Weddings are expensive. We came up with a few tips to help you have the wedding of your dreams without going into debt.
Photo by Robyn Pizzo Photography
Weddings can be expensive, we definitely understand that. Your wedding will probably be the biggest party you’ve ever hosted. You want to throw the most memorable party, but also not go into debt during the process. We highly recommend keeping your budget in check using a shared spreadsheet to prepare for unexpected costs and ensure you can make meaningful cuts in the event you do.
Step 1: Determine Your Bottom Dollar
Take into account all the places you will get the money from:
1. You and/or your fiancé’s individual savings
Take a look at your separate savings and decide how much you can put toward the wedding. This does not mean using ALL your savings toward the wedding. You will still need an emergency fund for possible unexpected expenses that may arise (not wedding-related) in the future. You want to always be prepared.
2. Amounts you can save from your current income
After calculating all your expenses month-to-month, see if you have any wiggle room or any money you can contribute to your wedding savings throughout your engagement period. Many couples will opt to have a longer engagement period so they have more time to contribute to their wedding fund, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this and is even smart in most cases.
3. Contributions from parents or other loved ones
Never assume parents or loved ones are willing and able to help cover the cost of a wedding, but it doesn’t hurt to ask for help. Your parents may even have been saving up themselves to assist with wedding-related costs.
Step 2: Track Your Spending With a Spreadsheet
Creating a wedding expense spreadsheet is easier than ever, and there are even several free downloadable templates you can use from Pinterest or other parts of the internet.
First determine each spending category you will encounter: venue, planner, decor, floral, catering, cake, etc. Then create a budgeted, modified, and actual column. The budgeted column will be what you are expecting to spend based on your research. The modified column your adjustments after receiving vendor estimates, and the actual will be what you will actually spend (you probably won’t be able to determine this amount until closer to your day when you have a better idea of your guest count).
Your venue will typically be the biggest expense, and a major factor in determining your guest count. Don’t forget to add a line for other expenses that you may forget during the planning process. This gives you an extra cushion to cover those unexpected expenses.
Pro Tip: Make sure your estimates from vendors include tax where applicable. Also, add a column for the estimated gratuity. SOME catering vendors will include the gratuity, while others do not. It is always a good idea to double-check whether this is already included in your total or not.
Step 3: Keep Your Guest Count in Check
Your guest count will ALWAYS drive your total spent on your wedding. It is helpful to create a first draft of a wedding guest list to determine if that amount of people is affordable. You can always make cuts where needed, and you certainly don’t have to invite everyone you have ever known to your wedding. Instead, focus on those people who are involved in your lives right now, and who you see being a part of your lives in the future.
More guests equal more space, more decor, more food, more desserts, and the list goes on and on. Additionally, there will sometimes be an uncharge for an additional amount of people. We also don’t recommend coming up with an A list and a B list. It is much easier (and hurts fewer feelings) when there is one solid list.
Step 4: Hire an Experienced Event Planner
A wedding planner is not always the perfect fit for everyone but can be very useful when finding ways to save you money. During our first meeting, we will typically ask if there is a certain budget you are looking to stay within so we can help keep you on the right track. We deal with the same local vendors month after month, we know the prices of things and can negotiate prices for you. We can also offer you options, or great alternatives if your ideas end up going over budget.
We not only save you time, but we save you money as well. Let us do all the research for you and deliver a report back with pricing and availability. We can help you save money by using fewer vendors, but getting the same result you want. For example, most caters will charge a cake-cutting fee. We will cut your cake at no additional fee. By using Bluegrass Event Planning, specifically, we can cut your costs on floral. We offer fresh floral at great prices by sourcing our floral from local wholesale vendors. You’d be surprised at how cost-efficient fresh floral is versus silk floral. We can also help you keep your budget in check.
Find Ways to Save
Over budget? Here are some ways to decrease your spending, but still make a positive impact.
Think about your venue: finding raw spaces like barns and backyards may seem like a steal, but you end up spending a lot to make them beautiful. Consider everything included in the wedding package, and think about things you may need to bring in (like tables, chairs, tents, decor, linens, etc). These expenses can add up quickly.
Go outside of peak season: some venues have a flat cost throughout the year, while others have peak-season or day pricing. Consider having a wedding outside of peak wedding season, or even having a Friday or Sunday wedding. This can make your wedding more unique to you all, and you can even incorporate fun ideas (like having brunch at your wedding on a Sunday afternoon!).
Host the ceremony and reception in the same place: depending on where you hold your ceremony and reception this can save you on transportation costs. Also, some of your ceremony decor could double as reception decor since it would make a seamless transition to move your pieces from one area to the next. You could also save on venue costs if you have to pay for your ceremony venue and reception venue.
Use a DJ instead of a band: Many brides are very decisive about whether they want to use a DJ or a band. You know your crowd better than anyone, and you can decide if a band is important to you and your guests. Bands do tend to be significantly more expensive than a DJ, and if they are from a different city will charge travel fees, and sometimes even lodging fees depending on how far they have to travel. If you insist on having a band, consider using a local one.
Order and address all your own paper items: Using local vendors is definitely ideal, but can be costly. Technology (like Canva) allows you to design your own invitations to send for print. Also, websites like Zazzle.com run awesome monthly sales (like 50% off invitations) where you can customize and use their templates. Addressing your own invitations also can save you a ton of money. A Calligrapher is expensive because addressing invitations is so time-consuming. Consider addressing your own invitations, or find a website (like Zazzle) that will allow you to print your guests’ addresses right on the envelope.