- Guest List.
The more people that are there – the more people you have to sit, transport, feed, send mailings to, etc, etc, etc. Be very careful of how many people you put on that list! Get a feel for how much it takes to feed a person a plain chicken dish and send an invite to in order to get a feel for how much money you can spend on those things. Get a guest list from both sides’ parents and from you and your fiance – then whittle it down! And then whittle some more! Seriously, keep whittling.
The food and beverage bill from your caterer or venue is a figure you better get used to now. This is the single most thing that will eat up majority of your budget – and also is one of the biggest things to do your research on in order to contrast and compare. From appetizers (passed or stations) and salad to buffet or plated dinner and late night snacks – the food and beverages you serve (not to mention the tax and gratuity involved!) will directly affect your budget in a big way.
Getting married in a field behind your grandparent’s house versus a metropolitan library with a cascading staircase and vaulted ceilings can make all the difference with your budget. Choose wisely how to weigh your budget – whether you want to put your money towards a staircase or food for your guests or your dream dress. There are a million places to tie the knot and have a party – and they all have their own sticker price. Decide what’s important to you and what “musts” you have on your list of what you need. If it’s a church – find a church, if it’s a field – that’ll work too!
If you start from the beginning with a few key elements to help your budget come in smaller than others – you could set yourself up for a pretty awesome budget-friendly wedding. Here are some ideas…
- Day of week.
Having your wedding on a Friday night is a great idea to save some money. It’s become very popular and guests are a lot more used to this possibility than they were 5 years ago. Food/Drink minimums drop on Fridays, room rental are cheaper and vendors might even give you a break in order to book another wedding on that weekend. Keep in mind that this will only be a huge price difference during peak wedding season in your area. Another day to remember is Sunday – venues give deep discounts for Sunday weddings. These work great for any theme or time of day and don’t forget – Memorial or Labor Day weekend could be perfect for this since all of your guests would have Monday off…it’s like a second Saturday! Having an April or May wedding could allow you to have a Saturday wedding for the same price as a Friday during July. Even moreso - vendor prices are usually cut by at least 15-20% during “off season” weddings.
- Time of day.
Have you thought about having a wedding outside of the typical 4pm with dinner/dance idea? A great way to mix things up, have a unique/memorable wedding as well as save some dough is to have an early afternoon wedding where the ceremony is at 1:30 or 2p with an hors d’œuvre and dessert reception. These can be super fabulous with pretty table scapes, signature drinks and a light-hearted atmosphere. Or another idea could be a 6 or 7p ceremony with an elegant, late night feel. Since it’s after dinner time, people aren’t expecting a full meal and again – you can get away with hors d’oeuvres and dessert only.
What kind of venue are you most attracted to? Do you have a specific theme or feel you are drawn to for the overal idea of the wedding?The most budget-friendly venues are going to be outside – be it a family or friend’s backyard, a garden, a farm/barn, or an outside tent. But there are a few hotel banquet halls, restaurants and random buildings that have good prices too. The real costs occur in the food prices and minimums. Because of that, you should be comparing something similar on everyone’s menu (say, champagne chicken entree) to be able to tell whose food is more expensive than the other. One venue might have $18 chicken but have a $1k room rental whereas another place might have no room rental but $22 chicken. The best bang for your buck will usually come in a venue where you can have the ceremony and reception at the same place. Whether that means the ceremony in one room or outside and the reception in a banquet hall – it’s usually a better deal pricewise. This is, of course, a huge benefit for your guests as well. But plenty of people don’t like that because they want to get married in a church or somewhere specific.
It’s important to think through the general, overall things that could affect your budget from the beginning before you get into the gritty details. The number doesn’t get any lower as you continue planning and get closer to the wedding – so make sure you’re thinking it all through from the beginning in order to have the wedding on a budget that fits you!
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