tell your friends and family about me.

7.      Buy things at discounted rates
This point goes with the previous one about planning ahead. One of my clients had planned on a Fall themed wedding, so a year before her wedding, she collected and dried a banker sized box of fall leaves for her wedding. That is planning ahead. Another bride collected pine cones a year before her wedding to use as décor. If you are having a winter themed wedding, buy décor items on or after Boxing Day. Yeah, you will have to store it for a full year but at 50% off, it is worth it to have less closet space.

Trunk shows, bridal show, or consignment stores for your wedding gown. If you want a stunning gown at a reduced price, you will want to keep an eye out for these shows and maybe prepare to go there early to get first dibs.

Kijiji – The best rule of thumb for buying things for your wedding off kijiji is buying things that can be reused and not look worn out. The best thing to buy are vases. Just clean them off and personalize them.

floral print bridesmaids

8.      Mix real with fake
Flowers really make or break the wedding theme and wallet. If you want a lot of flowers at your wedding like Kim Kardashian’s flower wall, do this by mixing real with fake flowers. If it is a flower that your guests can touch, it should be real. If they can’t touch it like in a wedding arch, it can be fake. A lot of silk flowers look like the real thing.

For real flowers, go with what is in season and go with similar colors. If possible, go with big blooms like hydrangeas. You can build up a bigger bouquet with inexpensive flowers as fillers for your expensive ones.

pastel bouquets

9.      Illusions are everything
Change up your look! Change up your hairstyle for the reception! You can let it down or curl it for an easy and different look. Change up your accessories. Obviously, you might not wear your veil at your reception. Consider changing your jewelry too. Chose a “convertible” wedding dress that has a removable or pinnable train!

Big cake! Have some fake layers amongst your real cake. This is an easy way to create height. Place flowers in between layers to create height too.

10. Sell everything after your wedding.
This is your opportunity to make back some of the money you spent. This is a lot easier if you don't have emotional attachments to everything. Obviously, you can’t make back on the money you spent on vendors but things that you bought for your wedding or made can be resold. You never know who might want everything you had for your wedding. You can also sell your wedding gown online or on consignment. Try selling everything soon after your wedding. You want to make your items available and early enough for someone else's wedding.

bubble exit
Credit: The Weaver House

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