It’s kind of crazy isn’t it? As many couples embark on a new life as husband and wife, they are likely to need money for all sorts of things, including a down payment on a home. Why then, would they choose to spend thousands of dollars on a lavish wedding? In the old days, the father of the bride was responsible for the brunt of the financial burden generated by the “big day.” Lately, more young couples are paying for their own weddings and according to a Reuters report, the average cost is around $27,000*. The Reuters estimate includes the invitations, wedding gown, engagement ring, wedding planner, musical entertainment, rehearsal dinner, reception, florist, photographer, videographer, limousine, plus venues for the ceremony and the reception. Of course this does not include the bride’s “going away” outfit, honeymoon trousseau or the honeymoon itself.
*In larger metro areas such as New York and San Francisco, the findings revealed that the average wedding costs over 65 grand!
Whether your personal situation demands it or you’d just prefer to spend money on something a bit more concrete such as a home purchase, there are loads of ways to reduce wedding expenses. Here are a few suggestions worth considering:
According to the financial website dailyfinance.com, most American brides spend around $1,100 on their wedding dress. That is not surprising considering that aside from college graduation, snagging their first real job, or childbirth, most women view their wedding as “the biggest day” of their lives. Surely even wedding cynics would agree that the bride is always the star of the show. However, who’s to say the star can’t do a little shopping around for that gown? Haven’t several film stars strolled down the red carpet in borrowed or previously worn “vintage” designs?
Alternatives to the traditional bridal boutique purchase include, purchasing one second hand, having one made, or tracking down a suitable gown in another department. The perfect gown could be lurking in the junior department or better women’s wear, among the prom dresses and ball gowns for a much more affordable price. How about the wedding day tradition of “something borrowed?” A relative or friend may have the perfect dress stowed away in the attic. In the interest of sustainability, why not recycle it and let it see “center stage” one more time?
This is where quite a bit of the wedding budget goes. In planning the ceremony and reception, try to have them in just one spot. This alone will save on time and transportation – so forget about the limo or horse-drawn carriage to the reception hall. Instead, stay put and laugh all the way to the bank. Most churches have large banquet halls for such occasions and others may have nice outdoor spaces that could accommodate a reception. Also, members of the clergy and others who officiate weddings are usually happy to conduct the ceremony wherever the couple chooses. Of course anyone choosing an outdoor venue must always have a “Plan B” just in case the weather does not cooperate.
If the bride has her heart set on out of season blossoms, like gardenias in February, someone will be paying around triple for their heavenly scent. When considering the floral arrangements, choose flowers that are in-season, limit the selection to just one or two varieties, and use as much natural greenery as possible. Another consideration is to decorate with non-floral choices. Depending on the time of year or wedding theme, items such as these could be appropriate: pumpkins, apples, citrus fruits, pineapples, paper lanterns, Christmas balls, Easter eggs, Mardi Gras masks, balloons, or seashells. In many cultures, certain such things are associated with health, happiness, and prosperity for the newlyweds. Saving on floral arrangements that are so temporary anyway, will also allow the couple to exercise their creativity.
Food and Drink
Rather that having everything catered, it could be possible to fill-in a few gaps with special family favorites. Aunt Helen may be honored to contribute 30 dozen cheese straws, Uncle Henry too, could be over the moon about manning a carving station with his famous smoked ham. Give it some thought, before signing on 100% with a catering company. Shop around for the wedding cake as well. These days, many couples are going the cupcake route; it’s fun, easy, and your best friend may be willing to bake and freeze as many as you need. You can always hire a pro to work a little magic with a pastry bag and no one will be the wiser!
For beverages, skip the open bar and instead offer beer, wine, water, tea and soda. One upscale cocktail could be on hand, punch bowl style, rather that hiring a bartender to mix each drink individually.
Although “DJ” doesn’t exactly have a romantic ring to it, the money saved on hiring just one individual to handle the music for the reception rather than a 5-piece band is substantial. The beauty of having a disc jockey allows the couple to celebrate to the original renditions of their favorite tunes. What band would be able to truly replicate classics by the likes of Rihanna, Kelly, Celine, Whitney, Barry, Justin, or Frank? Exactly!
So now, the wheels should be turning and perhaps it has become evident that saving money on the big day only takes a wee bit of imagination and know-how. As the to-do list is created, always consider friends and family who possess special talents. For most, filling in as the official photographer or wedding planner would be an honor and maybe their gift to the new couple!