Today, Bride Blogger Karla is sharing 9 tips for a budget-friendly wedding! She and her fiance Matthew are planning an August wedding at Al Ringling Mansion in Baraboo. They are planning a large wedding on a budget and Karla offers some great insight below.
As a new bride/groom-to-be, where do you start the planning (and budget) process when there are so many details to consider? I’m here to share my experience, and hopefully you can take away a few tips to help you save where it counts and spend where you need to.
Starting with the Guest Count
Because my family and friends are very important to me, I chose to start with the guest list. A lot of budget factors stem from guest count, from venues to meal prices, to tables and decor, so for me it made the most sense to ensure we had the space and budget to accommodate the people we really wanted to include in our special day. Guests lists can evolve as you plan but starting with a base number makes it easier to narrow down options and set priorities.
The Bridal Party
Next, my fiancé and I discussed our bridal party. There are many costs and commitments for both the couple and the members of the wedding party. Factor in the number of bouquets and boutonnieres, gifts for each person, and the coordination of all schedules. (The bigger the group, the harder it is to schedule anything!) Our bridal party was selected with all of these factors in mind, and we chose four bridesmaids and groomsmen standing up with us as it was a number we thought could be easily managed.
Since I was in both my sister and brother’s weddings recently, it was easy for me to see where the costs add up, the elements of weddings I love, and those I didn’t really care about. Look back on weddings you’ve been in or attended – What elements do you remember? Which elements did you love and which ones were you not so crazy about? This is where you can begin to look at your priorities as a couple. For us (and I think most people would agree) the priorities are good food, good music/entertainment, and everyone being comfortable.
I will start this part of the conversation by stating, this portion in particular will require a lot of research for couples as there are a lot of features and associated costs to consider. Since we had to pick a venue that would be available in August, that helped us narrowing down our choices. This is also where having priorities set in advance really helps! We knew we didn’t want a barn wedding, and since I love vintage styles, I wanted something unique, indoor, with character, and that could accommodate our guest list without taking up the majority of our budget.
Keep in mind that some venues charge extra to host the ceremony and reception so be sure to clarify that right away if you plan to have both in the same place. If not, then ask about transportation options and associated costs between two locations.
You’ll also need to consider the cost of renting items such as tables and chairs, linens, place settings, etc. These can be included in the price of the reserving the venue, can be an a la carte option to add to the base rate of reserving the space, or you may be required to rent your own setup from a third party and have them delivered to the venue. This can be true for food, alcohol, and cake-cutting service, some venues we spoke with offered this, while others would require us to provide our own through the caterer or another vendor.
Finding the Goldilocks Venue
The best advice I can offer when choosing a venue is to have your priorities set in advance, and do as much research as you can before choosing a venue, as this sets the tone of the whole day and most of your other design decisions. Read the contract provided by the venue thoroughly and compare it to your wish list. Add up the costs of any fees and costs that may be included. Also review their website for any additional details and read any reviews you can find (with a grain of salt, of course).
Your goldilocks venue is definitely out there! You just need to put in the time to find it, and it does take some time. We were very lucky to find a venue that offered us everything on our wish list for an exceptionally reasonable price, and because we picked a venue with a lot of character we have the bonus of saving on decor to dress it up. More on that below.
This is one of the biggest areas where couples can save money. Again, having priorities and doing your research are the strongest pieces of advice I can give when looking for decor. With the venue and the style of your wedding in mind, you can achieve a very elegant/quirky/chic/fun/glamorous look with some creative and simple design. A few tips I love to share with couples include the following:
Embrace the power of bargain shopping! I really can’t overstate this enough. Take advantage of Black Friday deals, or any other pre/post-holiday sales (think candy the day after Valentine’s Day or Halloween, ribbon for chair bows after the winter holidays, etc.). I have the good fortune of inheriting my mother’s great love and skill of bargain shopping, and it has definitely worked to my advantage in planning and budgeting for my dream wedding. I was lucky enough to find beautiful and simple table decor that fit our style (and my fiance loved!) with a huge Black Friday discount.
Keep it Simple
While decor is a great area to save on the budget, Pinterest and your own imagination can make it easy to go overboard with details too. I adore Pinterest and have used it to map out many design elements for my wedding, I also realize that it is a source for inspiration. I can take an image from Pinterest and simplify it or pull one specific element I like to fit our needs and design. Also keep in mind, you will have to do something with all the decor pieces you buy, whether that means gifting it to guests, reselling it, etc.!
OTHER COST-SAVING OPTIONS
This is another area where I have heard time and again that it’s easy to overspend and couples often regret the high price tag. I knew in the early stages of planning that I didn’t want to go over-the-top on decor or flowers, as it’s not something guests care all that much about when experiencing and remembering our big day, so we opted to not use flowers in the table decor at all and reserve flowers only for bouquets, boutonnieres, and corsages. Most of what I have said about other decor applies to shopping for flowers such as real wholesale flowers, fake wood or silk flowers, or hiring a florist. Do the research and think outside the box to fit your budget and your style.
This is another great area to follow the “keep it simple” advice as there are hidden costs not often considered in designing invitations. Paper and postage costs can add up very quickly so the fewer pieces of paper that can be used, the cheaper it will be. To save on both paper and postage, we opted to have our guests RSVP on our wedding website, where we also included details that may traditionally be included on the invitation to keep the paper down to a single card that still fits our design. This is also less paper for your guests to keep track of. Here is another opportunity to take advantage of great deals. I ordered our Save the Dates and invitations on VistaPrint for a total steal with a Cyber Monday deal.
I hope you can glean a few words of wisdom from this post when putting together your ideal wedding. I love finding ways to save, but I don’t love compromising on our priorities and making our day unique and keeping it our style. Always remember to think creatively and strategically, keeping priorities and budget in mind, and have fun thinking outside the box!