Budget Friendly Wedding Planning to Avoid Bad Credit
Your wedding is one of the most special days of your life. It could easily be one of the most expensive days of your life as well. You want to spend everything you have to make it feel like a dream you’ll never wake up from.
But you are going to wake up the next day and you don’t want to wake up with the kind of debt that comes from spending everything you have. That’s a recipe for the kind of bad credit that will haunt you for the rest of your new married life. Not a great way to start out.
Thankfully, you can have the most special day without burning through your entire future. We spoke to the matrimony masters to get you the tips you need to make sure the only tears at the reception are happy ones.
Budget and communicate.
The most important part of planning any wedding is communicating with your partner, and that’s all the more important when you’re working on a tight budget. You might not be able to get exactly everything you’d like in the dream wedding “infinite money” scenario, so it’s vital that you both figure out what the absolute essentials are.
“Determine who is paying for what and how much wedding you can afford. Communication is key! So, how should you approach the topic? Here are some guidelines to help you and your families determine an initial budget: Ask both parents to commit to a specific dollar amount or a particular aspect of the wedding such as the ceremony, decor, honeymoon or catering. Then add up all the contributions and determine the amount you and your fiancé will need to contribute to make up the difference.
“Create a detailed accountability spreadsheet that includes all your expected wedding expenses. Once you’ve pulled your wedding funds together, you’ll want to track your spending. Here’s a basic breakdown of what you can expect to pay: reception, ceremony, attire, floral arrangements, entertainment, photography/videography, stationary, transportation, gifts, wedding cake, honeymoon, and miscellaneous. It’s also a good idea to add a small cushion of about five percent to your budget to cover any unplanned expenses.”
“Put money towards what’s important to you. Each couple will have specific wedding elements that are more essential to them. Some couples want a delicious menu, while others are all about the band. Discuss what elements are important to you and put more money towards those vendors and details. WeddingWire’s Budget Tracker is a great tool and guideline to help you create the budget for your wedding in addition to helping you track your spending, set up payment schedules, and redistribute and organize funds.
“Keep a cushion in place. There are always last minute purchases that brides and grooms may not think of when allocating their budget initially, such as the cost of the bride’s mani and pedi or ribbons to tie the favors or white umbrellas if the forecast calls for rain the day of the wedding. Make sure to leave at least $500 to $1,000 for last minute purchases so they don’t catch you off guard.
“Don’t forget incidentals. Some purchases and vendors come with a flat fee, but there may be “accessories” that are charged separately. For example, you may pay your stationer for the invitations but then you have to pay for postage at the post office. Or the baker may supply the wedding cake but not the topper. When working with each vendor, draft a list of all the related items that they will be able to supply, as well as what you’re expected to purchase separately.”
Chertoff was also able to offer some more specific wedding wisdom.
Make the special day a special weekday.
The most convenient time to do anything, at least in the America, tends to be on the weekend. That includes weddings, but with weekend weddings in such high demand, you might have to sell your soul or something of equal value to get one.
Chertoff strongly recommends saving yourself money with a less popular wedding time: “Saving a lot of money on your wedding day can be as simple as just picking the right day. Avoid the spring and fall, and if you can, pick a date in January or February which are typically the least expensive months. And if that’s not a possibility, avoid getting married on a Saturday night—having a Friday and Sunday wedding can save you a bundle.”
Max Robinson, a photographer for Scotland Shop (@ScotlandShop), agreed about the need for flexible planning: “Although it might make it easier for friends and family to attend your wedding if it’s held at the weekend, you’ll save huge amounts of money if you have the wedding mid-week. Venues will generally charge much more for weekend events because they’ve usually had to turn down other offers, whereas fewer people want to hire a venue during the week which reduces the cost significantly. Even holding the wedding on a Friday could save huge amounts, and people will still be able to drink and stay out late!”
Have you ever looked up how much wedding flowers cost? No? Well, take a guess… NOPE. It’s more than that. We don’t know what you guessed, but we know it’s more than that.
Thankfully, Chertoff offered some tips for saving on the blooms:
“Choose seasonal flowers. Flowers that are in season typically cost less. Your florist is the expert—talk to him or her about which flowers will be least expensive at the time of year when you’re getting married.
“Mix with non-floral elements. Use candles, greenery and other non-floral elements, like seashells or fruit to decorate your ceremony and reception. These elements can make a big décor statement with little added cost.
“Try ‘nontraditional’ blooms. Baby’s breath and carnations are just two examples of inexpensive flowers that can look unique and modern when grouped together in floral arrangements.
“Reuse and recycle. Use flowers from your ceremony to decorate your reception. Bouquets can decorate your cake table, altar arrangements can look lovely on the escort card or buffet table, and aisle markers can be repurposed into small centerpieces for reception tables. Another idea is to consider using vessels that you already own, rather than renting them from your florist.
“Choose a naturally beautiful venue. Venues like gardens and beaches are already stunningly beautiful and don’t need as much added decoration. When looking for a wedding venue, think about how much decoration it will need on your wedding day.”
Eat, drink, and be frugal.
You might be too nervous to eat or drink too much, but your guests will probably be expecting a decent spread. And you can provide them with one and avoid financial ruin.
“Never assume a buffet will be cheaper,” Chertoff warns. “Some people think it will be but that’s not always the case. Once you know what you want to serve ask your caterer the least expensive way to serve it: plated, family style or buffet. Sometimes a buffet can be the same or almost the same cost as a plated meal because you have to have enough for everyone to get at least one and possibly two servings, and you still need a staff to work the buffet and clear tables.”
As with the date of the wedding, Chertoff also suggests timing can help you save: “Skip dinner. A brunch, luncheon or even cocktail style menus will be more affordable than a traditional dinner menu. Since catering is the most expensive part of the wedding, consider a daytime or cocktail-style reception to cut down on catering costs.”
And when it comes to booze? “Don’t go overboard on alcohol,” Chertoff cautions. Instead of offering a full, top-shelf bar, serve wine, beer, and a signature cocktail. It’s a major cost-saving move and your guests likely won’t mind. And if you have a relative or friend who simply must have a certain type of liquor, then you can have a single bottle available for him or her—just don’t overdo it.”
But there’s one thing everyone looks out for at any wedding. Here’s what Chertoff suggests when it comes to the cake:
“Choose a simple Design. Consider a simple, clean and streamlined design—avoid crazy shapes and intricate designs. The less labor-intensive your cake design is, the better for your budget. Be upfront and honest with your cake baker about your budget, and let him or her create a design that will work for both your price point and your style.
“Go Small. Even if you’re having a lot of guests, your cake doesn’t have to be an eight-tier tower. Regardless of your guest count, keep your wedding cake small and ask your baker to create sheet cake to serve, rather than display.
“Decorate your wedding cake with fresh flowers rather than intricate sugar blossoms. Again, creating sugar flowers can be quite labor-intensive—and fresh flowers can be just as pretty.
“Ice your wedding cake with buttercream rather than fondant–buttercream is much easier to work with and is a good deal less expensive than fondant.
“Instead of asking your cake baker to create a custom flavor combination just for your wedding, go with more basic flavors.”
One for the road.
If you’re planning to give your guests something to take home, why not feed two birds with one crumb (our pacifist twist on a common phrase)?
“It’s a good budget strategy to provide guests with wedding favors that serve a dual function. That’s why we often suggest using personalized wedding cups as favors and party supplies. Plastic cups are likely already on the list as a necessity for the wedding reception. Why not purchase customized cups that can be used by guests at the party and taken home as favors? We make it very simple to place the bride and groom’s names, wedding date and/or clever saying on reusable cups that friends and relatives can keep as mementos.”
What friends are for.
If your friends are getting to come to a fancy (but affordable wedding) they should be willing to help out a bit if they’re able to.
“What we did when we got married was we used our networks,” said Charlie Meaden (@UproarCharlie), CEO and founder of Uproar (@Uproar). “We had a vicar friend that we knew and managed to get him to officiate the wedding for free in their church. We also spoke to a family friend who had a high-end restaurant and wedding venue. We saved around $20,000 just in venue cost because we worked with people who already had an existing relationship with us. We handmade all the invites, gifts, bunting etc etc. I had a friend who a bunch of nice cars, so I asked if he would let us use them. He actually drove me to the church and to the reception, and it only cost us inviting him to the wedding and reception. We literally listed out everyone we thought could help then called in favors. That will be the biggest savings you can make.”
It IS easy being green.
If you’re concerned about the environment as well as your budget, Kathryn Kellogg of Going Zero Waste (@goingzerowaste) wants to help. She told us how she had a very affordable, very special wedding with no waste:
“I got married in May of this year with a $2,000 budget. With any small budget, thinking outside of the box is really important. We split our reception and ceremony. We had a big backyard bbq to celebrate with friends and family. I rented games like corn hole and borrowed tables from friends. I bought white sheets from the thrift store and used my extensive collection of mason jars from the kitchen for vases.
“The morning of the reception/party I walked to the farmers market where I bought a whole bunch of flowers. I bought bread to slice up for sandwiches. I went to the butcher and got brisket to go in my crock pot and I made a whole bunch of sangria! Then I asked everyone to bring a side in a reusable dish. I supplied cloth napkins, real plates, and cups. We danced and partied the night away. Not only was it AMAZING, it produced no trash. The average wedding produces 500 lbs of waste and I wanted to have an eco-friendly wedding.
“The party was on Saturday and we got married at SF city hall on Monday morning with our immediate family. We celebrated by going to a restaurant after and my wonderful mother got our wedding cake to-go in my own container to avoid that plastic disposable one. We had a cake cutting at our hotel and they were nice enough to set us up with a little room with real plates and silverware.”
Take all of this advice and the first day of the rest of your life won’t be filled with financial worry.
|Natasha M. Campbell (@WealthStylist) is a financial empowerment educator, money coach, and realtor at wealthstylist.com|
|Anne Chertoff (@WeddingWire) is WeddingWire’s Trend Expert. She has more than fifteen years of experience in the wedding industry as a wedding editor for publications such as Martha Stewart Weddings and BRIDES. Her wedding advice and expertise have been featured in The New York Times, FOX News, Good Morning America, InStyle, USA Today, and more.|
|Shelley Grieshop (@TPromotional) is a former newspaper reporter and copy editor who joined the team at Totally Promotional as a creative writer in January 2016. She writes company blogs, product descriptions and other items for the company’s website and general correspondence.|
|Kathryn Kellogg (@goingzerowaste) All of my trash for the past two years fits in a 16 oz mason jar. I spend my time educating the public on the dangers of trash, plastic pollution, and fighting to end food waste. I’m a consultant and public speaker who blogs all about small, actionable tips we can all implement to make the world a little greener.|
|Charlie Meaden (@UproarCharlie) founded Uproar.gg (@Uproar) and launched their product into the market in October 2016. Uproar.gg is “Air Miles for Gaming”. Gamers come to Uproar.gg to win real life rewards for competing in quests and challenges related to the games they love. They have built major partnerships with some of the largest game publishers in the world and have thousands of new users signing up every day.|
|Max Robinson (@ScotlandShop) is a photographer and writer for Scotland Shop.|